As seen in:
Roland
TD-11K-S V-Compact Series
Mendini
5-Piece Junior Set
Alesis
8-Piece Compact Beginner Electronic
Gammon Percussion
Complete 5-Piece Junior Set
Gammon Percussion
Adult 5-Piece Set
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Good

Deluxe electronic machine with incredible quality and a huge library of pre-set sound choices.

Durable Mylar drum heads. Perfect for beginners.

Numerous timbre choices. An electronic instrument with an acoustic sound.

A low-priced, complete drum set for children 3 to 10.

Excellent price. Double-braced hardware for extra stability.

Bad

The most expensive item on our shortlist, but it is well worth the price. Bass pedal is not included.

Suited for children and younger teens but not adults. Materials and hardware are somewhat flimsy.

Has been known to occasionally miss hits due to drum pad sensitivity issues.

Some durability issues.

Some say it is too loud and/or the sound can be tinny.

Bottom Line

The best drum set with the best package of musical benefits. Owners enjoy both acoustic expression and electronic precision.

A decently priced beginner drum set with a few minor flaws.

An electronic drum set with a mid-range price. An excellent workhorse for adult and student drummers alike.

A budget model with durability issues that is meant to give elementary-aged kids a taste of drumming.

Fair durability and sound quality for a highly appealing price. Owners are satisfied.

How we decide
BestReviews is committed to providing comprehensive and trusted reviews for products that matter to consumers. We do the research to help you save time and money.
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Products received from manufacturers
69
Models Considered
40
Hours Spent
2
Experts Interviewed
221
Consumers Consulted

Best Drum Sets

All of the drum sets on our shortlist have received top ratings from customers. The question is, which drum set would be the best purchase for you? We tell you the pros and cons of each drum set so you can make an informed purchasing decision.

Products we Considered

Roland
TD-11K-S V-Compact Series
Mendini
5-Piece Junior Set
Alesis
8-Piece Compact Beginner Electronic
Gammon Percussion
Complete 5-Piece Junior Set
Gammon Percussion
Adult 5-Piece Set

Considerations

Aesthetics

We give you the lowdown on the aesthetics of each drum set. How does it look? How does it sound?

Included Parts and Features

Different drum sets come with different parts and features. For example, an electronic set typically comes with pre-sets and software that allow you to interface with your computer and other digital products. An acoustic drum set may or may not include a throne (seat), cymbal, bass pedal, and some other essential parts. We tell you what parts and features you can expect with each package.

Durability

Nobody wants to throw their money away on a musical instrument that falls apart or quickly gives in to wear and tear. Some of the drum sets on our shortlist are more expensive than others. We tell you if spending a little extra money is worth its weight in durability.

Price

In the world of music, knowing how much you should pay for an instrument can be tricky. You want top-notch quality and sound, but you don't necessarily want to break the bank paying for it. We tell you how closely each instrument's price correlates with its musical worth.

Considerations

Aesthetics

Mendini MJDS-5-BK Complete 16-Inch 5-Piece Black Junior Drum Set with Cymba

The Mendini MJDS-5-BK Junior Drum Set is an acoustic instrument designed for children and youth who stand approximately five feet or less. This set is available in five colors: black, blue, bright red, wine red, and silver. Out of the box, the Mendini is a sharp-looking set with black, powder-coated hoops and professional-grade Mylar drum heads. Sound-wise, it's a lot quieter than some other junior sets on the market today, including the Gammon kids' drum set on our shortlist. Although some owners told us that the Mendini's cymbal, hi-hat, and snare sound a little "tinny," these comments weren't as extreme as some of the complaints we've heard about other entry-level kids' sets. In short, this is definitely a younger person's drum set, but it's better than a lot of the other junior drum sets on the market today.

