Cheap drum sets have come quite a long way compared to the ones released just a decade ago. Inexpensive materials have become more accessible in terms of production, making it possible for companies to output drum kits with lower costs.
Whether you are looking for a good starter kit to get your skills off the ground or you just want a good beater kit that you can store away in the garage for practice, we figured we’d provide some insight as to how you can find an affordable set that won’t sound like absolute garbage.
Trust us when we say this, there is nothing worse than playing a cheap drum kit that sounds like you are banging on ring-y, plastic buckets.
Let’s start by checking out the top brands we recommend and the budget-friendly kits from their line up.
- 1 Top 5 Cheap Drum Kits
- 2 Understanding Kit Pieces and Quality
- 3 How Much Should You Pay for a Cheap Drum Set?
- 4 Drum Set Purpose
- 5 The Setup
- 6 Drum Roll Please…
Top 5 Cheap Drum Kits
|Brand||Pearl||Ddrum||Mendini by Cecilio||Gammon||Ludwig|
|# of Pieces||5-Piece||5-Piece||5-Piece||5-Piece||4-Piece|
Pearl is easily one of the most highly-respected drum companies in the world, and just so happens to make one of the best drum kits for budget drummers.
Their Pearl Roadshow has been at the top of the list for budget drummers for years now. This is because it comes with a variety of high-quality materials for insane value.
A snare drum is one of the most important pieces of a drum set. Thankfully, this snare is incredibly dynamic and sounds great, no matter what genre of music you are playing.
The kit is made out of 9-ply, 7mm shells and comes complete with crash-ride cymbal, a chain-drive bass drum pedal, a drum throne, and maple sticks. Essentially, you have everything that you need to get started. The stands have double-braced legs as well so that they stay sturdy throughout your performance.
You can purchase the kit in an array of configurations, including rock, jazz, fusion, and new fusion. We highly recommend new fusion for those who aren’t sure, as it is the most versatile.
Bottom Line: The Pearl Roadshow is an all-around incredible drum set. From the advanced production technologies to the dynamic playability to the overall aesthetic, it is a definite winner when it comes to affordability.
Another excellent 5-piece drum set is the Ddrum D120B. It’s just a bit cheaper than the Pearl Roadshow and doesn’t offer the brand name recognition, though it still sounds impressive when you consider the fact that it’s so inexpensive.
You get 6-ply drums, just three plies shy of the Roadshow kit, though they still hold up and give you a sweet, sturdy sound.
The entire set comes complete with a hi-hat, crash-ride, 10” tom, 12” tom, 14” tom, and 20” bass drum. You also get a solid pair of drumsticks and a small drum throne so that you can get to playing right away.
This set has a unique aesthetic when compared to other sets. The black-coated hardware stands give it an interesting look while keeping the drums sturdy during your performance. The Basswood snare drum gives you a bit of a brighter quality overall while still providing a substantial amount of dynamic range.
Bottom Line: The Ddrum D120B provides you with everything that you need to get started playing drums at an insanely low price. It’s an excellent kit for both stage and studio!
While Mendini may not be known for making high-quality sets, they do make some of the best budget drum sets on the market.
Their 5-Piece Mendini drum set is perfect for those who are looking to practice at home. The shells are made out of a cross-laminated poplar material, which provides both strength and quality sound.
To add to the strength and durability, the company has added triple-flanged hoops and lugs that are black powder-coated for a cool look.
In all, you get a 22” bass drum, a 12” rack tom, a 13” rack tom, a 16” floor tom, a 14” snare, and a hi-hat and crash cymbal. You also get a chain drive bass drum pedal, a pair of wooden sticks, and a small throne.
The snare, cymbal, and hi-hat stands are all double-braced for added stability.
It’s incredibly easy to set up too, meaning you’ll be able to set it up and take it down if you don’t have room to keep it up all the time.
Bottom Line: The quality, cross-laminated poplar shells give you warmth, resonance, and versatility in your playing. Overall, the drum set is great for just about any beginner player, though we most recommend it as a practice set.
Moving down into the cheaper range, the Gammon Full Size 5-Piece Drum Set is excellent for those who are on a serious budget. It’s one of the most affordable, non-toy drum sets on the market and sounds great too.
We would highly recommend it as a practice kit, though, as it doesn’t have the best recording quality. With that said, you get everything you need to get started playing.
Gammon provides you with a 22” bass drum, a 12” wood snare, a 12” rack tom, a 13” rack tom, a 16” floor tom, and a hi-hat and crash cymbal. You also get a chain-drive bass drum pedal, a drum throne, a drum key, and a solid pair of drum sticks.
In terms of the look, you can purchase this set in a variety of colors to best fit your style. Each set comes complete with black powder-coated stands for a unique touch. They also provide you with a little instruction DVD to help get you started with all of the basics.
Bottom Line: If you are looking for a solid drum set to practice with at home, the Gammon Percussion 5-Piece is an excellent option. It comes with everything you need to get started and sounds solid for the rock bottom price.
