Best Starter Drum Set for Adults- Top 10

 

As mentioned in our guide to the Best Beginner Drum Set, these reviews represent what we believe are the top 10 full-size acoustic drum sets on the market at the moment, hence ‘for adults’. Large kids are also welcome. As we talked about before, anyone over 5 ft should look to buy a full kit and adjust the throne, hi-hat stand, etc as necessary. If you are buying for a child who is quite a bit shorter than this, then you should probably read our reviews for kids. If on the cusp then go for a full kit, they will quickly grow into it. If you are looking for a toddler, then you have really missed the mark with this page.

 

What is the Best Drum Kit for Beginners?

The kits on our list will be a mixture of complete kits with cymbals and all the hardware and shell packs which will just be the drums. Some starters prefer to buy all the equipment in one go so that they can unpack, set-up and start playing whereas others would want to buy their own thrones, stands, pedals and cymbals. We will pretty much exclusively be looking at 5-piece sets as these will be fairly standard setups for most drummers when they start. Most of these kits have 4-piece variants so if you click on the links to take you to the seller’s website you will be able to select 4-piece there. Jazz kits even for a beginner would tend to be a 4-piece and have smaller drums for a gentler sound, so we have dedicated a page to the best jazz kits for beginnersWe understand that not all beginners are the same. Some may have musical experience and know they are serious about drumming, whilst others really just want to test the waters before committing to a more advanced set. The reviews below represent this range and should have something in there for everybody.

 

What We Have Scored On

These drums will cover all price brackets and will be reviewed on the following criteria –  overall sound (tone, response, fade, etc), shells and heads, hardware (thrones, pedals, stands and cymbals), best value. Looking for that first kit can be quite overwhelming so we have tried not to bog you down with an inordinate amount of details, however, if you click on any instrument you can read a fuller review. If you still need help then feel free to comment at the bottom and we will answer any questions you have. Some of these sets actually represent fantastic value for money, but may not be right for a beginner so we have tried taking that into account.

Top 10 Best Starter Drum Set for Adults

These are the top 10 in our opinion and have each made in on to here for different reasons. Most of these will pop up again in our reviews for their particular price bracket but one is in at over $1000 so will only appear here.

ModelName/ RatingSummaryCheck Price
Best Beginner Drum Set Under $500

    Pearl Roadshow

Score:    (4.75 / 5)

Perfect kit for beginners. Best low-mid range complete kit
AMAZON
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
Mapex Mars

     Mapex Mars 

Score:    (4.60 / 5)

Stunning finish, and sound. Best midrange shell pack
AMAZON
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
PDP Encore

    PDP by DW Encore

Score:    (4.65 / 5)

Great budget beginner set. Best low-end complete kit
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
Best Beginner Drum Set Under $1000

    Natal Drums Arcadia UF22 5

  Score:    (4.85 / 5)

Playing ability well beyond their price. Slickest set around.MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
DW Design Series

  DW Design Series

Score:    (4.65 / 5)

Next level build quality. Best high-end shell pack.
AMAZON
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
Tama Imperialstar

   Tama Imperialstar

Score:    (4.40 / 5)

Solid entry-level kit. Best mid-range complete kit
AMAZON
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
Ludwig Accent Combo with Zildjian Cymbals

Ludwig Accent Drive

Score:    (4.35 / 5)

Budget kit with great cymbals and hardware. Great low-mid range complete kit
AMAZON
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
Tama Superstar

Tama Superstar Classic

Score:    (4.75 / 5)

Beautifully constructed semi-pro kit. Best mid-high end shell pack
AMAZON
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
Ludwig Breakbeats by Questlove

Ludwig Breakbeats

Score:    (4.70 / 5)

Well designed for travel. Compact kit. Low-mid range 4-pc shell pack
AMAZON
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
Best Cheap Drum Set

Gammon Percussion 

Score:    (3.95 / 5)

True budget complete kit.  Best for 8-11-year-old beginners.AMAZON

Pearl Roadshow (Best drum set under $500!)

Best Beginner Drum Set Under $500
Shells and heads:  
Hardware and cymbals:    
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In our number one spot is one of our more affordable kits that thoroughly deserves its place. At this price, it would be easy to think that the set will compromise on sound and quality and that once you get it home and unpack it, you will wish you hadn’t. This is not the case. As a beginner, we would say look no further. The Pearl Roadshow is a complete kit that you can start playing the minute you get it – it includes sticks, a throne, stands, a pedal, ride and hi-hat cymbals and the shells, all for under $500. You will want to change the cymbals eventually as they aren’t great but they will do for the first few months. Even taking into account the cost of a new cymbal pack these are still unbeatable for a beginner. With a stylish finish and an incredible sound, you will not be disappointed.

