The Best Cheap Electronic Drum Set For Beginners

The Highest Rated Electronic Drums Under $500

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Electronic drums are an inexpensive way to get into drumming and they sound good without having to worry about complicated setup and tuning.

But they are so much more than that allowing you precise control over your volume when practicing as well as playing gigs - something I can attest to having played in a 4-piece band using electronic drums and being able to play gigs that we would have been too loud for with an acoustic drum set. And when it came to recording demos, we didn't need all the extra mics and channels that acoustic drums require - not to mention that recording drums in MIDI meant much more flexibility with individual sounds and volumes when it came to mixdown and final production.

Although they can be relatively quiet when you play using headphones, you also have the option to go loud with the use of a drum amp.

Many entry-level kits also come with special features to help you learn and improve your chops, like the Roland TD1K which can give you feedback on your timing. However there are some limitations with kits at this end of the market, including fewer zones on drum pads and some lack chokeable cymbals - if you're looking for more advanced features then take a look at our guide to The Best Electronic Drum Sets.

Otherwise, read on to see the highest rated sub-$500 electronic drum sets as of October 2019.

The Best Cheap Electronic Drum Sets For Beginners

Which is the Quietest Electronic Drum Kit?

Mesh heads tend to make the Alesis Turbo Mesh Kit and Nitro Mesh Kits the quietest on our recommended list, however pads alone aren't the greatest cause of noise heard in other rooms or apartments (assuming you're using headphones).

This is because a lot of sound is transmitted through the floor from the pedals and rack.

To prevent as much noise as possible being transmitted to the floor it's best to have a mini drum riser with some isolation padding between your drums and the floor. This is often done by sandwiching tennis balls between two sheets of plywood or MDF.

Here's a video showing a basic home-made sound isolation drum riser that didn't require tools other than a drill:

Here's a more complicated option, but more stable:

Things To Consider When Buying An Entry-Level Electronic Drum Set

  • Complete List of Gear You Need to Start Drumming

    Most electronic kits don't include a few of the essentials you need so make sure to leave room in your budget for any of the following items that you don't already have...

    1. Drum Sticks: these come in different weights with 5A being the most popular - you can get these at Sweetwater.
    2. Drum Throne: This is what a drummer's stool is called - they are much better than regular chairs and you can find the highest rated ones in our Drum Throne Guide.
    3. Headphones or Amplifier: Most electronic drum kits don't provide sound on their own, instead you have to plug your drum's brain or sound module into headphones or an amplifier. To practice quietly (and not annoy the neighbors) get yourself a set of closed-back headphones - see our guide here. If you're going to play with other musicians, or if you just want to be loud, then you'll need an amplifier. There are a range of different amps that are good for drums - see our guide to Drum Amps and for further information read Things To Consider When Buying An Amplifier For Electronic Drums.


  • MIDI

    If you want to use it as a MIDI controller or to record drums directly your computer then you'll need one that sends out MIDI, which in this price range will usually be MIDI over USB.

  • Zones

    Drum pads with multiple zones are ones which you can hit in different areas to trigger different sounds. Zones are usually concentric circles. For example a snare pad with multiple zones allows you to play regular snare sounds as well as selecting a rim-shot sound for the outer circle. The more zones you can get the wider the sound pallet is that you can work with in a single pre-set or custom kit saved in your sound module.

  • Choking Cymbals

    Some electronic kits come with cymbals you can choke - this means that after you strike them you can grab them with your hand and the cymbal sound will immediately stop just like with an acoustic kit. Some of the cheaper models don't have this option so read the details carefully if this is something you want.

The Highest Rated Electronic Drum Sets Under $500

Alesis Turbo Mesh Kit

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 30+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$319
Alesis Turbo Mesh Kit - 7 Piece Electronic Drum Set

Entry level kits from Alesis have been the favorite with Gearank readers for several years now and it's not hard to see why with their consistently high ratings and excellent value proposition.

