The Best Beginner Drum Sets for Adults - Under $1000

The Highest Rated Beginner Drum Sets

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This guide features the best full-size acoustic drums in the sub $1000 price range. We only feature complete drum sets that you can immediately play with, meaning they come with all the necessary mounting hardware, including stands and pedals, along with hi-hat and cymbals.

This edition is based on the most current ratings and reviews, up to April of 2021, and retains a price cap of $1000, which falls nicely within the budget of most beginner to intermediate drummers.

These are full sized kits so if you need smaller or junior sized kits for someone about 10 years old or younger then please refer to our guide for Junior Drum Sets.

The Best Beginner Drum Sets

Ashthorpe DRUM-S-AB-5533

93
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$336
Ashthorpe 5-Piece Acoustic Drum Set

The Ashthorpe Drum-S-AB-5533 is an affordable complete drum set.

And for the price, this set does not skimp on features and size, rather you are getting a full-size kit that is bigger than what others are offering at higher price points.

The shells are also equipped with Remo heads.

It is bundled with everything you need to setup and play including all the necessary stands and pedals, along with a drum throne and drum sticks.

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 Cymbal
  • Drum throne
  • All Hardware
  • Drum Adjustment Key

Specifications:

  • Poplar shells
  • Remo Heads
  • Stainless-Steel Hi-Hat and Cymbals (Brass Color)

Pros

Reviewers credit its value for money as its main selling point, owners find that the overall build quality of the kit surpasses their expectations given the price. There are also plenty of compliments on how good it sounds, although note that most of the reviews are from students and parents who bought the kit for their children. Ease of assembly is another trait that's often commended.

Cons

There are a few who are not too fond of its sound, some advise getting the heads tuned by an experienced drummer for better results.

Overall

If you're looking for an affordable full-size beginner drum set, then this is a good kit to look into.

Ludwig LC175 Accent Drive

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$470
Ludwig LC175 Accent Drive 5-Piece Acoustic Drum Set

This affordable drum set from Ludwig sports some nice features, including a 22" kick drum, 16" floor tom, 10" & 12" toms, and 14" snare.

For its cymbals, this set features a more basic and compact bundle, which includes 13" hi-hats and a 15" crash cymbal.

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" by 16" kick drum
  • 13" Hi Hats
  • 16" Crash Cymbal
  • Drum throne
  • All Hardware

Specifications:

  • 6 ply poplar shells
  • Double braced hardware

Pros

Several people are impressed with how this set sounds more expensive than it actually is. The quality of the shells and bracing on the hardware are also often praised, even by those who are critical of the cymbals.

Cons

The quality of the cymbals get the most complaints, with many owners recommending replacing the cymbals for best results.

Overall

The Ludwig LC175 makes for a solid beginner to intermediate drum set for those with budget limitations.

Pearl Roadshow RS525SC/C

94
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$529
Pearl Roadshow RS525SC 5-Piece Drum Set - Wine Red

The Roadshow kits are Pearl's entry level drums but they come with quality features such as double braced hardware and 9 ply poplar shells.

To keep the price down the Roadshow series only have a single crash/ride, but as you improve your chops you can add more crash or splash cymbals to taste.

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
  • 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
  • 9 Ply 7mm Shells made from Poplar on all drums

Pros

The quality and sound of the drums are repeatedly praised in customer reviews, many of whom are experienced drummers. The quality of the kick pedal, which is sometimes lacking on budget kits, was cited positively by several reviewers.

Cons

The cymbals are sometimes cited as very basic or low quality - a common complaint with drum sets in this price range. Some reviewers point to the hi-hats being too flimsy.

Overall

Backed by one of the biggest brands in drums, the Pearl RS525SC is easy to recommend.

Tama Imperialstar IE52C

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$700
TAMA Imperialstar 5-Pc Acoustic Drum Set with 22" Kick

The Imperialstar IE52C is a 5-piece drum set that bear's Tama's brand of quality.

Its 5 pieces include a 22" kick drum, 10" and 12" toms, a 16" floor tom, and a 14" snare.

It also comes with 3 cymbals, a 14" hi-hat, 20" ride, and 16" crash.

It is bundled with all the mounting hardware needed for setup, from tom holders to the cymbal stands, along with the kick pedal.

It even ships with a Tama Imperialstar drum throne so it really is a complete drum set, with the only thing missing being drum sticks, which should be personalized anyway.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

  • 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

Specifications:

  • 6-ply Poplar
  • Double Braced Hardware

Pros

Quality is the main reason why this kit is rating highly in reviews, from its polished visuals, to its solid build, down to the way each part of the kit sounds. The level of quality it provides is not common in its price range, which makes owners appreciate the Imperialstar IE52C even more. It is described as warm and balanced sounding, which many feel is a step above what is normally expected in this price range.

Cons

There are some concerns about the kick pedal's durability, while others wish that drum sticks were included. See which sticks we recommend here.

Overall

It's hard to go wrong with Tama, check out the Imperialstar IE52C if you're looking for a budget-friendly yet high-quality set.

Tama Imperialstar IE62C

95
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$800
Tama Imperialstar IE62C 6-piece Complete Drum Set w/ 22" Kick Drum

While most kits stay in the familiar 5-pc setup, the Tama Imperialstar IE62C takes it up a notch with its 6-pc configuration, sporting two floor toms.

And since it comes from Tama, you can expect quality that's meant for professional use, while retaining a price tag that even beginners can afford.

It features 6-ply poplar shells, and comes bundled with 3 cymbals from Meinl: a 14" hi-hat, a 16" crash, and a 20" ride.

