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Compare the Best Drum Sets for Beginners

Tired of searching for the best beginner drum set? After playing 50+ hours on 40 kits, I've narrowed it down to my favorite 5. Updated Feb-15-2019

Drumset
Rating
          Features

Pearl Roadshow

  • Comes with everything
  • Great quality
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
Best drumsets 2019

Questlove's Breakbeat Kit

  • Comes with everything
  • Portability is amazing
  • Beginner/Intermediate
  • Cheap for Professionals

Yamaha Stage Bop Custom

  • Professional sound
  • Great price for Pro-Sound
  • Looks great
  • Portable
  • Kids, Beginners
Pearl Export Series Drumset blue

Pearl Export Series

  • Well-built
  • Great price
  • Good looking finishes
  • Solid hardware

Ludwig Accent

  • Comes with everything
  • Very affordable
  • Better wood than other beginner kits
About the Reviewer

Hi I'm Adam Chase, a musician, multi-instrumentalist and band leader from Baltimore, MD.  I've been playing music for 20 years and this is my website and each product is personally reviewed by me at my studio in Asheville, NC.  As a touring musician, I've performed with some of the biggest musicians in the business, opening for Crosby Stills And Nash, Aerosmith, Santana, Kiss, Rusted Root, Dickey Betts, Victor Wooten, Oteil Burbridge, OAR, and many others.  You can read more here. Hope you find this guide helpful!

Best Acoustic Drum Set for Beginners

When I started shopping for my first beginner drumset, I had been playing snare drum and bass drum in my elementary school concert band with such enthusiasm that my parents saw it was time to get me my first drumset.  Once I joined the middle school concert band, I couldn’t wait any longer. My parents and I got in the car and cruised down to Washington D.C. to Chuck Levins to view all the drums and hopefully pick my first beginner drum kit.  Unfortunately, none of us really knew what we were doing.

While the sales rep was very nice and informative, his more detailed knowledge went right over our heads and his insistence on seeing the more expensive drumsets made us question his motivations.  At the time, in 1994, the internet was not quite the robust source of eternal information that it has come to be and even less than volume of information was reputable and trust-worthy sites like (our site name), to use for making expensive decisions.

What Makes the Best Drum Kit?

Fortunately for me, my best friend's father had been touring as the drummer for the Beach Boys and offered to take us to a music store and help us find the best drumset under 1000 dollars.  After hitting every drum as hard as we could, we came to the decision that we would compare the Pearl Export Series Drum Set vs. Yamaha Stage Custom Drum Set. 

At the time the Yamaha Stage Custom was the more expensive of the two drumsets and without having a clear reason for wanting the more expensive drumset, my parents were steering me to the Pearl Export Drumset.  Then the Pearl Export Drumset was built with a combination of Birch and Maple wood which created a very nice warm tone from the birch with a nice punch from the maple that really spoke to my ear and helped set the Pearl Export Drumset apart from the all Maple Yamaha Stage Custom that I was considering.

In the end we decided on the Pearl Export Drumset which at the time was priced at $999 (Now there are several decent drumsets under $500) and did not include cymbals but did include the neccessary hardware.  After pucharsing a $500 dollar Sabian Cymbal pack, we were up and running for about $1500.

Finding The Best Drumset For You

I loved my drumset and grew into a professional drummer eventually upgrading my drumset significantly to a professional drumset that cost me quite a bit more.  In retrospect, there are a few things I would have done differently. Hopefully, I can help you make this decision so you don’t have any regrets.


First thing is first, as much as you can save money buying a cymbal kit, if you think at all that you or your child have the ability to hopefully one day grow into a professional drummer, purchasing high quality cymbals will not only make playing more enjoyable while learning but, cymbals, much like camera lenses, hold their value pretty well.

Longevity

Withstanding the test of time, Pearl Export Series Drumkits as well as Yamaha Stage Custom drumkits are still two of the best drumsets for beginners. As a matter of fact, in many music venues that provide backline drum sets for professional drummers, the Yamaha Stage Custom drumset is a common piece of gear that while not technically a professional drumset, gets the job done in a pinch. 

Drum Shells

Certain types of wood are naturally more expensive than others. So how can you find an affordable wood shell for your drums that will sounds great and last a long time. Drum companies have been studying the longevity and quality of wood for years, working to perfect whats the most affordable for them to manufacture and what will give you the best sound from your drum.

Hardware

Some drumsets come with all the hardware you will need including a kick-drum pedal, snare drum stand, and even cymbal stands for a crash cymbal, ride cymbal and hi-hat cymbals. These all-inclusive packs make it easy to grab everything out of the box and setup your first drumkit. This doesn't mean a drumset without hardware is not a good choice- some drumsets that even do include everything would have hardware that you may need to upgrade anyways. But more than likely, for beginners, you will be more than fine to use whichever hardware is included.

Drum Heads

Drum Heads can seem like a daunting task to switch out, but they are one of the most important elements in having great sound from your wooden shell drums. There are lots of great brands from varying prices, but considering if you will need drum heads right away, or if your drums come with heads you can use right away is important. 