This is the first time we've featured the Turbo Mesh Kit as Alesis have 'superseded' their previously extremely popular Nitro Kit with this one which has attracted even higher ratings with the improved mesh heads instead of the the plain rubber ones.

Mesh heads provide a bit more realism to their feel and tend to be a bit quieter as well. A parent noted that the pads on this set are quiet enough not to cause problems for people watching TV in the next room, although probably not quiet enough to let the kids play while you're trying to sleep.

Features

  • 1 x 8" Mesh Snare Pad
  • 3 x 8" Mesh Tom Pads
  • 1 x 10" Hi-Hat Pad
  • 1 x 10" Crash Pad
  • 1 x 10" Ride Pad
  • Hi-Hat Pedal and Kick Pedal
  • Alesis Turbo Drum Module with 120 sounds
  • 10 Preset kits
  • 30 built-in play-along tracks
  • Built-in coach and metronome
  • USB/MIDI connection for using it as a MIDI controller with your computer
  • Stereo line ouputs, Headphone output, CD/MP3 Aux Input
  • Steel Rack
  • Drum Key
  • Drum Sticks

Pros

Much of the praise this gets centers around it offering excellent value for money and being a great starter kit. The quality of the mesh heads comes up time and again in user reviews, even when experienced drummers are offering their opinions. Most beginners, and those who bought it for children to learn on, are more than satisfied with the limited range of sounds and preset kits it comes with, although some more experienced players disagree.

Cons

You can't choke the cymbals and the pads only have a single zone, so if your playing technique is already developed and requires these features then it would be best to go for a more fully featured option. Some experienced musicians don't like the preset kits and prefer to use their own sounds via their computer instead - one user specifically complained about the presets having too much reverb which can't be edited out.

Overall

This is an excellent starter kit that even some experienced drummers say is better than they expected. If you have no experience with electronic drum sets, then this is a great one to start with and you can later move up to more expensive models once your needs exceed what a basic kit can offer.

Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$379
Alesis Nitro Mesh

For the price, the Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit gives you quite a lot. And it's not just about the number of pads and cymbals because it comes with specialized mesh pads, something that are usually priced much higher.

The 8" dual-zone snare features mesh material that gives makes it feel closer to acoustic snare than regular rubber pads. The same material is also used on the kit's three 8" mesh toms. Completing the set are three 10" cymbals, a hi-hat pedal and kick pedal. All of these connect to the Alesis Nitro drum module which offers 40 drum kit sounds, 385 individual sounds, and 60 play along tracks right out of the box. Other features include built-in metronome, Aux input, USB and MIDI connectivity.

Features

  • 1 x 8" Dual-zone Mesh Snare Pad
  • 3 x 8" Mesh Tom Pads
  • Kick Pad Tower
  • 10" Hi-Hat Pad
  • 10" Crash Pad
  • 10" Ride Pad
  • Hi-Hat Pedal and Kick Pedal
  • Alesis Nitro Drum Module with 385 sounds
  • 40 Preset kits
  • 60 built-in play-along tracks
  • USB/MIDI connection for using it as a MIDI controller with your computer
  • Headphone output, Aux Input

Pros

The four posts that the rack is mounted on make it a bit more stable than the cheaper Turbo Mesh Kit above, a definite plus if you like to strike your drums hard. Value for money often comes up in reviews, impressing many budget strapped users with its mesh toms and snare. Another common talking point in reviews is its ease of use, making it great even for those with zero drumming experience.

Cons

There are a few reports of cables failing, and other build quality issues, but these are issues that can be avoided with proper handling and careful setup.

Overall

Don't let budget constraints stop you from learning to play the drums, check out the Alesis Nitro Mesh kit.

This video give you a good idea of what it looks and sounds like in action:

Roland TD-1K

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$500
Roland TD-1K 5-Piece Electronic Drum Kit

At time of publication the Roland TD-1K was the highest rated electronic drum set under $500.

The Roland TD-1K is a compact kit well suited to younger players and those who don't have a lot of spare space at home.

