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TESTED: Drum Teacher’s Favorite Beginner Drum Sets

If you just started playing the drums, getting your first drum set is one of the most exciting things to do. Your best option is to look at beginner kits, as they come with most of what you need to start playing.

In this guide, we’re going to show you some of the best beginner kits available on the market. We’ve selected a mix of acoustic and electronic kits so that you’ll be able to find an option for whatever your playing situation is. 

We’ve compared these kits according to their value, price, sound quality, and playability.

Top 3 Beginner Drum Sets

The Pearl Roadshow is our Top Pick Winner. It’s a complete drum set that comes with full-sized shells, very sturdy hardware, and cymbals to get you started. We’ve found it to be the most reliable kit for beginners to start off with. 

Our Best Budget Option goes to the Pearl Roadshow Jr. kit. It’s a smaller, more affordable version of the Roadshow that is intended for kids. However, it’s large enough for an adult to play relatively comfortably.

The Tama Imperialstar is our Editor’s Pick. This is one of the best kits for beginners that has high-quality tones and construction. It sits at the top level of entry-level drum sets, and we love how many finish options you get.

Best Beginner Drum Sets: Individual Reviews

Our Top Pick
Pearl Roadshow

Pearl Roadshow

The ultimate acoustic drum kit package for beginners.

A full-sized acoustic set that comes with everything you need to play it straight from the box. No other entry-level kit beats the value for money on this one.

The Pearl Roadshow has stayed at the top of the beginner kit list for many years. We back that standing fully, as we haven’t seen any other acoustic kit that gives you as much for the price. 

We love how when you get sticks and a stick bag to get you fully equipped when you buy this set. It’s the one kit on this list that stops you from needing to buy anything extra. 

In terms of sound quality, the poplar shells have warm tones that sound great in the low end. We thought the kick drum had a good thump, while the snare drum sounded best when cranked quite tightly. 

The included stands were incredible. They’re very sturdy, and we felt that they boosted the overall quality of the kit. 

The big weak point was the cymbals. Brass cymbals are rarely good, but we found these ones to be very shrill and unmusical. Replacing those with a decent cymbal pack would be our first suggestion if you were to pick this set. 

Verdict: The Pearl Roadshow comes in an incredible package that includes every piece of equipment that a new drummer needs. It’s our top pick as we think it offers the most value out of any entry-level kit on the market. The cymbals are low-quality, but they can easily be upgraded, while the rest of the kit will last many years of good use.

Best Budget Option
Pearl Roadshow Jr.

Pearl Roadshow Jr.

An affordable full drum set for kids that can also be played by adults.

A smaller version of the popular Pearl Roadshow. This kit has compact shell sizes that make it an amazing option for children. However, you can raise all the drums high enough for an adult to comfortably reach everything, making it one of the cheapest compact kits available.

While it sounds a bit uninspiring to play on a children’s drum kit, we highly suggest you check this kit out. It’s the most affordable kit on this list, and the hardware is durable enough for you to play hard without anything moving or getting damaged. 

If you want to try playing the drums out, but you really don’t want to spend a lot of money, this is the kit we suggest getting. You’ll get a feel for how drumming works, and then you can decide if it’s something you want to pursue and invest more money into. 

You’ll need to replace the drum throne if an adult is using this set. It’s the one thing that can’t be raised high enough for peak comfort. 

Other than that, this kit will serve you well for a while before you feel the need to upgrade. 

Verdict: The Pearl Roadshow Jr. is an amazing kit for children who are beginner drummers. However, we also recommend it for adult beginners who are looking for the most inexpensive kit they can get. The tones aren’t the greatest, but you’ll get a good feel behind an acoustic setup. If you want better sound quality, you’ll need to buy something a bit more expensive.

Editor’s Choice
Tama Imperialstar

Tama Imperialstar

A high-quality beginner kit with premium construction and a great snare drum.

While it’s still considered an entry-level set, this drum kit would be perfectly usable in gigging settings. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, this would be an amazing first kit that will last you several years. 

The Imperialstar is a top-quality option for beginner drummers. Our favorite thing about this kit is the snare drum. Most poplar snare drums tend to sound quite boxy, but we managed to get a cracking tone from this one when using it in a high tuning. 

We also found the hardware that comes with the kit to be immaculate. It’s ideal hardware to keep when eventually upgrading to a better kit. Higher-priced kits only come as shell packs, so the premium hardware is very valuable. 

