5 Best Beginner Drum Sets of 2023

A beginner drum set is one of the big purchases a drummer makes after they’ve committed to drum lessons. There are other practice tools you can use in the meantime, such as practice pads and an electronic drum set, but if you’re ready to have an acoustic kit at home, go for it!

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We picked out our favorite drum sets by considering brand reputation. The brands below are trusted by some of the most famous drummers in the world!

We also considered things like shell material, budget, and included accessories. It’s such a relief to not have to shop for cymbals and or a throne and just get all the basics in one shipment.

If you want a full set, your best bet is the Ludwig or Pearl 5-piece set. Of course, we’ll dive into other options, including shell packs based on budget and traveling.

Quick Summary of the Best Beginner Drum Sets

  1. Pearl Roadshow RS525SC/C 5-piece Set – Jet Black (Best Overall)
  2. Gretsch Drums Energy 5-Piece Shell Pack Silver Sparkle (Best Budget 5-Piece Shell Pack)
  3. Ludwig Accent 5-piece Complete Drum Set (Best 5-Piece Kit Under $600)
  4. Yamaha Stage Custom Birch Shell Pack (Best Overall Shell Pack)
  5. Tama Club-JAM LJK48S 4-piece Shell Pack (Best Compact 4-Piece Shell Pack)

5 Best Beginner Drum Sets

1. Best Overall – Pearl Roadshow RS525SC/C 5-piece Set

best beginner drum sets

SPECS

  • Drums & Cymbals: 5 drums, 2 cymbals
  • Accessories: Sticks & Throne
  • Expandable? Yes
  • Shell Type: Poplar

A big reason why this is our favorite beginner drum set is because it’s a complete drum kit. This means you don’t have to go searching for cheap cymbals or a snare drum. You’ll have all you need, including a drum throne, drumsticks, and a stick bag. It’s a steal for under $700!

This best beginner drum set comes from Pearl, which is an amazing and reputable brand. Pearl drummers include Ray Luzier (Korn), Joey Kramer (Aerosmith), and many more professional drummers.

The bass drum is great for low bass frequencies and the snare is ready to take on ghost notes and loud accents. If you’re a beginner drummer, you’re likely working on ghost notes and accents, especially if you’re a rock drummer.

You want a snare that can differentiate the two for sure! Overall, it’s a great beginner kit for everyone, no matter what genre you’re learning. Tuning and setting the drums up will be easy as well. The quality of this affordable kit is perfect, and the kit sounds great.

2. Best Budget 5-Piece Shell Pack – Gretsch Drums Energy 5-Piece Shell Pack Silver Sparkle

best beginner drum sets

SPECS

  • Drums & Cymbals: 5 drums
  • Accessories: None
  • Expandable? Yes
  • Shell Type: Poplar

Gretsch is another brand drummers adore. Their beginner 5-piece set is another great option. Just note here that you’re getting shells only, cymbals and hardware are sold separately.

A reason we included this shell pack is that some drummers have cymbals, but don’t have shells. Here at American Songwriter, some of our staff prefer to keep electronic kits and hi-hats at home but save the “full out” drumming for the studio.

With that being said, if you have hi-hats or maybe were passed down other cymbals, consider this shell.

If you already have your go-to cymbals, you don’t have to worry about buying cymbals in a full set that you won’t use!

The drum shells are poplar, which is pretty standard for a kit this affordable. They still offer a warm sound and are durable for daily practice and various genres. Overall, it’s a great kit if you want backup drums or like the idea of picking out your own cymbals and accessories.

3. Best 5-Piece Kit Under $600 – Ludwig Accent 5-piece Complete Drum Set

best beginner drum sets

SPECS

  • Drums & Cymbals: 5 drums & 2 cymbals
  • Accessories: Throne
  • Expandable? Yes

Ludwig is top-tier when it comes to drums. There’s a good chance your favorite drummer is a huge Ludwig fan! They make quality drum sets, including this 5-piece beginner kit.

The Ludwig set comes with everything a new drummer needs — a snare drum, bass drum, two rack toms, kick pedal, and a floor tom, along with a hi-hat cymbal and ride. This is a fantastic complete set under $600! The drums are known for their warm and punchy sound, and the cymbals are bright!

They are maple shells, and many drummers absolutely swear by maple! So, if you’re ready to see what the hype is, consider this kit. The affordable price is fantastic.

4. Best Overall Beginner Drum Shell Pack – Yamaha Stage Custom Birch Shell Pack

best beginner drum sets

SPECS

  • Drums & Cymbals: 5 drums
  • Accessories: No
  • Expandable? Yes

Yamaha’s Stage Custom Birch 5-piece drum kit is another beginner favorite — birch shells have a nice bright sound and warm tone. Yamaha’s signature sound is a drummer’s favorite, musicians love the tone and sustain.