The cymbals can be choked just like acoustic cymbals, and the hi-hat plays much more like a real one. The cymbals are also dual zone and their velocity sensitivity lets you get a 'bell' sound as well.

It also has a built-in metronome and coach functions which measure your performance and give you feedback helping you to improve your drumming.

It's a small compact kit which is a plus if space is at a premium, but if you're used to playing a full sized kit you will have to adjust to the size. The demo video below gives you a good sense of the size and layout.

Features

  • A single zone 7" snare pad
  • 3 single zone 7" tom pads
  • Kick pedal which is beater-less and is quieter than having a kick pad
  • Hi-Hat Pad
  • Hi-Hat Pedal
  • Crash Pad witch choke
  • Ride Pad
  • TD-1 Drum Module with 15 Kits
  • 15 bult-in kits
  • USB/MIDI connection for editing and using it as a MIDI controller with your computer
  • 1/8" Stereo Out for Headphones
  • 1/8" Stereo Mix In for listening to external tracks you play along with while wearing headphones

Pros

Reviewers consistently praise the sound of the 15 preset kits and the realism of the hi-hat. Many reviewers also say that with the USB MIDI it works very well as a MIDI controller and for recording drums to MIDI. In his expert review on Harmony Central Dendy Jarrett said, "Even though the TD-1K is marketed as an entry- level electronic kit, I would consider it for light-playing gigs".

Cons

The main issue with the Roland TD-1K 5 is for those who want a dual zone snare which it doesn't have.

Overall

This is a great choice for smaller drummers or if you don't have a lot of spare space.

There is also an upgraded version of this kit which has a mesh head snare that we provided a recommendation for in our other electronic drum guide; it's the Roland TD-1KV

Yamaha DTX402K

86
GEARANK

86 out of 100. Incorporating 10+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$500
Yamaha DTX402K 5-Piece Electronic Drum Set

The Yamaha DTX402K was released in 2018 and while not quite as popular as the newer Alesis options (likely due to being priced higher than them) it has been well received by those who bought it.

If you've played earlier Yamaha models before, then you'll be pleased with the improved response of the new rubber pads and chokeable cymbals on the DTX402K.

Features

  • 1 x 8" single zone snare pad
  • 2 x 8" single zone rack tom pads
  • 1 x 8" single zone floor tom pad
  • 2 x 10" cymbal pads with choke
  • 10" Hi-Hat pad
  • Hi-Hat pedal
  • Kick Pedal
  • DTX 402 drum module
  • 10 preset kits which are all customizable
  • 415 percussion sounds
  • 9 reverb types
  • 10 songs to play along with
  • 10 training functions
  • USB/MIDI type B connection for using it as a MIDI controller with your computer
  • 1/4" stereo out for Headphones
  • 1/8" aux input
  • iOS and Android app for training features and customization
  • iOS only Rec'n Share App for recording and publishing YouTube videos

Pros

The DTX402K is quite popular with parents who bought this for their kids to learn on, as well as more experienced drummers looking for a quiet solution for home practice. Several owners have commented on how easy it is to set up and also to store away. Being able to edit and create your own kits on the drum module (using the DTX402 Touch app) gives this more flexibility than some of the cheaper options.

Cons

It lacks a dual-zone snare but partly makes up for that with chokeable cymbals - a feature beginners are more likely to use. A bit of a downer is that the Rec'n'Share app for sharing YouTube videos only runs on iOS, but that won't be a concern for many.

Overall

If you want a bit more flexibility with your sounds than you get with the Alesis options (and don't need a dual-zone snare), and you prefer a 4-post stand for a little more stability than the Roland TD-1K, then this is your best choice.

Beginner Electronic Drum Set Selection Methodology

This guide was first published on January 13, 2016 and the most recent major update was published on October 16, 2019 by Jason Horton with contributions from Alexander Briones.

