Every drummer’s dream starts with their drum set. A good drum set is the first thing you absolutely need if you want to become successful in the field, as bad drum sets will produce distorted and artificial sounds that will ruin your performance, no matter how good you are. We've put together a list of the best cheap electronic drum sets in 2021 to help narrow your options to find the best one for you. Check out our other Drums & Percussion recommendations once you have found your perfect set.
If you want to bring to life your inner rockstar, then an electronic drum set is just the thing you need. We know that you might not know where to start when it comes to buying an electronic drum set, so our guide is here to walk you through what you need to know.
How do electronic drums work?
The most important part of an electric drum is the sensor. Unlike a traditional drumset that relies on vibrations from a hollow drum, the electronic drum consists of rubber pads or mesh heads, which you strike. When doing so, you hit the sensor underneath, creating a voltage value that gets sent to a sound module. Depending on the voltage value that gets sent, the sound module will produce a certain sound. It is not uncommon for there to be more than a single sensor underneath one pad or head. This adds versatility to the type of sound that your strike against the drum can create. This is the basic premise of how an electronic drum set works, but you should learn as much as possible about different features that you might want on your set before you make any purchases.
What should a person know before they purchase an electronic drum set?
There are many things to know before purchasing an electronic drum set. Here are a few things to know and consider before making your final decision.
What does the electronic drum set consist of?
Not every electronic drum set features everything you might need. Some might be missing accessories as basic as sticks or a seat. While beginner kits are more likely to include everything you need, that’s not always the case. If you already have an acoustic drum set, then you might not need all the accessories. Think about everything you already have and what you’ll need from an electronic drum set before making a purchase.
How big/isolated is your space?
Electronic drum sets are not all the same size, so you’ll need to think about the space you plan to put it in and if you’ll have enough room. Many sets can be equivalent in size to a traditional drum set, so if you’re short on space, you might have to make adjustments yourself and mount the electronic drums onto traditional hardware.
You also need to think about where you’ll be playing. Do you have roommates? Do you live in an apartment building? If you’re around others, chances are they might not be too fond of you banging on the drums. What’s good about an electronic drum is that you can control the volume, but even still, you’ll be creating some noise depending on what your drum pad is made out of. If you find yourself needing to practice while still being quiet, then look for pads made out of mesh-head or closed-cell foam, as these are the quietest material.
On the note of where you want to play your electronic drum set, think about if you’re going to be moving your drum set around. If you plan on taking it to gigs and practice rehearsals, you’re going to want one that can easily be broken down into a travel case or two. Sets that can easily be broken down are great even if you’re not planning on transporting it around. If you’re short on space, having a set that can break down and be stored compactly is a great perk.
What features does the electronic drum set have?
Make sure to know what you want out of your electronic drum set. If you’re planning to play in front of others in a venue, you’re going to need more audio outputs than if you’re planning to just play for yourself or for a few others. The number of audio outputs on an electronic drum set will normally range from two to ten, but the price of the set will increase as the number of audio outputs does.
Nowadays, many electronic drum sets include training tools to help you learn how to play. If you’re a beginner or looking to fine-tune your skills, you’ll want to see if the set you want includes this feature. What’s more, most electronic drum sets will allow you to upload custom samples and play with them. While this feature is pretty widespread, if it’s important to you, you’ll want to make sure the electronic drum set you’re interested in can do this.
What is your budget?
Knowing your budget allows you to be realistic about the electronic drum set you can afford. When considering your budget, you’ll also want to think about the questions we just asked and how that translates into the electronic drum set that is best for you. You may have to sacrifice some features if you want to stay within your budget. See more information below about the normal price range of electronic drum sets to help you make the best decision possible.
What is the price range of electronic drums?
Prices can vary depending on the electronic drum set that you get. How big it is, the technology it has, and the accessories it comes with can all influence the price you’ll pay for an electronic drum set. On the lower end, you’ll probably end up paying a few hundred dollars for an entire electronic drum set. Because even the most basic electronic drum sets can set you back a pretty penny, it’s important that you’re committed to playing the instrument prior to buying it. For more intermediate or professional players, a high-quality electronic drum set can cost anywhere from 1,500 dollars and up. No matter what electronic drum set you get, remember to factor in everything that the set doesn’t include, along with the accessories you don’t already have. Having a complete picture of your budget plus everything you’ll have to pay for to rock out will make purchasing your new set that much easier.
More of an acoustic drum fan? Check out these affordable drum sets that will be perfect for you.
By Derek Sautter
Derek is a professional musician who specializes in percussion and works with the independent WGI group Cap City Percussion. With a Bachelors of Music from Capital University, specializing in Music Industry studies, he consistently finds himself playing and teaching percussion to anyone who has the will to learn. Derek is also a former member of DCI groups Legends (2014-15) and Colts (2016-18); he is also the percussion technician and instructor of the drum line at Olentangy High School. You may find him playing a gig throughout the greater Columbus, Ohio area.