People often ask – can I play in a band if I get one of the best cheap drum sets around? My answer is always yes.
But you have to understand that affordable and budget drum kits won’t ever be that amazing. Since they’re more oriented towards practicing and learning the instrument there are some limitations.
So how can you find the right balance between a cheap set and a beginner set? And how can you get some stage or band practice use out of your drum kit? Here are some products to get you started and some tips on how to find the best fit.
Best Cheap Drum Sets to Get You Started
Table of Contents
- Best Cheap Drum Sets to Get You Started
- Why I Recommend a 5-Piece Kit
- Features and Hardware Worth the Extra Buck
- Drum Kit Sizes
- A Few Words on Poplar Shells
Pearl’s Roadshow five-piece drum kit is nothing if not beginner-friendly – and then some. The kit has the following pieces: 14”x 5.5” snare, 16”x16” floor tom, a 10”x 8” and 12”x 9” toms, and a 22”x 16” bass drum.
This is more than a basic setup. It has everything you’ll need to play basic and complex rhythms, fills, and solos in any genre. You also get a 16” crash and standard 14” hi-hat. Stands are also included for everything, as is a drum throne.
Granted, the throne isn’t the most comfortable but it’s adjustable and stable, which is more than enough when you’re starting out. The nine-ply poplar shells offer a smoothness to the drums as well as a warmer sound and more bass.
The hoops are ok but nothing too special, and won’t do much to impact the tone. When all is said and done, this is one of my favorite sets because it comes complete and is an upgrade to a complete beginner kit. In my opinion, you can use it as a transitional drum kit.
This blue Ludwig Accent Drive drum kit may be a bit too flashy for some people. But it does come with all the drum parts and hardware you’ll need to start learning the instrument right away.
A standard 22” bass drum is included, as are three toms – a 16” x 16” floor tom and 10” and 12” mounted toms. A beginner 14” snare drum is also included, as are a 16” crash/ride cymbal and a set of 13” hi-hats.
Due to the smaller size of the hi-hats, I would argue that this won’t be the loudest or most well-balanced drum kit you can get your hands on. While great for rehearsing, studying, and learning in general, I wouldn’t recommend it for indoor gigs unless you make some upgrades to it.
The workmanship is very good but the Accent Drive is lacking in one area – beginner-oriented guides. There’s no good instruction manual or pamphlet on how to set up the drums. So, if you’re a complete beginner, you may have to follow a generic online tutorial after unboxing everything.
Ashthorpe offers a beginner-friendly adult drum kit with Remo batter heads. Talk about durability and enhanced tonal qualities at a bargain price.
The kit is put together of a 22” x 16” bass drum, 13” x 10” and 12” x 9” mounted toms, a wired 14” x 6” snare, and a 16” x 16” floor tom. So far so good. You’ll also get 14” hi-hat cymbals and a 16” crash cymbal.
What sets this set apart, besides the premium Reno heads, is the fact that it comes with drumsticks, chain-driven pedals, an adjustment key, as well as a very nicely padded stool. So there’s no excuse not to start practicing right out of the box.
I also like the overall design and appearance of the drum kit. It has a professional quality to it and can be used beyond the needs of a beginner practitioner. The drum kit doesn’t have a lot of volume but it does have a rich sound with good bass and nice articulation.
Although Ashthrope doesn’t have the longevity of other manufacturers nor the tonal consistency, this drum kit is big enough for adults to play comfortably on it. Plus, it’s affordable, and comes with everything you need.
Available in three colors, the Rise by Sawtooth Student Drum set offers everything you need to get started. It has 12” x 8” and 13” x 9” mounted toms, a 16” x 16” floor tom, a 22” x 16” kick drum, and a 14” x 5” snare drum.
For my taste, I find the snare drum a bit small, but it does have a nice attack that beginners might find more approachable. The shells are made of six-ply poplar, which means that they’re warm-sounding but still have plenty of mids and highs accents.
The included hardware includes stands, tom arms, tom legs, a drum stool, drum key, and a set of drumsticks. Also, 14” hi-hats and a 16” crash/ride cymbal are included. As you can see, the setup is a bit above basic.
What I also like about this drum kit is that it comes with a Zildjian ZBT Cymbal Pack option. If you’re serious about pursuing drums, I suggest opting for the premium cymbals pack upgrade. The standard ones are ok but not very durable.
Given the similarities to other reviewed cheap drum kits, you may be asking yourself what can this one offer? First of all, it’s one of the cheapest five-piece kits you can buy. Secondly, it has one of the most impressive midrange-oriented sounds, as opposed to most competitors in this price range.