Alesis DM6 USB Kit Five-Piece Electronic Drum Set

The Alesis DM6, an electronic drum set, looks very different from the acoustic sets on our shortlist. Electronic drum sets have their place in music and should not be automatically dismissed by consumers. This particular model has received numerous high ratings from customers. Aesthetically speaking, you can get quite an authentic sound from the velocity-sensitive Alesis. The machine features108 pre-programmed timbres which you can hear through earphones as you play or stream through another device like an iPod or computer. The cymbals react and sound like real cymbals. The dual-zone snare pad gives you both rim click and rim shot capability. One complaint we did encounter is that some hits don't register with the Alesis' computer. This is most likely due to a weakness in the sensitivity of some of the drum pads. Nevertheless, the Alesis is a clean-looking model that produces a colorful array of sounds and works especially well in a recording studio.

Gammon Complete 5-Piece Junior Drum Set

The Gammon Complete 5-Piece Junior Drum Set is available for purchase in glossy black, blue, green, pink, and red. Chrome rims accentuate the "cool" factor of this child's drum set. Sound-wise, this is definitely not a professional-grade instrument. Owners have complained that the crash cymbal sounds like a "trash can lid" and that the other parts sound tinny as well. This product is more like a child's semi-sophisticated toy than a musical instrument. However, for quite a decent price it can serve as a learning tool and source of inspiration for aspiring musicians under the age of ten.

Gammon Adult 5-Piece Set

This adult-sized set from Gammon has everything you need to get started as a beginner. The shells aren't made of pure wood like some other sets, but they're a terrific deal for the price. Buyers can purchase this fun set in either glossy black or metallic blue. Sound-wise, the Gammon doesn't entirely replicate the audio of a pro set. We've heard complaints that the cymbal and heads sound "tinny," but owners who like to jam but don't necessarily have professional ambitions have been completely satisfied.

Roland TD-11K-S V-Compact Series Electronic Drum Set

The Roland TD-11K-S is a deluxe electronic drum set from one of the most reputable companies in the musical instrument business. The drums are not "drums," per se, but a series of sharp-looking pads on which the drummer gives his percussive input. Roland calls these pads "V-drums." The pads on the snare and toms are not made of rubber; they're actually made of ultra-sensitive mesh that allows the player to create more expressive sounds. The mesh-head snare is the "star" of this drum set, but even the cymbals (made of plastic) are extremely responsive. Like the Alesis, our other electronic contender, the Roland makes its sound by translating drumstick hits into data. Software converts this data into musical sounds. Owners enjoy 25 pre-set kit sounds with this machine, which means they get to choose from a buffet of sounds that is far more rich than an acoustic drum set could ever create. One owner called the Roland TD-11K-S a "drummer's dream come true."

The Roland TD-11K-S, with its 25 pre-sets, ultra-sensitive drum heads, and responsive software, is a "drummer's dream come true."
Considerations

Included Parts and Features

Mendini MJDS-5-BK Complete 16-Inch 5-Piece Black Junior Drum Set with Cymba

The Mendini 5-Piece Junior Drum Set comes with a height-adjustable strap, snare stand, and throne stand (the round throne is padded for comfort). You also get a cymbal stand (mounted on the bass drum), hi-hat stand, floor tom legs, and of course the standard bass/tom/snare/hi-hat/cymbal combination that comes with most five-piece drum sets. Because this is a lower-priced beginner set, the raw materials used by the manufacturer are not the heartiest on the market. The cymbal metal is thin, and the snare, though topped with professional-grade Mylar, sounds somewhat tinny. Overall, however, this is a better-than-average kids' set, and for the price, it's a great way for a parent to gauge a child's potential interest in the drums.

The Alesis DM6 is a five-piece electronic trap set that brings a realistic feel to its drum and cymbal pads. It includes drumsticks, a bass drum pedal and kick pad, three toms, two cymbals, a hi-hat pad, and an eight-inch snare with a dual zone that allows you to do both rim shots and rim clicks. How does this electronic machine make music? Simply put, the electronic DM6 drum module (mounted on a heavy aluminum rack) turns percussive input into drum sounds. You can pre-program this instrument with any of 15 different drum kit sounds — great for people who like to compose and/or play with style. If you choose, you can use the ISB-MIDI output to send data to virtual instruments and software. Potential buyers should note that, unlike some other sets on our shortlist, the Alesis DM6 does not come with a throne. Ear phones are not included, either.

