“Help! I need to buy a drum kit and have no idea where to start.”
This is an email or phone call I receive from incoming parents or students frequently. There are so many options out there, so what is the best for you? Things that will factor in what the best option for you is going to be size/age of the students, noise tolerance, budget, needs, and features.
JUNIOR DRUM SETS
First I am going to start with the really young kids. If the regular size of a drum set may be too large for your child, there are two really great options for drum sets. My first choice for every child would be the Ludwig Junior Kit. This set features wood shells and tunable heads, just like an adult sized drum kit. The only thing I would say it is missing is a crash cymbal, but you can always add that on later when you need it. You can pick this drum set up here at Guitar Center for $300.
Now if $300 is a bit too much for you, then I would look at the Sound Percussion Labs junior drum kit. This kit also features wood shells and tunable heads, but doesn’t have the same quality that you get out of a name like Ludwig. This drum kit does not come with a floor tom or a crash cymbal. The crash may not be a huge deal, but not having a floor tom can become a big problem when trying to work on fills. This kit will set you back $135, so it makes it a great option for someone who is either on a tight budget, or doesn’t want to invest a ton of money until they know their child is invested in playing drums. You can also purchase this drum kit from Guitar Center here
ADULT DRUM SETS
There are two different types of drum kits: Electric and Acoustic. Acoustic drum kits are the ones you typically see. These are wood shells and are the preferred drum kit for most drummers. I would strongly encourage anyone looking to buy a drum set, to go with the acoustic route. Now I know that everyone can purchase an acoustic kit for many reasons. So if you are someone who may live in a town home or apartment, be sensitive to loud noises, or not want to hear your child banging drums all day, here are a couple electric drum set options for you.
ELECTRIC DRUM SETS
Roland has been the leader in electronic drum sets for a long time, and that’s for a good reason. These guys strive on building quality and reliable kits that will last you for a VERY long time. The modules and features are better on these kits than many other brands out there. Features include the ability to record, play-along tracks, metronome, USB to hook the kit up to your computer, and many more. Here are two options that I think are great choices for someone looking for moderate or higher end electric kit.
The Roland TD-11K is a great kit that’s priced for someone looking for something in middle of the road. This drum kit features a mesh snare pad, which I feel gives you a bit more of a natural feel than the standard rubber pads. This drum kit is priced at $999.99, which is really great deal for someone who doesn’t have the money to spend on a kit using all mesh heads
The Roland TD-15K is the next step up from the TD-11K and provides a couple more features that are well worth the $1899 price tag. This kit is going to essentially upgrade everything from the module to the cymbals and heads. You are going to give you a more real life feel with all mesh heads, and cymbals that will give you the ability to choke and swing as if they are real deal! If you’ve got the extra $900 to drop on an electric kit, then I would HIGHLY recommend going this route.
Lastly for those looking for a budget option there is the Yamaha DTX400K. While this kit may not look spectacular, it provides everything that you or your child could need to get started with drum lessons. At a price tag of $499 you really can’t complain. You aren’t going to get as great of sounds, but this kit is going to be reliable. Yamaha virtually makes everything under the sun, and their drum kits are their specialties!
ACOUSTIC DRUM SETS
There are far too many great acoustic drum kits out there to let you know which one is the best. So the best I can do is show you a couple of options and hope that provides enough information for you to pick what is best for you or your child.
My favorite budget option would have to be the Ludwig Accent series. This drum kit is near and dear to my heart, because this is what I learned on. This drum kit sets you up with everything you could possibly need. At a price tag of $699 this deal is UNBEATABLE. Not only are you buying a quality drum kit by a great name, you are purchasing something you can play for years. I had my Accent kit for 8 years before I decided that if I wanted to pursue music professionally, I would have to invest a lot more money into my kit. With this kit you get cymbals by Zildjian, one of the better cymbal makers in the world today. You don’t need to worry about purchasing anything extra. Just unpack and start practicing!
The mid-range and high-end kits can get a bit more difficult. Now you are no longer getting all of the hardware, cymbals, and any accessories. You are only paying for what is referred to as a “shell pack”. A shell pack will consist only of the drums, and sometimes doesn’t include a snare drum. In the case of the mid-range kit I like, you are going to get 2 toms, bass drum, and snare drum. The Gretsch Catalina Maple can be purchased at Guitar Center for $779. With this kit you are purchasing a nicer wood that will give you a warmer and more controlled sound than the Ludwig. This is the kind of drum kit you could take to a gig, and the sound guy would make it sound beautiful in the mix. These drums are also going to be much easier to tune, and you can expand this kit if you want to add more toms!
Finally, if you want the best option possible. 2 words. Risen Drums. These guys make drums that sing more beautifully than Mariah Carey for a Christmas in Rockefeller performance. But seriously, these are the best drums I have ever played. This company is custom, but don’t let that seem overwhelming. Owner Keith Anderson walks you through every step of the way. If you have no idea what you want, he’ll help you to uncover what you need. Wether you want maple, birch, or mahogany for your shells. What dimensions you want your shells, and the difference between them. Down to what do you want the paint or stain to look like. These guys are the real deal, and have been doing it for a while. I can’t give you an exact price tag because it is custom, but you can also check out their used drum sets here. If you buy a used kit you get the opportunity to own the same kit used by Kelly Clarkson’s drummer, NEEDTOBREATHE, or Sara Bareilles.
Now I know that’s a ton of information. But I hope it helps you in selecting what the best kit for you would be! So get out there, buy the kit, and start taking lessons today!