5 Best Cheap Drum Sets With Great Sounds

Best Cheap Drum Sets With Great Sounds

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Modern drum set innovation means that the qualities and features found in top-level drum sets can now be found in more affordable drum sets. Cheap drum sets typically include everything you need to begin playing right away.

Drum kits can be rather expensive. Luckily, there are some particularly good cheap drum set options available from the well-known brands that cater to people with smaller budgets. 

Cheap drum sets are great options for beginner drummers. The best thing about cheap sets is that they typically come with drums, hardware, and cymbals (everything you need to begin playing). So, you’ll have a full setup with a single purchase. 

While it’s undeniable that cheap drum sets may not sound the best compared to top-tier ones, they provide a solid platform for people to learn on and develop a love for the instrument. 

In this guide, we’ll look at a few of the most popular cheap drum sets on the market. I’ve compared each of them according to sound quality, build quality, playability, and value.

In a Rush’ Round-Up

Image Recommended ProductsProduct Features Price
Best For Beginners
Pearl Roadshow Drum Set
  • The Best cheap drum set available
  • Includes cymbals & hardware
  • Poplar drum shells
Best For Children
Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit Complete Drum Set - Black Sparkle
  • Great sounding pocket sized drum set
  • Includes cymbals & hardware
  • Hardwood shells
Best for Serious Drummers
Tama Imperialstar drum set
  • High quality drum set
  • Includes cymbals & hardware
  • Poplar drum shells
Best Pearl Roadshow Alternative
PDP Centerstage Complete Drum Set
  • Affordable all-in-one package
  • Includes cymbals & hardware
  • Poplar drum shells
Most Popular Cheap Drum Set
Pearl Export EXX 5-Piece Drum Set With Cymbals & Hardware - High Voltage Blue
  • World's best-selling drum set
  • Includes cymbals & hardware
  • Poplar/Mahogany drum shells

Cheap Drum Sets Reviews

Best For Beginners

Pearl Roadshow Complete Drum Set

The best entry-level drum kit on the market. It’s the most affordable kit that still offers excellent sound quality, playability, and high-quality hardware.
Sounds
4.5
Hardware
4.8
Build Quality
4.5
Playability
4.4
Value
4.5

    Pearl Roadshow Complete Drum Set Review

    The Pearl Roadshow Drum Set is the best cheap drum set out there right now. This drum set offers amazing quality and value for money considering the price and it outshines all of its competitors.

    It comes included with all the drum hardware and cymbals you need to start playing right away. The hardware and stands are robust and the drums are well built. These Pearl Roadshow drum shells produce really nice warm tones that sound fantastic.

    The drums are made from poplar wood which is the same as Pearl use for the world’s selling Export series – and they produce a strong tone. These are without a doubt the best-sounding beginner drums available!

    The drum hardware included is sturdy and durable and is far better than other beginner drum sets. The cymbals are not very good. Pro-level cymbals are expensive. You can expect any cheap drum set to have low-quality cymbals.

    Pearl produces fantastic drums. They are the world’s best-selling drum manufacturer and the Pearl Roadshow is a fine example of the brand’s commitment to quality.

    If you want the best cheap drum set out there then look no further – the Pearl Roadshow is the clear winner.

    Features:

    • The Best cheap drum set available
    • Includes cymbals & hardware
    • Poplar drum shells

    Pros

    • Drums produce fantastic sounds
    • Outstanding build quality for the price
    • Best affordable drum set from the world's most popular drum manufacturer

    Cons

    • Included cymbals and stock heads could be improved
    • Slightly more expensive than some competitors
    Best For Children

    Ludwig Questlove Pocket Drum Set

    The most affordable compact drum set on the market. It’s ideal for children but can easily be played by adults too.
    Sounds
    4.0
    Hardware
    3.8
    Build Quality
    3.8
    Playability
    3.5
    Value
    4.2

      Ludwig Questlove Pocket Drum Set Review

      The Ludwig Questlove Pocket Drum Set is the cheapest drum set reviewed in this guide. It’s a pocket-sized drum set, with smaller drums but it’s still suitable to play for adults!

      This is a really great-sounding drum set despite the small-sized drum shells, and it’s offered with an incredible price tag. It’s amazingly affordable and includes everything you need to start playing.

      Despite being a small drum set, the drums project a big sound and it’s a lot of fun to play. This is a great-sounding drum set for new players. It provides a full-scale playing experience and I have very few complaints about this drum set.

      The drum hardware is sturdy, and the cymbals sound acceptable for a beginner kit. Everything together just works great!

      A bonus of this pocket-sized drum set is that it takes up much less space and is also more portable than a typical drum set.