We looked at all electronic drum sets currently selling at major American online music gear retailers for less than $500 and placed the 12 most promising on our short-list for closer analysis. We then looked at ratings, reviews, videos and forum discussions about them, which tallied to over 1,200 sources from regular users and experts. All these data were then processed via the Gearank Algorithm to produce the scores out of 100 you see above. Finally we selected the highest rated options to recommend. For more information about our unique methods please read How Gearank Works.

Cheap Electronic Drum Kit Summary

You can see all of the electronic drums we have analyzed for Gearank here - if you feel there is a beginner kit that we've failed to consider then please say so in the comments bellow and we'll take a look at it - if it scores high enough we'll add it to this guide.

Comments

The behringrer XD80usb

The behringrer XD80usb cymbals do choke. It takes a specific touch, but they do.

Great guide!

Hi,

Hi,

What about the Millenium budget kits sold by Thomann? They have a $300 one (MPS-150) that reviewers constantly praise on their website.

Then there is the MPS-425 on the same price range as the Roland TD-1K but with a mesh snare and also excellent reviews.

I would love to know how good these Millenium ones really are as I want to get a budget kit to learn drums that I won't outgrow anytime soon, but I don't want to risk spending $500 if I can spend $300 because I don't know how good I am going to be.

Thanks!

We are currently focused on

We are currently focused on music gear that is sold by the major American retailers so we don't have any data on Millenium kits at the moment.

I am buying my first electric

I am buying my first electric drum kit and I wanted to know that along the drum kit is anything else required for example an amplifier.
Please answer.

Good question Nippun.

Good question Nippun.

If your drum set doesn't include one, you'll need a Drum Throne (Amazon affiliate link) to sit on while playing.

To hear your drums you'll either need a set of Headphones or an Amplifier. The main options chosen by electronic drummers are Drum Amps, Keyboard Amps or a Powered PA Speaker. If you're not sure which would be best for you then read Things To Consider When Buying An Amplifier For Electronic Drums.

Lastly, it's always a good idea to have a couple of spare sets of Drum Sticks (Amazon affiliate link) sitting around just in case.

Hey, am buying a new kit as

Hey, am buying a new kit as beginner..i would like your professional opinion on Alesis Forge Kit as it is also priced $500 same as the Roland TD1K.

I noticed that the Alesis Forge kit is overall bigger sized compared to the Roland which in my personal opinion look like a toy..would the size of the electronic drum kit affect my ability to learn acoustic drum in the future?

Thanks in advance!

You will always have slight

You will always have slight adjustments changing between kits including changing between acoustic kits.

The size of the kit won't have much effect on learning acoustic drums later - the main thing is that your electronic kit has 5-pieces + hi-hats and at least 1 cymbal - 2 cymbals are better.

The Alesis Forge kit is fairly well rated - you can see its Gearank score here.

Hey I was wondering if having

Hey I was wondering if having multiple zones on drum pads makes it more difficult to learn.

Personally, I don't think so.

I personally don't think so - at least not by much.

The small amount of additional accuracy required when hitting the pads is relatively minor compared to learning to get your right arm and leg to work independently in order to play mildly syncopated hi-hat and kick patterns - at least that was my experience.

For someone who's just beginning to learn drums, I don't think it matters too much if they get a single zone snare meaning they won't be able to play rim shots - the same goes for single trigger cymbals that don't allow you to strike the bell.

If you start with a basic kit now and your proficiency later increases to the point where you want to use more advanced techniques, then you can always either upgrade your pads/triggers or move up to more advanced kits like these.

Hi, was wondering, what is

Hi, was wondering, what is the best value for absolute beginners but I'm thinking to use it for long term also, so maybe not the very basic ones (im thinking Forge kit, if I can find a good deal or even 2nd hand).

Another thing, I live in a flat in Spain, and the wall is kinda thin, so I'd like to know how loud is the edrum?

Last, (nippun already ask this but i just wanted to confirm), to start playing the edrum, I just need to buy the stick & the stool?

