Are you a beginner looking to buy your first drum kit?
Or maybe you’re already a seasoned player but you need something cheap as a practice or backup kit?
In this guide you’ll learn the following:
- What Are The Different Types Of Drum Sets Available?
- Which Drum Set Is Right For Me?
And much more!
Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit 4-piece
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Pearl Roadshow 5 Piece Drum Set
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Alesis Turbo Mesh Kit
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Mendini by Cecilio Junior/Kids Drum Set
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Ashthorpe 5 Piece Drum Set
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My Overall #1 Pick
If you’re serious about getting into drumming and need a complete drum kit solution then the Pearl Roadshow is perfect. Pearl has been making top-quality drum kits for over 50 years and this kit is no exception.
It comes with everything: drums, cymbals, stands, pedals, stool...and even a pair of drumsticks!
If you’re looking for a quality instrument that’s going to take a beating for years to come then the Pearl Roadshow kit is the way to go.
Top 5 Best Cheap Drum Kits
In a hurry? Check out our Top 5 picks below! Keep reading to learn more about these drum kits!
There are hundreds of different ‘cheap’ kit options out there, with what seems like thousands of variations on size, type, hardware, cymbals, shell materials….the list goes on.
Trying to find your perfect kit can be an incredibly daunting process (never mind time-consuming!)
Don’t worry. In this essential guide to cheap drum sets, I’ll separate out the best from the rest, so no matter what type of kit you’re after you’ll be getting the one that will make you excited to play.
I’ll also give you the insider knowledge of what to look out for when choosing a kit, as well as which type of kits will be perfect for your drumming needs.
Let’s get started! Below is a quick list of all my top picks. Keep scrolling to learn more about my best buying tips and tricks.
What Are The Different Types Of Drum Sets Available?
To make an informed decision about which kit is right for you, we first need to take a look at what different types of kits there are…
Acoustic Vs Electric
In general, there are two different drum kit‘ ‘camps’. There are acoustic drum sets and electric drum sets.
Acoustic drum sets are the ‘original’ version of the instrument. An acoustic drum kit doesn’t need any electric amplification for it to make a sound and creates sound through the vibration of the drum heads and real brass cymbals.
If you’ve ever seen a band play live the drummer will most likely be using an acoustic kit.
Getting a good sound out of an acoustic drum set is essential to playing the drums well, so for beginners, getting time on an acoustic drum kit is essential.
However acoustic kits have the inherent problem of being LOUD. In general acoustic drum kits can range from 90-130dB (decibels) in volume. That means it can be as loud as a subway train tearing through your living room!
Something to think about if you live in close proximity to your neighbors.
Read More >> The Ultimate Guide to Cardio Drumming
Electronic drum kits consist of an electric drum sound module (or brain) that is connected to various drum and cymbal trigger pads that are arranged in the same way as an acoustic drum set.
When you strike one of these pads with your sticks or bass drum beater, they send a signal to the sound module which then plays back a pre-recorded sample of that instrument (for example a recording of a snare drum or hi-hat).
The main benefit of using an electric kit is that it is MUCH quieter than an acoustic kit.
The drummer can throw on headphones to hear the drum sounds, whereas the rest of the outside world will just hear the tapping on the trigger pads.
This means electric kits are great for anyone looking to practice without annoying neighbors or housemates.
However, electric kits often don’t feel as realistic or as exciting to play as an acoustic kit. (unless you spend big bucks!)
Read More >> How Do You Record Electronic Drums?
Drum Packages And Sizes
Budget electric kits are all pretty similar in size and set up. However, when it comes to acoustic drum sets, there is a multitude of a different drum and cymbal configurations, as well as different packages available.
If you’re looking to buy everything you need to start playing drums on a full drum kit then here is a handy checklist of things you’ll need:
- Bass Drum
- Snare Drum
- Rack toms (can come with one or two)
- Floor Tom
- Hi-Hat Cymbals
- Ride Cymbal
- Crash Cymbal (often not included in budget packages)
Hardware (stand etc)
- Drum Stool (also called drum throne)
- Bass Drum Pedal
- Hi-Hat Stand
- Snare Drum Stand
- Cymbal Stands (one for each cymbal)
- Tom Mounts
...and last but not least, a pair of drumsticks!
Now if you’re new to drumming, trying to source all these individual components separately can be an absolute nightmare!
Therefore I’d recommend going for an all-inclusive package that gives you everything you need to get started.
The great thing about drum kits is that they are inherently modular, meaning you can upgrade individual components as you progress.
The core set of drums themselves without any cymbals or hardware (bar the tom mounts), is called a ‘shell-pack’.
More experienced and professional drummers often have a strong preference for their own snare drum and cymbals and will only need to buy the individual drums as a shell pack.
Read More >> The Ultimate Guide To Different Types of Drums
There are two most common sizes for full-size acoustic drum sets. These are:
NOTE: All the measurements are in inches and refer to the diameter of each drum.
Rock kits usually include a 22” Bass drum, 12”,13” and 16” toms and a 14” snare drum. Its called ‘Rock’ as the toms and bass drum a bigger than other kits, providing a slightly louder and lower-pitched sound.
Fusion gets its name for the fusion of Jazz and Rock style drum kits. They usually include a 20” Bass drum, 10”, 12” and 14” toms with a 14” snare drum. Fusion kits are slightly more compact and have a punchier and more high pitched sound to a rock kit.
There are also some very compact kits that are designed to be portable for gigs where space is an issue or for small practice spaces. They usually have much smaller sizes with a little 16” bass drum and toms and snares ranging from 8”-13”.