It also comes with all the necessary stands and hardware to setup the kit, and for the price, it even comes with a drum throne.

Once setup, this kit is ready to play, the only other thing you'll need to get are drum sticks.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

  • 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 Imperial Star Hardware, Stands, Pedals, Drum Throne.
  • Meinl HCS 14" Hi-hat, 16" Crash, 20" Ride

Specifications:

  • 6-Ply Poplar Shells
  • 3-tier Height Adjustment

Pros

Professional quality at entry level pricing - is a common sentiment that many agree to in reviews. Even those who rate this kit slightly lower describe it as a great value kit for what it provides. And while many are pleased with its 6-pc shell and 3-cymbal configuration, it also gets a lot of thumbs up for its overall quality, which further ups its value for money. The included cymbals also get a lot of positive comments, even from those who own more expensive cymbal sets.

Cons

There are a few experienced drummers who have switched out the snare, but this is probably more of personal preference than a quality issue. Given its 6-pc configuration, this is not ideal for drummers who prefer minimalist setups.

Overall

The Tama Imperialstar IE62C is hard to beat when it comes to value for money, definitely worth checking out if you want a fully decked out high quality 6-piece drum kit that's reasonably priced.

Ludwig Element Evolution LCEE220

91
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$849
Ludwig Element Evolution LCEE220 5-piece Drum Set

Ludwig is a longtime US based percussion instruments manufacturer, its most popular endorser is none-other than Ringo Starr of the Beatles, which singlehandedly ballooned the sales of the company back in the '60s.

And these days, they continue to provide quality drum sets like the Element Evolution LEE220, a 5-pc kit with 22" kick, 16" floor tom, 10" and 12" toms, and a 14" snare. It also comes bundled with Zildjian I Series Cymbals, including 14" Hi-hats, 16" Crash, and 20" Ride.

It is bundled with all the required mounting hardware, including stands and pedals, as well as a double-braced drum throne. It even comes with 2 x boom cymbal stands for better ride and crash positioning.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

  • 22" x 18" Bass drum
  • 10" x 8" Rack tom
  • 12" x 9" Rack tom
  • 16" x 16" Floor tom
  • 14" x 5" Snare drum
  • Mounting Hardware, Hi-hat with Pedal, 2 x Boom Stands, Kick Pedal, Drum Throne
  • Zildjian I Series 14" Hi-hats, 16" Crash, 20" Ride

Specifications:

  • Poplar Shells
  • With Zildjian Cymbals

Pros

Big brand backing is the obvious strength of this kit, the reputation of Ludwig drums and Zildjian cymbals make this a safe pick even when there are more affordable alternatives. Some even comment that they got more than what they paid for given its overall quality. There are also plenty of positive feedback regarding the cymbals included.

Cons

There are a few experienced drummers who aren't as impressed with the snare, and they note that getting the kit tuned properly improved their overall experience.

Overall

You don't have to be a fan of Ringo Starr or the Beatles to appreciate the quality of this Ludwig and Zildjian 5-pc set.

Ludwig Element Evolution LCEE6220

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$949
Ludwig Element Evolution LCEE6220 6-piece Drum Set - Gold Sparkle

Ludwig takes yet another spot in this guide with their Element Evolution series, this time featuring the 6-piece LCEE6220 which comes with an extra floor tom and 3 Zildjian cymbals.

This one is similar to its 5-pc sibling, the main difference being the extra floor tom and the mounting hardware that's needed to set it up.

While Ringo Starr is easily their most popular endorser, there are plenty of other big name artists who helped put Ludwig in the spotlight, including Queen in their famous Live Aid performance, Ginger Baker of Cream, and many more.

Looking at the most recent reviews, Ludwig is not planning to stray from the good path, as they continue to release good quality drum sets that even beginners can now appreciate.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

  • 22" x 18" Bass drum
  • 10" x 8" Rack tom
  • 12" x 9" Rack tom
  • 16" x 16" Floor tom
  • 14" x 14" Floor tom
  • 14" x 5" Snare drum
  • Mounting Hardware, Hi-hat with Pedal, 2 x Boom Stands, Kick Pedal, Drum Throne
  • Zildjian I Series 14" Hi-hats, 16" Crash, 20" Ride

Specifications:

  • Poplar Shells
  • With Zildjian Cymbals

Pros

Owners are very pleased with the overall quality of the Ludwig LCEE6220, describing it as a professional stage-ready kit, but more accessibly priced. And speaking of price, while this kit is far from being the cheapest, many appreciate that they don't have to buy anything else for a long time, compared to cheaper alternatives where you may end up spending more on upgrading/replacing some components. Including Zildjian cymbals in this set has also been well received.

Cons

This kit requires considerable investment, and 6-piece kits can be a bit overkill for some beginners.

Overall

If you're looking for a good quality 6-piece drum kit with shells, hardware and cymbals from reputable brands, then this is for you.

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 on the market. 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, crash and ride - this is probably the most common point made in verified customer reviews. You usually won't find any brand name cymbals such as Zildjian or Sabian 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.

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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Drummer's Key - These are 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 written by Jason Horton and the most recent major update was published on April 14, 2021 written by Alexander Briones with contributions from Denise Azucena and Jason Horton.

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 2021 edition, we ended up with a short list of 20, featuring the most promising 5-piece or larger drum sets. Relevant reviews and ratings data 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 2,900, almost triple 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 a 18" Kick/Bass drum, and it had to have a minimum of 5-pieces. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

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.

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