So you’re looking to start your drumming journey (or help someone else start it) without breaking the bank? You’re looking for cheap drum sets that are still good enough to last for the first few years of drumming?
Well, my parents were in your shoes when they bought my first drum kit about 20 years ago. Unfortunately, they didn’t have this article to save them from spending a good few hundred dollars for that kit.
But lo and behold: when it came to spending my own money on drum gear during adolescence, I started testing which cheap drum sets out there would still meet my demands in terms of quality.
This article is the essence of all that testing. It will show you my favorite affordable drum sets on the market today and it will explain to you why I think they are very solid options to buy for any drummer on a budget.
- in the first section, I’ll show you 3 cheap drum sets for adults (2 acoustic, 1 electronic)
- and in section 2 I’ll show you 3 cheap kids drum sets (all acoustic; there are no electronic drum kits for children yet)
Are you ready?
In the unlikely case that you won’t find what you’re looking for in this article, you might be successful in locating a more expensive drum kit at a discount. I’ve explained how to do so here.
My Favorite Cheap Drum Sets 2018
Table of Contents
- My Favorite Cheap Drum Sets 2018
- Cheap Drum Sets for Adults
- Cheap Drum Sets for Kids
- What’s That Confused Look?
Cheap Drum Sets for Adults
Just to be clear: “adult” in the drumming sense is only defined by height instead of age – because a drum set fits a person if he / she can reach all parts without stretching or straining.
So once you or the drummer you’re buying this kit for is taller than 5ft, he / she needs an “adult” drum set (although he / she might be far away from adulthood). And: under 2.5ft I don’t recommend a drum set at all – better go for a drum set toy or a snare drum only.
1. Mendini MDS80 – Cheapest Drum Set Around
- By a small margin, this is the cheapest drum set on the market that’s actually useful
- You can start playing right out of the box (throne, sticks and bass drum pedal)
- The drums sound decent (can sound great with new heads and tuning)
- Especially good for young drummers, because it’s available in 7 colors
- As with most drum kits in this price range, cymbals are low-quality
- I wouldn’t take this up on stage as an adult (so it’s a practice kit)
The Mendini full size kit comes at a price that was unheard of for drum sets when I got started. At the same time, it is a decent drum kit all around that can easily carry you along your first years of drumming.
And I say that because:
I find the Mendini’s sound – even with stock heads – surprisingly good. Yet, taste in sound is subjective so have a listen and judge yourself:
Also, the Mendini full size kit is set up like any other standard acoustic drum set. That makes it easy for you to transition to a more advanced drum kit later on without having to unlearn anything.
As for a “negative”, the Mendini comes with stock cymbals which I think do not sound well by any standard. Still, you need to consider that most other drum kits come without any cymbals at all, so you’d have to buy them separately and that will cost you about as much as you’re spending for the Mendini as a whole (see a few cymbal options here). So I think it’s actually quite nice that Mendini enables you to play right out of the box – but you should be aware that you’re sacrificing cymbal sound quality for that.
All in all, the Mendini is perfect for young drummers above 5ft and also a good option for adult beginners that plan to primarily practice with this kit (as opposed to taking it up on stage).
Want more info on this kit? Check out my full Mendini review.
2. Gammon 5 Piece – The Affordable Best Seller
- By a small margin, this is the second cheapest drum set for beginners around
- With the Gammon too, you can start playing right out of the box
- Delivers decent drum sound
- Overall a little more sturdy than the Mendini
- Again, this comes with low-quality stock cymbals (can be replaced)
- The Gammon too doesn’t look professional enough for the stage (for my taste)
The Gammon full size kit is fairly similar to the Mendini which means that:
- it sounds surprisingly good for a drum set in that price range
- can be played right out of the box, since the package includes a drum throne, sticks, and a bass drum pedal
- can be made to sound even better with new heads and the right tuning
- the cymbals are low quality – which is normal and understandable (read why in my full Gammon drum kit review)
In terms of differences, the Gammon is a tiny bit more expensive than the Mendini, but its hardware also seems a little more sturdy to me. Perhaps that’s also why it is the most frequently sold drum kit online.
As for the sound – I like it, but again I’d ask you to judge yourself:
So I fully recommend the Gammon for any beginning drummer too. And in case you’re torn between it and the Mendini, I’d say:
- If you’re buying for a young drummer and color is important, go for the Mendini in the color of his / her choice.
- If you’re interested in a slightly more sturdy and more “professional” looking kit, go for the Gammon full size drum kit.
3. Alesis Nitro Mesh – Electronic, Cheap & Great
- Interface of the module doesn’t have an overwhelming amount of buttons, so you’ll be able to handle this quickly and easily
- Easy to set up (even if you’re never set up an electronic drum kit before)
- Can be used with a double bass pedal
- Quieter than an acoustic drum kit
- Doesn’t support advanced features such as different shades of sounds on the cymbals, or half-open HiHat sounds
Electronic drum kits are a much more recent invention and therefore have always been more expensive than acoustic drum kit. Until, that is, Alesis entered the market and set out to make electronic drumming affordable to anyone.
