6 Best Beginner Drum Sets – Top Picks for All Ages and Genres

Drummers are so underrated that it’s not even fair. Everyone recognizes the lead singer or the lead guitarist but very few people take their time to notice the drummer. This happens a lot, especially in pop music.

Being a drummer carries immense responsibility – it’s the drum that dictates the rhythm. It takes years of practice to develop all that muscle memory and groove memory.

But of course, everyone has to start somewhere. Don’t worry, it’s never too late to pick up an instrument, not even drums.

Starter Drum Kits for Any Style of Play

There’s no right or wrong music genre to begin your drumming experience with. Here are my picks for the best beginner drum sets regardless of style, age, and experience.

1. Pearl Roadshow RS525WFC - Best for Rock

We’ll start things off with the Pearl Roadshow. This is a 5-piece starter drum kit of impressive sound quality and durability. As expected of a manufacturer like Pearl, you get only the best in hardware with dual-reinforced and double-braced legs.

Stability is important when you’re a beginner, as it can give you a big confidence boost. The pieces are a bit larger than those found on most starter kits. The bass drum is 22”x16” and the snare is 14”x6.5”. They may not be the best for kids but the sound quality is there.

There are also three toms included as well as a hi-hat and cymbal on stands. In terms of learning beats and rhythms, there’s nothing you can’t learn on the Roadshow RS525WFC drum set.

Due to the overall good quality of both the materials and the sound, the big advantage of the RS535WFC kit is that you can also use it for gigs and rehearsals. Not many beginner drum sets allow you this opportunity, so this is where Pearl adds great value for the money.

  • Stage-ready starter kit
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    5-piece set
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    Drum key included
  • A bit large for kids
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    Poor quality sticks

2. Mendini Junior Drum Set - Best for Kids

There’s nothing wrong with learning to play drums on a professional drum kit. There’s also nothing wrong with getting a junior drum set for kids. The young ones will have an easier time picking up correct habits and muscle memory as the smaller kit components are easier to reach.

Mendini usually does a great job of creating starter drum kits with decent sound quality. Their Junior Drum set is actually a 5-piece set, which means there’s no limit to what your kid could learn in terms of music theory and grooves.

Because of the size of the drum kit, it’s not suited for anyone over 5 feet tall. It’s also probably best if kids under the age of 3 don’t use it since it does have plenty of small parts that may present choking hazards.

Unlike the Pearl starter drum kit, Mendini’s Junior Drum set is not stage ready. The sound quality just isn’t there for more than rehearsals and practice. It’s not loud enough or clear enough to make that happen.

That being said, here’s what the 5-piece set contains: bass drum, snare drum, three toms, hi-hat, crash cymbal, adjustable seat, pedal, drumsticks, and an instruction manual for the installation. It’s worth mentioning that the cymbals and the front toms come with a mounting system.

This helps give the set more stability than most starter kits which favor stands. The durability is a bit questionable as the manufacturer only offers a 1-year warranty.

  • 5-piece set
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    All accessories included
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    Mounted toms and cymbal
  • Only suitable for kids

3. Gammon 5-Piece Adult Drum Set - Best for Adults

Don’t be scared of an adult set. As I’ve said, you can start learning to play the drums at just about any age. It’s a matter of coordination and will. The conditioning develops along the way.

This Gammon adult drum kit is also a starter set. It has a floor tom, two mounted toms, bass drum, snare, hi-hat, and a crash cymbal. Only the two front toms are mounted, everything else is either on the floor or on a stand.

So why does this qualify as a starter drum kit? Well, despite its regular size the sound quality just isn’t there for recording or live performances. The quality of the wood is also average, presumably to reduce the price.

It’s a starter drum kit because you won’t feel sorry if you break something or if you scratch up the wood. At the same time, the standard size allows adults to start learning on a more suitable platform. The muscle memory can form quicker as everything can be adjusted to be within optimum reach.

The sticks are nothing special so you could swap those out as you progress. Obviously, different weight types are better suited for certain musical genres. But, that may not always be the case. It seems that self-taught drummers don’t always follow the norm when it comes to picking equipment.

  • 5-piece set
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    Full sized kit
  • Poor quality accessories

4. Pearl Export EXX725S 5-Piece Drum Kit - Best New Fusion Drum Kit

Some say that jazz may not be the easiest genre to start with. While there is some truth to that, not all beginner drummers start on equal footing. Some people are just better musicians who only have to put in a nominal amount of work to pick up playing drums.

The Pearl Export-series EXX725S is a very good starter drum kit if you’re into jazz and fusion. The shell quality on the EXX725S does a great job of generating low-end sounds with extended sustain.

Although a bit difficult to install, the three-way mounting system will teach you everything you need to know to set up your kit later on. As a professional drummer, knowing the beats and the grooves is not enough. You should be able to assemble your own kit on stage and make adjustments to better suit your playing style.

The pedal is of high quality for a starter kit. It’s smooth and offers little resistance. It’s also very durable which means you can expect to play with it for years to come, long after your novice days are over.

