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 2022 Edition of our 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 - 2022.11

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.

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

4-Piece Junior Drum Sets

Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 500+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$299
Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit LC178X0 - Red Sparkle
At publication time this was the Highest Rated 4-Piece Junior Drum Set.

Cons

  • Thin sounding cymbal and hi-hat

Pros

  • Good quality hardware
  • Solid overall build and construction
  • Full sounding snare and toms
  • Compact profile, complete package

Ludwig has partnered with renowned Tonight Show and Roots drummer, Amir "Questlove" Thomson to create the Pocket Kit made for children aged 4-10 years old. As such, hardware quality and shell construction are quite good for a junior kit, good enough to meet Amir's standards.

While this set is meant for children, it has good enough sound and feel to be a good compact rehearsal kit for adults. The snare and toms sounds quite full for their size.

It also had nifty extras 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.

It only has one crash/ride cymbal that is quite small, resulting in a thin sound that doesn't reverberate long. It doesn't sound as good as bigger and more expensive alternatives, but it is definitely good enough given their size, and should work well for novices.

In addition to its good quality hardware, it also includes access to a series of web-based lessons to help with drum setup, adjustment and playing technique.

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

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

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Drum Helper Gideon Waxman 97/100
YouTube JaydenEricBeaudoin 92/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

5-Piece Junior Drum Sets

Ashthorpe DRUM-S-JA-5327

90
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$200
Ashthorpe 5-Piece Kid's Beginner Drum Kit w/ 16" Kick

Cons

  • Small cymbals and hi-hats
  • Can take longer to assemble for first timers

Pros

  • Complete ready to play package
  • Good overall quality for the price
  • Nice looking finish and hardware accents
  • Multiple color choices for young drummers

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, including snare, two toms, one floor tom, a crash/ride cymbal and a hi-hat.

Overall quality and build is quite nice for the price, good enough for kids and even adults who are looking for a compact and affordable kit to test the waters for drumming. To be able to play it right out of the box, it comes with important accessories like drum sticks and a drum throne.

When properly set up, it doesn't look like a toy kit at all, while still being compact enough for kids of different ages. It also helps that it doesn't look cheap, it comes with a nice sparkly finish and all-chrome hardware and accents. And to accommodate more kids, it comes in 7 different color finishes, including purple and pink.

Being a complete 5-piece package means that assembly can be daunting for first timers, but it is doable with the help of the instruction manual. Like most kits in this price range, the cymbal and hi-hat are small, resulting in a trebly sound that lacks sustain.

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.

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:

  • 7 Available finishes (Green, Black, Blue, Purple, Red, Silver, Pink)
  • Poplar wood shells
  • Tunable and replaceable drumheads

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Daniel Parker Big D 92/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Mendini MJDS-5

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 4050+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

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

Cons

  • Hard to to access wire adjustment
  • Small cymbals and hi-hats

Pros

  • Snare and toms have good bounce and feel
  • Good overall sound
  • Beginner friendly color options
  • Kid friendly size and design

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.

The snare and toms have good bounce, and they all sound good, if not decent. Note that snare wires are positioned inside, so there is no way to adjust the wire tension. This is said to make the snare more child safe, compared to conventional designs. The cymbals and hi-hats are quite small as expected, they won't be sounding as full and responsive as bigger counterparts.

Still the overall quality of its parts together with its compact size make it a good starter kit for the price, great for kids ranging in age from 2.5 to 10 years old. Another plus for this 5-piece kit, is that it's not that hard to assemble, although it will take some time for first timers.

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.

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.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Bass Guitarist 92/100
Guitar Junky Charles Vallena 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Pearl Roadshow Jr. RSJ465/C

94
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$389
Pearl Roadshow Jr. 5-piece Acoustic Drum Set
At publication time this was the Highest Rated 5-Piece Junior Drum Set.

Cons

  • Small cymbals and hi-hats

Pros

  • Pro quality build and hardware
  • Big and beefy sound
  • Responsive heads with good bounce
  • Quality finish and aesthetics
  • Compact gig worthy kit after a few upgrades

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. It is not a toy meant to look like drums, it's a real, serious drum set scaled down for kids. This means that it retains the playing feel and experience of a pro quality kit, but at a more kid-friendly size.

For something small, the Roadshow Jr. has a big beefy sound with good volume. It features shells made of poplar, resulting in authentic vintage style sounds. The heads are also responsive, great for learning technique and dynamic nuances.

The cymbals and hi-hat are also small, but the ones included in this kit are better than what you'd normally get from similarly priced junior kits. Still if you want to gig with this kit, you'll have to swap them out for something bigger.

Build quality and finish are top notch, as expected from Pearl, it really has the sharp and clean look of a pro kit. 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.

Items Included in this Drum Set:

  • 16'' x 10" Bass drum
  • 8" x 5" & 10" x 5.5" 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

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

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.
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.