The Best Junior Drum Sets For Kids - A Guide For Grown-Ups

Junior Drum Sets

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We have written this guide for adults, including both musicians and non-musicians, who want to buy a drum set for children of about 10 years of age or younger.

If the intended recipient is much older than that, or if they're tall for their age, then please refer to our guide for full-sized beginner drum sets.

For this 2019 update, we've divided our recommendations into separate sections for 3, 4 and 5 piece kits - we primarily recommend 5-piece kits for the reasons explained below, however, the smaller 3-piece options will appeal to those with limited space in which to set up the drums.

The Best Junior Drum Sets for Kids

Things to Know Before You Buy a Drum Set for Kids

  • What is a junior drum set?

    While there is no 'official' definition, we characterize Junior drum sets as being smaller with 16-inch diameter kick drums being the most common size. For this guide, we only considered drum kits with 18 inches or smaller kick drums, including some 'Jazz' kits (with 18-inch kick drums) which are also played by adults, whereas full-size kits usually have kick drums that are 20 inches or larger.

  • What age groups are Junior drum sets for?

    There's no exact answer here because it depends partly on their height but these are best suited for children aged from 3 to 10. For children who are taller than average, or older than this range, then we recommend getting a full-sized kit - see our guide to The Best Beginner Drum Sets.

  • Does it have everything kids need?

    Some junior drum sets don't come with hi-hats. If you want your kid's drum set to help them to learn to play properly then it will need to have hi-hats, at least 1 crash cymbal, at least 1 tom, a snare, a bass/kick drum and a throne/stool to sit on. All of the drum sets we've recommended below are full kits including cymbals, hi-hats and all necessary hardware.

  • Should you get ear protection for kid drummers?

    Yes. Drums and cymbals are loud and prolonged exposure can lead to hearing damage.You can find a list of the highest-rated earplugs in our guide to The Best Earplugs For Musicians.

  • What does the number of pieces mean?

    Only the drums are counted as the pieces - cymbals and other items are not included in the count. So when a drum set has a snare, kick drum and 3 toms, this adds up to 5 pieces.

  • How many pieces are best?

    We recommend getting a 5-Piece kit if possible because if the child really gets into drumming then this will give them a better grounding in drumming techniques. However, if space is limited, then a 3-piece kit will take up a bit less space both when set up and when packed up for transport to play with others.

  • Drum Sticks

    Usually, these are included when you buy a junior drum set but not always and it's frustrating to have your kit delivered without sticks. I recommend buying a couple of sets of different weights: Vic Firth 5A at Amazon - Vic Firth 5B at Amazon. It's important to know that sticks wear out and break so you really should have a spare set on hand for when the inevitable happens.

  • Drum Sizes

    In this guide, we state the diameter first, then the depth. So a 10" x 5" snare is 10" in diameter and 5" deep. Some manufacturers and retailers state the measurements the other way around.

Some Helpful Drum Set Terminology

  • Ply - a ply is a single layer of wood. Drum shells are typically made from multiple layers of wood so a 9 Ply shell means it has 9 layers.
  • Drum Kit vs Drum Set - these terms are essentially interchangeable and mean the same thing at music retailers.
  • Drum Throne vs Drum Stool - both these terms mean the same thing, it's the seat you sit on to play drums.
  • Kick Drum vs Bass Drum - in terms of drum sets these terms are also interchangeable and mean the same thing. Technically a kick drum is designed to be used with a kick pedal but there are bass drums not designed for that purpose such as ones you might see played in an orchestra or marching band.
  • Drummer's Key - These are used to loosen and tighten the lugs on your drum heads to tension and tune them to the pitch you want.

The Best Junior Drum Sets - Detailed Descriptions

3-Piece Junior Drum Sets

GP Percussion GP50

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 500+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$180
GP Percussion GP50 Acoustic Junior Drum Set

This is a budget kit and the highest-rated 3-piece junior kit available at the time of publication for the second year in a row.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

  • 16" x 11" Bass Drum
  • 10" x 5" Snare
  • 10" x 6" Tom
  • 10" Crash Cymbal
  • Hi-Hats
  • Bass Drum Pedal
  • Throne
  • Drum Key
  • Drumsticks
  • All stands and hardware included

Specifications:

  • 6 lug bass drum
  • 5 lug tom
  • Single braced hardware

Pros

It gets good reviews for durability with some parents reporting that it's still going strong well after a year since they bought it. Many people said in their customer reviews that it was fairly easy to set up when it arrived, however, some said the exact opposite. The number of people who found assembly relatively easy well outnumbered those who had trouble with it. While it can't be considered a 'professional' drum kit, it does the job well of introducing young children to the instrument and it will last long enough for them until they require moving up to a higher level kit.

