Updated: December 29th, 2020
Decided to pick up the drum sticks but you’re not sure what drum set will be best for you?
On this page, especially for beginner drummers like you, I’m providing tips and guides that will assist you in choosing the most practical, new and affordable drum kit for beginners. You can start with our top picks.
Our Top Picks:
- Best Beginner Drum Set Overall: Pearl Roadshow
- Best Selling Beginner Drum Set: Pearl Export
- Best Acoustic Beginner Drum Kit: Ddrum D120B 5-piece drum set
- Best Complete Beginner Drum Set for adults: Ashthorpe 5-piece drum set
- Best Electronic Drum Set for Beginners: Alesis Nitro
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I’ve kept it short for each set, but included links to the individual reviews in case you want to dig deeper.
And please make sure to check out the buyer’s guide at the end. This will tell you what to look for in a starter kit – and what to ignore.
So let’s get to it…
If you decide to buy one of the products reviewed here, please consider going through the links on this site, because this will earn me a small commission – at absolutely (!) no extra cost to you.
I’ve poured my heart and lots of time into these reviews, and by using my links you help ensure that future readers will find this site still working.
Also, if you’re looking to buy only the cheapest beginner drum kits, read this article too.
Best Beginner Drum Sets
Table of Contents
- Our Top Picks:
- Best Beginner Drum Sets
- Ddrum D120B 5-piece set – Bestselling beginner kit
- Pearl Roadshow – My Best Beginner Drum Set 2020
- Pearl Export – The Best Selling Kit of All Time
- Ashthorpe 5-piece drum set – Most complete beginner kit
- Alesis Nitro – Ex-Best for Beginners
- What Characterizes the Best Beginner Drum Set?
- Discounted Beginner Drum Kits
Ddrum D120B 5-piece set – Bestselling beginner kit
- Full size
- Great value for the price
- Durable hardware
- Drum heads are easy to tune
- Cymbals are thin and not of a high quality
- No instruction manual included
- The drum throne is rather short for tall persons
Ddrum D120B is a complete fusion set drum kit that features toms, cymbals, stands, pedals, and a throne. The full-sized drums consist of 10 x 8, 12 x 9 mounted toms, a 14 x 14 floor tom, a 14 x 5.5 snare and a 20 x 16 bass drum. The shell has a solid Basswood construction, the hoops are triple-flanged, and the drum heads have great resonance when perfectly tuned.
On purchase, a drum key, a pair of drumsticks, and a wrench are included with the drum set. Though instructions are not included, the kit can be assembled by looking it up on YouTube. And will take less than two hours to set up. The black coated drum rims, as well as the stands, are quite durable and make the kit more appealing to the eyes.
Pearl Roadshow – My Best Beginner Drum Set 2020
- Based on Pearl’s advanced production technologies
- Best included cymbals I’ve seen so far
- Looks good enough for the stage
- Seriously, I couldn’t find any
Obviously, Pearl’s higher end kits involve better material (wood, loops etc.), but the Pearl Roadshow profits from Pearl’s advanced production technologies. And out comes a sound that surpassed my expectations for a drum set that’s so cheap:
I also think the Pearl Roadshow looks more professional than the Gammon or the Mendini, so that this is a drum set for practicing as well as for the stage. And audiences will judge you by your looks!
Plus: the cymbals are a tiny bit better than those on the Gammon and Mendini kits. That said, they are still stock cymbals and can’t be compared with brand cymbals (which don’t have to be all that expensive – see the cymbals section below).
The Pearl Roadshow is my best beginner drum set and will be a companion for a good few years of drumming!
And if you want to know why exactly, check out my full Pearl Roadshow review.
Pearl Export – The Best Selling Kit of All Time
- Very good pedal included
- Sturdy, long-lasting hardware
- Widely recognized drum set + brand
- Cymbals not included
- Stock heads won’t allow for full sound potential
In terms of design, sound and hardware this drum set is far more advanced than the Gammon and the Mendini. It’s perfect for practicing and perfect for playing on stage.