Kids drum kits can get even smaller and are often much more basic stripped-down versions of a full acoustic drum set. They often only have a bass drum, snare, a little cymbal, and possibly a tom!
Which Drum Set Is Right For Me?
The right drum set depends on a few different factors.
Are you someone that’s looking to try out drumming to see if it’s for you? (without investing loads of cash) Or maybe you want a drum kit to have a bit of fun on but not take it too seriously?
Then a cheap full-sized kit might be the way to go. Don’t worry too much about getting a very well known brand, something like the Ashthorpe Kit I’ve reviewed below would be an excellent choice.
It’ll be a great place to start and if you take to drumming then at least you’ll have a full-size kit with all the components to practice on.
If noise is an issue then the Alesis Turbo Mesh kit is an excellent electronic alternative.
On the other hand, are you someone that is already taking lessons (or serious about pursuing drumming) and need something that’s going to be excellent for practicing on, and will last a long time while you develop as a drummer?
In this case, I would suggest spending a little more on a kit from a renowned drum manufacturer.
Read More >> How Do You Play Electronic Drums?
Kits such as the Pearl Roadshow are excellent first drum kits for the budding drummer and come with everything you need to get started (they can be a great cheap option for the gigging drummer too!)
Are you a parent looking for a kit to occupy and inspire your kids to get into music?
Then a cheap ‘kids specific’ drum kit might be the way to go. These kits are usually pretty cheaply made but they tend to be very inexpensive because of it.
For younger kids, something like the Mendini kit reviewed below would be perfect. If they get into drumming and want to upgrade, the Ludwig Questlove kit or the larger 16” version of the Mendini kit are both good options.
If the bashing of the drums seems like it’ll drive you mad, then a cheap electronic set might be a better option. The Alesis Turbo Mesh kit is the best of the rest at this price point.
It has been designed in collaboration with the famous drummer Questlove, who is a master of groove and a long time member of the live hip hop act ‘The Roots’ (check them out if you haven’t already).
This kit is the perfect option for young kids that need a solid well-built kit that they can take their first drumming steps on.
It’s also good enough to be a great portable gigging or practice kit for the working drummer on a budget.
It also comes with everything you need to get drumming!
- Made by an established brand
- Good sound
- Pricier than similar kits
Pearl makes excellent kits at every level. From your basic entry-level offerings to the revered artisan kits played by some of the top drummers in the world, they know how to make good drums.
This Roadshow package is no exception.
For an insane price, you’re getting a solidly built, great sounding kit, that comes with everything you’ll need (drums, cymbals, hardware, it’s all there!).
This kit is perfect for the budding drummer that is looking to have an instrument that will not only inspire them to play but will last many years of abuse until they feel like they need to upgrade to a more professional outfit.
It’s also a great option for a gigging drummer on a budget, or even a venue looking for an inexpensive house kit for bands and jam nights to us
- Well made
- Everything included
- Great sound
- Higher price point
If bashing away at full volume on an acoustic drum set just isn’t feasible for you, then the Alesis Turbo Mesh kit might be the answer.
With this kit, you can just chuck on headphones and disappear into your own little drumming world. Great for adult and younger drummers alike, it’s an excellent neighbor-friendly entry into the world of drumming.
It comes with 10 preset drum kits, 30 play-along tracks, a built-in metronome as well as an ‘Aux in’ allowing you to plug in your iPhone or laptop to jam along to your favorite tunes!
It also comes with mesh heads instead of hard unforgiving rubber ones, a massive bonus at this price point.
- Much quieter than an acoustic set
- Packed with features
- Mesh pads
- Not much at this price point!
Size-wise it’s perfect for younger kids as they’ll be able to reach all the components while sitting on the drum throne (included).
Quality-wise it’s not the best, but at this price range, you can’t really complain.
Also, very young children aren’t going to hit as hard as a full-grown adult so it won’t take the same level of abuse (just make sure you hide it at parties….trust me).
- Everything your little drummer needs
- Not the best quality
If you’re looking to get into the world of drumming and want a full drum kit package, but can’t afford the likes of a Pearl Roadshow, then this offering from Ashthorpe is ideal.
It comes ready to go with all the drums, cymbals, hardware, and sticks that you’ll need.
Ashthorpe isn’t a renowned drum kit manufacturer and these kits are usually made very cheaply in factories in Asia.
In fact, I’m convinced they’re all made in the same place from the same components as I’ve seen many kits under different brands that look exactly the same.
The quality isn’t the best but it will be more than adequate to get you started at a price that definitely won’t break the bank!
- Very Affordable
- Everything you need to get started
- Genuine Remodrum heads
- Not great build quality
Final Thoughts On The Most Affordable Drum Sets
In general, you do get what you pay for when it comes to drum kits. What may seem like a steal on paper can sometimes be a massive let down when it falls apart in a couple of days.
Therefore, I’d always recommend getting the best kit your budget allows...even if it takes saving up a little longer to get there!
If you stick with tried and trusted brands you also can’t go too far wrong. Cheap no-name kits may seem appealing but very soon you wished you spent that little bit extra!
The kits reviewed above are great for anyone looking to grab a great kit for a very modest price.
Other companies such as Yamaha, Gretsch, Mapex, Tama, and PDP also make excellent entry-level kits that are also definitely worth checking out (also keep an eye out for great deals on second-hand kits too).
So there you have it! My essential guide to the best cheap drum sets around.