I’m also impressed by the quality of the hardware, and think that for beginners this might matter more than the quality of the drum heads. Sound is important but so is having a kit that can take a beating.
The pieces included are as follows: 22” bass drum, 16” x 16” floor tom, 14” x 5.5” snare, 10” x 7” and 12” x 8” mounted toms. As you can see, the kit is small but not too small. Given the setup and the hardware, I actually think this is best suited for beginners over the age of 10.
All things considered, the kit is solid. Even the 14.5” hi-hats have good resonance and aren’t too flimsy. A throne, drumsticks, and pedals are also included, as is a key. However, the drum pedal is not my favorite.
6. BCP SKY1263
The BCP SKY1263 may be the last entry but it’s nothing if not good enough for practicing and learning drums at a later stage in life. The bass drum is 23” x 16.5” and has a bit more power than most beginner-oriented bass drums.
Two mounted toms, a floor tom, hi-hat and ride cymbals are also included. The hardware is comprised of tom arms, floor mounts, stands, and two pedals. The set is complete and also comes with a basic drum stool and drumsticks.
I should also point out that for a cheap drum kit, the high-gloss finish looks quite premium. While the overall durability and quality of the drums is nothing too impressive, appearance-wise it does a good job of looking above its price range.
Between the chrome detailing, hardware adjustability, and price point, I find this to be a very interesting choice. The sound is almost neutral with nothing popping out in insane detail. But, the slightly larger drum pieces and hardware adjustability allow even taller adults to sit comfortably on the stool and learn the instrument.
Why I Recommend a 5-Piece Kit
A basic drum kit doesn’t necessarily have five components. You can play plenty of rhythms with just a snare, hi-hat, bass drum and one tom. Sometimes not even that. So why go for additional components?
Well, I think that a 5-piece drum kit isn’t as complex as some people would advertise it. You don’t have to hit all the toms when you play but it’s nice to have them already there so that you can gradually progress your practice routines. As well as learn additional songs.
Features and Hardware Worth the Extra Buck
If you’ve been struggling to find a good beginner drum kit, you’ve probably noticed that not all of them come with all the hardware you need. Some don’t include stools, others don’t include the pedal, and some don’t even come with a drum key for tension adjustments.
My picks come with pretty everything you need. But here’s what I think is worth paying extra for and what isn’t.
Drum stools and drum pedals can cost a pretty penny. Although the quality may not always be ideal, it’s best to get these in a bundle with the drum kit to avoid paying extra. For beginner purposes, even generic pedals and stools will do.
A drum key is also essential. Therefore, try to find one included if you can. The type of drum pedal is less important. To begin with, you won’t need fancy chain-drive action pedals, double pedals, and other stuff like that.
Quality cymbals are also important in my opinion. Fixing them isn’t always an option and if they crack too fast either due to improper handling or because you don’t know how to control your hits, you’ll have to buy new ones in order to keep practicing.
Drum Kit Sizes
Drum kit sizes are usually calculated by how adjustable the hardware is and, of course, the size of the bass drum. Most beginner sets come with 20” or 22” bass drums. With variations like 22” x 18” or 22” x 16” – you get the gist.
However, I would argue that going one size higher, perhaps to 23” or 24” isn’t a bad idea. These bass drums tend to come with better hardware and may be more suitable for larger individuals.
There’s also an improvement in resonance. Even if the materials and craftsmanship are largely responsible for sound and volume, the size of the drum is just as important. So keep that in mind if you want cheap beginner drum kits that can also be used on stage.
A Few Words on Poplar Shells
Note that most cheap or budget-friendly drums will have poplar shells. Typically, these are triple-ply, six-ply, or nine-play shells. The material isn’t high-end by any means. But, it’s a great way for manufacturers to bring down the price.
Another advantage of poplar shells is that they tend to produce softer mids and highs. And, instead, offer an emphasis on bass. This can be a very good thing if you’re not interested in a very bright and punchy sound that will cut through anything.
Exotic woods are much rarer in this price range, as are walnut, mahogany, oak, cherry, and others.
Be Smart When Managing Your Costs
No one says that you can’t play on cheap drum kits and still keep an audience engaged. It’s all about picking the right components, hardware, and making the most of what you can with your budget. But take it from me. Most affordable drum kits will be student models or beginner models.
As drum kits get more expensive, better and more premium materials and design features are used. So it’s important to manage your costs but also your expectations in terms of sound. My top picks are well above average in quality and tone. It now depends on what you want to play and how well you know how to play, to pick the right model and make it sound way above its price point.