Thanks a lot

The Alesis Forge Kit does

The Alesis Forge Kit does sound like the right choice for you - although they might be difficult to find second hand - plenty of people are selling old Alesis DM kits but I haven't seen many Forge Kits second hand yet.

The rubber heads on the snare and tom pads of the Forge basically have the volume equivalent to hitting a thick piece of rubber with a drum stick - so not very loud.

The only extras you'll need, other than the obvious drum sticks, are a set of headphones so you can hear your drums and backing tracks without annoying your neighbors, and a drum throne to sit on.

Thanks for your reply

Thanks for your reply

Now, I'm more determined to buy and finally learn to play drums :)

Noisewise, at least now I know I cant play the drums at night, but lets see how noisy it is when I've bought it!

Btw, 1 question, in terms of quality, which 1 better, Medeli or Fame, as I saw plenty of 2nd hand with good price in Europe.

And I'm sure wont need amplifier & I have studio headphones already.

We haven't analyzed either

We haven't analyzed either Medeli or Fame electronic drum kits yet, not because we know of anything wrong with them, but because they haven't had widespread availability in the USA when we've been doing detailed research on electronic drums.

The European focused website audiofanzine does have some user reviews:
- Medeli
- Fame

I hope this helps.

Thanks for the links.

Thanks for the links.
I like what I see with fame, and with €350 I can get brand new DD5500 pro (I think mid level), now im just browsing for good deals, or 2nd hand, and reviews on youtube.

Hi, is the roland kits

Hi, is the roland kits upgradeable?
would like to have a multiple zone snare & toms pads on it as space is pretty much an issue in my apartment..

Roland have a more advanced

Roland have a more advanced version for $100 more that has the features you want with multiple trigger snare and toms - check out the Roland TD-1KV.

Thanx for the guide. I really

Thanx for the guide. I really like the Roland TD-1K, the chokable cymbals, the sound ... Finally I went for the Yamaha, since I am a beginner and the fact that you have to pay almost 200$ for a kickpad in the Roland. The technique of the kick is missing otherwise. The Yamaha has surprised me in its integration with iphone. You can create your own kits, the training mode is amazing, can import midi songs as backingtracks. What I like most is to control garageband's drum kits and recordit. No computer, no usb interface, just the camera kit adaptor!

HI Guys,

HI Guys,
appreciate to know from you guys as i am a beginner also from United Arab Emirates, may know which low priced edrums to buy. Here it is expensive to buy such things. can anybody help me getting a new one or second hand one for $200 and can ship to my address....Thank you guys...my email id - subashworld@gmail.com

Any good for a kid learning?

Any good for a kid learning? Table-top Electronic Drum Foldable Rubber-coated Water-resistant Pedals Sticks for $110.10.

Table top electronic drum

Table top electronic drum pads can be a lot of fun to play with but they don't do much to help in terms of learning how to play a drum kit. In particular they don't teach you how to use your feet on the hi-hats or kick drum.

If the kid is receiving instruction then they can use a table top set to practice basic stick control with actual drum sounds which you don't get with practice pads.

The bottom line is that they're more fun than practice pads but you can't learn important drum kit techniques using them.

Great that answers addresses

Great that answers addresses my concerns. My son will be starting drum lessons of sorts next year at school. I believe it's many different forms of percussion i.e. bongos etc and it's only for one term unless he really takes to it and I'll look at investing further. The table top will as you say will assist him with grasping the basics and I'm hoping they take head phone so that he can play as much as he wants without driving me nuts. My daughter want to play piano so I'll grab her a keyboard. She's 5 so between the two of them it'll be full noise. Which I am 100% behind and I play guitar and a bit of drums but there are limits.. haha! Thanks a lot.

thank you for your insightful

thank you for your insightful post! I was wondering if there was any specific reason you hadn't mentioned Drum from OWOW?
It does seem like an interesting concept, what are your thoughts?

Although it looks like it

Although it looks like it might be fun to play with, it's a MIDI controller for playing 'air drums' which doesn't meet the definition of an electronic drum set so it's not eligible to be considered for this guide.

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