Cymbals

Cymbals are so much fun and such an essential element to the right sound overall from your full drumset. And there's no way around it, great cymbals that will last a long time can be expensive. But its worth it. If you spend a little more upfront, you won't have to keep re-purchasing more down the road. And there isn't really any value in re-selling old used cymbals. 

Sound

How your drumset sounds will ultimately be the most important thing to you. Of course, the cost and durability are a major part of the consideration, but for you to keep using your drumset and to be happy with your drumset- the most important thing to consider is how it sounds. Whats the quality of the wood in the shells, whats the quality of the manufacturer- have they been in business a long time? Do famous drummers use this brand? 

Durability

When purchasing a Drumset for Beginners (or at any level), durability is quite a big component to consider because it lets you know how much time you will get as a return on investment. If you don't have a lot of money and want a cheaper drumset just to get started, thats perfectly acceptable. Its always best to start somewhere than to not start at all- but if you can read reviews and find which drumsets will last you for years and years to come, it may be worth it to purchase that drumset even if it costs a little more than you had wanted to spend because you will use it longer and it will ultimately save you money down the road. 

Level

Some drumsets are truly best just for beginners. There are some drumsets that are just best for kids (because of price and size), something they will eventually grow out. But then there are kits that can be used longer as you get better. So depending on what you are spending on your drumset, make sure to consider how long it will last you, as you get better and start to do more with your kit.

Look

Look is not just a vanity thing, it truly is important when choosing a drumset depending on what you plan on doing with your career. If you hope to be on stages, in concert halls, or even for music videos- you want something that looks professional and appealing.

Best Beginner Drum Sets In Detail

We showed you our top five beginner drumsets for 2019, but we realize that you will probably need a little more info before you make your drumset purchase. Here we will give you all the juicy details you need about our favorite drumsets for beginners. 

Best drumsets 2019

1 Pearl Roadshow

Our Rating

Read Full Review​​​My take on the Pearl Roadshow Drumsets are that they are a great value buy regardless of the level you are at.  I wouldn’t be in any rush to take this kit on tour as a professional musician, but if I was flying into a gig and any of the variations of this was the backline drumset with decent drum heads  and cymbals, I would feel good about it.  I would definitely recommend this for beginners and intermediate drummers. Read Full Review >>>

  • Pro​s
  • Cons
  • If you are looking for a drumset under $500, there aren't any cons

2 Questlove's Breakbeat

Our Rating

It’s portable and stackable- thats what makes it brilliant. The Questlove Breakbeat drumset is convenient for travel situations, urban living, quick setup and all lifestyles. Read Full Review >>>


The Ludwig Breakbeats Drumset by Questlove is available with variations of drum sizes, but the most recommended includes a 14×16 kick drum, 7×10 rack tom, 5×14 snare drum and a 13×13 floor tom.

  • Pro​s
  • Cons
  • Will eventually need to upgrade cymbals for professional level
  • Drumheads should be replaced
  • For a true beginner, there are more affordable kits

3 Yamaha Stage Custom Bop

Our Rating

This Yamaha Stage Custom Bop drumset for stage performance with great sound, look and portability, giving it an overall  professional appearance.


Available in unique colors: Natural, Cranberry Red or Raven Black. Can be used for beginners, intermediate or professional drummers.

  • Pro​s
  • Cons
  • The option under $500 only comes with bass drum and toms, so this would require upgrade to 22" bass drum for rock drummers

WHAT'S INCLUDED - 18" Kick Drum, 14" Floor Tom, 12" Rack Tom

NOT INCLUDED - Snare, Throne, Hardware, Kick Pedal or Cymbals

BASS DRUM - This smaller Bass Drum is ideal for Jazz Drumming and Portability

OPTIONS - 22" Bass Drum is available

4 Pearl Export Series

Our Rating

The Pearl Export Series is the best selling drumset of all time and that is not by accident.  This is a great drumset for beginners and light gigging drummers.


For as long as the Pearl Export Standard Drumset has been made, it has been one of the most popular and best drumsets for beginners.  In many ways its good enough for intermediate drummers and with the right upgrades can even be used by a professional drummer.

  • Pro​s
  • Cons
  • Mass produced
  • Some finishes are rough around the edges

5 Ludwig Accent

Our Rating

The Ludwig Accent is a complete drumset that is affordable and includes everything you need to play all the way down to  drumsticks.


The Ludwig Accent Series comes in two configurations- the Ludwig Accent Fuse and the Ludwig Accent Drive. The Fuse is focused on tone and beginners while the Accent Drive is a complete acoustic drumset with a drum throne and hardware.

  • Pro​s
  • Cons
  • Its a true beginner kit, so once you get good, you will want to upgrade
  • Exclamation Triangle
    Drum heads should be replaced, starting with the bass drum and snare drum
  • Cymbals are fine at first, but should be replaced to make the drumset sound good and to make it enjoyable for the player
Complete Kit
Very Affordable
9ply Shells
Ready to play

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