The Best Cheap Electronic Drum Set For Beginners

Budget Electronic Drum Sets

Originally published on Jan. 13, 2016 and most recently updated on May 22, 2018.

Electronic drums are a heck of a lot of fun to play, and since they can be quieter than acoustic drums when you play through headphones, you can practice and improve your drumming chops with minimal disturbance to the people around you.

Here, we look at the current favorites in the entry level market, updated for 2018.

In addition to being an instrument themselves, some of these entry level kits also work as MIDI controllers where you can get much more expressiveness and 'feel' by recording your drum tracks to MIDI rather than programming them directly into a DAW.

If you're interested in more advanced options then please go to our other guide: The Best Electronic Drum Sets.


The Best Cheap Electronic Drum Sets For Beginners

Gearank Sources Street Price
Alesis Nitro Kit 87 550+ $299
Yamaha DTX400K 84 150+ $400
Alesis Surge Mesh Kit 83 20+ $499
Alesis Forge Kit 84 225+ $499
Roland TD-1K 89 125+ $500

Best Cheap Electronic Drum Sets For Beginners

Alesis Nitro Kit


87 out of 100. Incorporating 550+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Alesis Nitro Kit - 8 Piece Electronic Drum Set

Our research shows that the Alesis Nitro Kit is by far the most popular electronic drum set in the sub $500 price range. It is also the highest rated set under $300 by quite a wide margin - it leaves all other options in this price bracket so far behind that it's the only one we currently recommend at this price.

In addition to coming with a snare, hi-hats, kick and 3 toms it also has 2 additional 2-zone inputs on the module to allow for future expansion - you can use these for extra toms or cymbals.

It's mounted on a 4-post aluminum rack which provides a good combination of being light-weight while remaining reasonably strong.

This set is used by beginners and also as a practice kit by more experienced drummers. There are also a lot of guitarists, singers, bass players, keyboardists and just about every kind of musician who play an Alesis Nitro Kit just for the sheer fun of it!

One thing to note: Alesis bill this as an 8-piece kit because they, as many electronic drum manufacturers do these days, count the 3 cymbal pads as pieces - in terms of traditional acoustic drum kits this would be considered a 5-piece kit.


  • A dual zone snare pad
  • 3 single zone tom pads
  • Kick pad with drum pedal
  • 10" Hi-Hat Pad
  • 10" Crash Pad with Choke
  • 10" Ride Pad
  • Hi-Hat Pedal
  • 40 ready-to-play classic and modern kits - 385 drum and cymbal sounds
  • 60 built-in play-along tracks, sequencer, metronome, and performance recorder
  • USB/MIDI connection for virtual instruments and recording software
  • 5 pin MIDI in and out ports
  • Can be used as a MIDI controller directly with hardware or via your computer
  • Stereo line outputs and headphone output

The vast majority of customer reviews were very positive with many saying it was "a great kit for the price" or words to that effect. In his review for Music Radar Dave Holmes said, "The buttons of the graphical kit layout are great for various kit/drum voice editing and this is where the module has the edge over almost any other at this price-point. Changing any of the drum and kit parameters is rapid thanks to the layout."

A couple of people said that some of the cymbal sounds were quieter than they would have liked in the pre-set kits. Because it only has a dual zone snare and single zone toms. anyone who develops their chops and gets serious will eventually out-grow this kit and want to graduate to higher-end options like these, but it's still a great place to start without spending too much money if you're not yet sure if you'll get really serious about drumming.

This is very popular as a starter kit and as a present for children starting out with drums. There were also experienced drummers who reported having a lot of fun with this kit as well.

The Alesis Nitro Kit is at the top of many best seller lists at major retailers - if you're looking for your first electronic drum kit and aren't sure quite where to begin then I strongly recommend buying this one.

Yamaha DTX400K


84 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Yamaha DTX400K 5-Piece Electronic Drum Set

The Yamaha DTX400K comes with 10 preset kits which can all be reconfigured using the 169 built in sounds.

One special feature that Yamaha included is the ability to use the hi-hat pedal as a second kick pedal allowing you to play a double kick.

It includes 10 songs to play along with but you can also download more songs via USB.

Yamaha make some great high-end electronic kits, and have a lot of additional hardware you can upgrade with, such as getting a 3-zone snare, but in doing so you have to spend quite a lot of extra money.


  • A single zone 10" snare pad
  • 3 single zone 7.5" tom pads
  • Kick pad with drum pedal
  • 10" Hi-Hat Pad
  • 10" Crash Pad - No choke
  • 10" Ride Pad
  • Hi-Hat Pedal which doubles as an extra Kick Pedal
  • DTX400 Drum Trigger Module with 169 sounds including 23 snares, 36 toms, 21 kicks, 31 cymbals 16 hi-hats
  • 10 Preset kits - you can edit and overwrite the presets
  • 10 built-in play-along tracks
  • USB/MIDI connection for using it as a MIDI controller with your computer
  • Free iOS App for customization and importing
  • Headphone output

Most of the positive reviews for the DTX400K center around it being a good starter kit, good for practice and as a MIDI controller.

The cymbals are not chokeable and are only single zone as are the drums - this lack of features was the cause of a number of negative reviews.