But it comes without cymbals (which is normal for advanced kits). So you’d have to spend some extra cash for a good budget pack of those. (See the cymbal section below to find out that they don’t have to be expensive.)
Still, if you’re an ambitious beginner willing to spend some money, this kit can take you a long way into your drumming career. See what John, who recently bought it, has to say about the Export.
The Export is also available in a beautiful lacquer finish. Then it’s more glossy and has visible wood grains.
Looking for current deals on this kit? Still have a question or some doubts about it?
Find out if there are any in my full Pearl Export review.
Ashthorpe 5-piece drum set – Most complete beginner kit
- Unlike most kids’ drum, this is a real drum set
- When nicely tuned, the drums sound great
- Solid and sturdy drums
- High-quality materials
- Instructions on assembly manual can be confusing
- No warranty
- Not for adults meaning you’ll need to buy another one in the future
This junior drum set features a complete package with a snare drum, bass drum, toms, and genuine brass cymbals. The 8“ hi-hat cymbal has its stand and pedal while the bass drum has a chain-driven pedal. The toms include mounted and floor ones. Along with the drums are also an adjustment key, an adjustable drum throne, two drumsticks, and an assembly manual.
Ashthorpe 5-piece kit is ideal for young drummers between ages 2 to 12 years. The drums are sturdy enough to withstand frequent bashings, and they have quality sounds that can rival most adult drum kits. Its shells are made from genuine poplar wood that enhances the acoustic nature of the set. The triple-flanged hoops aid the resonance produced by the drums. There are several finishes from which to choose, and each is as aesthetically pleasing as the other.
Alesis Nitro – Ex-Best for Beginners
- Cheapest useful e-drum set on the market
- 42 beats to learn with guidance
- Module easy to handle
- No advanced features (half-open Hi-Hat cymbal sound, triple zone Ride cymbal)
With the Alesis Nitro, one can play excellent drum styles with few practices. It is an 8-piece e-drum with a Nitro e-drum module. The module, which is the icing on this cake called a drum, has several percussion sounds and play-along tracks. Few other essential aspects of the module include a metronome that shows if you are quite early or late to a beat, a headphone jack. The USB connection on the module is there so that you can plug into your MP3 player or a computer. With the module, you can adjust the sounds played on any pad and play along to any tune of your choice.
The electronic drum itself comprises three tom pads, a dual-zone snare drum, a kick drum pad, and three cymbals. It comes with two drum sticks, a drum key, a module user guide, and an assembly manual. The pads do not wear out quickly, but they are quite small at an 8-inch diameter. The kick drum sounds as authentic as a bass drum should, and it has a real pedal attached. The snare is very responsive. For persons 6 feet tall or more, the drum kit may be quite short to play with for a long time.
Alesis Nitro’s setup puts analog drum kits to shame with its quality, compactness, and sound. The equipment is easy to set up, the music is impressive, and the various options on the module helps the beginner hone new drumming skills as early as possible. Whether a pro or a beginner, you will undoubtedly enjoy playing and practicing with this e-kit.
What Characterizes the Best Beginner Drum Set?
I’ve shown you the drum kits I highly recommend for beginners. But this might well not be enough for you. For I believe there never is THE best drum kit. A drum set can only be best relative to YOUR purpose and circumstances.
So let’s quickly learn what’s important when looking for a good starter drum kit:
What do you want to do with your set? Practice, play live on stage or record in your home studio?
When making that decision don’t only take into account the tomorrow. Think about the next 2-5 years of your drumming journey and where you might be by that time. For you can easily keep your first drum set for that long.
In case you’re not even sure whether you’ll stick with drumming, I recommend: go budget! That is, go for a practice kit (the Pearl Roadshow) instead of a used one. Used ones can be broken or can have missing sections. This may prevent you to play your drum correctly specially while you are trying to learn.
