7 Cheap Drum Sets – Affordable Kits to Get Started!

Author: Brett Clur | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

Getting a great set of drums doesn’t need to be an expensive affair. There are so many high-quality kits that even professionals use that come at seriously affordable prices. Some of them are shell packs while others include hardware and cymbals.

When looking for a drum kit to get started, you don’t actually need many high-quality features. However, the kits that I’m about to list are loaded with them, giving you more bang for your buck than any low-quality drum set will. Let’s get right into it.

Cheap Drum Sets - 7 Affordable Kits

Pearl is famous for producing one of the most sold affordable drum kits of all time. We’ll get to that specific kit later, but the Roadshow takes inspiration from it while offering even more affordability and access.

This Roadshow kit is the perfect setup for beginners. It comes with standard sized drum shells, hardware, and some cymbals. Everything to get you to start playing immediately. It’s great for players of all ages.

However, intermediate and pro players may find the tone lacking in certain areas. That’s totally okay though since we’re looking through the lens of a beginner.

Speaking of tone, the Roadshow drums are made from 9-ply poplar wood that gives them a resonating tone that holds up quite well when playing. The 10” and 12” rack toms sound punchy while the 16” rack tom sounds beefy.

The 14” snare drum takes some time to tune to get a great sound, but once it’s tuned right it sounds fantastic. Supporting these shells is the big 22” bass drum.

The cymbals are nothing to write home about. You’ll find yourself wanting to replace them or at least add another crash cymbal into the mix. The included cymbal stands on the other hand are immaculate. They’re remarkably sturdy - a classic feature of any Pearl drum kit.

Some other things that are included with the kit are a pair of sticks, a drum throne, a stick bag, and a Pearl Drums poster. Overall, it’s one of the best deals you could get for a beginner.

PROS

  • Includes sturdy hardware and cymbals
  • One of the best kit deals for beginners
  • Great value-for-money

CONS

  • Although it includes cymbals, they aren’t great

The Ludwig Breakbeats kit is a product of innovation from Ludwig and Questlove. Questlove is a busy drummer from New York who gigs all over the city. He helped design this kit with the intention of portability.

The first focus is portability. However, the kit comes at a great price that makes it good for any budget drummer. The shells are lightweight and easy to carry around, making it a good option for gigging drummers, new drummers, and children.

The shell pack includes a 14” snare, 10” rack tom, 13” floor tom, and a 16” bass drum. Although the kit is compact, it feels very similar to a full-sized kit when playing. The shells are made from hardwood and are equipped with Remo Pinstripe heads. The Pinstripes give them a large punchy tone.

The shell pack also comes with a set of bags to carry the drums around. Since the kit is so small, it’s a great option for fitting in tight corners of the house where space is limited.

Thankfully, it’s versatile in its uses, meaning a beginner will be able to use it all throughout their drum journey as they become intermediate or advanced eventually.

The original Ludwig Breakbeats kit only had one finish to choose from. This updated version from Ludwig has 3 which are black sparkle, azure sparkle, and Sahara swirl. Each finish looks wonderful and would be a worthy choice for any drummer.

The only downside of this kit is that the kick drum isn’t as beefy as some drummers may like. You won’t feel it when you play it like you would with a larger kick drum.

PROS

  • Portable
  • Includes high-quality drum heads
  • Includes a set of drum bags

CONS

  • 16” bass drum lacks some oomph

The PDP Centerstage is a wonderful starter kit for anyone looking for that famous DW quality craftsmanship. The drums have poplar shells that are warm and resonating. They produce a beautiful round tone that isn’t common in cheap kits.

One of the DW features that this kit borrows are the True-Pitch tuning rods. These rods make it extremely easy to tune the drums to get a good sound. This great for anyone who is new to tuning as it can be quite daunting and difficult to learn.

The standout feature of this kit is actually the hardware. They’ve somehow managed to include PDP’s most rigid hardware while keeping the cost affordable. You’ll be using these stands for years.

You could even use them when you upgrade to a better kit in the future. The kit comes with a pair of hi-hats and a crash. They’re made of brass and similar to the cymbals from the Pearl Roadshow, they’re not too great. However, they’ll get the job done for any beginner drummer.

There are several finishes to choose from with the Centerstage kit and every single one has a shiny sparkle to it, causing it to look beautiful under stage lights.

PROS

  • DW quality at an affordable price
  • True-Pitch tuning rods make tuning easy
  • Extremely rigid and sturdy hardware

CONS

  • Included cymbals aren’t that great

The Pearl Export is the kit that I alluded to earlier. Pearl holds the record for the most sold drum kit of all time with this baby. The reason for that is that it produces professional tones, yet comes at a very reasonable price. There are so many great qualities in this kit.

Firstly, the shells are made from a mixture of mahogany and poplar. You would have noticed by now that most cheaper kits are made from poplar. These shells have an added edge with the inclusion of mahogany, giving them some extra sustain that is music to the ears.