Pros

  • Very affordable complete pack
  • Easy to set up (see full review)
  • Hardware and cymbals included.
  • Well constructed, great sound.
Cons

  • Cymbals aren’t great.

Maple Mars Rock Shell Pack


Mapex Mars
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Hardware and cymbals:   
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Value:

An incredible kit at a reasonable price. It does not include hardware or cymbals, which a lot of drummers would say is a good thing as it gives you the freedom to choose your own solid gear and that often hardware is an afterthought with these complete kits. The Mars Mapex is a truly a special shell pack and good value for its place at number 2 on our list.

Pros

  • Big tone and responsive sound – drums can be used in a studio or in a concert hall
  • Surprisingly deep, powerful yet focused bass drum
  • Little to no tuning required.
  • Factory heads sound great and do not need changing
  • High-quality shell and sturdy, durable SONIClear tom mounts great for the resonance.
  • SONIClear bearing edge gives clear tone with quick rebound.
  • Mid-range price for high end sounding kit
Cons

  • No hardware or cymbals included
  • Snare drum feels a bit flimsy

PDP by DW Encore


PDP Encore
Shells and heads:  
Hardware and cymbals:   
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Value:

This charming kit jumped into our top 10 due to the quality of drums and sound you get at such an incredibly low cost. You also get all the hardware and cymbals with it! PDP are part of world-renowned drum makers DW and were created to produce high-quality sets at an affordable price and they have done so fantastically. Loaded up with the quality and features of DW, but without the hefty price tag. This kit really is a beginner’s dream. It may not compare to the Mapex Mars or the Tama Superstar whose shells could take you through to a professional level, but as a first drum set there is no beating the PDP by DW Encore, which has enough quality to ensure that you won’t need to upgrade it within 6 months.

Pros

  • Entry-level price with high-end DW features
  • Surprisingly good sound
  • Slick finish with 4 styles to choose from
  • Complete pack with hardware
Cons

  • Cymbals, sticks, heads and hardware are not the best
  • Can be tricky to set up and no instructions

 

Natal Drums Arcadia UF22

Best Beginner Drum Set Under $1000

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Value:  

The Natal drums are a thing of beauty. Originally making iconic latin percussion instruments like their fiberglass congas, the British company Natal relaunched with its critically acclaimed ‘Originals’. These were revered for their design and lauded for their sound. Since then, much like DW, Natal set about making an affordable kit whilst retaining the quality and in the Arcadias, they have done exactly that. If you aren’t familiar with all things drumming then Natal may not sound too familiar to you, not being a household name like Gretsch or Pearl. That doesn’t detract from these drums. At the mid-range price point, they don’t come with cymbals or a throne but they do come with a hardware pack which contains sturdy stands and a pedal. It is rare that we can’t find something wrong with a set, but we are struggling with this jaw-dropping set.

Pros

  • Stunning value
  • Expert craftsmanship
  • Hardware pack included (see review)
  • Breathtaking sound
Cons

  • None

DW Design Series


Shells and heads: 
Hardware and cymbals:     
Sound:  
Value:     

The most expensive acoustic set that you will see on this website, the DW Design could not be left out. Incredible for beginners, intermediates, hell, we would tell Chad Smith to get one of these. It is DW quality at an affordable price. It does not come with hardware so you will have to buy all of those bits separately, but if you wanted to find what is essentially a professional kit that isn’t going to cost you thousands then this is it.

Pros

  • Despite the price incredible value for money
  • Hard rock maple shells
  • Loud, crisp, full-bodied sound
  • Great versatility
  • Incredible articulation, resonance and even fade.
  • Easy to play at any level
Cons

  • Pricey for a first set
  • Stands, cymbals, hardware, and pedals not included.

Tama Imperialstar with Meinl HCS Cymbals


Tama Imperialstar

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Hardware and cymbals:  
Sound: 

Barely missing out on a top 3 finish are the Imperialstars, produced by Tama who are known for not only of drums but also their hardware. Known for their quality and style, these entry to intermediate level drums are no different. Drummers will swear by Tama and defend it to the death and for good reason. This set is perfect for most styles of music and we especially love how it sounds for rock and metal. It is a complete pack, so you will have all the hardware and cymbals you need to get going.

Pros

  • Complete kit with good quality Meinl cymbals
  • Great value for money
  • Solid heavy duty hardware
  • Precision sound bearing edges
  • Good response and sound for an inexpensive kit
  • Easy setup and tuning – instructions included
Cons

  • Heads aren’t great
  • Not the biggest sound

Ludwig Accent Drive with Zildjian Cymbals 


Ludwig Accent Combo with Zildjian Cymbals
Shells and heads:   
Hardware and cymbals:    
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Value:    

The baby brother and more affordable version of the Ludwig CS series. At an incredibly low price for a kit that includes 2 fantastic Zildjian cymbals and all the hardware needed, the Ludwig Accents were not too far away from our top 3. A solid first kit for any beginner to get to grips with drumming and then due to the cheap cost, very easy to upgrade to their next set when ready. Great to learn on, even if you will outgrow them quite quickly. Once you do though, at least you still have the Zildjian cymbals!