If you’re dead set on home recording, I suggest you look at my electronic drum set reviews. Electronic kits make home recording way cheaper and easier.
Again, I’ve shown you the best starter drum sets for adults. In terms of size, this means that anyone taller than 5ft will comfortably fit behind all the sets presented here.
If you’re looking for a drum set for someone shorter than 5ft, you can check out my best junior drum set review.
Possible setups of drum kits are limitless. Yet, there is one “regular setup” (below) which will enable you to play 95% of the songs you hear on the radio:
You won’t need more until a good few years into your drumming journey – unless you’re trying to show off.
Cymbals are important – you’ll play them more frequently than some of the drums. So it’s good that all kits except the Pearl Export come with cymbals included.
However, they most of them come with only two cymbals each – a hi-hat and a crash cymbal. What all beginner drum kits, except for the Tama Imperialsta – are lacking is a ride cymbal:
A ride cymbal is larger and thicker than a crash, and without it you’ll be loosing out on the higher pitched cymbal sounds that accompany many guitar solos and choruses. So with only two cymbals you won’t be able to play everything you hear on the radio exactly as it’s played there.
I’m saying this only so you know. It is not crucial to add a ride cymbal now, but it will be probably happen sooner or later.
If you need help then, turn to my best budget cymbal review. (This article is about packs of 3 cymbals each, but the Ride cymbals can all be bought individually too.)
Tips and Tricks
When purchasing a new drum set, especially if you are a novice around drums or musical instruments in general, there are few things to note:
- Tuning is essential: If not correctly tuned, you may assume your drum set is the most inferior quality ever to be sold in the market. Tuning your drums right can be the difference between pleasant sounds and noise. You can improve your tuning skills by checking out videos on Youtube. If, however, your drums do not sound right despite your tuning abilities, find out if you need new drum heads.
- Quality is not dependent on price: Possibly, you want a durable drum kit, made of quality materials that can produce quality sound and not those that would disintegrate in less than a year or two. While learning to play, you should note that there is always a balance between quality and cost, hence the importance of guidelines and reviews. Check out online reviews on different types of drum sets before deciding on which to purchase except you want a famous brand.
- Noise: Keep in mind that drum is a noisy musical instrument. You should think of your neighbors as well/
- Drum size matters: For a young child less than 5-feet tall, a junior drum kit could be easier to use than an adult set. Also, as you become more skilled with using the drums and develop a better ear for quality sounds, you may decide to purchase a more professional drum set.
There are dozens of variables which determine how good a drum set sounds. But the quality of the drum heads and tuning are the most important ones. As you can see in the video below, new heads and good tuning alone can make any drum set sound amazing:
And while you’ll probably need to play around with tuning for a bit to get it right, you don’t need to read whole books on it. Start with this tutorial, try to grasp how it basically works. Then just play around with your heads.
And speaking of heads: start with the ones that come with any of the drum kits above. With the right tuning, you can greatly improve their sound.
Only once that’s not enough for you any more: buy new heads. Compared to the wonders they work, they aren’t too expensive. And choosing them is easy too – at least with this guide of mine.
Stuff You Should Ignore
What about shell sizes, loops or snare carpet?
These things do make differences in sound, but none of them are huge and none of them matter much to drum beginners. At worst, they will confuse you or cost you money.
Take care of your tuning first and ignore the rest for now.
Better invest your time and money in good drum instructors.
Also Read: Best Professional Drum Sets
Discounted Beginner Drum Kits
I know you would enjoy finding one of those kits above at a discounted price, wouldn’t you?
If so, this guide on how to find discounted drum kits is for you.
I hope this best beginner drum set review will help you in making your decision. If not (or if you disagree with anything), let me know in the comments. I respond 100%!
Best of luck in finding your new drum kit and lots of fun playing it!
Freedrum- Play the drums anytime, anywhere
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- Good Value for Money
- Compatible with all major music software / DAWs
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