  • High quality pedal
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    Lifetime warranty
  • Have to pay extra for optional cymbals
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    Very particular sound

Make no mistake, there are plenty of students that have never touched a drum kit before. That’s not always helpful as college-level classes demand a certain amount of steady progress. This means that the sessions are usually longer and more intense and the knowledge must be absorbed faster.

The reason this starter drum set is best suited for students is the superior durability. This is made to withstand a pounding on a daily basis without cracking the cymbals every week from intense activity or poor-aimed hits.

The set lets you play a variety of genres as it is a 5-piece set with three toms, a hi-hat, and a crash ride. They’re all on stands except the two front toms which are on a mounted system for better stability.

All the tools needed for assembly and adjustments are included. You’ll also have everything you need to learn how to tend to your drum kit, not just how to play on it.

  • All accessories included
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    Great durability
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    Decent sound
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    Compatible with multiple musical genres
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  • The pedal is not high-end
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    The floor tom needs thorough tension adjustment

6. Mendini 5-Piece Adult Drum Set - Best for Teens

I know it says adult but this Mendini starter drum kit is better suited for teens than adults. The 5-piece kit is a bit better in quality than the junior set previously mentioned. The durability is considerably higher as the drums can endure harder hits.

The sound quality is above average but nothing near stage-viable. Because of this, it’s not really a good adult drum set but it’d be great for teen practice and teen garage bands.

The drum sticks are surprisingly good, as is the drum stool. The stool is adjustable and has quality padding. The bass drum pedal uses chain drive but it lacks a certain sensitivity that fast tempo genres such as progressive and metal call for.

  • Good intermediate drum kit
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    5-piece kit
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    Quality laminated poplar shells
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    Average quality drum bass pedal
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    Drum key not included
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    Not enough punch in the bass drum

Knowing the Big Three Components

There are many pieces to drum sets and it’s not easy for a beginner to know which ones are important and worth the money. Here’s what you need to know about the starter pieces.

As far as you’re concerned, at the beginning of your learning journey your drum kit only needs three components:

  • Bass drum - the biggest drum that’s usually at the center of any kit. This is how you get your downbeats.
  • Snare drum - the sharp sound created by the snare establishes the rhythm of any song.
  • Hi-Hat - the hi-hat accompanies the snare. Both the hi-hat and the bass drum are played with pedals so they both make for good practice.

Everything else you get on a starter kit is pure luxury. In terms of initial investments, you don’t really need toms or extra cymbals. That is, if you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with knowledge at the start.

My Take on Standard vs. Electronic

Nothing beats the sound of an expertly made traditional drum kit. However, not everyone has the luxury of having a space to practice in. This is where the electronic drum kit comes in handy.

If you don’t want to bother your parents, siblings, neighbors, and what have you, getting an electronic kit might be the only way of learning to play the drums. They make virtually no noise and while they’re mostly used for recording purposes, they can make your dream come true in an apartment setting too.

Unfortunately, electronic drum sets can get expensive. They only make sense as a beginner option if you’re sure about your commitment to become a drummer.

Should You Always Trust the Brand?

There are a couple of well-established brands that cater mostly to drummers in their learning phase. That’s not to say that popular manufacturers don’t also come out with decent starter drum kits for the masses.

The downside of most of these pro starter kits is often the price. You would expect that top drum kit manufacturers would offer higher quality drum sets with better materials, superior sound, and durability. Sadly that’s not often the case.

Brands that focus on creating learning equipment often deliver superior products. So, don’t be fooled by logos if you’re buying a starter set. You may be on your way to overpaying.

Genres Matter Too

Last but not least, think about the genre you want to play. Skills and preferences develop and change over time but the initial choice is very important. You may not like learning rhythms for rock on a 5 or 6-piece set made for jazz or progressive.

The genres also dictate the difficulty of the learning curve. It is sometimes best not to overcomplicate things by having too many drum components to hit, i.e. multiple toms and multiple cymbals or even a double bass pedal.

No one says it’s mandatory to start with basic setups but it sure helps in some situations. Depending on what genre you want to play at the beginning, you’ll need a particular type of drum setup and sound to get the ball rolling in your favor.

Wrap Up

Based on the quality of most starter drum kits, you may be wondering if it’s really worth buying one instead of getting a professional kit. Here’s one way to look at it.

Professional drum kits are very expensive. What you see at concerts or in recording studio costs serious dough. Drumming is not easy to pick up and a lot of beginners might feel overwhelmed and quit even from a basic 3-piece drum kit.

The whole point of a starter set is to have something that won’t break the bank while still coming close to professional playing conditions. Once your muscle memory is formed and you’re ready to commit and improve further, only then does it make sense to go the extra mile for professional sound quality.

Gavin Whitner
    Gavin Whitner

    A guitar player, lyricist, composer, and also the lead editor of MusicOomph, Gavin is one of the four musician friends behind this site. Outside of music, he's an avid sports fan and hardly misses anything from football (soccer) to F1.

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