Pros

  • Complete set – all hardware and Zildjian cymbals
  • Good quality shells
  • Good resale value
Cons

  • Not tuned well to start and heads need to be replaced
  • Shells are ‘select veneers’ and not birch like CS series
  • The hardware feels cheap and unstable
  • Throne needs replacing

Tama Superstar Classic

Tama Superstar

Shells and heads:   
Hardware and cymbals:  
Sound:   
Value:    

These were a joy to review. Better quality than the Imperialstar – shells constructed beautifully from 100% pure maple. If this were a list of the top mid-level kits then this would be in the top 3 hands down but given its price and the fact that it is the shells only we couldn’t justify placing it any higher. If you are serious about drumming and want a kit that you carry through with you for years to come and play gigs with then the breathtaking Tama Superstar Classic may be the kit for you.

Pros

  • 100% pure exquisitely made maple shells
  • Huge sound from Toms and Bass
  • Gig/ concert ready
  • Semi-pro level kit at a remarkable mid-range price
Cons

  • For a beginner a little pricey as only a shell pack
  • No hardware of cymbals

Ludwig Breakbeats by Questlove with Tama Throne

Ludwig Breakbeats by Questlove

Shells and heads:  
Hardware and cymbals:  
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This compact kit is the only 4-piece that made it on to our list. Inspired by Sonor who started making micro kits in the 90s and who feature in our jazz section, Ludwig have teamed up with the king of groove, Questlove to create a set a fraction of the size with all of the kick and they have done so fairly well. The compact Ludwig Breakbeats are great not only for jazz but for small apartments, bedrooms and studios and they are extremely portable. They are also for obvious reasons great for kids and beginners. Overall an extremely affordable kit that lives up to its vision (and for only $10 you get a Tama throne with this combo!) with a choice of 3 funky finishes this is a kit that won’t disappoint.

Pros

  • Small stature, big sound
  • Great range for a small kit
  • Extremely affordable budget kit
  • Looks groovy, sounds groovy
Cons

  • Toms feel a bit flimsy
  • Ludwig/Questlove logo looks a bit cheap

Gammon Percussion Full Size 

Best Cheap Drum Set

Shells and heads:
Hardware and cymbals: 
Sound:  
Value:

The Gammon – a drum set on a budget. This kit is the practice kit of practice kits in such that all you should do is practice on it. This will be the definition of no-frills and it is here simply because of its low price. Made for those who just want something cheap to practice on before they upgrade or to test the waters on. The sound and response may not be the best but given how unbeatably affordable it is it snuck into our top 10. There are other kits at a similar price or lower that might as well be toys. This is still a drum kit. Think of it this way, if you can make something sound good on this, then you make something sound good on anything.

Pros

  • Complete 5-piece adult drum kit with cymbals and hardware for $250
  • Perfect budget kit for rookie drummer testing the waters
Cons

  • Its price is telling in terms of sound and quality
  • Hardware, cymbals and shells feel cheap

So You’ve Seen the Best

Ths list above should give you a fair idea of the range of ‘entry-level’ sets although just because we have named these set as good for beginners, it doesn’t mean they aren’t also for more intermediate or even professional players. It is just a testament to how incredible they are that anyone from a first timer to a fully-fledged drummer can play them. As a beginner, these will ensure that you have everything you need to kick-start your drumming journey. If you are wondering how your favorite hasn’t made the list (sorry Gretschers – although check out our best jazz drums for beginners set list!) then feel free to comment and we will happily take a look.

One thing we would say, if you are buying an acoustic set it will be loud. Assuming you don’t have a soundproof room or your very own bat cave where you can practice, noise will be a big concern. Make sure you read our article on the best ways to reduce the drums sound which looks at a combination of dampeners, mutes, silencers and noise eaters.

Do Your Research

You may have seen one listed above and are now saying, please stop talking and take my money.  Before you do, you should always consider buying a used kit. Often by buying used shells you can get a top brand kit for a lot less. If you do, make sure to look at our guide on 2nd hand buying at the end of our under $500 reviews.

We do appreciate that as a beginner when you buy a set you will probably want the full kit, hardware and all and you want to know that you won’t rip a hole in the skin on day one, but if you do your research you can find great 2nd hand kits without too much hassle, although unless you buy from a reputable seller such as Guitar Center then you could have a problem if there is a problem with the drums.

Set Up and Get Going

So if you’ve gone ahead a bought a set congratulations! This will probably be the best purchase of your life. Once you get your beloved drums, be sure to check out each set’s review page with a video on how to set up and get going!