9 Best Cheap Drum Sets 2024

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If you’re looking for your first drum kit, it may come as a shock to you that most of them have high prices. Drum kits are large instruments with several components, so building one takes a bit of work from a manufacturer’s side. That naturally boosts the cost.

However, most manufacturers offer affordable options for newer players. Here are all my top picks for beginner drummers or drummers looking for a cheap secondary kit.

Pearl Roadshow – Best Overall

Pearl Roadshow

The Pearl Roadshow (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is the ultimate cheap kit for beginner drummers. It has serious value, giving you everything you need to start playing the drums with an attractive price tag.

I’ll start with the hardware, as that’s my favorite aspect of the kit. These stands are incredible for beginner stands, and you could easily use them with a professional kit in the future.

The kit comes with a drum throne and kick pedal, which aren’t components that you’ll receive with too many other kits.

The poplar wood makes the drums sound fairly deep, and you can tune them to be very responsive if you put high-quality drum heads on. The factory heads aren’t too good unless you muffle them quite a bit.

I appreciate how the bass drum comes with a ported resonant head. If you ever want to put mics on this kit, that port will help with the kick drum mic placement, and it will give you more attack in your bass drum tone.

The cymbals are the weak part of the kit. They’re cheap brass cymbals that won’t last very long if you hit them hard. However, they act as great target practice for new drummers who are learning where and how to hit everything.

Shell Material: Poplar

Hardware: Cymbal stand, hi-hat stand, snare stand, drum throne, rack tom holders, kick pedal

Cymbals: 14” brass hi-hats, 16” brass crash

Pearl Export – Premium Option

Pearl Export

The Pearl Export (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the best kits that Pearl has ever created. It’s not the best in terms of tonal and build quality, but it’s one of the best when it comes to affordability and usability. In fact, it’s one of the most sold drum kits of all time.

These kits were everywhere in the early 2000s, and Pearl has updated them over the years to improve certain quality aspects.

The reason I’ve put this as the premium option is that it comes with a full set of high-quality hardware. The only thing it’s missing is a drum throne.

The drums sound amazing, as the mahogany mixed with poplar gives you boosted low-end tones from all the drums. These tune a lot easier than any of the other drum kits I’ve suggested on this list, which is why the Export kits are passable in professional settings.

The kit just doesn’t come with any cymbals. Once you get a set of those, you’ll have a good intermediate kit that will last many years of solid playing.

If you love the sound of the Roadshow but you want something on the higher-end, the Export is your next best option.

Shell Material: Poplar/Mahogany

Hardware: Straight cymbal stand, boom cymbal stand, hi-hat stand, snare stand, kick pedal

Cymbals: No

Alesis Nitro Mesh – Best Budget Option

Alesis Drums Nitro Mesh Kit

The Alesis Nitro Mesh (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is an electronic kit that offers everything a first-time drummer needs. It’s also decent enough for long-time drummers needing something inexpensive to get for practicing when they can’t play their acoustic kit.

Out of all the budget electronic kits available, this one sits at the top as the best possible option due to it coming with most of what you need and a highly involved drum module.

You get a total of 40 preset drum kits to play around with, and they all offer something a bit different in terms of tone. While they’re not as high-quality as the preset kits that come with higher-end electronic modules, they sound great for the price.

Alesis also gives you a kick pedal with this set, so you don’t need to worry about getting a separate one as you do with most other electronic kits.

The big selling point of the kit is the mesh pads. You can tighten them to give you more rebound or keep them loose to offer the same response as acoustic drumheads.

If you don’t like the sounds on the module, you can always connect the kit to a computer to get more sounds. That essentially makes it a very affordable MIDI controller.

Shell Material: Electronic kit with rubber cymbals and mesh pads

Hardware: Kick pedal, hi-hat pedal, rack

Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit

Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit

The Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a popular option for kids. If you have a child under the age of 10, I highly recommend checking this kit out.

It was designed by Questlove, and it’s a smaller version of the Breakbeats kit that so many drummers use as a compact option.

The issue with standard kits is that small kids often can’t reach all the drums and cymbals. These drums sit a lot lower, allowing kids to feel very comfortable when learning to play. It just means that this isn’t a kit for adults to use comfortably.

It’s very affordable, and it comes with cymbals, stands, a kick pedal, and a drum throne. The cymbals aren’t amazing and will probably break quite quickly with kids that hit hard, though.

The kit’s footprint is also small enough for children to comfortably fit the whole thing in their bedrooms. That makes it an amazing practice tool for them to hop on at any time.

If there were any way to make this kit better, it would be to get better cymbals to go with it. However, the provided cymbals will work well enough for the first few months to a year.

Shell Material: Hardwood

Hardware: Snare stand, hi-hat stand, boom arm

Cymbals: Small hi-hats & crash cymbal

Tama Imperialstar

Tama Imperialstar

The Tama Imperialstar (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a great kit to consider if you’re looking for something slightly better than a baseline beginner drum set. I’d categorize it as a lower-end intermediate kit, as the toms can easily be used for pro settings.