Gammon's Complete 5-Piece Junior Drum Set has everything an adult drum set has, but in a smaller size. The lug bass drum, for example, is only 16 inches tall (instead of the 20+ inches you could expect with an adult set). A wooden snare, two hi-hats, three toms (two hanging and one floor), the aforementioned bass, and a 10-inch cymbal make up the kit. With your purchase, you also get stands for the snare and hi-hats, a bass drum pedal, sticks, and a tuning key. This set is functional and would certainly delight and educate most elementary-aged recipients. However, it's not a performance-grade instrument by any means.

The Gammon Adult 5-Piece set has everything you need to begin jamming right away. Just unpack your goodies and start playing!  Owners say that this budget-priced set is quite sturdy, including the cymbal and hi-hat stand. (However, some say that the included throne is better for those who weigh less than 180 pounds.) The chain-driven pedal enhances speed, performance, and dependability. Quality and durability are fair for the price. As mentioned above, this is not a professional gigging set, but it's a solid instrument for someone who wants to tinker with entry-level drums.

As an electronic drum set, the Roland TD-11K-S is not as straightforward as a simple acoustic trap set. This machine comes with a USB WiFi slot for Internet connectivity, a LED interface, MIDI capabilities, and the MDS-4V — the "brain" of the drum set. If you choose, you can also download Roland's apps (available for PC and Mac) that allow you to play games and drum along to songs. The pads are more complex than a simple acoustic instrument, as well. For example, the cymbal pads contain multiple zones of sensitivity. The Roland's MDS-4V rack is perhaps the least impressive part of this instrument. Some owners told us they wish it were taller. Overall, however, customers can't stop raving about how wonderful this instrument sounds, from its hi-hats to its bass drum. (Incidentally, no bass drum pedal is provided —potential owners will have to purchase that separately. A few owners we spoke to were quite disappointed about that.)

Gammon makes both a junior and adult complete drum set. For the curious beginner or hobbyist, both are highly affordable.
Missy
Expert Consultant
Missy
Music Teacher, Musician

Missy holds degrees in music education and psychology. She is a certified K-12 music teacher with 18 years of experience in Michigan public schools. She teaches private piano and voice lessons and has performed leading roles in numerous theater productions, including My Fair Lady and The Pirates of Penzance. In her spare time, Missy performs with an eclectic mid-Michigan band called The Honeybadgers.

Considerations

Durability

Mendini MJDS-5-BK Complete 16-Inch 5-Piece Black Junior Drum Set with Cymba

Our overall durability rating for the Mendini is not stellar, but it's not awful, either. Some of the raw materials used by the manufacturer are on the flimsy side; our research turned up a few complaints of weak bass drum pedals and too-thin cymbals. We also noticed that the screws that hold this instrument together need tightening more often than the screws in some professional sets. However, the Mylar drum skins hold up to gentle use and the shell/rim construction for the toms and snare are satisfactory. To be on the safe side, youth who use this drum should be instructed to play it correctly and responsibly. However, they shouldn't be made to feel inhibited; the set is designed to take some wear and tear. As a testament to its dedication to quality, the company does offer a one-year warranty against manufacturer defects.

Alesis DM6 USB Kit Five-Piece Electronic Drum Set

Some people prefer electronic drum sets because of their durability and portability. If you're a traveling performer, it's much easier to pack up an electronic drum set and stream it through a smart device than it is to lug an acoustic set around. The Alesis is a durable product that can survive continual beatings for a long period of time. However, if you happen to hit your sticks against the soft foam around the edges, this part of the drum could come apart in a matter of weeks. The solution: don't hit this part of the drum. You won't lose out musically by avoiding the area. Also, if you use this set on a hardwood floor, be sure to put a mat down first, as the pedals could scratch the floor.

Gammon Complete 5-Piece Junior Drum Set

Earlier in this review, we stated that the Gammon Junior Drum set is not a performance-grade instrument. This has to do, in large part, with the instrument's durability issues. During our research, we encountered numerous complaints from parents who kept having to tighten screws and replace hardware. One owner mentioned that the hi-hat kept breaking. Another complained that the hi-hat pedal is almost impossible to depress, especially for a small child. Granted, some of the durability issues we encountered could have to do with the fact that the crowd most likely to use this instrument is under ten years of age. Without proper guidance, many children tend to be rough on percussion instruments. Nevertheless, the durability issues that we see with the Gammon are not as apparent in a similar junior drum set on our shortlist — the Mendini Junior Drum Set.