The EXL is an upgraded version of the standard Export kit. It has Pearl’s Superior Shell Technology and the Opti-Loc mounting system. The shell technology basically makes the drums extremely durable. So durable that they could pretty much last you a lifetime.

The mounting system allows the rack toms to be mounted without losing any of their tone. However, they tend to be difficult to position comfortably, especially with the 22” bass drum.

The drums are easily tuneable and tend to sound great right out the box. You’re getting years of manufacturing experience with this kit. There’s a good reason for the Exports being so popular.

PROS

  • Most sold drum kit in history
  • Superior Shell Technology
  • Mahogany/popular shells sound fantastic

CONS

  • Toms can be difficult to position nicely

The Yamaha Stage Custom is the highest-priced kit on this list. However, it’s one of the best drum kit deals on the market considering how good it sounds. If you closed your eyes and listened to the tones it produced, you would think it costs close to $2000.

It’s an extremely popular drum set thanks to the strong price-to-value ratio. It can confidently be used by professional drummers on the biggest stages. So, what makes it sound so good?

The answer is in the birch drum shells. They produce an extremely warm tone with great attack and a deep bass. It makes them sound amazing through microphones, meaning this kit is a great option for playing on stages and using in recording studios.

The 10” and 12” toms are mounted using Yamaha’s YESS mounting system. This system is used throughout all of Yamaha’s drum kits and it makes positioning the toms comfortably an extremely easy process.

The 16” floor tom and 22” kick drum both exhibit a deep bellowing tone thanks to the birch wood. The 14” snare drum compliments it well with its tight crack and ring.

Although you’ll be spending a bit more on this kit, you’ll be thanking yourself in the long run as you may just never need to upgrade it as your skills improve. Pair it up with some sturdy hardware and pristine cymbals and you’ve got yourself a professional setup.

PROS

  • Wonderful birch shell tone
  • YESS mounting system is amazing
  • Good kit even for professionals
  • Excellent price-to-value ratio

CONS

  • Costs more than the other kits on this list

The Pearl Midtown is Pearl’s version of a compact drum set. It’s a great little kit that packs a huge punch. I’m always surprised at how loud and punchy it sounds when I hear it.

The shell pack includes a 13” snare drum, 10” rack tom, 13” floor tom, and a 16” bass drum. The toms sound incredibly punchy thanks to the poplar shells while the bass drum provides a bigger sound than you think it would.

The bass drum sound is the big differentiating factor between this kit and the Ludwig Breakbeats. This bass drum sounds bigger. However, it’s a lot heavier.

The weak point of this kit is the snare drum. It doesn’t have the greatest sound in the world. That’s why most people swap it out when they play on a Midtown. Weak snare drums are a common trend amongst most compact kits.

This kit has bags that are similar to the Breakbeats bags. However, they’re not included when purchasing the shell pack. So, you’re getting a louder bass drum but not a set of bags.

Overall, it’s a great small kit that would work for small children or anyone tight on space.

PROS

  • Compact size
  • The 16” bass drum sounds very big
  • Great for children or anyone with little space to play in

CONS

  • Snare drum is pretty weak

Finishing off the list is a kit from Ludwig that is very similar to the Pearl Roadshow and PDP Centerstage. The Ludwig Accent is a full kit that includes a set of standard size shells as well as cymbals and hardware.

It has poplar shells that make the drums sound strong and punchy. The 10” and 12” rack toms sound best when tuned medium to low while the 16” floor tom sounds best when tuned low.

It’s not the easiest kit in the world to tune. It will start sounding good with some heavy muffling.

The included hardware is a great bonus. All the stands are double-braced and sturdy except for the drum throne. The drum throne is only single-braced and has a thick black finish.

The best way to get a good sound out of this kit would be to upgrade the drum heads with some better 2-ply ones from Evans or Remo. The stock heads don’t do the kit any justice.

Similar to the Roadshow and Centerstage, the included brass cymbals are lacking in many areas and would need to be upgraded quite soon after buying the kit.

Overall, it’s a fantastic choice for a beginner drummer. It has that great Ludwig construction and sound, giving you a drum kit that you can be proud of.

PROS

  • Great Ludwig construction
  • Drums are strong and punchy
  • Includes a set of sturdy double-braced stands

CONS

  • Stock drumheads and cymbals aren’t amazing

Conclusion

As you can see from this list, there are plenty of great drum kits out there that you won’t need to spend too much money on. The expensive part of being a drummer comes when you buy cymbals, but that’s a story for another day.

If you’re looking to buy a drum set, consider getting one from the list above. None of them will let you down and they’ll provide a solid base to start working on your drumming skills.

About Brett Clur

Brett has been drumming for almost two decades. He also helps his students get better at drumming. He can be found on Instagram (@brettclurdrums), where you can regularly catch glimpses of his drumming.

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