The kit comes with a full set of Meinl HCS cymbals. They’re still made of brass, but they’re much better than the thin brass cymbals that come with the kits I’ve suggested so far.

I also love how the snare drum sounds. You get a tight crack when tuning it high, and it’s surprisingly responsive to different stroke levels. 

The other benefit here is that you get a lovely selection of finishes. Tama’s high-end kits are well-known for their finishes, and you get a taste of that here. You can choose between a few styles as well.

Overall, it’s an excellent full drum set package that will suit beginner or intermediate drummers very well. You just need to get a drum throne separately.

Shell Material: Poplar

Hardware: Straight cymbal stand, boom cymbal stand, hi-hat stand, kick drum pedal, tom holders

Cymbals: Meinl HCS 14” hi-hats, 16” crash, 20” ride

Sonor AQX Jungle

Sonor AQX Jungle

The Sonor AQX Jungle (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the most affordable compact kits with conventional compact shell sizes. If you’re looking for a secondary kit to play on small stages, this is a great option.

Sonor builds amazing kits, and I’m always surprised at how deeply you can make kits like this sound. The shells have excellent build quality, and the tones are seriously musical.

The kit comes with a cymbal arm that connects to the bass drum, stopping you from having to use a cymbal stand for your ride. The bass drum also comes with a riser for the pedal so that it connects with the center of the drum when played.

Sonor offers several other compact kits like this, but this is one of the most affordable, and it’s a personal favorite.

Shell Material: Poplar

Hardware: Tom holder, cymbal arm

Cymbals: No

Ludwig Accent

Ludwig Accent

The Ludwig Accent (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is Ludwig’s answer to Pearl’s Roadshow. The kit offers all the same specs, and the tones are very similar. There are a few slight differences that make this kit a worthy option, though.

Firstly, the finishes are more diverse. I’ve always found the Roadshow finishes to be quite bland, and you get more vibrant options with the Accent.

The kit is also made from select hardwood instead of conventional poplar. As I said earlier, the tones are similar, but there’s a bit of variety between this and the Roadshow. You must do a listening test to see if you prefer one or the other.

If you’re a hardcore Ludwig fan, this kit will seem more appealing. I’d say the hardware and cymbal quality is the same as the Roadshow, so you should go with this one if you prefer the Ludwig name.

Shell Material: Select Hardwood

Hardware: Cymbal stand, hi-hat stand, snare stand, drum throne, rack tom holders, kick pedal

Cymbals: 14” brass hi-hats, 16” brass crash

Mapex Venus

Mapex Venus

The Mapex Venus (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the newer beginner kits available on the market. Mapex brought this kit out as a strong competitor to all the other affordable sets, and it has some compelling features.

My favorite aspect of the kit is its cymbals. They’re also made from brass, but they’ve been hammered to add a bit more tonal complexity. They have much better sounds than the other cheap brass cymbals, so you’ll end up using them for far longer.

I also love how you get a 20-inch bass drum with this kit. It makes the kit sit a bit lower, and you get slightly more rebound from your pedal strokes, which many drummers will love.

The double tom holder makes positioning the toms comfortably a breeze, which is yet another compelling feature compared to what the other kits have.

Overall, it’s a solid option.

Shell Material: Poplar

Hardware: Hi-hat stand, boom cymbal stand, single pedal, throne, dual tom holder

Cymbals: Hammered brass 14” hi-hats, 18” crash

Roland TD-1DMK

Roland TD-1DMK

The Roland TD-1DMK (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a higher-quality option to consider if you’re looking for an electronic drum set.

Roland makes some of the best e-kits, and the sounds on this kit far outclass anything that comes on an affordable Alesis kit.

While this kit is better in quality than the Nitro Mesh, it has a few drawbacks to consider. The biggest one is that the pads are all smaller. The kick pad is also attached to the leg, making it less maneuverable.

If you can get past those aspects, I’d recommend this kit over any of the affordable Alesis ones. The module is fairly limited, but you get 15 top-tier preset kits, along with a few useful coaching functions.

Shell Material: Rubber cymbals and mesh pads

Hardware: Drum rack

What To Look For In a Cheap Drum Set

Brand

The very first thing that everyone should note when looking for a cheap drum kit is the brands that you’re seeing. I’ll mention a few specific brands with amazing options in the next section, but there are eight main brands that you should stick with if you want to have the safest purchase.

These brands are Yamaha, PDP, Pearl, Tama, Mapex, Ludwig, Gretsch, and Sonor. All these brands offer beginner kits, but they’re also most of the top brands in the drumming world. So, they’re known to sell quality drum sets, even in the cheaper ranges.

Alesis, Yamaha, and Roland are the brands to stick with if you want an electronic drum set.

The problem with buying a cheap drum set from an unknown brand is that you won’t know how the quality control is. If anything has a price that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

For example, the Mendini kits that you can get on Amazon are very popular for their low price tags, but most drummers using those end up breaking or replacing them very quickly.

