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

The Highest Rated Junior Drum Sets

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Are you planning to buy your child their first drum set?

Learning to play the drums can be a great creative outlet for many kids and having the right instrument can spell the difference between a passing interest and a lifelong passion for drumming.

We put together this guide to help parents shop for decently priced and highly rated drums to help get your son or daughter started.

If your child is older than 10, or if they're tall for their age, please refer to our guide for full-sized beginner drum sets though some of the drums listed here can also be used by adults as a jazz kit or compact kit.

The Best Junior Drum Sets for Kids

Author & Contributors

Alden Acosta Alden Acosta

A drummer and former lead guitarist of the band Callalily, a platinum selling multi-awarded band from the Philippines. When not researching gear he is learning to play bass.

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 versions of adult drum sets to accommodate for small children. For this guide, we only considered drum kits with 18 inch or smaller diameter bass drums (usually the largest drum piece in the set), including some 'Jazz' kits (which traditionally come in smaller sizes) that are also played by adults, whereas full-sized 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 on the market don't come with hi-hat cymbals. 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 the cymbals, a stool and cymbal stands.

  • 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?

    A 5-piece kit is best because if the child really gets into drumming this will give them a better grounding in drumming techniques. However, if space is limited, 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. A 4-piece kit would be a good compromise between space requirements and being a 'complete' drum set.

  • 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. We recommend buying a couple of sets of different weights: Vic Firth Kidsticks (light) at Amazon - Vic Firth 5A (medium) at Amazon - Vic Firth 5B (heavy) 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.
  • Drum Key - This is used to loosen and tighten the lugs on your drums to tension and tune them to the pitch you want.
  • Hardware - This refers to the stands, pedals and other metal parts of a drum set that aren't the actual drums or cymbals.

The Best Junior Drum Sets - Detailed Descriptions

3-Piece Junior Drum Set

GP Percussion GP50

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 800+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$199
GP Percussion GP50MPR 3-Piece Acoustic Junior Drum Set

The GP50 is a 3-piece junior drum set geared towards kids aged 10 or younger.

It comes with chrome plated metal hardware, 6 Ply Poplar / Basswood shells and a durable PVC wrap. Included in the kit is a hi-hat, crash cymbal with stands and a drum stool.

This is a good compact drum set to get kids started with playing the drums.

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

This drum set received a lot of positive reviews regarding it's look, sound and build quality for its price. Reviews are filled with parents and grandparents reporting how happy kids were to receive this as a Christmas or birthday present. And with the inclusion of hi-hats, this kit is a step up from "toy" kits and can actually help a student learn limb independence techniques necessary for drumming.

Cons

Some complained about the drum stool being too flimsy. Also, there were some reports of the bass pedal being squeaky, some lubrication might be required.

Overall

This is a great starter drum set for kids aged 3 to 10. But with this being only a 3-piece drum set, be ready to upgrade to a 4 or 5-piece kit once your child has gotten more serious about drumming.

4-Piece Junior Drum Sets

Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 375+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$282
Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit

At publication time this was the Highest Rated 4-Piece Junior Drum Set.

Ludwig has partnered with renowned Tonight Show and Roots 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 drum 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 5" 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, also the construction of the shells. The quality of this drum set was even high enough for some adults to use and enjoy as a compact rehearsal kit. 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-sized professional drum kits. Some reviewers mentioned its factory included heads and cymbals were not as good sounding as they would have liked and replaced them right away.

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

87
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$499
 Pearl Roadshow 4-piece Drum Set w/ 18'' Kick

Pearl is a Japanese brand known the 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:

  • 18'' x 12'" Bass drum
  • 10" x 7'' Tom tom
  • 14'' x 10'' Floor tom
  • 13'' x 5'' 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:

  • 5 Available finishes (Aqua Blue, 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 a drum set. There is plenty of good feedback regarding the quality of its shells and included hardware and some that say they are a step up from other budget sets. 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 were some who were not happy with the sound and build quality of the included cymbals which is a common gripe with budget drum sets. They should be good enough to start but we recommend replacing them once you or your little one is further along in their drumming journey.

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

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 375+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$190
Ashthorpe 5-Piece Kid's Beginner Drum Kit w/ 16" Kick

The Ashthorpe Drums-S-JA-5327 is a junior sized drum set meant for drummers from 3 to 12 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:

  • 6 Available finishes (Green, Black, Blue, Purple, Red, Silver)
  • Poplar wood shells
  • Tunable and replaceable 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 for the price. Its compact size gets a lot of thumbs up, with reports of it 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 found the manual to be difficult to follow. Some resorted to YouTube videos to help them assemble the kit. 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 5-piece drum set for your young ones to learn the ropes on, this one is highly recommended.

Mendini MJDS-5

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 4400+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$250
Mendini MJDS-5 Acoustic Junior 5-Piece Drum Set

This brand specializes in making Junior Drum Sets.

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 with their purchase 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. One common positive reported is how easy it was to assemble this drum set.

Cons

Some complained about the snare drum having the snare wires on the inside as opposed to on the outside of the drum without any way to adjust the tension though some listed this as a feature that is more child safe than conventional designs. Also, 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 for a kid's 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 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$349
Pearl Roadshow Jr. 5-piece Acoustic Drum Set

At publication time this was the Highest Rated 5-Piece 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 its size is small, it does carry with it the same quality shell material found on regular sized Pearl drums.

The Roadshow Jr. is not a toy meant to look like drums, it's a real, serious drum set scaled down for kids.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

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

Specifications:

  • 2 Available finishes (Grind Stone Sparkle, Jet Black)
  • 6-ply poplar shells
  • Tunable and replaceable drumheads

Pros

Reviewers laud this drum set as having a tiny size but a big sound, receiving high praises such as it being a "pro" quality kit only smaller (the perfect size for even a 4 to 6 year old). There are also adults using this drum set, stating that it's a great compact kit to have for those with limited space and that the drum throne can carry a large adult if you're careful.

Cons

Some didn't like the fact that it didn't come with assembly instructions right out of the box but there is a video on Pearl's YouTube channel that helps with this.

Overall

If you're looking to get your young children their own quality 5-piece junior drum set then this is one of the better options on the market today.

Best Junior Drum Set Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2017 and the current edition was published on September 8, 2021.

For this 2021 edition, 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 12 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 7,100 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.

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

A drummer and former lead guitarist of the band Callalily, a platinum selling multi-awarded band from the Philippines. When not researching gear he is learning to play bass.

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.
Jason Horton: Supplemental writing, Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Compiled using photographs of the Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit and Pearl Roadshow Jr. RSJ465/C.

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

Comments

Hello, I have an average

Hello, I have an average sized 7 year old who is recently started taking lessons, using the schools Mapex Tornado set. Would any or all of the above kits work with the Tornado as a home practice kit? Thank you

Although you could get any of

Although you could get any of the 5-piece kits above, the Mapex Tornado is actually a full size adult kit, and the nearest one to that in terms of size and layout that we recommend is the Tama Imperialstar IE52C.

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.