The Best Junior Drum Sets For Kids - A Guide For Grown-Ups

Junior Drum Sets

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Having a good first drum set can spell the difference between forced practice and a genuine love for learning the instrument.

So we have produced this guide for adults, including both musicians and non-musicians, who want to buy a good drum set for children of about 10 years of age or younger.

If the intended recipient is much older than that, or if they're tall for their age, then please refer to our guide for full-sized beginner drum sets. Note that some of the drums listed here can also be a good jazz / compact kit for adults.

Like the previous update, we divided our recommendations into separate sections for 3, 4 and 5 piece kits. We primarily recommend 5-piece kits for the reasons explained below, however, the smaller 3-piece options will appeal to those with limited space in which to set up the drums.

The Best Junior Drum Sets for Kids

Things to Know Before You Buy a Drum Set for Kids

  • What is a junior drum set?

    While there is no 'official' definition, we characterize Junior drum sets as being smaller with 16-inch diameter kick drums being the most common size. For this guide, we only considered drum kits with 18 inches or smaller kick drums, including some 'Jazz' kits (with 18-inch kick drums) which are also played by adults, whereas full-size kits usually have kick drums that are 20 inches or larger.

  • What age groups are Junior drum sets for?

    There's no exact answer here because it depends partly on their height but these are best suited for children aged from 3 to 10. For children who are taller than average, or older than this range, then we recommend getting a full-sized kit - see our guide to The Best Beginner Drum Sets.

  • Does it have everything kids need?

    Some junior drum sets don't come with hi-hats. If you want your kid's drum set to help them to learn to play properly then it will need to have hi-hats, at least 1 crash cymbal, at least 1 tom, a snare, a bass/kick drum and a throne/stool to sit on. All of the drum sets we've recommended below are full kits including cymbals, hi-hats and all necessary hardware.

  • Should you get ear protection for kid drummers?

    Yes. Drums and cymbals are loud and prolonged exposure can lead to hearing damage.You can find a list of the highest-rated earplugs in our guide to The Best Earplugs For Musicians.

  • What does the number of pieces mean?

    Only the drums are counted 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.

  • How many pieces are best?

    We recommend getting a 5-Piece kit if possible because if the child really gets into drumming then this will give them a better grounding in drumming techniques. However, if space is limited, then a 3-piece kit will take up a bit less space both when set up and when packed up for transport to play with others.

  • Drum Sticks

    Usually, these are included when you buy a junior drum set but not always and it's frustrating to have your kit delivered without sticks. I recommend buying a couple of sets of different weights: Vic Firth Kidsticks at Amazon - Vic Firth 5A at Amazon - Vic Firth 5B at Amazon. It's important to know that sticks wear out and break so you really should have a spare set on hand for when the inevitable happens.

  • Drum Sizes

    In this guide, we state the diameter first, then the depth. So a 10" x 5" snare is 10" in diameter and 5" deep. Some manufacturers and retailers state the measurements the other way around.

Some Helpful Drum Set Terminology

  • Ply - a ply is a single layer of wood. Drum shells are typically made from multiple layers of wood so a 9 Ply shell means it has 9 layers.
  • Drum Kit vs Drum Set - these terms are essentially interchangeable and mean the same thing at music retailers.
  • Drum Throne vs Drum Stool - both these terms mean the same thing, it's the seat you sit on to play drums.
  • 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.
  • Drummer's Key - These are used to loosen and tighten the lugs on your drum heads to tension and tune them to the pitch you want.

The Best Junior Drum Sets - Detailed Descriptions

3-Piece Junior Drum Sets

Sound Percussion Labs Lil Kicker D1316

86
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$170
Sound Percussion Labs Lil Kicker 3-Piece Acoustic Junior Drum Set

This is a budget 3-piece drum set that has received many positive reviews from people who bought it for children 5 years old and under.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

  • 16” x 12” bass drum
  • 10” x 4” snare
  • 8” x 5” tom
  • Hi-hats
  • Crash/ride cymbal
  • Adjustable height cushioned drum throne
  • Kick pedal
  • Drum tuning key
  • Drum sticks
  • Set up instructions
  • All stands and hardware included

Specifications:

  • CPSIA certified for ages 3 and up
  • Available in black, wine red and white finishes
  • Multi-ply wood shells
  • Tunable and replaceable drumheads
  • Single braced hardware

Pros

This has been on our recommended list since January 2017 and it continues to get our stamp of approval due to the ongoing positive reviews it has accumulated. "A good starter kit for toddlers" was a common sentiment in customer reviews. Most people were happy with the sound of the bass drum and the snare. Although it only has single braced hardware most people reported that it was sturdy enough for children.

