Best Beginner Drum Set Under $1000

 

Hello there big spender, there’s no messing around with you. If you are looking to spend up to $1000 on an entry-level drum kit then you can pretty much afford anything, bar the high-end professional kits. In fact, you will see our overall top 10 list for beginners only contains one set over $1000 and it only got in there because it was a DW for less than $1500! At this price, you will have a mouth-watering range of sets available to you and you won’t have to compromise on quality. The only problem you will find is how many incredible options you have. Be sure to read ‘Things to Consider’ before making any decision.

 

Top 8 Best Drum Kits Under $1000

This list will include some shell packs (so only the drums themselves) and some will be complete kits (throne, pedal, stands, cymbals) so that you can unpack, set-up and start playing. We have had a lot of trouble separating out our top 5 and ultimately a big deciding factor had to be price. You are already spending quite a bit of money so at this point every dollar helps. Some are complete packs, some just shells, some with a cymbal pack tagged on. Overall we would say to just ignore their ranking and go with the one that speaks to you the most because any one of these is more drum than you could possibly hope for at this level.

 

 

ModelName/ RatingSummaryCheck Price
Best Beginner Drum Set Under $1000

Natal Drums Arcadia UF22

Score:    (4.85 / 5)

Beautifully constructed semi-pro kit at mid range price. Best mid-high range shell pack.
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
Tama Imperialstar

   Tama Imperialstar

Score:    (4.40 / 5)

Wonderful entry level kit including sturdy hardware and good cymbals. Best mid-range complete pack.
AMAZON
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
Mapex Mars

 Mapex Mars

Score:    (4.60 / 5)

Stunning finish, stunning sound, wonderfully built kit. Great mid-range shell pack
AMAZON
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
Tama Superstar

Tama Superstar Classic

Score:    (4.75 / 5)

Beautifully constructed semi-pro kit at mid range price. Mid-high range shell pack.
AMAZON
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
Gretsch Energy with Zildjian Cymbals

 Gretsch Drums Energy VB

Score:    (4.45 / 5)

Solid entry level kit including all sturdy hardware and cymbal pack.
AMAZON
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
Pearl Export

Pearl Export  EXX725S/C   

Score:    (4.65 / 5)

World renowned budget kit for beginners. Fantastic shells and hardware.
AMAZON
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
Peral Decade Maple

Pearl Decade Maple

Score:    (4.50 / 5)

Sleek finish. Staggering performance-level shell pack at mid range price.
AMAZON

GUITAR CENTER

MUSICIAN'S FRIEND
Yamaha Stage Custom

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch

Score:    (4.35 / 5)

Classion Yamaha quality and construction. Flawless craftsmanship and finish
AMAZON
GUITAR CENTER
MUSICIAN'S FRIEND

Natal Drums Arcadia UF22

Best Beginner Drum Set Under $1000
Shells and heads:  
Hardware and cymbals:
Sound:   
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

Tama Imperialstar with Meinl HCS Cymbals

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

Tama is not only a great manufacturer of drums but also hardware, known for their quality and style. These entry/intermediate level drums are no different. The Tama Imperialstars are our top mid-range complete packs. 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 need replacing
  • Not the biggest sound

Mapex Mars Rock Shell Pack

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

An incredible kit at a good 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. Often hardware is an afterthought with these complete kits. This is a truly a special shell pack and good value for its place in the top 3 of our list. This is much as we would recommend for you spend on a new shell only pack at this stage of your playing career. Already this is as much drum as you will need for a long time. These shells will at the very least take you passed the intermediate but remain wonderfully easy for a beginner to learn on.

Pros

  • Big tone and responsive sound – drums can be used in a studio or in a concert hall
  • Surprisingly deep and 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

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 or one for intermediate players then this would be top alongside the Natal Arcadia and Pearl Decade, but given its price and the fact that it is only the shells 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. Kits like the Pearl Decade and  Gretsch Catalina are comparable and ultimately it will come down to personal preference. The Tama’s are top notch for rock and metal!

Pros

  • 100% pure exquisitely made maple shells
  • A huge punchy sound from Toms and Bass.
  • Semi-pro level kit at a remarkable mid-range price
  • Perfect for big rock or metal
Cons

  • Pricey for beginner kit with only shells

Gretsch Drums Energy VB with Zildjian Cymbals 

Gretsch Energy with Zildjian Cymbals
Shells and heads:   
Hardware and cymbals:
Sound: 
Value:   

Our first Gretsch on the list is still one of the top 2 mid-range complete drum pack, just pipped by the Imperialstar. Gretsch are world famous for their masterful construction and these drums are no different. They started producing these in 2011 with first-time buyers in mind. Particularly slick with a brushed grey steel finish this is the perfect set to take out the box and start playing. All the hardware is sturdy and the heads don’t need changing as is so often the case. Good sustain and punchy toms, these drums are extremely competent at both beginner and intermediate level so you once you have bought them you won’t need to start upgrading 6 months later.

