The Best Beginner Drum Sets for Adults - Under $1000

The Highest Rated Beginner Drum Sets

Disclosure

We recommend all products independently of 3rd parties including advertisers. We earn advertising fees from:
• • • • •
Sweetwater
• • • • •

Amazon

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
• • • • •

It’s never too late to pick up the drums.

Drum sets are comprised of many different parts: the shells, hardware and cymbals (more on this here). Usually parts are bought separately or in smaller chunks but when you're a beginner, you want the complete package, everything you need to get started.

Our recommendations are great for beginner drummers that are adult sized - if you're buying a drum set for a smaller player, do check out our guide on Junior Drum Sets.

These drum sets would also make a great addition to your music room or rehearsal space even if drums aren't your main instrument.

Here are the highest rated complete drum sets bellow $1000 with cymbals and hardware.

The Best Beginner Drum Sets

Author & Contributors

Alden Acosta Alden Acosta

I'm a drummer and former lead guitarist of the band Callalily, a platinum selling multi-awarded band from the Philippines. I also studied music for 6 years majoring in percussion and jazz studies with a minor in classical piano.

Ashthorpe Adult Drum Set

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$440
Ashthorpe 5-Piece Acoustic Drum Set - Red

Cons

  • Lack luster cymbals and hi-hats

Pros

  • Great value complete drum kit
  • Poplar hardwood shells
  • Remo heads
  • Good build quality and sound

The Ashthorpe Adult Drum Set is an affordable 5-piece drum set featuring a 22-inch,10-lug bass drum.

The shells are made out of genuine poplar hardwood and come equipped with Remo drum heads which is a respected drum head brand. These features normally command a higher price range, but Ashthorpe is able to pack it all together while keeping the price really low. It's not just about the features because build quality exceeds what you'd normally expect from a beginner kit. The kit's good build quality, poplar hardwood shells and Remo heads result in good bounce, volume and dynamic response.

The included brass cymbals are not as good though, but they should be adequate for beginners. Also don't expect the included hardware to be as good and reliable as more expensive ones.

Along with its impressive specs, it comes with everything you need to start playing down to a pair of drumsticks, a drum key and even a padded drum throne. When it comes to value, this kit is hard to beat. The Ashthorpe 5-piece drum set comes in 4 color variations: Black, Blue, Red and Silver.

If you want an affordable, complete down to the tiniest details drum set, the Ashthorpe is a good kit to look into for the beginning of your drumming journey.

Items Included in this Drum Set

  • Drum Sticks included
  • 14" x 6" snare drum
  • 12" x 9" rack tom
  • 13" x 10" rack tom
  • 16" x 16" floor tom
  • 22" by 16" kick drum
  • 14" Hi Hats
  • 16" Crash/Ride Cymbal
  • Drum throne
  • All Hardware
  • Drum Key

Specifications

  • Poplar shells
  • Remo Heads
  • Brass Cymbals

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube William Almond 94/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Demo

Ludwig LC175 Accent Drive

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$599
Ludwig LC175 Accent Drive - Black

Cons

  • Mediocre cymbals and hi-hats

Pros

  • Good core kit for mods and upgrades
  • Time tested and reliable
  • Snare, bass and toms project well
  • Great looking finish and overall hardware setup

The Ludwig LC175 Accent Drive is an entry-level 5-piece drum set from Ludwig, a drum company with a rich history dating back to 1909. It is a complete drum kit from a well respected brand at an accessible price.

The Accent series has been part of Ludwig's line up for a long time now, as such it is a popular core set that many upgrade as they gain more knowledge about heads and drum parts.

The current Drive configuration is the full-sized version of the Accent series and comes in black, red foil and silver foil colors. This set features select hardwood shells with 45-degree bearing edges and double-braced hardware. For an novice-tier kit, this one sounds quite loud, which is good for those playing with a band. But it can also be too noisy for playing in rooms with no sound isolation and acoustic treatment.

