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

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

It comes with everything you need to start playing down to a pair of drumsticks, a drum key and even a padded drum throne.

Its shells are made out of genuine poplar hardwood and come equipped with Remo drum heads which is a respected drum head brand.

The Ashthorpe 5-piece drum set comes in 4 color variations: Black, Blue, Red and Silver.

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

Pros

Many purchasers of this drum set have commended the quality of the hardware and the sound of these drums especially for the price. Its value is what impressed people the most.

Cons

There were some who had difficulty assembling it complaining about missing parts - make sure you buy it from a reputable retailer. Also, there were quite a few who were not happy with the sound of the included brass cymbals although they should be adequate for beginners.

Overall

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.

Ludwig LC175 Accent Drive

93
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$599
Ludwig LC175 Accent Drive - Red

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 features select hardwood shells with 45-degree bearing edges and double-braced hardware.

The drive configuration is the full-sized version of the Accent series and comes in black, red foil and silver foil colors.

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

Pros

Purchasers were happy to get a well respected name and high quality instrument at this price point. And in the reviews from people who bought this as a gift for their loved ones, the descriptions of joy and excitement jump off the page. Priceless.

Cons

As can be expected at this price point, the quality of the included cymbals was a major sticking point for some.

Overall

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.

Pearl Roadshow RS525SC/C

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$629
Pearl Roadshow RS525SC/C 5-Piece Acoustic Drum Set w/ 22" Kick

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 a 22" bass drum, 14" snare, 10" and 12" toms and a 16" floor tom.

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.

The RS525SC/C comes in a selection of 5 durable PVC wraps: Jet Black, Red Wine, Charcoal Metallic, Bronze Metallic and Aqua Blue.

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

Pros

Apart from the rave reviews about sturdy build quality, solid value and good looks which make up a majority of them, a few really appreciated the extras such as the 2 pairs of drumsticks included and even the poster that demonstrate Pearl's thoughtfulness and willingness to go the extra mile to please their beginner drummer customers.

Cons

There was one user who complained about Pearl's quality control having received a drum set with minor defects. On a more positive note, this gave Pearl the opportunity to showcase stellar customer support by sending in replacement parts in under three days.

Overall

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.

Tama Imperialstar IE52C

91
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$800
TAMA Imperialstar IE52C - Hairline Blue

The Imperialstar IE52C is Tama's contender in the 5-piece, complete and full-sized, entry level drum set market.

This set features high 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.

The included 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.

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

Pros

The high points of this drum set include the Tama hardware (especially the tom mounts) and sound, that according to a user who owns both, competes toe to toe with the higher end drums also from Tama.

Cons

The supplied drum heads stood out as a commonly mentioned weak spot in this offering with quite a few users recommending an immediate upgrade to make the most out of these otherwise very high quality drums.

Overall

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.

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.

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.

The Imperialstar's precision cut bearing edges allow the drums to ring openly and fully, providing a wide tuning range, enhanced sensitivity and response.

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.

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

Pros

This drum set has been flatteringly described as a professional kit with an entry-level price. Tama's included hardware is especially commended in quite a few reviews.

Cons

Apart from a few nitpicks such as the hi-hat stand not swiveling and the snare sound not being up to par for some, no major issues with this drum set can be reported.

Overall

If you want a Tama Imperialstar in a 6 piece configuration, the IE62C is it.

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.