While the Meinl HCS cymbals are also made from brass, we thought that they were a bit more responsive than the no-name brass cymbals from other beginner kits. 

Overall, this kit is amazing. It just has a fairly steep price tag for a first drum kit. Out of all the kits on this list, we found this one to have the best finish options

Verdict: The Tama Imperialstar is a premium option for beginner drummers. It feels fantastic to play on, and the drums have relatively wide tuning ranges. The included cymbal stands are a highlight, but the whole kit gives you a great feeling of durability. If you’re willing to spend a bit more on your first kit, this would be our recommendation.

Also Consider
Alesis Nitro Mesh

Alesis Nitro Mesh

One of the best inexpensive electronic kits.

A very affordable kit with a full set of responsive mesh pads. With 40 preset drum kit sounds and 60 play-along tunes, beginners will get plenty of use out of the drum module.

If you’re looking for an affordable electronic kit, we highly suggest checking out the Alesis Nitro Mesh. It’s not the cheapest e-kit, but we’ve found it to be the only inexpensive one that has mesh pads and a proper bass drum pedal.

The benefit of mesh pads is that they give you a more realistic response from the pads that is comparable to playing acoustic drumheads

We noticed that this kit was quite small, and the drum rack was a bit limited in how high it could be raised. 

However, everything else about the set seemed excellent for beginners. We highly recommend the Nitro Mesh as a starter kit for drummers who can’t get an acoustic set. 

Verdict: The Alesis Nitro Mesh has excellent playability, making it a good option for beginner drummers. The mesh pads feel very responsive, and the kit comes included with everything except for a throne. The small size may make it feel a bit uncomfortable for taller drummers, though. The sound quality is also the lowest out of any Alesis drum module, but that’s not something beginner drummers will notice easily.

Also Consider
Ludwig Accent

Ludwig Accent

A complete drum set with excellent low tones.

Ludwig’s answer to the Pearl Roadshow. The Ludwig Accent is a full drum kit that comes with decent hardware and interesting Wuhan cymbals. Visually, it has all the aesthetic touches that Ludwig kits are so well-known for.

Our first impression of this kit was that it sounds quite large and powerful. All the toms had bellowing tones, making the kit excellent for beginner drummers who play rock music

The kit comes with 457 Series cymbals from Wuhan. Wuhan is one of the lesser-known cymbal brands, but we much preferred how these cymbals sounded compared to the no-name cymbals on the Pearl Roadshow. They were a bit brighter, and the crash/ride cymbal stood out the most.

From the front, this kit looked amazing. It has all the small hardware details that make Ludwig kits recognizable. We love that they’ve included those on even their most affordable sets. 

We just didn’t like how the rack tom rods stuck so deeply into the bass drum. You can see them very clearly when looking at the back of the kit, making us wish they were a bit shorter. 

Verdict: The Ludwig Accent is another excellent entry-level set that comes with everything you need to start playing. The only missing accessories compared to the Pearl Roadshow are a pair of sticks and a stick bag. The toms on this kit sound the best when tuned quite low, and we suggest getting this kit if you want something fitting for rock music.

Also Consider
Alesis Surge

Alesis Surge

A good entry-level electronic drum kit with a high-quality drum rack that suits all heights.

The next step up after the Alesis Nitro Mesh. This Alesis kit feels bigger, and the sound module has more customization options. It also has chokeable cymbals, which are a nice touch.

Even though this set has similar-sized pads to the Nitro Mesh, it felt a lot bigger to play on. The chrome rack was the cause of this, and we thought it was one of the best parts of the set. The legs are a lot longer, and we loved how sturdy the drums felt when playing. 

The module has fewer onboard sounds than the Mesh module. However, we found that it had more sound editing settings to work with. To us, these sound editing tools were incredible, as they allowed us to personalize the sound of each drum to get the best possible tones. 

Some of the onboard drum kits sounded poor at first but switching the EQ settings around made them sound a lot better

Overall, this is a fantastic beginner kit for all ages and heights. We just wish it came with sticks and a drum throne like the lower-priced Alesis kits do. 

Verdict: The Alesis Surge is an excellent electronic kit for drummers who want more control over the module sounds. We found the sound editing tools very easy to use, so new drummers will be able to figure them out quickly. This kit is also a good option for drummers who find the Alesis Nitro Mesh to be too small. Just note that you’ll need to purchase a drum throne separately if you get the kit.