The snare and toms respond well to playing, and sound good. But as can be expected at this price point, the quality of the included cymbals is an issue. Note that drums sticks are not included, so better buy a pair along with this kit if you want to play immediately after opening the box.

If you want a complete, full-sized kit from a well-known brand but don't want to break the bank, the Ludwig LC175 Accent Drive is the drum kit for you.

Items Included in this Drum Set

  • Drum sticks are NOT included
  • 14" x 6.5" snare drum
  • 10" x 8" rack tom
  • 12" x 9" rack tom
  • 16" x 16" floor tom
  • 22" x 16" kick drum
  • 13" Hi Hats
  • 16" Crash Cymbal
  • Drum Throne
  • Drum Key
  • All Hardware

Specifications

  • Select hardwood shells
  • Double braced hardware

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Hink Vids 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Demo

Pearl Roadshow RS525SC/C

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 600+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$659
Pearl Roadshow RS525SC/C 5-Piece Acoustic Drum Set w/ 22" Kick

Cons

  • Cymbals are the first to go

Pros

  • Sound has good depth and volume
  • Great core kit for mods and upgrades
  • Complete package with some nifty extras
  • High quality build and reliable

Roadshow is the entry level drum set line up from Pearl and the RS525SC/C or "New Fusion" configuration is a standout from this series. This configuration features standard size parts which include a 22" bass drum, 14" snare, 10" and 12" toms and a 16" floor tom.

Pearl is known for quality and heavy duty kits, and this applies even to their entry-level line, this kit being a great example. It also helps that the RS525SC/C looks really good, and comes in a selection of 5 durable PVC wraps: Jet Black, Red Wine, Charcoal Metallic, Bronze Metallic and Aqua Blue.

The toms and bass all have good depth and volume, while the snare sounds as good as it looks. And this is the reason why many use this as their core kit and upgrade different parts as needed. The first to go are usually the cymbal and hi-hats, but I should note that the ones included are some of the best in class in the entry-level tier.

Apart from 2 pairs of drumsticks, this set comes with some nice-to-have extras such as a stick bag and a Pearl drum poster. All in all, you're getting a solid value package, backed by a reputable brand.

Pearl is one of the most trusted brands in the drumming community and it's easy to see why with this entry level offering. If you want to begin your drumming adventure with a set of Pearl drums, the Pearl Roadshow RS525SC/C is a highly-rated option.

Items Included in this Drum Set

  • 14" x 5.5" snare
  • 10" x 8" rack tom
  • 12" x 9" rack tom
  • 16" x 16" floor tom
  • 22" x 16" bass drum
  • 16" Crash/Ride cymbal
  • 14" Hi-hats
  • All hardware
  • Drum throne
  • 2 pairs of Maple Drum Sticks
  • Drum Key
  • Pearl Stick Bag
  • Limited 2 Year Warranty

Specifications

  • Double Braced Hardware
  • 1 Ply Coated Snare Drum Head
  • 1 Ply Clear Tom Drum Head
  • 1 Ply Clear Bass Drum Heads with Self-Muffling Rings
  • 6-ply Poplar Shells

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Rodney Evangelio /100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Demo

Tama Imperialstar IE52C

91
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$800
TAMA Imperialstar IE52C - Hairline Blue

Cons

  • Requires a bit more investment

Pros

  • Pro quality hardware (mounts and bass pedal)
  • Good quality cymbals and hi-hats
  • Premium aesthetics
  • Clean and focused sound

The Imperialstar IE52C is Tama's contender in the 5-piece, complete and full-sized, entry level drum set market. This set features pro quality hardware appointments such as Tama's proprietary L-Rod and Omnisphere tom holder system that allow for maximum tom resonance and adjustment flexibility, and a bass drum pedal with a solid metal base, uncommon at this price bracket.