Cons

Many people who know a bit about drum sets said the cymbals were rather weak sounding, but that's a common complaint with junior kits. One reviewer counted this as positive because the cymbals weren't loud.

Overall

Most parents and grandparents reported that their little drummers were very pleased with their new drum kit when they got this.

GP Percussion GP50

88
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$170
GP Percussion GP50MPR 3-Piece Acoustic Junior Drum Set

This is a budget kit and the highest-rated 3-piece junior kit available at the time of publication for the second year in a row.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

  • 16" x 11" Bass Drum
  • 10" x 5" Snare
  • 10" x 6" Tom
  • 10" Crash Cymbal
  • Hi-Hats
  • Bass Drum Pedal
  • Throne
  • Drum Key
  • Drumsticks
  • All stands and hardware included

Specifications:

  • 6 lug bass drum
  • 5 lug tom
  • Single braced hardware

Pros

It gets good reviews for durability with some parents reporting that it's still going strong well after a year since they bought it. Many people said in their customer reviews that it was fairly easy to set up when it arrived, however, some said the exact opposite. The number of people who found assembly relatively easy well outnumbered those who had trouble with it. While it can't be considered a 'professional' drum kit, it does the job well of introducing young children to the instrument and it will last long enough for them until they require moving up to a higher level kit.

Cons

The main complaints were about the quality of the cymbals - quite a common complaint with budget drums. There were a few complaints about the difficulty in setting up the kit, some suggested there should be better instructions included and some said parts should be labeled. It only has single braced hardware, but that's strong enough for young kids - just be careful about letting adults sit on the drum throne.

Overall

Several customers said that this kit is good for 8-year-olds or younger, but probably too small for older children.

4-Piece Junior Drum Set

Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$269
Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit

Ludwig has partnered with renowned drummer, Amir "Questlove" Thomson to create the Pocket Kit made for children ages 4-10 years old.

Aside from the hardware, it also includes access to a series of web-based lessons to help with key setup, adjustment and playing technique.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

  • 16" x 12" Bass drum
  • 10" x 6" Tom tom
  • 13" x 10" Floor tom
  • 12" x 16"Snare drum
  • Foot pedal
  • Hi-hat stand
  • Cymbal arm
  • Snare stand
  • Drum throne
  • Drum sticks
  • Drum key
  • Hi-hats
  • Crash/Ride Cymbal

Specifications:

  • Hardwood shell material
  • Comes in a black, silver or red sparkle finish

Pros

A lot of reviewers praised the quality of its hardware, especially the construction of the shells. Its cymbals also have a fairly decent sound for a beginner kit. Many of them found it easy to assemble and tune within a few hours with the help of the video tutorials. One user pointed out that it had extra useful components that aren't usually found in inexpensive drum sets, such as memory locks for the cymbal arm, thread lubricant for the lugs and a rubber protector pad that's used to attach the kick pedal to the kick drum.

Cons

Several reviewers held this kit to a higher standard than they would with other small drum sets due to it being from such a well-respected brand known for their full-size professional drum kits. Some reviewers mentioned its factory heads were not as good sounding as they would have liked and replaced them with new drum heads. A few reports said this is a bit too big for under-fives. It disappointed some since it did not come with an instructional manual, although the videos on the manufacturer's website were informative.

Overall

This is a great beginner's drum kit with an exceptional value for its price. Just beware that it might be a little too big for kids under 5.

Pearl Roadshow RS584C/C

85
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$419
 Pearl Roadshow 4-piece Drum Set w/ 18'' Kick

Pearl is a Japanese brand known world over for quality drums and percussion instruments. The Road Show RS584C showcases why they continue to be in demand, with its good balance of specs and value, without compromising quality.