Also Consider
PDP Center Stage

PDP Center Stage

A very well-built beginner kit from PDP.

This kit has surprisingly good construction quality, and the toms make it quite easy to achieve a good sound. With six different finishes, it’s an attractive option for drummers looking for a complete drum set.

Most PDP kits share construction features with DW’s famous premium kits. We didn’t recognize any of those with this particular PDP kit, but we were quite impressed with how it felt to play. The construction quality was excellent.

We also found it very easy to tune the toms to sound good, which gives this set a bit of an edge over the other ones when it comes to tuning. 

Apart from that, the kit is quite similar to the Pearl Roadshow and the Ludwig Accent. If you love those kits, but you want something with more color options, the PDP Center Stage is a strong contender. 

Verdict: The PDP Center Stage is a solid complete kit that will last many years. It’s very similar to the entry-level kits from other brands, so we think its biggest selling point is its larger number of finish options. The cymbals are quite weak, and they won’t last too long if you constantly hit them hard. So, you’ll need to upgrade those soon after getting the kit.

Also Consider
Mapex Venus Fusion

Mapex Venus Fusion

A high-quality beginner kit with fusion shell sizes. 

This kit has fusion shell sizes, meaning the kick drum is 20” and the floor tom is 14”. The drums have slightly less resonance, giving them quicker tones. The included brass cymbals are hammered, making them some of the best-sounding brass cymbals out there.

The Mapex Venus Fusion is an incredible drum set. Mapex often utilize high-end features in their affordable kits, setting them apart from the competition. We saw that on this kit with the SONIClear bearing edges

These are special bearing edges that Mapex use on their professional kits as well. They give the drums great tones, and we found that the thicker poplar shells rounded those tones out excellently. 

We were also big fans of the hammered brass cymbals. The extra hammering made them a lot more dynamically responsive than other brass cymbals, and we think that thought that these were the best-sounding cymbals out of all the kits on this list. 

The downside of this Mapex kit is its price. While it’s only slightly higher than the other options we’ve listed, you don’t get any added accessories, meaning there’s less value for the money. 

Verdict: The Mapex Venus Fusion is a great kit for drummers who want high-end build features in an affordable package. It’s also excellent for drummers who want the entry-level kit with the best-sounding cymbals. However, if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, this isn’t the kit for you.

Also Consider
Roland TD-1DMK

Roland TD-1DMK

A good beginner electronic kit with pristine sound quality.

This kit has the best onboard sounds out of any entry-level electronic kit available. The pads are also incredibly responsive to dynamics. The module is very simplistic, but it’s solid in what it offers.

Roland kits aren’t typically the best options for beginner drummers due to their high price tags, but this is one of the entry-level kits from the brand that we highly recommend. 

We found this kit to have the best playability out of all the electronic kits on this list. It was the most responsive to dynamics, and there were a few kits on the module that sounded incredibly realistic. 

While the drum pads were a bit smaller than the pads on Alesis kits, they felt better to play due to how the module interacted with them. 

If you’re willing to spend a bit more money on an electronic kit, you’ll be very happy with this one. The module doesn’t have any sound editing tools, but the stock sounds are already fantastic. 

Verdict: The Roland TD-1DMK is the most dynamically responsive beginner electronic kit. The sounds are amazing, and the pads feel great to play. The drawbacks are that the pads are quite small, and the module is very limited. We suggest getting this kit if you want the best sounds possible while buying something in the entry-level price range.

Also Consider
Yamaha DTX452K

Yamaha DTX452K

A simple electronic kit with app integration that expands playability.

This electronic kit has a very simple drum module that includes high-quality sounds that have mostly been recorded by pro Yamaha drum sets. You can also download an app on your phone and connect it to the module to unlock more features.

While we mostly recommend getting electronic drum kits with mesh heads, this kit sacrifices those to offer more trigger zones on the rubber pads

It’s one of the few electronic kits in the entry-level range that has a 3-zone snare drum pad. This means that you can play cross-sticks, standard notes, and rimshots. We found all three trigger zones to be really sensitive, making the snare drum feel amazing to play. 

We also loved using the DTX402 Touch App to alter drum sounds, play rhythm games, and use the coaching features. We think the app would benefit beginner drummers a lot. 