Gammon Adult 5-Piece Set

Aside from the Gammon's included sticks, which have been known to break, this drum set is respectably durable for the price. Treated well, it could last someone who practices regularly for several years. For the occasional player, it would probably last even longerr. The plastic drum heads will slowly accrue a bit of wear, but this is to be expected it you practice a lot! One owner did think the heads weren't very sturdy and went out and bought her own. This is always an option. Upgrading the cymbals is also an option. If you're considering this set, we urge you to realize that the price is incredibly low. The set's overall durability and sound quality reflect this, but it's certainly not a bad drum set, and many owners are completely satisfed with both the price and the playing experience.

Roland TD-11K-S V-Compact Series Electronic Drum Set

If you want a drum set that will last you a good long time, consider the Roland TD-11K-S. It's an electronic instrument, which could be off-putting to some of the more traditional musicians in our reading audience. However, Roland uses technology to the musician's advantage. The entire machine is less vulnerable to breakage and wear and tear because it is not acoustic. Drum heads for the snare and tom are sensitive mesh. When you practice, you strike durable pads with your mallets; your force is converted to an electronic signals that determine the sound output. It really is a gentler way to practice and play the drums.

Whether you're a traveling musician, a studio recording artist, or an amateur, the lightweight, durable Roland TD-11K-S will give what you need – and much more.
Considerations

Price

Mendini MJDS-5-BK Complete 16-Inch 5-Piece Black Junior Drum Set with Cymba

$139 is a fair price for the Mendini 5-Piece Junior Drum Set. Parents who want to give their child a decent introductory drumming experience would be wise to consider this instrument. It's not made of the most expensive raw materials on the market, but it's durable where durability counts the most —on the drum heads, which are made of Mylar. We favor this junior set over the Gammon junior set because it will carry a child into his or her teen years, whereas the Gammon is only suitable until about age ten.

Alesis DM6 USB Kit Five-Piece Electronic Drum Set

At a cost of $349, you would be wise to make sure you really want an electronic drum set before purchasing the Alesis. It's not the most expensive set on our shortlist, but it isn't the cheapest, either. In general, customers rave about the terrific sound this instrument gets. The feel is definitely different from that of an acoustic drum set, however, and the Alesis has been known to miss some hits due to pad sensitivity issues. Nevertheless, this machine can be a lot of fun. One extremely enjoyable thing you could do with this set is synchronize it with music on your laptop or CD player and play along. In fact, one very happy owner told us that he uses his Alesis to play with all his favorite groups. "It's a frustration reducer," he told us.

Gammon Complete 5-Piece Junior Drum Set

At a cost of $169, the Gammon Complete 5-Piece Junior Drum Set is one of the least expensive (and most popular) junior drum sets on the market today. If you're looking for a budget-priced set for your child (between the ages of three and ten; this set is not recommended for children under three years due to small parts and choking hazards), you may be considering this one based on its popularity alone. However, we note that the Gammon seems to have more issues with durability and quality than its competitor, the Mendini Junior Drum Set. If you don't mind tightening screws and fixing occasional breakages, the Gammon is your best bet. If you want something that costs relatively the same amount of money but has fewer quality control issues, the Mendini may be the way to go.

Gammon Adult 5-Piece Set

At a cost of $249, the Gammon Adult 5-Piece set is unique on this list. You get a lot for a small amount of money, and it's not a kid set, either. The quality of this Gammon set is certainly not equivalent to the Roland set in any way, but for musicians in the early stages of their musical journey (or those who just want to play around and jam for fun), it gets the job done at a delightful bargain price.