These drums are super pretty as well. The high-gloss lacquer finish makes everyone do a double-take, so if you want a drum set that’ll look great in your home studio or on stage, this set is great.

We can’t get enough of these birch shells, we’re obsessed with how warm and controlled it sounds. If you have any gripes about this kit, it’ll be the fact that cymbals and hardware are not included, but if you’re just looking for a top-tier shell pack, this is perfect.

5. Best Compact 4-Piece Shell Pack – Tama Club-JAM LJK48S 4-piece Shell Pack

best beginner drum sets

SPECS

  • Drums & Cymbals: 4 drums
  • Accessories: No
  • Expandable? Yes

Drummers living in smaller homes and apartments love this 4-piece shell pack. It’s pretty small and portable. There’s a cymbal boom that helps keep the set as convenient as possible.

As for the shells, they are poplar, which is pretty standard for an affordable shell pack under $530. The shells still give drummers a big warm sound they love!

This adorable beginner drum shell pack is nice — the aqua blue will look great on stage, in your home studio, or living room.

Overall, if you have a small budget and are limited on space, this is perfect for you. It’ll also make a great touring kit!

Best Beginner Drum Set Buyer’s Guide

Picking out your first acoustic drum set is a little overwhelming. You likely had to weigh the pros and cons of an acoustic set and an electronic set, so if you’re set on an acoustic set, here’s what you need to know.

Below we’ll cover hardware, expansion, configuration, shell material, and more.

Hardware & Accessories

Most sets don’t come with everything you’ll need. Some sets will include ride cymbals, pedals, stands, and more. Consider how much you’ll be willing to spend after you purchase the entry-level set.

Budget

That leads us to budget, set a budget beforehand so you can get a better idea of how much you’re willing to spend on the set and hardware and accessories to complete the kit. If you have to buy a throne and pedal, budget for about $200-$400.

Future Expansion

Check if your set allows for additional drums and cymbals. You may like the simple setup now, but you may want to add more as you advance your drumming skills.

Kit Configurations

Check the sizes of the drums and cymbals included so you can have a configuration that fits your needs as a rock, jazz, or Latin-style drummer.

Drum Shells

Common shell materials are maple, birch, popular, and mahogany. Maple is popular, it offers a warm tone with a good mix of frequencies.

They are used across all genres. Birch shells have a bright sound, and have a shorter sustain than maple. They are used in jazz and rock music.

Poplar drum shells are lightweight and often used in affordable drum sets. They have a warm sound with moderate sustain.

Mahogany is rich, warm, and dark. They are popular picks for jazz and blues drummers.

Quality

Consider brands with top-brand reputations for quality shells and cymbals. Ludwig, Pearl, and Gretsch are brands you’ll use in your beginner stages and well into your advanced and professional drumming journey.

Best Beginner Drum Set Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should I Buy a Complete Drum Kit With Cymbals or Drum Shell Kits?

Start with a complete drum set if you can. As you advance and learn more about shells, and the style of drumming you like best, you can get picky with building a custom kit with specific snare drums, bass drums, hi-hats, ride cymbals, etc.

Should I Buy New or Used Drums?

You can buy a used drum kit from a trusted retailer, but if you buy a used kit from someone online or through Facebook, just make sure the seller will let you inspect the drum set in person. Make sure the used hi-hat cymbals and ride/crash cymbals you purchase are in good shape!

Are There Any Specific Drum Brands Known for Good Beginner Drum Sets?

Pearl, Yamaha, Ludwig, Tama, and Gretsch are great! Their beginner drum sets are world-renowned.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for full sets with thrones, pedals, and cymbals included, the Pearl Roadshow RS525SC/C 5-piece Set or Ludwig Accent 5-piece Complete Drum Set are the best options for you. Pearl and Ludwig, both gold standards in the world of drums.

If you’re limited on space and are lucky enough to have an acoustic kit in your home or apartment, the Tama Club-JAM LJK48S 4-piece Shell Pack is a great deal. You can pick up your favorite cymbals to expand the kit. Plus, it’ll be an easy drum kit to travel with.

If you’re willing to increase your budget on a shell pack the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch Shell Pack is great! You’ll fall in love with birch shells.

If you’re a beginning drummer, picking out a beginner drum kit online can be tough. We think this list will help a lot, but you can always go to Guitar Center and play drums in the store.

Aspiring drummers like to bring headphones and play electronic and acoustic drum sets on display.

Photo Courtesy Sweetwater

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