This particular 4-piece set comes with everything you need to start drumming: from kick, tom, floor and snare drums to the stands and arms that hold them, and it comes with a drum throne and drum sticks.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

  • 12'' x 18'" Bass drum
  • 7'' x 10'' Tom tom
  • 10'' x 14'' Floor tom
  • 5'' x 13'' Snare drum
  • 14" Hi-hats
  • 16" Crash/Ride Cymbal
  • Hi-hat stand
  • Cymbal arm
  • Snare stand
  • Foot pedal
  • Drum throne
  • Drum sticks and stick bag

Specifications:

  • CPSIA certified for ages 3 and up
  • 4 Available finishes (Charcoal Metallic, Bronze Metallic, Jet Black, Red Wine
  • 9-ply poplar wood shells
  • Tunable and replaceable drumheads

Pros

Overall opinion of the Pearl Roadshow RS584C is quite positive, with many of the reviews coming from beginners or first time owners of drum sets. There is plenty of good feedback regarding the quality of its shells and included hardware, while others are happy with its compact size. Interestingly, not all reviews are from beginners, because there are some who use this as their jazz set, and are impressed with its overall performance.

Cons

There are some experienced drummers who aren't too happy with the durability of the included cymbals, thankfully, students of the instrument will hopefully not be forceful enough to warp or break them.

Overall

If you're a beginner looking for a quality first set, or you're a professional drummer who wants a compact jazz kit to play with, then don't miss out on the Pearl Roadshow RS584C. Note that this kit might be a little bit too big for children under 5.

5-Piece Junior Drum Sets

Ashthorpe DRUM-S-JA-5327-GRN

88
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$180
Ashthorpe DRUM-S-JA-5327-GRN

The Ashthorpe Drums-S-JA-5327 is a junior size drum set meant for drummers from 3 to 14 years old.

It comes complete with everything needed to play, along with accessories that include a drum throne and drum sticks.

Finally, this kid-friendly drum kit does not look like a toy with its nice finish options and all-chrome hardware and accents.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

  • 16" x 11" Bass drum
  • 11" x 7" & 10" x 7" Toms
  • 13" x 10" Floor tom
  • 12" x 5" Snare drum
  • 10" Hi-hats
  • 12" Crash/Ride Cymbal
  • Hi-hat stand
  • Cymbal Arm
  • Snare stand
  • Foot pedal
  • Drum throne
  • Drum sticks
  • Specifications:

    • CPSIA certified for ages 3 and up
    • 2 Available finishes (Green, Black)
    • Poplar wood shells
    • Tunable and replaceable Remo drumheads

    Pros

    Many of the reviewers are parents who bought the Ashthorpe for their kids, and most of them agree that this is a great beginner drum set. Its compact size gets a lot of thumbs up, with reports of being comfortable for kids of different ages, even as young as 4 years old. It also helps that it doesn't look cheap, rather it is often praised for its pleasing appearance.

    Cons

    There are some reports of the instruction manual missing, while some parents find the manual to be difficult to follow. Also the size of this kit is not as adult friendly as some junior kits are.

    Overall

    If you're looking for a budget friendly drum set for your young ones to learn the ropes on, then this is highly recommended.

    Mendini MJDS-5

    90
    GEARANK

    90 out of 100. Incorporating 1500+ ratings and reviews.

    Street Price: 

    $190
    Mendini MJDS-5 Acoustic Junior Drum Set w/ 16" Kick

    This brand specializes in making Junior Drum Sets, and while they don't have the same prestige as brands like Ludwig and Pearl, they provide good value at a lower price point which is important if you're not sure whether your junior drummer will want to continue playing once the novelty factor wears off.

    Items Included in this Drum Set:

    • 16" x 11" Bass drum
    • 10" x 5" Tom tom
    • 8" x 6" Tom tom
    • 12" x 10" Floor tom
    • 10" x 6"Snare drum
    • Foot pedal
    • Hi hat stand
    • Cymbal arm
    • Snare stand
    • Drum throne
    • Drum sticks
    • Drum key
    • 8" Hi-hats
    • 10" Crash Cymbal

    Specifications:

    • Laminated wood shells
    • Comes in a range of colors including metallic silver, metallic black, metallic green, metallic blue, metallic wine red, and metallic bright red.

    Pros

    Most owners are quite pleased saying words to the effect that this is a good starter kit for the price. Positive reports came from those who bought it for kids ranging in age from 2.5 to 10 years old. There were quite a few customer reviews written 6 or more months after purchase saying that the kit was reasonably durable and still going strong.

    Cons

    Some parents who bought this as an upgrade for children who already had a smaller 3-piece set, and had shown they were really into drumming, were disappointed that this kit turned out to be 'entry-level' when they were expecting higher quality - if you're looking for an upgrade for a youngster with drumming experience then we recommend going for one of the Ludwig or Pearl drum sets instead. There were a few complaints about shipping issues with people receiving kits with missing or damaged parts - although it's only a minority of customer reports it is something to consider if you want to have time to get replacements when you're buying this for a special time like a birthday.