Thought the Ludwig Questlove Kit might look small off the bat, you can’t underestimate the power of this thing when in the right hands.
The Kit was designed by the legendary Questlove himself and provides a way for both young drummers, or drummers without a lot of storage space, to play with ease.
You get everything that you need to play with right out of the box as well, including a 16” bass drum, a 10” rack tom, a 13” floor tom, a 12” snare drum, a hi-hat, and a ride-crash cymbal. You also get a foot pedal and a small throne.
Ludwig also provides access to free, online drum lessons and tutorials so that you can get the technique basics down. Yes, the size might give off that it is only for little kids who are getting into drumming, though many adults love it as well. If you are playing at smaller venues or in tight spaces, it is a perfect choice.
Bottom Line: If you are looking to capture the tight, funky sounds of Questlove, we recommend checking out this one-of-a-kind, miniature drum set. It sounds amazing and is great for players who can’t afford to sacrifice a ton of space for the sake of playing.
Understanding Kit Pieces and Quality
So obviously you won’t be spending a thousand dollars on a snare if you’re looking for a budget kit, though you should focus most of your buying attention on your snare compared to the rest of the kit.
This is because the snare is the heart of the drum set. Seriously, if you have a snare that sounds like garbage, it is likely to deter you from wanting to play.
This is where picking the correct drum shell comes in handy. There are a wide variety of different shell materials that range in price and sound.
Maple tends to be one of the most popular types of woods, though it is also pretty expensive to manufacture drums with. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, we would recommend checking out Poplar or Basswood snare shells.
After the snare, the biggest giveaways of a low-quality kit are the cymbals. Unfortunately, you won’t ever get extremely high-quality cymbals on a set that you are spending less than $500 on. You may want to keep that in mind and make room for improvements and upgrades later down the line.
Since we’re talking affordable drum sets here, your best bet is to find a set of cymbals that you can at least stand the sound of.
Most high-quality cymbals are made out of bronze material. When you look at cheaper cymbals, you’ll find that many of them are made out of brass to help keep production costs lower. Brass cymbals don’t sound great in comparison and will most likely deter you from wanting to play as much.
We recommend finding a cheap kit and then looking for a pair of used bronze cymbals to add to your kit for the best sound possible.
Just make sure they are strong enough so that they won’t crack if you’re a hard hitter.
Kick and Toms
The kick and toms might seem like the most essential pieces of your kit due to the amount of the set that they take up, though you can do a lot with a kick and toms to adjust the sound once you have them.
Using different drum heads, muffling them with pillows or cushions, or tuning your drums properly, can largely affect the overall sound.
When it comes to buying an affordable drum set, you’ll want to worry less about the shells of these drums and more about the durability of them. Cheap kits with poor-quality shells might warp or crack over time.
If you can, watch videos of them in action and read reviews to see how these drums are holding up with other players.
How Much Should You Pay for a Cheap Drum Set?
Pricing is essential if your main goal is to find a drum set on a budget. Remember, even though we look as drum sets as single instruments, they are made from many pieces that you can upgrade over time.
Don’t think that just because you’re buying a cheap kit now that you can’t change things down the road.
With that said, don’t get something that is so cheap that you won’t enjoy playing it. You won’t end up playing your set if it doesn’t sound good to you, which makes the entire thing kind of pointless, wouldn’t you agree?
All of the drum kits that you will find on this list will set you back no more than $500 (pretty reasonable if you ask me).
Drum Set Purpose
- Why are you buying this drum set?
- Do you need something new to play on stage with?
- Are you looking to record in your home studio?
- Do you need a kit to throw in your garage that you can practice on?
Think about your goals as a drummer. Buying a drum set should not be a sudden decision. You should think through what exactly you want to use it for. This can have a major impact on what you ultimately decide to buy.
If you are new to drumming and aren’t sure if you’re going to stick with it, you can go for a practice set.
Or if you want to go and play live, you might want to consider getting something that is easy to transport and looks good on stage.
Remember the 80s when massive drum sets were all the rage? It seems ridiculous looking back and seeing these drummers on stage behind a wall of 20 or 30 different drums. Fortunately for you, you only need a simple setup to play about 99% of music out there.
When looking for a cheap drum set, we recommend looking for one with the following drums:
- Rack Tom
- Floor Tom
Drum Roll Please…
Whatever reason it is that you are looking for a budget drum set, be it you are new to playing, or you need a good beater kit for practice, we hope that this article has helped you narrow down your choices.
Every drum set is going to have a unique sound, so we highly recommend watching some videos of them in action or heading down to your local music shop to try some out.
If we had to choose the best of the best, it would be the Pearl Roadshow. From the versatile sound to the durable, long-lasting build, it’s a drum set that even veteran drummers will find good things to say about.
We wish you luck in finding your perfect cheap drum set and growing as a drummer!