Whether you are starting out on the drums or a seasoned veteran, you may be looking for a cheap drum set that won’t break the bank. The good news is, there are many options out there.
If you are reading this blog post because you are starting out playing drums, I’ve handpicked 2 great drum kits for beginning drummers. I’ll be highlighting one acoustic kit and one electronic drum set for you in this article.
If you’re a pro drummer, the acoustic kit I’m featuring can also be a great gigging kit. You may want to skip down to “Compact drum kit.”
The drum set
The modern drum set is actually a collection of percussion instruments added little by little for about the past 100 years. The first drum sets were used in vaudeville shows. They were also used as a part of an orchestra to play music and sound effects for silent pictures.
The drum set evolved greatly over the years and since the 1960’s, has remained mostly the same as we find today. In general, the modern drum set has the following parts. The photos below are in displayed in the same order:
- Bass drum
- Snare Drum
- Hi-Hat (a cymbal stand with a foot pedal)
- 1 or 2 tom tom drums mounted on the bass drum called rack toms
- A tom tom that sits on the floor, hence the name “floor tom”
- 2 or more stands with cymbals. Usually at least one crash and one ride cymbal.
This basic set up is of course modified by many modern drummers. To learn to play drums effectively in most musical situations however, you will generally need the above components.
The best drum brand
I sometimes get asked, what is the best drum brand. This is actually an impossible question to answer because every drum brand has high-end and a cheap drum sets.
I play Yamaha and Pearl drums. I have two high-end Yamaha drum kits and one entry-level compact Pearl drum kit. Check out my blog post about my Pearl Midtown cheap drum set.
To me, it really comes down to the sound you want. Go to your local drum store and drive the drum department crazy for an afternoon trying out different kits!
The compact drum kit
My Pearl Midtown kit may be a cheap drum set but it doesn’t sound like one. See below for more info on the Pearl Midtown drum set pricing.
I actually use my Pearl Midtown kit on recording sessions and live performances. This is primarily because I live in Japan and take the train everywhere.
The compact size allows me to travel almost anywhere a gig takes me. Even though it’s an entry level kit, it really sounds good and gets the job done. Check out this video of me playing it at a live performance.
I also did a video review of this drum kit. In the video, I explain my unique hardware set up too (hardware links are in the YouTube video description). As we drummers know, hardware is the heaviest part of our kits. For this reason, I worked to eliminate as much weight as possible.
This is the kind of kit that can be easily transported by hand truck, train, taxi, or car.
Best beginner drum set
Acoustic drum set
Hands down, I recommend the Pearl Midtown drum set for a beginner and as in my case, professional drummers can also get a lot of use out of it. It’s my acoustic drum set recommendation for this article.
It’s small, can fit into most apartments and can be muffled easily to reduce volume. Larger drum sets produce more volume and are harder to muffle so the Pearl Midtown makes sound proofing much easier.
I also have a video about how I make my drum set quiet for practice. I use this same approach with my Pearl Midtown kit.
Even though it’s small, you still get the feel of playing a real drum set for your practice. Sometimes beginning drummers really want that feeling so this kit will deliver.
Electronic drum set for beginners
If drumming noise is an issue for your living situation and you don’t need the feel of a real drum set as you begin learning drums, an electronic drum set may be the way for you.
Back when I started drumming in the 1980’s there weren’t so many options for electronic drums. They also didn’t feel or look like real drums.
Today, there are many electronic drums manufacturers and most of their kits are pretty darn good! As with acoustic drum sets, electronic drum kits have high-end and entry-level drum sets.
Roland electronic drum set
I’ve played on many of them and my top pick for a beginner electronic drum set is the Roland TD-1DMK. It’s got all of drum set parts you need from my list above. It also has nice selection of drum kits in the brain. The “brain” is the part of the kit that makes all the sounds.
By the way, I’m sharing affiliate links in this article. Buying through me is an easy and great way to support this blog. Thank you 🤙
There are plenty of drum kit sounds for your practice fun and it even has mesh heads giving it a more realistic drumming experience.
When I got the comparable model in the early 2000’s for my apartment, it was all hard gum rubber pads. Not an inspiring practice surface to compared to what you get today!
One obvious advantage to using an electronic drum kit is that it’s very quiet to play. What you hear mostly is the taping of the sticks on the drum pads. You can connect the brain to an amplifier or just use headphones. These are the headphones I use for my practice and in the recording studio.
How much does a drum set cost?
Drum set pricing varies wildly. Acoustic shell packs (the drums only) go from a few hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars US. The same is true in the prices of electronic kits.
Acoustic drum set
My advice for buying an acoustic drum set is to purchase a shell pack and then buy a hardware package and cymbal pack separately. The reason is that many times drum set packages include inexpensive hardware and cymbals to increase the profit margin for the companies selling them. Buying good drum gear that lasts is never a bad thing.
The Pearl Midtown is a cheap drum set that should give you some financial wiggle room for buying your hardware and cymbals. Below are my recommendations for a solid hardware package and good sounding cymbal pack.
Try not to skimp on the drum hardware and cymbals. If you buy really cheap, you’ll know why in a few months when everything starts breaking.
Yamaha is known for it’s durable and well-designed drum hardware. For this reason, I recommend the Yamaha HW-780 Single-Braced 700 Series Drum Hardware Package.
One additional piece of hardware not included in the drum hardware bundle above is the drum chair or drum throne. As I said above, you might also check out my article about 3 great drum thrones I recommend. This will give you 3 solid choices for your acoustic drum set up.
For cymbals, I have always been mostly a Zildjian guy because of the sound. I tend to like the darker, more controlled overtones in Zildjian cymbals. I recommend the Zildjian A391 Cymbal Set Bundle as a great starter and gigging cymbal set. Spending good money on quality cymbals is never a problem because you can and will use them forever.
Even though the cymbals cost more than the cheap drum set and hardware, you will be surprised how long and how often you’ll use them. You can even use them at clubs and rehearsals studios where there’s already a drum set.
If you want to make a quiet practice set up, you can pick up a quiet practice cymbal bundle. I have the Zildjian LV348 Low Volume Cymbal Set and here is another article about it as well.
Electronic drum set
If you don’t want to mess with getting all the drum gear for an acoustic kit, the low-cost Roland TD-1DMK electronic drum set might be just the ticket. It’s compact, all-in-one and very quiet without the need for much additional sound proofing.
If you are using an electronic kit on the 2nd floor or above, a thick mat underneath the bass drum and hi-hat pedals is recommended to reduce vibration into the floor. One great invention that reduces vibration is the Roland Noise Eater. It’s a cost-effective solution to the vibration problem.
As I said before, you’ll need to get the bass drum pedal and a drum throne. Other than that you’re all set!
How to set up a drum set
Setting up a drum set can be a bit of a puzzle at first. Figuring out how to extend your drum hardware and put the drums together is actually pretty easy.
The harder thing to know is exactly how to place your drum set components so they’re ergonomically easy to play. It’s important that your drums and cymbals are within reach and don’t wear out your arms when you play for extended periods of time.
It’s also important to know how high to adjust your drum throne. To learn these things and many other aspects of setting up your acoustic or electronic drum kits I have another good video on how to set up your drum set below.
Cheap doesn’t have to mean junk
Drum set shopping can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you need. Buying a cheap drum set can also be challenging because “cheap” usually means it will break soon.
All of the products I shared here are low-cost but built to last. With these kits, you’ll definitely get in hours, weeks, months and years of great practice and playing time.
I’ve helped countless students over the years to get their perfect drum kit. I hope I’ve been able to help you too! Groove on my friend!
What’s your favorite cheap drum set?
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