    Overall

    This is a good option as a first drum set, however, if you're looking to upgrade from a 3-piece set then try to see if your budget can stretch to the Pearl kit below.

    Pearl Roadshow Jr. RSJ465/C

    94
    GEARANK

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

    Street Price: 

    $300
    Pearl Roadshow Jr. 5-piece Acoustic Drum Set

    At publication time this was the Highest Rated Junior Drum Set.

    As the name implies, this drum set is a slightly smaller version of their popular Roadshow series, meant to save space and make younger smaller drummers more comfortable while playing.

    While the size is small, it does carry with it the quality same shell material as found on regular sized Pearl drums.

    Items Included in this Drum Set:

    • 10'' x 16'" Bass drum
    • 5" x 8" & 5.5" x 10" Toms
    • 8'' x 13'' Floor tom
    • 4'' x 12'' Snare drum
    • 10" Hi-hats
    • 13" Crash/Ride Cymbal
    • Hi-hat stand
    • Cymbal stand
    • Snare stand
    • Foot pedal
    • Drum throne
    • Drum sticks

    Specifications:

    • CPSIA certified for ages 3 and up
    • 2 Available finishes (Grind Stone Sparkle, Jet Black
    • 6-ply poplar shells
    • Tunable and replaceable drumheads

    Pros

    Many of the reviews are from satisfied parents who bought this drum set for their children, some as young as four years old. The reviews mention good build quality and sound, and more importantly, their children are having fun playing. There are also adults who have the same appreciation for this drum kit, stating that it's a great compact kit to have for those with limited space to play on.

    Cons

    Few complaints in terms of build quality and sound, just remember that playing this small kit can feel and look awkward for tall drummers.

    Overall

    If you're looking to get your children their own quality drum set then this is your best bet.

    Best Junior Drum Set Selection Methodology

    The first edition was published in January of 2017 written by Jason Horton and the latest edition was published on October 9, 2020 written by Alexander Briones with contributions from Jason Horton.

    For this 2020 update, we looked at all the junior 3 to 5-piece drum sets listed for sale at the major online music equipment retailers in the USA and created a short-list of 13 kits for detailed analysis. We gathered information from both customer and expert reviews which we have summarized in the descriptions above. We also fed that data into the Gearank Algorithm to produce the Gearank Rating scores out of 100 that you see above - over 3,300 individual rating sources were examined during this process. We then selected the highest rated models to recommend in each category of 3, 4 and 5 piece kits. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

    Need Help Selecting a Child's Drum Set?

    If you have any questions about junior drum sets just ask them in the comments section below and a member of the Gearank team or our musician audience will answer them for you.

    Comments

    Hi, I have a junior's drum

    Hi, I have a junior's drum kit now that I got from a family member, but the hi hat stand isn't working. I just discovered that the reason for this is that the hi hat cymbals are too heavy for the junior stand, and they were weighing it down. I'm going to get new hi hat cymbals soon, but I'm not sure what to get. Should I get extra thin or thin? Does the width make a difference in the weight?

    Hi, my son is almost 7 but is

    Hi, my son is almost 7 but is already about 4' 3" and growing about 2.5 - 3.0 inches per year. He is having lessons on a full size kit and copes OK but it is a little wide for him. If he keeps going as he is presently, I expect to buy his first kit at the end of the year, would you agree I'm best choosing a full kit for him that he will soon grow into? Many thanks!

    It sounds like he might on

    It sounds like he might be on the cusp of moving up to a full size kit - I would suggest asking his drum teacher whether or not a bigger kit would be best to save having to buy another larger kit too soon afterwards.

    My son has turned everywhere

    My son has turned everywhere to drum in the house since he was 20 months. Can I get a drum for him for his birthday? The passion was too much. He will be 2yrs old in few days.

    My son is 9 years old but the

    My son is 9 years old but the size of an 11 year old. This would be his 1st drum set. What would be your recommendation? He is 5ft weighing 125pd...

    Your son is already getting

    Your son is already getting too tall for one of these small drum kits, so he would be much better served with a full adult sized kit which he won't outgrow.

    Take a look at our guide to Beginner Drum Sets.

    Unless you're absolutely certain he's going to stick with playing drums, I'd go for one of the less expensive options in that guide.

    All of the options listed

    All of the options listed above are suitable, however I wouldn't get the more expensive ones unless you know they are committed to playing long term.

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