Pros

  • Complete kit with 3 x Zildjian cymbals
  • Great value for money
  • Solid heavy duty hardware
  • Good response and big sound
Cons

  • Throne not included
  • Sometimes too much reverb
  • Set up can be a little tricky (see review for set up video)

Pearl Export  EXX725S/C

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

There is a reason that the Export is one of the greatest selling series of all time. In the Export, Pearl have made an incredibly reliable and solid kit for beginners and intermediates alike and when they released the first model back in 1982 they set a new precedent for beginner drums and continue to do so with this fan favorite model. With well-constructed hybrid shells and an upgraded hardware pack, this version of the Export is their ‘best on a budget‘ to date and even includes a Sabian cymbal starter pack!

Pros

  • Blended poplar and mahogany shells
  • Powerful and balanced drums have a high-end feel to them
  • Well developed and sturdy hardware pack
  • Uses Pearl’s SST (Superior Shell Technology)
  • Good resale value
Cons

  • The snare drum is a little lightweight, not very punchy
  • Throne not included

Pearl Decade Maple 

Peral Decade Maple
Shells and heads:     
Hardware and cymbals:  
Sound:   

Another pearl and delicious mid-range kit with a high-end sound. This drum was 10 years in the making and we see why. It is stunning. This kit missed out on the top 10 overall due to its similarities to the Tama Superstar which we consider to be in the same price bracket and same quality. The Tama pipped it to the post so it didn’t make the cut. That does not take away from the quality of the Pearl Decade which again demonstrates why Pearl are held in such high regard in the drumming world. This kit is a joy to play and if as a beginner you are lucky enough to play on this you won’t need to upgrade for a long time. With a slick finish and an incredible sound, you can’t go wrong with the Decade.

Pros

  • Semi-pro level kit at a remarkable mid-range price
  • 100% maple high-quality shell
  • Uses Pearl’s SST (Superior Shell Technology)
  • Well rounded drums produce incredible sound
  • Easy to assemble
Cons

  • Pricey for a beginner kit
  • No hardware

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 

Yamaha Stage Custom
Shells and heads:   
Hardware and cymbals:  
Sound:    
Value:   

could be complete without having at least one set of Yamahas on and this set is a doozy. The Custom series started in 1995 and has continued to improve throughout the years leading us to this beautifully constructed kit. The first thing you will notice is its beautifully lacquered finish and with a few styles to choose from you will happy just looking at them, let alone playing. The craftsmanship on these is next level, they are flawless, from the shells down to how smoothly every nut and bolt turns. As much intermediate as they are for beginners, these bright noted birch shells are a joy to play.

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Bright and punchy birch
  • Great versatility
  • Stunning finish
  • Yamaha’s exquisite craftsmanship
Cons

  • The more subtle notes of tom can be indistinct
  • No hardware or cymbals

 

Things to Consider

Just because you can spend the money, doesn’t mean you should. Drum sets are not cheap, especially when you get to the professional level. In fact under $1000 will seem perfectly reasonable or even on the low side then. As a beginner, however, you may want to consider checking out shell packs in the under $500 category and get yourself a nice set of cymbals. Many of the above are much more ‘kit’ than you need at entry-level, especially the shell packs.

 

Even if you are completely serious and 100% dedicated it is impossible to know where this journey may take you. You are spending up to $1000 on an instrument that you have never played before! You may decide in 6 months once you have the feel for them that you wished you had bought a Gretsch Catalina instead of the Mapex Mars and having committed up to $1000 you may be a bit reluctant to change. You may even decide that drumming is not for you (although we highly doubt it!).

 

We know how exciting it is looking at some of the best instruments out there, but take a minute a consider whether a Pearl Roadshow RS505C/C706 5-Piece at a bit under $500 won’t do as good a job as the Tama Superstar. Usually it will.

 

What About Second Hand?

Ok, if you are buying a used set as a beginner, for the love of everything that is good in the world, do not spend much more than $500. The above shell packs are something to aim for if buying used. Aim for $500 and below if going for 2nd hand, at a push $600-$700 if it includes all the hardware in good condition. Be sure to check out our guide to buying 2nd hand first.

 

Decisions Made

So hopefully by now you have made your decision and if your decision has left you undeterred and looking to pick up one of the above then you should be VERY excited.  The best drums under $1000 are truly incredible. You are about to buy a mind-blowing drum set for a beginner. Some of these are semi-professional kits for under well under $1000.

 

Be sure to buy it from a reputable vendor such as Amazon or a well-reputed music store such as Musicians Friend (LINK) who are known for having excellent customer service and a no hassle returns policy. Any link we provide will only be to those places that we know are safe sellers.

 

Finally, whilst some of these kits come with the hardware needed, which is part of the reason they made it onto the list, some of the sets simply focussed on the shells, so you will need to buy the gear separately. Be sure to factor that into your costs and then check out our article on what makes good drumsticks (LINK) and the best cymbal packs (LINK). You can pick up thrones and stands quite cheaply if used, just test them out first!

 

Whilst we are here, a quick honorary shout-out to the Gretsch Catalina which couldn’t be with us today. This was debated heatedly – insults were thrown around, mothers insulted, aspersions casted, but it still missed out on our top 8 and this mainly came down to price. It is actually a thing of beauty and it is sad that it had to be left out it. If this leaves you steaming, be sure to check out our top Jazz kits 😉