      If you’re on a budget, or you aren’t sure how much you want to spend on a new drum set, this is a fantastic cheap drum set to buy. Ludwig and Questlove knocked it out of the park with this drum set.

      Features:

      • Great sounding pocket sized drum set
      • Includes cymbals & hardware
      • Hardwood shells

      Pros

      • Very affordable price tag
      • Provides a full scale playing experience
      • Great sounding package

      Cons

      • Smaller sizes might not be suitable for large adults
      • Crash cymbal sounds poor quality
      Best for Serious Drummers

      Tama Imperialstar Complete Drum Set

      A high-quality entry-level drum set that can easily be upgraded for experienced drummers. It comes with heavy-duty hardware and a decent set of inexpensive cymbals.
      Sounds
      4.7
      Hardware
      4.6
      Build Quality
      4.6
      Playability
      4.5
      Value
      4.5

        Tama Imperialstar Complete Drum Set Review

        The Tama Imperialstar Drum Set is one of the more expensive cheap drum sets reviewed, but it is a high-quality drum kit and offers a really great playing experience.

        Included with the Tama Imperialstar is a robust set of drum hardware and quality set of Meinl beginner cymbals to complement the drums. The hardware pack also includes a comfortable drum throne for added value.

        The drums sound remarkably balanced and responsive, and it’s easy to find the tuning sweet spot. These drums sound impressive and they also project really well.

        The Tama hardware included with the Imperialstar drum set is arguably the best found in any inexpensive drum set. It’s built to last and it’s rock solid. The included bass drum pedal and hi hat pedal are smooth in operation and everything holds up well.

        The drums themselves are well constructed from poplar wood and feature precision bearing edges for enhanced sensitivity, tuning range, and resonance. These drums really sing!

        If you are on a budget, you might not be prepared to spend the money on a Tama Imperialstar drum set, there are cheaper alternatives out there such as the Pearl Roadshow or Ludwig Questlove Pocket drum set. But the Tama Imperialstar also offers fantastic value for money and these drums will last you a long time.

        Features:

        • High-quality drum set
        • Includes cymbals & hardware
        • Poplar drum shells

        Pros

        • One of the best quality cheap drum sets available
        • Outstanding build quality and sounds
        • Will last a very long time before needing an upgrade

        Cons

        • A little on the pricey side compared to other cheap drum sets
        Best Pearl Roadshow Alternative

        PDP Centerstage Complete Drum Set

        Another decent entry-level drum kit option. It’s great for beginners to get started, and it comes from a highly trusted drum brand.
        Sounds
        4.2
        Hardware
        4.5
        Build Quality
        4.3
        Playability
        4.4
        Value
        4.2

          PDP Centerstage Complete Drum Set Review

          Up next we have the PDP Centerstage Complete Drum Set, and this is a strong all-in-one package that will equip you with everything you need to start rocking right away.

          Once again we have another cheap drum set that takes advantage of poplar wood for drum shells, and to no surprise, they sound great; delivering warm tones with strong projection.

          The included drum hardware is good quality, but the cymbals are somewhat disappointing, albeit playable. The drum hardware is robust and holds up well to play.

          For a cheap drum set, the PDP Centerstage is a solid choice. It’s definitely one of the better cheap drum sets on the market, but it doesn’t sound quite as good as the Pearl Roadshow, in my opinion.

          But the PDP Centerstage is one of the best all-inclusive packages that is designed for the new drummer to help create a solid foundation right from the start.

          It’s affordable and perfect for beginners, with good sounding drums and high-quality components from one of the best drum brands you can trust.

          Features:

          • Affordable all-in-one package
          • Includes cymbals & hardware
          • Poplar drum shells

          Pros

          • Warm sounding poplar shells
          • Quality hardware and hoops
          • Cheap all inclusive package

          Cons

          • Some minor issues with bearing edges
          • Poor quality cymbals
          Most Popular Cheap Drum Set

          Pearl Export Complete Drum Set

          The most sold drum set in the world. It’s one of the few cheap drum sets available that has mixed shells, and all the drums sound incredible.
          Sounds
          4.6
          Hardware
          4.0
          Build Quality
          4.5
          Playability
          4.2
          Value
          4.3

            Pearl Export Complete Drum Set Review

            The Pearl Export Complete Drum Set is a killer sounding package and is the world’s best selling drum set! These drums are inspired by Pearl’s flagship Reference Series to offer unbeatable tones and projection for the money.

            This really is a fantastic drum set for the money. The shells are a mix of poplar and warm Asian mahogany using SST (Superior Shell Technology) construction techniques for maximum durability and tonal response. This means stronger, longer-lasting shells and better sound across the spectrum.