This set has more hardware, including brass cymbals are a pair of 14" hi-hats, a 16" crash and a 20" ride made by Meinl in Germany. The shells come in a variety of sophisticated and attractive wood grain style wraps such as Coffee Teak, Black Oak, Natural Zebrawood, Hairline Black and Hairline Blue. Other options such as Candy Apple Mist which is a red sparkle and dark blue are available as well.

The toms and snare have a focused and clean sound that works great with many styles. Having good sounding cymbals out of the box is also another important plus, this allows drummers to focus on upgrading the drum heads, instead of the cymbals. Another high point of this drum set is the Tama hardware (especially the tom mounts) and sound, it is able to compete toe to toe with the higher end drums.

If you see yourself becoming a serious drummer down the line, the Imperialstar IE52C is definitely worth its slight price premium over other drum sets in this segment and will surely last you a good while especially after upgrading the heads and cymbals.

Items Included in this Drum Set

  • Drum sticks are NOT included
  • 10" and 12" Toms
  • 16" Floor Tom
  • 22" Kick Drum
  • 14" Snare
  • 16" Meinl Crash
  • 20" Meinl Ride
  • 14" Meinl Hi-hats
  • Stands and Mounting Hardware
  • Drum Throne
  • Kick Pedal
  • Drum Key

Specifications

  • 8mm, 6-ply Poplar
  • Double Braced Hardware

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Drummer's Review 94/100
YouTube iDrum Magazine 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Demo

Tama Imperialstar IE62C

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$900
Tama Imperialstar IE62C 6-piece Complete Drum Set w/ 22" Kick Drum
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Drum Set Under $1000 along with the Ludwig Element Evolution LCEE220.

Cons

  • Requires a bit more investment

Pros

  • 6-piece kit expands sound options
  • Pro quality hardware (mounts and bass pedal)
  • Good quality cymbals and hi-hats
  • Clean and focused sound

The Tama Imperialstar IE62C retains what's good with the IE52C and takes it up a notch by adding a second floor tom to the mix. This 6 piece configuration is great for rock and allows for more setup options.

Being a 6-piece kit means that expands your sound options, allowing the kit to be useful even as students gain more experience. It's expanded configuration also makes this kit viable for pros, especially when considering the brand where it came from. The Imperialstar IE62C is essentially a professional kit at a more accessible price point. On the flip side, this also means that beginners with budget constraints will have to save up to get this kit.

The Imperialstar's precision cut bearing edges allow the drums to ring openly and fully, providing a wide tuning range, enhanced sensitivity and response. And this works great in conjunction with the kit's clear and focused tone. The included hi-hat and cymbals also sound much better than what you'd expect from a beginner friendly kit.

Like the other Imperialstar drums, these come wrapped in your choice of: Coffee Teak, Black Oak, Natural Zebrawood, Hairline Black, Hairline Blue, Candy Apple Mist and Dark Blue. One thing to note about these wraps is that they are 100% glued all around the shells. This is unlike some other manufacturers who use double-sided tape or spot gluing which are methods more prone to buzzing and lifting in the long run.

The Tama Imperialstar IE62C is the kit to get for those who want to start with, or expand into a high quality 6 piece kit.

Items Included in this Drum Set

  • Drum sticks are NOT included
  • 22" x 16" Bass drum
  • 10" x 7" Rack tom
  • 12" x 8" Rack tom
  • 14" x 13" Floor tom
  • 16" x 15" Floor tom
  • 14" x 5" Snare drum
  • L-Rod and Omnisphere Tom Holder, Tama Imperialstar Hardware, Stands, Pedal, Drum Throne.
  • Meinl HCS 14" Hi-hat, 16" Crash, 20" Ride
  • Drum Key

Specifications

  • 6-Ply Poplar Shells
  • 3-tier Height Adjustable, double-braced Stands Including a Convertible Boom Stand

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Reuben Bakker 93/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Demo

Things to Consider When Buying a Beginner Drum Kit

Does it have everything you need?

One of the things that catches some people off guard is that they get a bargain price only to find they hadn't bought a complete kit with all the hardware - often the really low prices for a particular model are because it's only a shell set - that means it only contains the drum shells and nothing else. Another common mistake is buying a set that doesn't include cymbals. Look at the detailed list of what's included before biting the bullet.

What does the word 'Hardware' mean in acoustic drums?

You may have seen listings or advertisements that say "all hardware included". What they are referring to is the hardware necessary to hold cymbals, hi-hats, snares, rack-mounted toms and any other percussion items in the kit. Many kits are sold without things like cymbal and snare stands because they're intended for drummers who already have that hardware and it's just the drums by themselves that they want to buy. Sometimes you'll see the phrase 'double braced hardware', this means there are two pieces of metal adding extra strength to the bracing.

What does the number of pieces mean?

Traditionally with acoustic drum kits we count the number of drums 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, and this is the most common configuration. Unfortunately, this labeling isn't always followed by makers of electronic drum sets who often count any triggering device as a piece including electronic cymbals.

Why didn't we include 4-piece or 3-piece kits?

The standard configuration of a basic drum kit is to have 1 snare, 2 mounted toms, 1 floor tom, and 1 kick drum. This is the best configuration to start out with when you're learning because it's the setup many other kits will have that you'll have to play at times. This is important because drummers often have to share kits at places like drum lessons and in some live performance situations because drums take longer than other instruments to set up and to mic up when that's needed; EG: Many 'battle of the bands' type competitions require bands to share back-line equipment and drum kits. 6-piece kits are usually the same as a 5-piece kit with the addition of an extra floor tom.

Are tonewoods important?

Yes, but no. You may have heard things like 'mahogany is better than poplar wood' on the shells of your drums - but the distinctions in tone are subtle and when you're just starting out you probably won't notice much of a difference. Don't go spending extra money on a beginner drum set just to get 'better sounding' wood - just get the best kit you can afford for now and a couple of years down the road you'll develop the ears you need to tell what kinds of wood suit your style of music best.

Drum Sticks

Often these are included when you buy a drum set but not always. They're not very expensive so I recommend buying a couple of sets of different weights: Vic Firth 5A at Amazon - Vic Firth 5B at Amazon. If you would like to learn more about your stick options then read our guide: The Best Drum Sticks + Brushes & Mallets.

Cymbal Quality

One of the ways manufacturers are able to produce drum sets at these low prices is by providing only very basic cymbals. The vast majority of people who have bought a beginner set and continued playing drums on an ongoing basis tended to get new cymbals including hi-hats, a crash and ride - this is probably the most common point made in verified customer reviews. You usually won't find any "Big Four" brand cymbals such as Zildjian, Sabian, Meinl or Paiste included with the cheapest kits.

Drum Sizes

In this guide we state the diameter first, then the depth. So a 14" x 5.5" snare is 14" in diameter and 5.5" deep. I point this out because sometimes manufacturers and retailers state the measurements the other way around.

Drum Rug

One long-standing struggle a drummer faces is the drum set moving around on hard floors. This is due to the vibrations a drum set produces. Although the rubber feet of the stands and bass drum can help, I recommend getting a drum carpet or rug. This prevents the drums from slipping and sliding around while you play. This has an added bonus of giving your drums a more focused sound.

Sound Dampening and Muffling

A common way to shape the sound of your drums is to use sound dampening and muffling to reduce unwanted overtones. There are many ways to do this such as with Sound Rings (link to Sweetwater) or MoonGel (link to Sweetwater). A cheap hack is to use tape and tissue paper, some drummers even place their heavy wallet on the snare drum to reduce the ring! Another thing you can try is placing a pillow inside the bass drum for a clear sound and punchy attack.

Ear Protection

This part of drumming is often overlooked but very important for drummers of all levels. Drums are loud and prolonged exposure will lead to hearing loss and damage. This is a nasty lesson that some learn the hard way. Check out our guide to musician's earplugs for some highly rated options.