And I think they have come very close to fulfilling that mission by releasing the Alesis Nitro Mesh – the cheapest electronic drum kit of its kind in history.
What’s so revolutionary about it are the mesh heads which used to come only with electronic drum kits around the $1000 mark. These are much quieter than rubber pads and allow you to play your drum kit without driving your family or neighbors crazy.
What is “quiet” you ask? Well, hitting a mesh head is about as “quiet” as hitting a page of a sturdy cushion with a stick.
Also, the Alesis Nitro Mesh is set up like any standard acoustic drum kit, so it’ll be easy for you to switch to such a kit later on.
Cheap Drum Sets for Kids
Quick reminder: who are kids drum sets for?
(Right, children below 5ft.)
1. Gammon Junior – Best Cheap Kids Drum Kit
- Start playing right away – everything’s included (cymbals, foot pedal, adjustable throne, drum sticks)
- Best sounding cheap kids drum set (in my opinion)
- Available in 4 color options – that should increase your child’s motivation to practice
- Low-quality cymbals (as with the adult kits)
Yes, Gammon is among the top cheap drum kits for kids too – which shows that they are really good at offering affordable quality drum sets.
The Gammon Junior is almost identical in setup to its adult brother version – only the cymbal stand is attached to the bass drum instead of standing to your child’s right. This is the only real negative about this kit, because it will require your child to adjust to a slightly different position for this cymbal when switching to an adult kit later on.
At the same time, the position above the toms is necessary so that your child can reach this cymbal without straining – and all other drum sets do it this way too.
Apart from that, the Gammon sounds very good when tuned right (and that’s not too difficult either) and has everything a junior drummer needs to play for the first few years of his / her drumming career:
Of course, the kids drum sets come with lower quality cymbals too, but that’s normal (if you don’t know why, please reread the above review of the Mendini adult kit).
The good thing about the cymbals on a junior kit is: in my experience, children care much, much less about the sound quality of a drum set. For them, it’s about the hitting experience. And once their sonic tastes ripen, you can still get them a pack of new cymbals.
In summary, I highly recommend the Gammon Junior as a first kit for any young drummer. And the pink color option is a particular hit with my young female students.
For deals and more details, please check out my in-depth Gammon drum set review.
2. Mendini Junior – The Cheapest (Again)
- Like its adult brother version, this is the most afforadble of all cheap drum sets for kids on the market (by a small margin)
- Lets your child start drumming right out of the box
- Sounds very decent for a junior drum kit
- Comes in 6 color options to boost your child’s motivation
- (You know the drill by now:) Here too we’re facing low-quality cymbals (which kids don’t care that much about)
Since with children it’s all but sure that they will continue to drum for a long time, I love junior drum sets that are cheap and actually useful. And the Mendini Junior is the cheapest such kit around.
While sound is very much up to your tuning, doing a good job at this will make your Mendini sound even better than this okay-tuned version of it:
As such, the sound potential is very similar to the Gammon and the same goes for the quality of the cymbals. The only 2 real differences between the Gammon and the Mendini Junior are:
- The hardware: here the Gammon is a bit sturdier and therefore more durable
- The color options – which are more diverse with the Mendini (6 vs. 4). Depending on what color your child is set on, this can make a difference in terms of motivating him / her to practice once the first fascination of drumming is wearing off.
I recommend you ask your child which color he / she prefers and go with that one. You’ll get a quality drum set that will last the first few years of drumming in any case.
Recommended reading: my full Mendini Junior review.
3. GP Percussion – Waiting for Discounts
- The GP comes with a throne, sticks and a bass drum pedal so your child can start playing right away
- Heads sound decent with with mediocre tuning and can be made to sounds quite good with better tuning
- Cymbals are low quality (as with all other kits + kids don’t really care)
- Most “expensive” cheap kids drum kit (but only by a few dollars)
- Only 2 color options available
At this point I don’t have many more news for you. The GP Percussion Junior kit is – in terms of sound potential and cymbal quality – just as good as the Gammon and Mendini above.
That means: with a bit of tuning you can make it sound quite decent. That is, to my ears – so I invite you to judge yourself:
The cymbals are the same kinds of stock ones that come with the other 2 cheap drum sets for kids, but by now you’ll know: they will do until your kid has grown and you buy an adult kit.
At the end of the day, there are 3 smaller negatives that set the GP Percussion apart from the Mendini and the Gammon:
- It costs a few dollars more. Not enough to make a real difference for me, but given that everything else is fairly similar why not save even that tiny bit.
- The GP Percussion is only available in black or red – whereas the other kits are available in 4 or even 6 color options.
- The hardware of the GP Junior kit is less sturdy than the Mendini’s, so you might not be able to use it for years and years.
Therefore, I would only go for the GP Percussion junior kit if it were discounted significantly.
What’s That Confused Look?
Just kidding: but if you do have any questions left on your mind, please do let me know in the comments.
They will help other readers and I’ll do my best to reply to every one of them.