Electronic drum kits can be a valuable tool for an experienced drummer who frequently gigs, records, and practices, while simultaneously serving as a gateway for newcomers who are picking up a pair of sticks for the first time.
These electronic kits vary greatly in price and function. So how do you know which is the right one for you?
We’re going to take a hands-on look at 4 capable electronic drum sets that would cost you $1,000 or less. Hopefully, my experience with them will help you decide on purchasing one of these fun instruments.
Best Electronic Drum Kits Under $1,000
1. Alesis Command Special Edition
The appearance of the Alesis Command Special Edition varies a bit from the standard Alesis Command kit. For those who are not fans of chrome hardware, the Alesis Command Special Edition has a rugged, powder-black coating on its hardware portions and gold-tinged tuning lugs around the pads.
The Alesis Command features tunable mesh heads on the 10-inch snare, three 8-inch tom pads, and the 8-inch kick pad. Three cymbal pads come with the Alesis Command kit are all 10 inches in size.
If you’re a newcomer to the world of electronic kits, you may ask, “why do I need a tunable head? The head itself doesn’t make any sound?” While that is true, a tunable head is important for the feedback and stick response coming off the head when it is struck.
The drum pads felt great to play. They provided enough bounce when I wanted it. The fact that I could tune their feedback levels up or down is a major plus when trying different styles.
I also found the cymbals to be adequate. The stick articulation was about what you’d expect from an electronic kit.
The Alesis Command also features dual-zone pads. Its dual-trigger pads provided my ear with the right sound when struck at variable velocities. The pads feel good and respond well to desired play.
The cymbals pad felt a little dull to play upon. The pads are a little thin and not always able to provide me with what I want when playing. A great feature of the cymbals on this e-kit is they are both chokable. That is a major plus!
I found the size of the snare pad made it easily playable. Occasionally, an e-kit can have small pads making it more difficult for the player to access.
If you so desire, you could even play the rim of the snare to get a satisfying organic sounding click! The fact that Alesis added the raised rim to the kit not just for show, I found it to be a very nice touch.
Admittedly, it does take a little bit of effort and attention to accuracy to get the desired sound. However, it’s great that the rim click sound is there for the player to access at all. A playable rim on an electronic kit is not a common feature on most kits under $1000.
The zoned heads and cymbals did occasionally produce an unwanted sound here or there but, the possibility that it could be a user error can’t be ruled out. The kick drum specifically would provide some unwanted hits. I found that deadening the mesh head would solve most of this problem.
Each head and cymbal’s sensitivity can be customized to the player's liking via the built-in Alesis Command Advanced Drum Module. The module felt very intuitive and easy to use.
The module also contains a plethora of features including 60 play-along tracks, over 50 different drum kits (presets), and programmable capabilities as well.
Players can customize and save their unique kits within the Command module as well. This is a great feature for drummers who cover multiple genres of music and need a different sound for multiple songs.
2. Yamaha DTX6K-X
My knee-jerk reaction to the Yamaha DTX6K-X was not a positive one. Admittedly, I judged it before I even sat behind it and started playing. In appearance, it looked very cheap, even somewhat outdated.
I’m happy to say, after spending some time playing the Yamaha DTX6K, I ended up finding several things that I enjoyed about the DTX6K-X. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by some of its features.
What you’ll get with the Yamaha DTX6K-X are the following: TX-PRO module, an 8-inch XP80 TCS snare, 3 x 7-inch rubber toms, a 5-inch KP65 kick tower, a 13-inch ride cymbal, a 10-inch hi-hat, and a 10-inch crash.
When I saw that this model was advertised as having a 3-zone ride cymbal, I was very eager to try it out! The cymbal pad does look a bit dated initially, but that won’t matter once you start playing it and seeing how well it works.
The ride cymbal works flawlessly! It has a bell feature that is easy to find and easy to play. You can choke the ride cymbal as well. Sticks dance beautifully atop its surface. It feels very natural and is a joy to play upon.
The crash and hi-hats perform very nicely, too. The hi-hat pedal is super responsive when you want to make the hi-hat bark or simply keep time with your foot. The crash can be made to swell like a real cymbal, which is great! The rise in sound when swelling the crash is even in tone and it works beautifully.
Yamaha put their versatile, 3-zone, XP80 silicone pad on this e-kit. While I was not a fan of the way the silicone pad feels overall, there is no denying that it works beautifully! Players can easily get a standard snare hit, a rim shot, or even cross-stick play.
The tom pads do work sufficiently as well. My main complaint again, is they are rubber coated. They do leave much to be desired in terms of flexibility as they cannot be tuned. There isn’t anything you can do with these.
I wish Yamaha would update this part of the kit with something better with more functionality. I believe this minor change would transform this kit entirely. Even if Yamaha had to charge a few more dollars for the upgrade.
The Module on the DTX6K-X has some fun features like room ambiance built right in. You can change the sound on the fly by simply turning a few knobs, rather than going into the module and combing through the settings. A very convenient and fun addition here indeed!
Yamaha the first choice for a lot of people for a standard or electric drum kit but, after trying the DTX6K-X, I certainly found that my pre-conceptions were mostly incorrect. With a few minor changes, Yamaha could have a real winner here.
3. Roland TD17KV
First of all, I know the Roland TD17KV (2nd gen) costs a bit more than $1,000. The reason it’s listed here is it may be worth stretching your budget a bit more for some of the features available on this particular model from Roland.
If you have a strict budget, however, you can go for the cheaper version of this kit, the Roland TD-07KV instead.
The Roland TD17KV comes with: PDX-12 Dual Trigger Mesh Snare, 3 x 8” Toms, KD-10 Trigger Kick Pad, 10” Hi-Hat and 2 x 12" V-Cymbals for Crash and Ride.
