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The 5 best beginner drum sets to buy under $500 and $1000 in 2023

Choosing your first drum set is a choice that will impact the rest of your drumming journey. Drumming is fun, and the experience is greatly enhanced when jamming on a proper instrument. I have compiled a list of the best beginner drum sets for anyone getting into the hobby.

About the author

I’m a multi-instrumentalist, mainly focusing on drums. Lucky for you, I was in that same boat, a newbie. After drumming for only six years, I can tell you how important your first purchase is. I have played on many kits over the years and have been through the many trials of life as a drummer. My location, finances, age, family life, job, and school have affected the craft giving me knowledge on how to always make it work. Beginners, listen up!

beginner drum set test
Image: Tama

How I chose the drum sets for this list?

Regarding criteria, everything to do with having the best first drumming experience was taken into consideration.

Price was kept at or under $1,000 for a tangible budget. To make this as easy as possible to pick, each of the five kits was given an award for what it will do best for a player.

Every kit, except the electronic Yamaha, is ready to be played out of the box. All are great kits in general.

These are the best drum sets for beginners:

  1. Pearl Roadshow RS584C/C
  2. Donner DDS-520
  3. Yamaha DTX6K-X
  4. Pearl Roadshow Jr. RSJ465C/C
  5. Tama Imperialstar IE52C

Pearl Roadshow RS584C/C 4.0

The basic kit

  • 18″ bass drum
  • 10″ mounted tom
  • 14″ floor tom
  • 13″ snare drum
  • 14″ hi-hat cymbals
  • 16″ crash/ride cymbal
Pearl Roadshow RS584C/C 4-piece complete drum set
Image: Pearl

From every angle, this is the all-around generally decent kit for a starter. Coming in at under $600, you can get started right out of the box; even drumsticks are included.

The hardware includes a bass drum mounted cymbal stand, and a dual chain driven bass pedal (P.S. that’s better than a single-chain).

Despite not being a junior kit, it is quite small, but that does not take away from the tones coming from the drums.

Overall, this is the best drum kit for a beginner without any specifications. The Roadshow does undoubtingly what it needs and could last a drummer into the intermediate stages of drumming.

Nothing else is needed to be said; the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid) is best displayed here.

What I like

  • Everything needed to start drumming.
  • Medium-sized kit.
  • Good tones from the poplar wood.

What I don’t like

  • Cymbals need changing.
  • Bass drum-mounted ride.
Buy Pearl Roadshow RS584C/C at: SweetwaterAmazon

Donner DDS-520 4.0

Versatility

  • 22″ bass drum
  • 10″, 12″ mounted toms
  • 16″ floor tom
  • 14″ snare drum
  • 14″ hi-hat cymbals
  • 16″/20″ crash/ride cymbals
Donner DDS-520 5-Piece acoustic drum kit
Image: Donner

If you are a player who only has a certain amount of time to really make some noise, then this is the kit for you.

Donner gives a great deal at just over $600, which in addition to the basic kit, attached to each drum is a mute pad! This allows the player to switch between regular playing and a silenced touch.

Along with the Roadshow all required items are included to start right away.

Donner offers a unique kit here that a novice can take advantage of. Though the kit isn’t the best for the long term, it is a tremendous practice tool that any current drummer would gladly add to their collection.

One may want to buy some regular cymbals; this comes with quiet cymbals. Meinl is a great brand to start with.

What I like

  • Muted pads included.
  • Quiet cymbals included.
  • Great tom adjustment.

What I don’t like

  • No normal cymbals included.
  • Tones do not sound as large as drums.
Buy Donner DDS-520 at: Amazon

Yamaha DTX6K-X 4.0

The best for silent practice

  • 5″ bass drum
  • 7″ mounted toms
  • 7″ floor tom
  • 8″ snare drum
  • 10″ hi-hat cymbal
  • 10″/13″ crash/ride cymbals
Yamaha DTX6K-X electronic drum set
Image: Yamaha

As one of the leaders in electronic drums, Yamaha’s lineup of e-kits cannot be left out. Unlike the Donner kit, this choice is for those who are ostracized from all noise.

