Buying a drum kit

Get your first purchase right with a few handy tips!

Learning the drums is occasionally seen as a bit of poor cousin to taking on a ‘proper instrument’. Banish the thought right now! Learning to bang those tubs demands the highest standards of musicianship. Accomplishment in drum kit and related percussion instruments gives children a unique insight into a sound world that simply cannot be reached via other instruments. So here’s our take on buying the right drum kit.

Before you start

First of all, you don’t need to rush out and buy a kit before you’ve got your teacher sorted out. Take your time to find the right teacher and have a couple of lessons. There’s plenty to get on with at the start without a kit. Once you’ve bonded with your teacher, they can give you their own recommendations, as well.

Acoustic or electronic?

One of the key decisions is between going for a live ‘n’ loud acoustic kit, or the electronic kit with headphones. The electronic kit can be plugged into an amp for a regular amplified sound. Watch out – even with headphones in ‘silent’ mode, the hard rubber surfaces of the electronic kits still need to be tapped, which some might find irritating. If you’d like to go for an acoustic kit, the noise can be controlled a little bit by using different types of sticks and brushes.

How much?

Here’s our price breakdown with brand recommendations for both acoustic and electronic kits. Prices are approximate and researched at the time of writing. All of these recommended kits can be found on classified sites at lower prices.

Acoustic kits – value options
The Stagg Junior (£159+), CB (£249), Performance Percussion (£179)
These kits will be great for beginners, but the build quality is such that longevity is not to be expected.

Acoustic kits – mid-range
Pearl Rhythm Traveller (£389), Mapex Tornado (£265)
These kits are made by reputable brands with quality in the build. They include some resale potential, for when you want to upgrade to a better kit…and, yes, they sound good.

Acoustic kits – high-range
Pearl Export (£499), Yamaha Gigmaker (£549), Mapex Horizon (£469), Gretsch Catalina (£599)
These kits are solid performers that young professionals might use for years of gigging and recording. If you’re a budding drummer wanting to go places, these are great choices. The higher prices give you a disproportionate jump in construction quality. Often students might upgrade to these drum kits from the value or mid-range options after a few years, once they’ve established their love for the instrument. Some of these kits won’t come with cymbals, so add £100-200 for a decent set

Electronic kits – mid to high-range
DDrum (£426), Yamaha DTX 400 (£389), Yamaha DTX 500 (£499), Alesis DM6 (£279), Roland TD-3 (£329), Roland HD3 (£569)
If you see cheaper electronic kits, best avoid them. The leads and wires are prone to breaking and the sound is often poor quality (to the point of being unusable after a few months). The makes we list here are well known and make a decent sound, albeit at a price.

As ever, give us a call at MusicMaps if you have any drum kit queries of any kind.