The first thing you’d notice when sitting behind the TD17KV is its size. It’s compact and easy to move around. It is also very light, further lending itself to ease of use and movement.
The pads are noticeably smaller than other e-kits. However, this can be looked at as an opportunity to better focus on your accuracy.
The pads feel good when struck. They have solid build quality as you’d expect from Roland. The pads are mesh, and they do have the ability to be tuned to the tension for the feel that is best for your style of play.
The kick pad on the TD17KV feels beautiful. Without even hearing the actual sound produced by the trigger, it sounds like a muted kick pad when you drive the beater into its face.
There are multiple layers of padding to produce this feeling, some rubber married with the mesh. It plays very much like a practice pad. Overall, it is very satisfying to simply play around with the kick pad. It should be noted that this kit does NOT come with a kick pedal.
The snare and tom pads are dual-trigger pads. So you can get sounds from both the mesh padding triggers as well as triggers within the rim portion as well.
The 12-inch PDX snare makes it easy for players to jump from an acoustic kit to TD17KV. I only wished that the rims of the pads were a little more pronounced.
I did find the choices of sounds to be a little lacking in some areas. The snare choices were a little flat and low-energy sounding. A few better-sounding options for drum kit presets would’ve been nice. If you’re using this for recording, you could always choose other samples though.
The TD17KV gets Roland’s standard cymbal pads in varying sizes. They function well overall and serve their purpose. One thing I found rather odd was that there is no bell trigger or zone on these cymbals. I would’ve liked to have been able to get some kind of sound variation when playing.
You can get different sounds from hitting the cymbals with varying forces. I found that you can choke the crash cymbal and it stops with great response.
Roland provides you with a very capable module for the TD17KV. It contains some fun features that allow you to change how the drums sound when played. It’s a considerable upgrade overall from their cheaper TD07 series.
There's a muffling setting, flange, and a really fun delay setting, you can customize your sound pretty heavily here. There is also a lot of room to expand the kit and link it to things like a DAW, stream Bluetooth to MIDI, and more.
For players seeking to up their practice time, Roland has even a built-in ‘coach’ for practice sessions. It's helpful for those looking to clean up their timing and technique. The Coaching feature alone is arguably worth the extra money you’d put out for this kit.
4. KAT Percussion KT-300
KAT Percussion is trying to make waves in the market with their KAT KT300. The KT-300 comes with the following: a 12" single zone hi-hat, 2 x 12" dual zone crash with choke, 14" ride, 9” kick, 10" snare, 3 x 8" toms, and a KAT module with 30 preset and room for 18 user kits.
I liked that they provide you with 2 crashes for this kit, in addition to the ride cymbal. Most e-kits only provide purchasers with one crash and one ride. So, KAT is trying to add more value for the money and that alone deserves some brownie points.
The KT-300 is a solid, very robust feeling kit. It is a little bit heavy and busy with all of the pads and cymbals. Set-up takes a bit of time but, you should be happy with the result in front of you when you’re done. It’s a sharp-looking e-kit!
You get a set of well-made mesh heads from Remo with dual trigger technology on the KT-300. The Remo mesh heads did feel great to play on. They have a very nice response and feel to them.
If you’re a heavy-handed player, this is a good e-kit for you. It felt like I could lay into this a bit more than the usual e-kit and not worry about killing off one of my pads.
The hi-hat, specifically, felt a little loose for my taste. Even when tightening it down, it washed around a little too much for an e-kit. It made playing a bit annoying at times. I just couldn’t seem to find a sweet spot for it.
The ride and crash cymbals serve their purpose well. I liked that the ride has a bell that is easy to access. It’s especially fun since this kit feels like it may be built for someone who plays heavier forms of music.
The cymbals are all full surface, another feature I enjoyed about this e-kit. It just looks good with those full-surface cymbals.
I wasn’t too happy with the kick pad either. It tended to creep and waiver. This at times made my kicks register incorrectly with small bounces. I think with some small changes to its stance it could be just fine.
As for the module, I found it easy to use but it did lack a variety of sound options. The samples used to sound a bit lackluster. Where the KT-300 does well is the ease of use and layout of buttons. Everything is visible and easy to access with some neat reverb and ambient features.
What is the Quietest Type of E-Kit?
If you are looking to purchase an electric drum kit because you’d like to practice without disturbing your neighbors or roommates, I’d recommend finding one with mesh heads.
Mesh heads not only feel better when you play the kit, they are much quieter than rubber-coated pads by a great margin.
Can I Record with an Electronic Drum Set?
The short answer is, yes. A great thing about e-kits is that you can utilize their MIDI function for endless possibilities and combinations.
There are many drum samples available from legendary drummers that allow you to plug in and get the exact sound of their kit without all the tuning.
Can I Play Double Bass on an Electronic Kick Pad?
Electronic drum kick pads will be able to accommodate single and double pedals alike. You may have to change some of the spacing settings between your beaters at most but, you should not run into any issues using a double bass pedal.
My Closing Thoughts
My greatest surprise that came about from looking at these kits was the Yamaha DTX6K-X. It’s a simple design with a plethora of useful, easy-to-access features. The versatility of the snare and ride alone would’ve sold me on this kit alone.
I do own the Alesis Command kit. Not the special edition and I can say from hours of experience playing and recording with it that it's a good overall kit. It does take some fine-tuning to get what you want out of it but, I enjoy utilizing it very much.
Roland is a name synonymous with e-kits. They make high-quality kits and they stand behind their product. The e-snare on this model was absolutely beautiful. I wish the e-cymbals were a bit better though.
The KT-300 was fun to play. The module was not as advanced as the rest but, the kit itself evoked a solid feeling. I wouldn't want to drag it around for gigs. This would probably be a stay-at-home kit for practicing.