Cons

The main complaints were about the quality of the cymbals - quite a common complaint with budget drums. There were a few complaints about the difficulty in setting up the kit, some suggested there should be better instructions included and some said parts should be labeled. It only has single braced hardware, but that's strong enough for young kids - just be careful about letting adults sit on the drum throne.

Overall

Several customers said that this kit is good for 8-year-olds or younger, but probably too small for older children.

Sound Percussion Labs Lil Kicker

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$160
Sound Percussion Labs Lil Kicker 3-Piece Acoustic Junior Drum Set

This is another budget 3-piece drum set that has received many positive reviews from people who bought it for children 5 years old and under.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

  • 16” x 12” bass drum
  • 10” x 4” snare
  • 8” x 5” tom
  • Hi-hats
  • Crash/ride cymbal
  • Adjustable height cushioned drum throne
  • Kick pedal
  • Drum tuning key
  • Drum sticks
  • Set up instructions
  • All stands and hardware included

Specifications:

  • CPSIA certified for ages 3 and up
  • Available in black, wine red and white finishes
  • Multi-ply wood shells
  • Tunable and replaceable drumheads
  • Single braced hardware

Pros

This has been on our recommended list since January 2017 and it continues to get our stamp of approval due to the ongoing positive reviews it has accumulated. "A good starter kit for toddlers" was a common sentiment in customer reviews. Most people were happy with the sound of the bass drum and the snare. Although it only has single braced hardware most people reported that it was sturdy enough for children.

Cons

Many people who know a bit about drum sets said the cymbals were rather weak sounding, but that's a common complaint with junior kits. One reviewer counted this as positive because the cymbals weren't loud.

Overall

Most parents and grandparents reported that their little drummers were very pleased with their new drum kit when they got this.

4-Piece Junior Drum Set

Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit

85
GEARANK

85 out of 100. Incorporating 70+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$249

Ludwig has partnered with renowned drummer, Amir "Questlove" Thomson to create the Pocket Kit made for children ages 4-10 years old. Aside from the hardware, it also includes all access to a series of web-based lessons to help with key setup, adjustment and playing technique.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

  • 16" x 12" Bass drum
  • 10" x 6" Tom tom
  • 13" x 10" Floor tom
  • 12" x 16"Snare drum
  • Foot pedal
  • Hi-hat stand
  • Cymbal arm
  • Snare stand
  • Drum throne
  • Drum sticks
  • Drum key
  • Hi-hats
  • Crash/Ride Cymbal

Specifications:

  • Hardwood shell material
  • Comes in a black, silver or red sparkle finish

Pros

A lot of reviewers praised the quality of its hardware, especially the construction of the shells. Its cymbals also have a fairly decent sound for a beginner kit. Many of them found it easy to assemble and tune within a few hours with the help of the video tutorials. One user pointed out that it had extra useful components that aren't usually found in inexpensive drum sets, such as memory locks for the cymbal arm, thread lubricant for the lugs and a rubber protector pad that's used to attach the kick pedal to the kick drum.

Cons

Several reviewers held this kit to a higher standard than they would with other small drum sets due to it being from such a well-respected brand known for their full-size professional drum kits. Some reviewers mentioned its factory heads were not as good sounding as they would have liked and replaced them with new drum heads. A few reports said this is a bit too big for under-fives. It disappointed some since it did not come with an instructional manual, although the videos on the manufacturer's website were informative.

Overall

This is a great beginner's drum kit with an exceptional value for its price. Just beware that it might be a little too big for kids under 5.

5-Piece Junior Drum Sets

Mendini MJDS-5

86
GEARANK

86 out of 100. Incorporating 750+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$180
Mendini MJDS-5 Acoustic Junior Drum Set w/ 16" Kick

This brand specializes in making Junior Drum Sets, and while they don't have the same prestige as brands like Ludwig, they provide good value at a lower price point which is important if you're not sure whether your junior drummer will want to continue playing once the novelty factor wears off.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

  • 16" x 11" Bass drum
  • 10" x 5" Tom tom
  • 8" x 6" Tom tom
  • 12" x 10" Floor tom
  • 10" x 6"Snare drum
  • Foot pedal
  • Hi hat stand
  • Cymbal arm
  • Snare stand
  • Drum throne
  • Drum sticks
  • Drum key
  • 8" Hi-hats
  • 10" Crash Cymbal

Specifications:

  • Laminated wood shells
  • Comes in a range of colors including metallic silver, metallic black, metallic green, metallic blue, metallic wine red, and metallic bright red.

Pros

Most owners are quite pleased saying words to the effect that this is a good starter kit for the price. Positive reports came from those who bought it for kids ranging in age from 2.5 to 10 years old. There were quite a few customer reviews written 6 or more months after purchase saying that the kit was reasonably durable and still going strong.