            The drums deliver a really nice tone, and it is clear they are very well constructed. The wood is poplar; which is the same as the Pearl Roadshow drum set. It’s definitely the best quality wood you can find on a cheap drum set.

            Included with the Gretsch energy drum set is a set of Zildjian Planet Z cymbals and a durable set of drum hardware. The cymbals are by no means excellent, but they are adequate for a beginner drum set.

            The drum hardware is strong and very easy to set up. Double-braced legs keep the stands stable as you play, and Uni-Lock tilters offer you infinite positioning flexibility.

            Overall the Pearl Export drum set is the full package that offers unmatched durability and tones for the beginner drum set market.

            If you are looking for the best cheap drum set and you want a quality musical instrument to start off your drumming journey, then this is just the ticket!

            Features:

            • World’s best-selling drum set
            • Includes cymbals & hardware
            • Poplar/Mahogany drum shells

            Pros

            • Lifetime warranty
            • Drums produce warm and resonant tones
            • Killer sounding package all round

            Cons

            • Most expensive option reviewed, but sounds the best

            Things to Consider When Buying a Cheap Drum Set

            Buy from a reputable drum brand

            You’ll get the most value for your money if you get a cheap kit from Ludwig, Gretsch, Pearl, PDP, Tama, Yamaha, Mapex, or Sonor. These are the most established drum brands that offer cheap kits. 

            Choose a nice-looking finish

            Picking a color is one of the most exciting aspects of getting a new drum set. Just note that cheap drum sets don’t have as many finish options as higher-quality sets. Most cheap drum sets have wraps, but they can look really good.

            Look to see what the kit comes with

            Most cheap kits come with everything you need to set up and play, but make sure to see what you might need that isn’t included. This might include things like drumsticks and a drum throne.

            Cymbals are the worst part of cheap kits

            Cheap drum kits typically come with brass cymbals, which don’t sound very good at all. If you want your cheap kit to sound great, consider investing in higher-quality bronze cymbals to go along with it. 

            What Features to Look for in a Cheap Drum Set

            Shell Type

            When it comes to cheap drum sets, the main shell type options are hardwood and poplar. Poplar drums have balanced tones with a bit of projection, but they aren’t as rich as drums with higher-quality shells. 

            Generic hardwood is a cheaper wood than poplar, so you’ll find it in the most inexpensive drum kits available. Hardwood drums sound punchy, but they lack a lot of depth in the low-frequency range. 

            Some higher-priced cheap drum sets have a mixture of poplar and another wood. The Pearl Export is a good example, as its shells have poplar mixed with mahogany. The added mahogany boosts the overall tonal quality. 

            Size

            Checking the size of a cheap drum kit is especially important as off-shoot drum brands often sell kits with odd sizes. 

            If you want a standard drum kit setup, you should get a kit that has a 14-inch snare, 10 and 12-inch rack toms, a 16-inch floor tom, and a 20 or 22-inch bass drum. 

            All the affordable drum kits from the major drum brands have these standard sizes. 

            You may also find compact drum sets that have much smaller sizes, like the Ludwig Pocket Kit. They’ll be cheaper than full-sized kits, but they’re not the most ideal kits for learning to play the drums on.

            Build Quality

            The key aspect to determining build quality is to check what hardware a cheap kit has. The higher the cost of a cheap kit, the more pristine and durable the hardware will be. 

            While the shells determine how a kit sounds, the hardware determines how the kit feels to play. The hardware parts such as the counterhoops, tom mounts, lugs, bass drum pedal, and stands all make a big difference in how the kit feels. 

            Kits that come with double-braced stands will feel more solid to play on than ones with single-braced stands.

            Cheap Drum Set FAQs

            How Can You Make a Cheap Drum Set Sound Better?

            The best ways to make a cheap kit sound better are to replace the stock drumheads, use a higher-quality snare drum, and use higher-quality cymbals. 

            Replacing the stock drumheads will make a massive difference, as good heads from Remo or Evans will bring out better tones from the drums. 

            The brass cymbals that come with cheap kits can’t be upgraded to sound better, so you’ll need to buy higher-quality cymbals to replace them. 

            Finally, a decent snare will be a better alternative to the cheap snare that comes with the kit. Toms are a lot easier to tune nicely, so the snare will pair well with them. 

            When Should You Upgrade Your Cheap Drum Set?

            You should upgrade your cheap drum kit if you start performing live at gigs.

            While the cheap kit is great to play at home, cheaper kits are often detrimental to the sound of a live band. The better your kit is, the better your band will sound. 

            If you’re not playing gigs yet, you should upgrade your cheap kit when you feel as though the sounds aren’t good enough for you and you find yourself wanting something better.

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