Some Helpful Drum Terminology

  • Ply - A ply is a single layer of wood. Drum shells are typically made from multiple layers of wood so a 6 Ply shell means it has 6 layers. More is not always better as less plies can also mean a more resonant sound.
  • Drum Kit vs Drum Set - These terms are essentially interchangeable and mean the same thing at music retailers.
  • Drum Throne vs Drum Stool - drummers sit on thrones, pianists sit on stools - other than that they mean the same thing.
  • Kick Drum vs Bass Drum - In terms of drum sets these 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.
  • Cymbals - Crash, Splash, Ride, Hi-Hats... Hi-hats and Ride cymbals are often played continuously through parts of a song while crash cymbals are used for accent and in fills. Splash cymbals are just smaller, higher pitched versions of crash cymbals. For a basic standard set up you'll want to have hi-hats and at least 1 crash cymbal. Most budget drum sets only come with a single crash or a single combined crash/ride cymbal.
  • Drum Heads - These are the "skins" that are installed and stretched over the open ends of the drum shells. You usually strike the batter head (the top head) and have a resonant head on the other side that increases sustain. These tend to wear out over time and are considered a consumable part akin to the strings on a guitar. Some popular drum head brands are Remo, Evans and Aquarian.
  • The Drum Key - This is used to loosen and tighten the lugs on your drum heads in order to tune them to the pitch you want. Drum tuning advice is beyond the scope of this guide but here are some helpful references: What You Need to Know About Drum Tuning by Ben Meyer at Modern Drummer, and Drum Tuning by Gene Okamoto of Pearl Corporation. The drum skins often come loose or detached on a new kit so you'll also need the key to properly install/tune them when your kit is delivered.

Best Beginner Drum Set Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2016 and the current edition was published on February 1, 2022.

We went through the entire lists of sub $1000 drum sets at the major online retailers in the USA and selected only the full-sized kits that were complete with all the hardware and cymbals needed to start playing the moment your new drum kit is delivered - note that this doesn't always include a drum throne or drum sticks.

For this 2022 edition, we ended up with a short list of 18, featuring the most promising 5-piece or larger drum sets. Then we collated relevant reviews and ratings data from retailers, forums, magazines and videos for each model which were then processed using the Gearank Algorithm to produce the rating scores out of 100 which we used to come up with our recommended list - and for this update, the sources we analyzed grew to more than 4,600, almost double compared to the previous edition.

To summarize; the criteria for inclusion were that it had to have all necessary hardware, had to be full-sized which in this case means at least an 18" Kick/Bass drum, and it had to have a minimum of 5-pieces. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Alden Acosta Alden Acosta

I'm a drummer and former lead guitarist of the band Callalily, a platinum selling multi-awarded band from the Philippines. I also studied music for 6 years majoring in percussion and jazz studies with a minor in classical piano.

As an experienced producer and musician, Alden loves to help fellow musicians find the right gear for the job. Aside from music, Alden's interests include: CS:GO and MLBB.

Contributors

Alexander Briones: Supplemental writing.
Denise Azucena: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: Supplemental writing, Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Created by Gearank.com using a photographs of the Tama Imperialstar IE52C and Pearl Roadshow RS525SC/C.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

The videos have been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.

Comments

Need a beginner drumset for

Need a beginner drumset for son, he's 13, tall for his age though,don't want child drumset, I need teenage boy adult beginner drum set best deal & great quality please, can anyone help me as to where I can get one? Please

Hi Sug,

Hi Sug,

You've come to the right place because the 5-piece drum sets on our recommended list above are exactly what we recommend for a beginning drummer who is too old or too big for a child's drum set.

You might want to consider getting one of the less expensive options at first, then if your son does stick with the instrument, he'll know what type of drums he'll need when he's ready to upgrade in a year or two.

I hope this helps,
Jason.