Roland TD-11K-S V-Compact Series Electronic Drum Set

At a cost of $999, the Roland is by far the most expensive drum set on our shortlist. However, you get so many benefits for the money, we think it's worth taking a serious look at this product. In a nutshell, the Roland gives you all the benefits of a quality drum set with the added bonus of software that will convert your hits into pre-programmed timbres selected by you. This instrument is considered by many to be more durable than its acoustic counterparts because of the strong synthetic materials with which it is made. Roland has a strong reputation in the world of musical instruments, and this product, though on the more expensive side, is ground-breaking musical technology that is sure to satisfy.

If you want an acoustic set but you don't want to spend an arm and a leg for it, we recommend the bargain-priced Gammon Adult 5-Piece Set.

Best of the Best

If you have any feelings of trepidation about using an electronic drum set, the Roland TD-11L-S will put your doubts to rest. We confidently name this instrument our “Best of the Best” product for many reasons, including its musicality, durability, and capacity for expression.

It doesn't look like a traditional trap set, but it sounds like one. Actually, it sounds like 25 different trap sets! Using the pre-programmed kit sounds on this machine, drummers can choose the sound they wish to emit from a from a large library of timbres. That doesn't mean you don't have to know what you're doing to get a good sound. You do! The input you give this instrument with your sticks gets the same structural results as it would on an acoustic drum set. However, the included software allows you to change the way this input comes out of the speakers.

Roland calls its drum pads “V-drums.” The snare and tom pads are made of ultra-sensitive mesh for extra responsivity. Owners tell us that the snare is the “star” of this drum set, but they remark that even the plastic cymbal pad, with its multiple zones of sensitivity, is a dynamic tool for musical expression. One owner calls the Roland a “drummer's dream come true.” We can see why. When you buy this set, it's kind of like buying 25 of the best sets you can find and consolidating them down to one perfect, compact instrument.

Whether you're a traveling musician, a studio recording artist, or an amateur who likes to play along with CDs or the iPod at home, you'll get what you need –and much more – from this lightweight, durable instrument. The “feel” of an electronic drum set might take a little getting used to, but this learning curve is actually a fact of life any time you get a new instrument. Owners quickly adapt to the Roland, and once they do, they find that every hit (even mistakes!) is translated into data by the MDS-4V and replicated by the software. You can listen to yourself play with headphones, or you can amplify your sound using a designated drum amp (not included). It's not wise to use a guitar amp with this product, as you could damage/destroy it very quickly, but a keyboard amp is suitable. Depending on your needs, computer speakers would be another feasible amplification choice.

The Roland is the most expensive product on our list, but at $999, it's not outrageously priced. Considering the world of musical possibilities that are opened to you with this product, we think it's somewhat of a steal. For all of these reasons, the Roland is our “Best of the Best” drum set – the perfect addition to any musician's studio in terms of expressivity, dependability, and value.
Best of the Best
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Buying the Roland TD-11K-S is like buying 25 of the best trap sets you can find and consolidating them down to one perfect, compact instrument.

Best Bang for your Buck

If you're an adult or an older teen looking for an exploratory drum set, this is one you should definitely consider. We deem it the Best Bang for Your Buck because it's a complete drum set with decent sound and durability, and it only costs $249.

The shells aren't mahogany — or any other celebrated pure wood, for that matter — but the drums look sweet in either glossy black or metallic blue. Whereas some sets don't include a cymbal, the Gammon includes that and so much more. Not everyone is in love with the cymbal sound, and the plastic drum heads don't suit everyone's musical taste, either. But switching out the cymbal and heads is always an option, and if you're considering this set, you may want to keep that in mind.

For the price, we consider this to be a rather sturdy set. But it won't last forever, especially if you plan to jam every day. If this set is to be purchased for a youngster or teen, be sure to educate him/her on the proper way to play a drum straightaway. The drum heads are vulnerable to wear and tear, as is any material at the hands of an over-exuberant beginner! That said, the majority of owners are completely happy with this purchase and the musical joy it brings.

Best Bang for your Buck
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The Gammon Adult 5-Piece set is perfect for a beginner who wants a complete set-up right away.
The team that worked on this review
  • Amy
    Amy
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Jess
    Jess
    Researcher
  • Jimi
    Jimi
    Product Analyst
  • Kriti
    Kriti
    Data Scientist