Although many customer reviews rate the sounds of this kit quite highly, it's clear the lack of multiple zones means this is a kit you will outgrow much more quickly than other kits in this guide, although the Yamaha DTX400K is quieter which will appeal to people who need to keep the noise down when practicing.

The following video offers a good comparison of the sounds of the Yamaha DTX400K and the Roland TD-1K

Alesis Surge Mesh Kit


83 out of 100. Incorporating 20+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Alesis Surge Mesh Kit

The Alesis Surge Mesh Kit is a complete drum kit with 5 drum pads, 3 cymbal pads, drum stand and accessories, including both the kick and hi-hat pedals, and drum sticks!

What's even better is that the drum pads have two zones, and you can tighten or loosen the mesh to your preference - and it does all these while retaining an entry level price point.

As for the drum module, it comes with 385 different drum and percussion sounds, along with 24 different kit sounds.

Other features include 60 play-along practice tracks, MIDI connection via USB, and an Aux input for playing along with your favorite tracks.


  • 1 x 10" Dual-zone Mesh Snare Pad
  • 3 x 8" Dual-zone Mesh Tom Pads
  • 8" Mesh Kick Pad Tower
  • 10" Hi-Hat Pad
  • 10" Crash Pad - With Choke
  • 10" Ride Pad - With Choke
  • Hi-Hat Pedal and Kick Pedal
  • Surge Drum Module with 385 sounds
  • 24 Preset kits and 16 User Kits
  • 60 built-in play-along tracks
  • USB/MIDI connection for using it as a MIDI controller with your computer
  • Headphone output, Aux Input

Many of the positive comments that this kit gets are from drummers who are happy with its playability. They appreciate the quality of the mesh pads, and how it responds to nuances in their playing. The quality and usefulness of many of its drum sounds also got a lot of thumbs up, even from experienced drummers. Overall build quality and value for money also comes up quite often when people talk about the Alesis Surge Mesh Kit.

There are a some users who are not too happy with some of the kit's limitations, specifically with the hi-hat, but this is to be expected given the price point. There are also a few reports of volume balancing issues.

All in all, the Alesis Surge Mesh Kit is a great buy for what it can do, a great first, even second drum kit for those with budget and noise limitations.

Alesis Forge Kit


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

Street Price: 

Alesis Forge Electronic Drum Set

This is the most feature-packed kit in the sub $500 price range and the one we most highly recommend - it also includes drum sticks which is a nice touch.

It has the most pre-set kits, user configurable kits, and the most sounds out of all the drum sets in this price range.

The snare and toms have rubber heads that have a relatively natural response which are all mounted on a 4-post chrome plated aluminum rack which has plenty of strength while remaining relatively light-weight. The kick tower pad is also large enough to use a double kick pedal with it.

It also lets you plug in a USB memory stick which you can use to load samples or record your playing onto.


  • A dual zone 11" snare pad
  • 3 single zone 8" tom pads
  • 10" crash cymbal with choke
  • 10" ride cymbal with choke
  • 10" hi-hats & pedal
  • Kick pedal and Tower trigger pad
  • Comes with 70 kits - 50 factory + 20 user kits and 600 sounds
  • 60 built-in tracks to play along with for practice
  • A Drum Key is included for adjusting the rack
  • The drum module has USB/MIDI out for using as a MIDI controller with your computer and accepts MIDI In for triggering the module
  • It has an additional USB port for memory sticks
  • 2 x 1/4" Out for left and right channel outputs
  • 1/8" Stereo Out for Headphones
  • 1/8" Aux In for listening to external tracks you play along with while wearing headphones

Many of the customer reviews praise the response of the pads and feeling quite like real drum heads. The sturdiness and quality of build are also frequently mentioned in positive reviews for the Alesis Forge. Conrad Tracey summarized his Mixdown Magazine review by saying, "For me the Alesis Forge represents great value for money. It’s packed with features that are useful and relevant to musicians and artists alike. It looks great and I would be happy to play it on stage as a primary kit or as an addition to my acoustic drums."

On the downside, although Alesis say you can use a double-kick pedal with it there are a few people who found it didn't register fast double kick playing.

Overall this is the best value kit in this guide provided that you're not a fast double-kick player.

Roland TD-1K


89 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Roland TD-1K 5-Piece Electronic Drum Kit

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 ones, 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.


  • 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

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".

I was unable to find any consistent negatives reported about the Roland TD-1K 5 - although it does have one downside at this price being the lack of dual zone snare.

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

Things To Consider When Buying A Beginner Cheap 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.

Beginner Cheap Electronic Drum Set Selection Methodology

For this update, we looked at all electronic drum sets currently selling at major American online music gear retailers for less than $500. We ended up gathering over 1700 reviews, ratings and forum posts by customers, users and experts, all of which were processed via the Gearank Algorithm to produce the scores out of 100 you see above and added them to our Music Gear Database. We then selected the highest rated options to present above. For more information about this process please read How Gearank Works.

Cheap Electronic Drum Kit Summary

You can see all of the electronic drums we have processed 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.


The behringrer XD80usb

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

Great guide!



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.


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 email id -

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