Verdict: The Yamaha DTX452K is an affordable electronic kit with extensive playability. It’s a bummer that the pads are rubber and not mesh, but the multiple trigger zones on the snare and the DTX402 Touch App make this kit a great option. We’d say that the drum sounds aren’t as good as Roland’s, but they’re better than the sounds on Alesis kits.

Also Consider
Alesis Command Mesh 

Alesis Command Mesh

The best entry-level kit in Alesis’ product line.

This kit offers the most features out of all the kits in Alesis’ entry-level product range. It feels great to play, but the real value is in the powerful drum module.

While this kit looks identical to the Alesis Surge, it has a superior drum module. Our favorite thing about this module is that you can import your own samples to play on the pads. That’s something that we couldn’t do with any other electronic kit on this list. 

The kit also had a whopping 629 onboard sounds to work with. We found many of these sounds to be quite poor in quality, but there were several good ones that we latched onto. The module did allow us to EQ the poor sounds, though. 

Apart from the module, this kit is the same as the Alesis Surge. So, it’s a good option if you’re looking for more electronic features. Otherwise, the Surge is the more affordable choice. 

Verdict: The Alesis Command has an incredible number of onboard sounds to work with. It’s also one of the only affordable electronic drum sets that allows you to import sounds to the module. We recommend it for drummers who love room for expandability. If that doesn’t interest you, then you’ll most likely be happy with an electronic kit that costs less.

How to Choose the Best Beginner Drum Set

Acoustic Kits vs Electronic Kits

Acoustic kits should be the first-choice option if you’re a beginner drummer. Inexpensive electronic kits lack many features that you’ll find on acoustic kits, such as being able to play rimshots, choke cymbals, and get different dynamics from playing different areas of drums. 

If you’re able to get an acoustic kit, that’s what you need to aim for, as learning on an electronic kit may stop you from developing certain techniques. 

However, electronic drum kit technology keeps getting better, and the entry-level kits available these days are far better than the ones from a decade ago. 

If you’re unable to get an acoustic kit, an electronic kit is the next best option. The benefits of electronic kits are that they’re more affordable in the entry-level range. They also give you more sounds and features to utilize

You’ll need a pair of headphones or an amp if you get an electronic set. Keep that in mind.

Complete Drum Sets

If you get an acoustic drum set, make sure to get a complete drum set package. These are package deals that come with drums, hardware, cymbals, and many come with added accessories

Since you’re looking for a beginner set, we’re assuming that you don’t have any gear yet. Complete drum sets offer all the gear you need to start playing straight after unboxing. 

If you buy a shell pack, it won’t come with any stands or cymbals, meaning you’ll need to buy those separately. That will add to the overall cost of a kit, and you’ll most likely end up spending more than you planned to.  So, complete drum sets are the answer. 

A common trend with complete drum sets is that they come with low-quality cymbals. For beginner drummers, these cymbals are usually fine for the first while. They’ll be the first things to replace if you want a higher-quality drum kit sound in the future. 


When it comes to acoustic drum kits, the main sizes are standard and compact. Most standard entry-level kits have the same dimensions with their snare drums and rack toms. You’ll find a bit of variation between floor tom and bass drum sizes between brands. 

Some brands offer the same kit with various size options. If you want a kit with standard sizes to cover all the bases, we suggest getting one that has a 20” or 22” bass drum and a 14” or 16” floor tom (learn how to measure here).

Any kit with a bass drum smaller than 18” is considered a compact kit. These kits are great for younger drummers. They’re also good for setting up in small areas. The smaller bass drums just don’t have as much punch and depth as the large ones do. 

Compact kits are more affordable, but they don’t feel as good to play as standard kits most of the time. 

Most entry-level electronic kits are very similar in size, barring the Alesis Nitro Mesh, which sits quite low to the ground. You’ll also find slight variations in the pad sizes between different e-kits. Larger pads are always better.

Final Thoughts on the Best Beginner Drum Sets 

Every drummer remembers their first kit vividly, be it a Pearl Export kit or the long forgotten CB700 kits of the 80s, so make sure that you pick a good one to start your drumming journey. 

Recapping our picks from above, the Pearl Roadshow is our Best Overall Option. It has unbeatable value for the money, and we think Pearl has done an excellent job in setting beginner drummers up for success. 

The Pearl Roadshow Jr. is our Budget Pick. It offers most of the same features but has smaller shells and costs less. Our Editor’s Choice goes to the Tama Imperialstar. It’s one of those first kits that you’ll keep for years. It has great sound quality along with wonderful finish options. 

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