The brands that I mentioned are guaranteed to give you a drum set that will last five to ten years, if not more.

Cymbals and Hardware

If you’re looking for a cheap drum set, it’s most likely going to be your first drum set purchase. Something really important to know about drums is that not all of them include a full rig when you buy them.

To have a full drum setup, you need hardware stands, pedals, a throne, cymbals, and the drum shells. Make sure to see if those things are included when buying a kit.

Many cheap kits come with everything you need, but the cymbals are never great if they are included. However, they’re decent for beginners who can’t recognize high-quality tones yet.

If a drum kit doesn’t come with stands and cymbals, it’s referred to as a shell pack. Most drum sets are sold as shell packs, especially at prices over $1000.

If you buy a shell pack, just be ready to purchase all the extras so that you end up with a full kit. The great thing about buying a full drum kit is that you can use the stands that came with it if you ever buy a higher-quality shell pack to replace the drums.

Size

Something else to take note of when buying a cheap kit is size. It’s very easy to be enticed by the price of a kit only to realize it was designed for children once you set it up.

You’ll find several kids’ drum sets when looking in this price range, and you’ll identify them by their shell sizes.

Kids’ drum sets typically have much smaller shells so that they sit closer to the ground. They also usually have it in their name that they’re designed for children.

Don’t confuse those with compact kits, though. Compact kits can be used by anyone. They’re the same size as many kids’ drum sets, but they’re much higher quality.

Acoustic vs Electronic Kits

I’ve included a few electronic kits in the above list, as not everyone is able to play a loud acoustic kit in their living space.

Electronic kits are brilliant options for drummers with a tight budget, as most of them come with everything you need besides a throne and an amp.

If you’re a beginner, learning on an electronic kit is a great way of getting to know the instrument. However, you have to be aware that electronic kits don’t give you the same realistic feedback as acoustic kits.

It may be difficult to shift over to an acoustic kit in the future if you’ve developed all your playing techniques on an electronic one.

Price

While pricing is the clearest factor you may be considering when looking for a cheap kit, there are a few more things to know that affect how much kits cost.

Some cheap kits come with everything you need, including hardware, cymbals, and the shells. You may see a kit costing less than one of those, but it will cost more when you add in the extras that you need.

If you’re looking for a high-quality kit that is still relatively affordable, you’ll need to buy a shell pack that costs between $600 and $1000. Anything costing less than that is typically a kit aimed at beginners.

If you want the most affordable option possible, you’ll be happy with kits costing less than that. Again, just make sure that they come with hardware and cymbals if you don’t have those already.

Resale Value

Resale value is the final aspect to consider. This is why I won’t recommend cheap kits from small and unknown brands. They’re much harder to sell when you’re ready to move to a better kit.

With these all being cheap drum kits, they’re not instruments that you’ll want to use forever. The natural progression of a drummer is to learn on an affordable kit and then buy something better once they’ve hit a certain level of proficiency.

You can save on your new higher-quality kit by selling your beginner one. With it being a cheap kit, you won’t be able to sell it for a lot. However, every bit helps, and the kits from major drum brands are much easier to sell for a good price.

Best Cheap Drum Set Brands

There are several top-quality drum brands that all sell amazing cheap drum sets. However, the brands that I’m about to mention sell more than one, so they cater to a wider audience with their larger choice pool.

Pearl

Pearl has been a leading drum kit brand for as long as most people can remember. One of the biggest contributors to the brand’s fame is their long history of making epic cheap drum sets.

The Pearl Export is one of the top-selling drum kits to ever exist, but there have been plenty of other kits too.

Ludwig

The Ludwig drum brand has a rich history in the music world, creating many of the first editions of certain drum kit components.

The biggest reason I’m mentioning Ludwig here is that there are some great options for kids from the brand. It’s always difficult to buy drum kits for kids, as you never know if they’re going to stick with the hobby or not. So, the cheap Ludwig kits are very enticing.

Tama

Tama sits in a similar position to Pearl when it comes to popularity and reliability. The brand has the largest number of compact drum kits available, and most of those are a lot cheaper than standard large kits.

If you’re looking for a good secondary kit to have, it’s well worth checking Tama’s product range out.

PDP

PDP drums are all inspired by DW kits in their design. The brand falls under the same umbrella as DW, which is one of the powerhouse companies in the drum industry. However, all PDP kits are much cheaper.

Even the most affordable PDP drum sets tend to have incredible build quality.

Alesis

If you want an affordable electronic drum kit, Alesis is the best brand to consider. The company is the go-to option for cheap e-kits.

The competing kits from Roland and Yamaha are all $500 or more, while Alesis sells a few decent options costing less than that.

Top Cheap Drum Sets, Final Thoughts

Remember that you need to look at everything included when buying your first kit. The chances are high that there will be a few missing components that you must purchase separately. Also, make sure that you’re getting an adult-sized kit if you’re an adult.

With that being said, all the kits I’ve listed above are incredible options to consider that will give you a good few years of fun and joy.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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