E-kits have come a long way and at $1,000 they can be a super choice for a beginner drummer. The DTX6K-X comes with 40 preset drum kits that you can choose from.

After purchasing the kit, you will also need to grab a pair of sticks, a drum pedal, a throne, and a set of headphones/earbuds. Regarding headphones, be sure the end has a 1/4-inch male connector, or pick up a 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch adapter if need be.

As stated earlier, electronic kits in 2023 are much better than their predecessors. When given the choice of either not playing drums at all or having the ability to play a silent electric kit, the choice is obvious.

What I like

  • Extremely quiet.
  • Plethora of different practice/training tools.
  • Can be set up extremely compact.

What I don’t like

  • Some separate purchases.
  • Does not completely translate all acoustic kit concepts.
Buy Yamaha DTX6K-X at: SweetwaterAmazon

Pearl Roadshow Jr. RSJ465C/C 4.2

The best for kids

  • 16″ bass drum
  • 8″, 10″ mounted toms
  • 13″ floor tom
  • 12″ snare drum
  • 10″ hi-hat cymbal
  • 13″ crash cymbal
Pearl Roadshow Jr. RSJ465C/C 5-piece drum set
Image: Pearl

Kids love drums, it is so easy for them to get started, just start whacking!

For those cool parents who really want to give the little ones a start, at just over $400, Pearl supplies a properly built and manufactured drum set. Right out of the box with a little assembly the children can get playing.

Pearl made a great choice in giving youngsters a real place to begin jamming. On an afterthought, if you look at the kit without a person near it or a heading, it looks just like a regular set of drums.

The authenticity here is scrutinized while still including the standard 45-degree bearing edges and six-ply poplar wood. A beautiful Roadshow Jr. can trick anyone into thinking you’re a pro, even as a kindergartener!

What I like

  • Professional looking.
  • Built and manufactured by Pearl.
  • Perfectly built for the size of children.

What I don’t like

  • Won’t grow with the child.
  • Cymbals are mediocre.
Buy Pearl Roadshow Jr. RSJ465C/C at: SweetwaterAmazon

Tama Imperialstar IE52C 4.7

The best at $1000

  • 22″ bass drum
  • 10″, 12″ mounted toms
  • 16″ floor tom
  • 14″ snare drum
  • 14″ hi-hat cymbal
  • 16″/20″ crash/ride cymbals
Tama Imperialstar IE52C 5-piece complete drum set
Image: Tama

To top off the list we have the best possible kit available with a beginner budget that provides the full drumming experience and will last into advanced stages of the craft.

This Imperialstar set comes in at just under $900 while also giving the player everything to begin, except sticks. Tama gives a pack of quality drums beyond the price.

Anyone who gets behind this kit will feel like a professional. This is bound to give anyone a great first impression to the world of drums.

Heavy, full tones emerge from the shells when tuned correctly. Each part of the kit feels like a crafted piece and sounds like a high-priced instrument.

The single-chain pedal is really the only downfall here, but besides that, everything else mentioned for only $900! Ready to start drumming… this is the Rolls-Royce.

What I like

  • Very professional look.
  • Brand-name Meinl cymbals.
  • Amazing wood tone.

What I don’t like

  • Single-chain pedal.
Buy Tama Imperialstar IE52C at: SweetwaterAmazon

Final thoughts

Choosing a first drum kit is a daunting task. With all the different options it can be difficult to find the right place to fit in.

To really simplify things, all that’s really needed is a kick, snare, and a pair of hats. Alone those three can take you a long way.

Given the climate of the music industry now one can easily obtain much more than that at a reasonable price. Pearl, Tama, Yamaha, and Donner are a few of the companies getting beginners where they need to be.

Which leads to a very important message for beginners, the price of your instrument is practically irrelevant compared to the skill of the person behind it. If money really is a tight situation do not be afraid to whip out those pillows.

Building the skill and practice discipline is at a much higher value than any kit. Applying those skills to a kit, no matter the price, can make anyone surpass their labeled “beginner” kit.

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