Cons

Some parents who bought this as an upgrade for children who already had a smaller 3-piece set, and had shown they were really into drumming, were disappointed that this kit turned out to be 'entry-level' when they were expecting higher quality - if you're looking for an upgrade for a youngster with drumming experience then we recommend going for one of the Ludwig drum sets instead. There were a few complaints about shipping issues with people receiving kits with missing or damaged parts - although it's only a minority of customer reports it is something to consider if you want to have time to get replacements when you're buying this for a special time like a birthday.

Overall

This is a good option as a first drum set, however, if you're looking to upgrade from a 3-piece set then try to see if your budget can stretch to the Ludwig kit below.

Ludwig LJR106 Junior

87
GEARANK

87 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$299
Ludwig LJR106 Junior 5-Piece Acoustic Drum Set

Ludwig is the biggest brand included in this guide and their full-sized professional kits are endorsed by numerous successful and well-known drummers.

Although the lower-priced 3-piece kits above got slightly higher ratings, this more expensive drum set comes with higher quality hardware. The reason this kit received slightly lower ratings than the previously mentioned kits is that Ludwig appears to have been held to a much higher standard than those lesser-known brands.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

  • 16" x 10" Bass Drum
  • 12" x 4" Snare
  • 8" x 5" Mounted Tom
  • 10" x 5" Mounted Tom
  • 13" x 10" Floor Tom
  • 10" Crash Cymbal
  • 8" Hi-Hats
  • Throne/Stool
  • Kick Pedal
  • All necessary hardware is included
  • NB: Drum Sticks are not officially listed as part of the package and although some people say they did get sticks with their order, it would be wise to buy your own set - you can order these from Amazon.com.

Specifications:

  • The Hi-Hat stand is double braced.
  • The other hardware is single-braced.
  • The shells are multi-ply but the number of plys is not specified.

Pros

The response to the overall quality was positive in many customer reviews and there were even positive comments about the cymbals - sometimes with a disclaimer that they're not professional cymbals but good for the price. The sound of the drums was also cited quite positively for a junior kit. In addition to good reviews from non-musician parents, there were also many experienced drummers and musicians that gave this kit positive reviews.

Cons

One of the most common complaints was that assembly instructions were not included with delivery, although this was not the case for everyone - you can download detailed assembly instructions from Ludwig. Some experienced drummers didn't like the drum heads or cymbals and said they would or have replaced them - these people seemed to be measuring this junior kit against the standards they're used to from full-sized Ludwig kits.

Overall

If the child you're buying a drum set for already has experience and has displayed an interest in continuing to improve their skills, then it's probably worth the additional investment in buying this kit. This is the one I would recommend as your first option if you have no budget limitations because of its durability, big-brand backing, and overall build quality.

Here's a video of a 3-year-old playing a Ludwig LJR106 Junior 5-Piece Acoustic Drum Set:

Best Junior Drum Set Selection Methodology

This guide was first published on Jan. 24, 2017 and the last major update was published on Aug. 28, 2019.

For this 2019 update, we looked at all the junior 3-piece and above drum sets listed for sale at the major online music equipment retailers in the USA and created a short-list of 11 kits for detailed analysis. We gathered information from both customer and expert reviews which we have summarized in the descriptions above. We also fed that data into the Gearank Algorithm to produce the Gearank customer satisfaction scores out of 100 that you see above - over 2,100 individual rating sources were examined during this process. We then selected the highest rated models to recommend in each category of 3, 4 and 5 piece kits. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

Need Help Selecting a Child's Drum Set?

If you have any questions about junior drum sets just ask them in the comments section below and a member of the Gearank team or our musician audience will answer them for you.

Comments

All of the options listed

All of the options listed above are suitable, however I wouldn't get the more expensive ones unless you know they are committed to playing long term.

My son is 9 years old but the

My son is 9 years old but the size of an 11 year old. This would be his 1st drum set. What would be your recommendation? He is 5ft weighing 125pd...

Your son is already getting

Your son is already getting too tall for one of these small drum kits, so he would be much better served with a full adult sized kit which he won't outgrow.

Take a look at our guide to Beginner Drum Sets.

Unless you're absolutely certain he's going to stick with playing drums, I'd go for one of the less expensive options in that guide.

My son has turned everywhere

My son has turned everywhere to drum in the house since he was 20 months. Can I get a drum for him for his birthday? The passion was too much. He will be 2yrs old in few days.

Hi, my son is almost 7 but is

Hi, my son is almost 7 but is already about 4' 3" and growing about 2.5 - 3.0 inches per year. He is having lessons on a full size kit and copes OK but it is a little wide for him. If he keeps going as he is presently, I expect to buy his first kit at the end of the year, would you agree I'm best choosing a full kit for him that he will soon grow into? Many thanks!

It sounds like he might on

It sounds like he might be on the cusp of moving up to a full size kit - I would suggest asking his drum teacher whether or not a bigger kit would be best to save having to buy another larger kit too soon afterwards.

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