Best Budget (Cheap) Drum Set for Beginners

 

So you’re friend called you recently and they said ‘Steve, we need you to play the drums’, despite the fact that you are a guitarist and the closest you have come to playing percussion is when you drummed a couple of spoons against your cereal bowl. It could be this or a number of other reasons that you are looking to start playing the drums but don’t want to invest too much in them right now. This may be your first instrument and you want to see if drums are for you, or possibly you play other instruments but know that percussion is a great one for your repertoire. Maybe you got caught at school mucking around and the teacher said you had a talent and should look into getting a set. There are countless reasons why you would want a set to practice on and as many reasons why you don’t pay too much.

 

Not Cheap, Just Affordable

Firstly, we don’t like calling it a cheap drum set because that usually implies a lack of quality and all of those on our list, whilst not winning any awards, are sturdy and well put together. We will be looking at the best budget drum kit and when we say budget we mean the best drum set under $300. You may be thinking, ‘but $300 isn’t cheap for a first instrument!’, we appreciate this, but unfortunately the drums aren’t cheap. Given the number of drums and amount of hardware that comes in the full set you would expect them to cost a bit. Just be happy you aren’t buying e-drum as the Alesis Nitro’s are the cheapest e-kit we have reviewed by quite a bit and they are still $300!

The quality here may not be at the same level as those in the $500 category or under $1000, but that doesn’t mean you are buying cheap rubbish (even though there is quite a lot of that out there). Each of these drum sets has their own prudent charm and will be more than fine to get you going on your way to drumming greatness. We have only included 5-piece complete sets with all the hardware and cymbals in this category as we assume that that is what you are looking for at this price point. If you happy to buy your own hardware then we should suggest checking out our review of the PDP by DW Z5 5-Piece Shell Pack. Just for the shells and without the hardware or cymbals you pick it up for $250 here however for $70 more you will get all the stands with it which is still incredible value. Be sure to check out the video at the end of this article with some tips on how to get the best out of your budget kit.

 

Top 3 Best Budget Drum Set

The ratings in for this bracket will not be reflective of these kits overall ratings. If we are comparing these to the Natal Arcadia then none of them will score above a 2. We have ranked these out of 5 based on their performance as beginner kits for under $300!

ModelName/ RatingSummaryCheck Price
Best Budget Drum Set

Rogue 5-Piece Complete Drum Set Wine Red

Score: (4.80 / 5)

Best ‘budget’ complete kit on the market. Surprisingly good sound and decent hardware
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
 
Best Cheap Drum Set

Gammon Percussion Full Size

Score: (4.65 / 5)

Firm favorite budget beginner kit. Everything you need to start playing
AMAZON
 
 
Mendini Red

Mendini by Cecilio Complete Full Size

Score: (4.40 / 5)

Cheap, cheerful and everything you need it one box
AMAZON

Rogue 5-Piece – Wine Red

Best Budget Drum Set
Shells and heads:
Hardware and cymbals:
Sound:
Value:

Our favorite full-size 5-piece complete drum set under $300. The Rogue comes equipped with all the hardware and cymbals you need to start drumming straight out of the box. The most common problem you will find with sets at this price is that the shells are poorly constructed so the sound is woefully boxey and thin. This set sounds surprisingly good and the tones are pleasant. We are not saying that you can compare it to the Pearl Roadshow or the Tama Imperialstar and you aren’t going to be gigging any time soon with it, but at its price point it is a bit of a revelation given what we have come to expect of these extreme budget packs. So as long as you buy this with the right perspective and expectations, you will enjoy this perfectly affordable kit for a new drummer testing the waters.

Pros

  • The snare is punchy and crisp
  • Shells well constructed
  • Hardware is reasonably sturdy
  • Easy to assemble
Cons

  • Heads need changing
  • The bass pedal is poor
  • Cymbals are not great
  • Needs a lot of tuning

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 will be the definition of no-frills as is quite normal for a complete pack at this price point. Made for those who just want something cheap to test the waters on. That being said it is popular amongst learners on a budget; it is the ‘Ford’ of the cheap drumming world. The sound and response may not be the best, you may get a few unwanted overtones but it will do the job. There are other kits at a similar price or lower that might as well be toys, so all things considered it’s not a bad drum kit to get you through the first half year. This is a semi-solid full drum set that will be easy enough to set up and play. There are always ways to make a cheap drum sound better and the video after the reviews gives some great tips.

Mendini by Cecilio

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

At this price, the manufacturers are really pushing the limit of how much they can give you at such a low price and it is quite telling when it comes to the Mendini’s hardware and cymbals. The shells however look and sound ok. This is the ultimate practice set to get you off the mark and then once you have decided (as we are sure you will) that drumming is for you, you can trash this set without a second thought. As a parent who isn’t sure if their kid will keep playing and doesn’t want the hassle of finding used kits, here is the solution. Cheap, easy and non-committal.

Pros

  • Everything you need to start playing
  • Remarkably cheap
  • Shells finished nicely and sound ok
  • Easy to set up
Cons

  • Cymbals, throne and stands feel cheap and poorly made
  • Lots of tuning required
  • Heads are poor

 

Keep It Simple

As you can see these are still going to get you from A to B, although you may fall off your wobbly throne somewhere in between. These are no frills kits and are perfect to practice on. They won’t be performing in any concerts or gigs any time soon, but that’s fine. These are a great way to get to know whether drumming is for you and they certainly won’t hinder your practice. In fact what lower end kits will do is make you realize what you look for in a drum. All this talk of unwanted overtones and heavy lugs may not make sense now, but after playing on one of these kits for a few months you will understand exactly what you want from your next one. Given their price, when you are ready to graduate you can sell/donate/burn them without too much thought. If for some unfathomable reason you decide that the drumming life isn’t for you then you won’t lose too much sleep.

 

If you are fairly serious about drumming and have steely grit in your heart and determination in your eyes, then I would consider bumping up the budget and looking at what is available in the next price band. The difference in quality is drastic. One thing we would say is that you may want to look into used drums listed above as you will be able to pick them up at a steal. Whilst places like Craigslist are good, we would suggest checking out the used available on somewhere like Guitar Center as you are buying from a reputable seller and will be at less risk of buying something faulty or damaged. If you are opting for new, shop around as prices vary, although we have found that places like Amazon, Musicians Friend and Guitar Center are the cheapest and have the best returns policy in case anything is amiss.

 

Tuning and Touch-Up Tips

Whatever you decide, this video will help tighten your kick, tame your toms and polish up your snares, all of which is a roundabout way of saying it will really help it sound much better: