If your child has come to you asking for drums, it’s best to know what to buy and what not to buy. Chances are you aren’t a drummer or percussionist yourself, and you have no idea what age a certain set of drums will be good for. We hope to help you find and pick out the best drum set for kids.
This guide is intended for adults who want to buy their 10 and under child a kit. Still on the fence about your child playing drums? Here are ten things to consider before starting them out.
Our Junior Drum Set Reviews
Gammon 5-Piece Drum Set
|Gammon Percussion Full Size Complete Adult 5 Piece Drum Set with Cymbals Stands Stool and Sticks,...||732 Reviews||View Price|
The Gammon 5-piece junior drum kit is one potential option for your child. This is a full-sized drum kit, so I recommend this kit if you believe your child will grow into this drum kit. While it is our favorite and we believe it’s the best value, your child may have a tough time reaching the kick drum and hi-hat pedals if they are very young or shorter than five feet tall.
Gammon is a brand relatively unknown to most professional working drummers, but that doesn’t mean this introductory drum kit is a poor choice. Their company values the idea of bringing affordable drum products and great customer service to their customers.
Now I personally wouldn’t use this drum set, I can see the value in buying this drum kit for a young child. This drum kit is our favorite pick for kids just starting out.
Gammon offers this drum set for kids in four different finishes: black, metallic blue, wine red, and metallic green. The colors do not look amazing, but the price is very attractive.
Some users of this product have experienced the wrap bubbling and warping in the first few months of use, which didn’t happen to us.
Others have noted that parts and cymbals have been missing when shipped. We also have heard that kits sometimes are damaged upon arrival. If this happens to you, be sure to get in contact with Gammon and I’m sure they can help you out. Despite the quality control issues, I still believe this is a great starter drum set.
What comes in the box?
The Gammon 5-piece drum set includes drums, hardware stands, kick pedal, a seat, and even the cymbals. This drum set will get your child playing fast without the hassle of having to buy extra stands and cymbals. I love Gammon just for the simple fact that their hardware is actually decent. Some of the other brands on this list have absolutely terrible drum hardware.
This drum kit does not come pre-assembled, so you will have to set it up. This kit does include a DVD with setup instructions. Upon opening the box, you’ll see a smaller box that contains all the drum heads. In the following small box, you’ll find a DVD, the kick drum pedal, snare stand, and tons of tension rods and lugs (if you’re unaware of what these terms mean, see below).
In the next skinny looking box, you’ll find drumsticks, floor tom legs, and a cymbal stand. The following skinny box contains the hi hat stand. The snare, the drum throne, and the remaining shells can found in the next boxes.
When you unpack the drum set, be sure to keep everything tidy. There also will be cardboard packaging on this interior walls of the 22″ bass drum. Be sure to remove these pieces, as they provide no purpose.
The drums themselves don’t sound that great, but that’s to be expected at this level of youth drum sets. You aren’t going to get an amazing sounding drum set that Phil Collins records his next record with.
Like I had mentioned before, this is the full-sized youth drum set. If your child is very young and/or very small, you may want to consider buying a smaller kit, as I mentioned before.
It might be possible for them to grow into this full-sized kit, but you may be better off getting this beginner drum set when they are ready.
My conclusion: best choice for a beginner; I recommend your child be at least 7 years old for this drum set, due to size.
This is the junior drum kit from Gammon.
Comparative to the adult drum set, this children’s drum set is much smaller and will accommodate children between the ages of 3 and 7 years of age.
|Gammon 5-Piece Junior Starter Drum Kit with Cymbals, Hardware, Sticks, & Throne - Black||723 Reviews||View Price|
The included cymbals that come with both of these beginner drum sets (and most on this list) are really, really terrible. If that’s not a concern for your child and it’s more of an educational toy, by all means, stick with what you get.
If you want to get a bit better sound, I suggest upgrading. Take a minute and check out the best cheap cymbals.
Mendini Kids Youth Drum Set by Cecilio
|Mendini by Cecilio 5-Piece 16-inch Blue Junior Drum Set + Cymbals, Drumsticks & Adjustable...||670 Reviews||View Price|
The Mendini 5-piece kids drum kit is also a fantastic choice for beginning drummers. It comes with everything included in the box: sticks, cymbals, hardware, kick pedal, and an adjustable seat.
One thing to note with this kit is the snare drum size. It is much smaller than the Gammon drum set. This may the reason to pick this junior kit if they are much younger. It will be easier for them to reach the other drums and cymbals.
For a junior drum set, you actually do get a lot of color choices. The Mendini drum set comes in six different finishes: black, blue, green, silver, wine red, and bright red.
Each drum only contains four lugs, meaning the tuning will not be as accurate on this drum set. You will not get as great of a sound compared to the Gammon drum set.
Because you want tuning to be as even as possible at each tension rod around the drum, having more lugs does contribute largely to getting a great sound.
The price point on this drum set is lower, and this may be one of the corners they cut to reduce the cost of manufacturing.
What comes in the box?
Just like all the kits on this list, the Mendini 5-piece kids drum set comes with everything your child needs to get playing: the drums, sticks, hardware, a kick pedal, cymbals, and a drum stool. The toms ship with the heads already pre-installed, but you will have to assemble the floor tom and kick drum.
If I had to choose between the Mendini and the Gammon, my pick would be the Gammon. Having the larger youth drum set offers your child a the chance to grow into, as well as play a kit that will last much longer.
The Gammon will sound better in comparison to the Mendini, in my opinion, if both are tuned properly. This video here, however, shows an excellent player making a strong case for the Mendini This kit actually sounds pretty good!
My conclusion: great sounding introduction to drumming! This is a great drum set for a 5 year old.
Ludwig Junior Outfit Kids Drum Set
We’ve finally reached the point in this list of our first big name drum manufacturer: Ludwig. This is an amazing kids drum set, but only if you know 100% that they are committed to playing the drums. I say this, because I knew many kids growing up around me who started playing drums, only to quit a year later.
Founded by William F. & Theobald Ludwig in 1909, Ludwig is a standard when it comes to drums and percussion. Their company started as the first drum manufacturer to create a functional bass drum pedal. They added more products to their catalog, like snare drums and timpani. During World War I, Ludwig made many rope drums in support of the war.
Ludwig Drums gained major popularity in the 1960s when The Beatles made their historical TV debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. The Ludwig bass drum logo that was displayed on Ringo Starr’s bass drum was seen by more than 70 million people, catapulting the brand to success.
Ringo chose the brand of drums because he liked the oyster pearl black finish that was offered at the time. This publicity resulted in Ludwig’s sales dramatically increasing that year and production became a 24/7 operation as the company became one of the biggest selling drum manufactures in North America.
The Ludwig drum set comes in three finishes: wine red, blue, and black.
What comes in the box?
The kit includes a 16″ bass drum, 8″ and 10″ mounted toms, floor tom, snare drum, cymbals, sticks, a seat, and a kick pedal.
The build quality on this children’s drum set is much better than the previous examples. Do not let that deter you from buying a cheaper drum for your child if you want to “test the waters,” so to say.
Ludwig has also been kind enough to package everything your little one needs to start playing the drums. You get sticks, a drum throne, the drums, cymbals, and a kick pedal. The hardware design is fantastic. Unlike the Mendini, the Ludwig offers more tension rods and lugs, allowing for greater flexibility and accuracy when tuning the drum heads.
Like most of the kits on this list, the tuning is going to make the biggest impact on how good these drums will sound for your child. If you take a little time to understand how tuning works, you can make your kids drum set sound quite nice.
My conclusion: I love Ludwig; it’s a win in my book. Recommended for 5 and under.
RockJam RJ105-BK Junior Kids Drum Set
|RockJam 3-Piece Junior Drum Set with Crash Cymbal, Drumsticks, Adjustable Throne and Accessories...||77 Reviews||View Price|
The RockJam RJ105-BK junior drum set is another affordable option for the entry-level child drummer. This kit comes in either a 5-piece configuration or 3-piece.
There aren’t many color options with this kit, as you can only choose between glossy black, red, or blue.
What comes in the box?
Again, it includes all the necessary pieces to get your child playing: sticks, cymbals, metal hardware, kick pedal, and of course the drums. Like the Mendini, there is one drum that will require assembly upon opening the box.
The sound isn’t great. This is our least favorite kid drum set. Having the option of only buying a three-piece kit is nice, but I would opt for the 5-piece nine times out of ten. The drums also feature only four tension rods, minimizing the accuracy of your tuning ability. You won’t be able to get that great of a sound out of this drum kit. This drum set for kids is definitely more of a toy than anything.
I suggest the three-piece kit if your child is younger than five years of age. This gets them playing and introduces them to the idea of playing drums.
The quality of this drum set is not going to be up the level of the Ludwig Junior kit, but is an excellent affordable option for a starting drummer.
My conclusion: don’t buy this for your child. I believe this is the worst junior drum set on our list.
Pearl Roadshow Drum Set For Kids
|Pearl RS525SCC706 Roadshow 5-Piece Drum Set, Charcoal Metallic||184 Reviews||View Price|
The Pearl Roadshow makes our list at number one. This youth drum set is more expensive than the other cheap kid’s drum sets, but it has the best quality and value on the market.
To be clear, this is a full-sized drum set, so beware if you’re child is young. You’ll be spending a bit more money on this kit. They better play it!
The Pearl Roadshow kit comes in different shell configurations including jazz, fusion, and rock. If your child is entering middle school, has taken drum lessons, or shows an extreme interest in playing drums, then this is the kid’s drum set for you.
What are shell configurations?
When you buy this drum set, you’ll have the option to pick between what are called shell configurations. A shell configuration is just a fancy word for the sizes of the drum shells.
A drum shell is the main part of the drum. It’s what gives the drum its tonality. Drum shells can either come as wooden plies glued together or metal that is created with a cast mold.
|Tom Toms||10"x7", 12"x8", 14"x14"||10"x7", 14"x10"||10"x8", 12"x9", 16"x16"||12"x9", 14"x14", 16"x16"|
|Hardware||Cymbal Stand, Hi-Hat Stand, Snare Stand, Pedal, Throne||Cymbal Boom Arm, Hi-Hat Stand, Snare Stand, Pedal, Throne||Cymbal Stand, Hi-Hat Stand, Snare Stand, Pedal, Throne||Cymbal Stand, Hi-Hat Stand, Snare Stand, Pedal, Throne|
|Cymbals||16" Crash-Ride, 14" Hybrid Hats||16" Crash-Ride, 14" Hybrid Hats||16" Crash-Ride, 14" Hybrid Hats||16" Crash-Ride, 14" Hybrid Hats|
What comes in the box?
The Pearl Roadshow comes in one big box. Similar to the other kits on the list, an assembly is required. The drum heads are shipped separately from the shells to reduce shipping size. The small tom will come pre-assembled, so you can use that as a guide when installing the other drum heads. Included with the beginner drum set is a stick bag, sticks, stands, a drum throne, a 16″ crash, and 14″ hi-hats. All the hardware is of extremely high quality and the drums sound fantastic.
This drum set will last your child or young drummer for many years to come. The shells are 9-ply white poplar, a very popular wood choice for drum shells. 🙂
The shell quality alone of the beginner drum kit can make the price justifiable. This is by far the greatest sounding set on the list. You could easily record this beginner drum kit at a studio and get a great sounding recording!
The cymbals aren’t going to blow anyone away, but they are the best sounding cymbals from any kit on this list!
This drum kit will last your young drummer all throughout adolescence until he or she is ready to purchase their next set. From this point on drum kits do get very expensive.
If you’re looking for this quality level of drum sets, check out my best beginner drum set article! Take a listen to the video below. The drum shells do sound amazing!
My conclusion: best value for the serious player! This is the best junior drum set if your child is over 8 years old and is super serious about playing drums!
Noise a problem? Consider an electronic kit
Is your child seriously interested in playing drums, but you either don’t want to stand the noise or live in an apartment where noise is an issue. Consider purchasing a kids electronic drum set. Electronic drum sets are both quiet and offer many more features that a traditional drum set lacks.
|Alesis Drums Nitro Mesh Kit | Eight Piece All-Mesh Electronic Drum Kit With Super-Solid Aluminum...||104 Reviews||View Price|
Electronic drum sets either have rubber pads or mesh drum heads where the stick strikes. They come with what is known as a drum module which controls everything from drum sounds to headphone volume. If you decide to buy an electronic drum set, you’ll also need either headphones or an amplifier to hear the sound.
Headphones are a great option for any young student, as they’ll be able to practice whenever they like and play along to their favorite music with the auxiliary input on the electric drums. Let’s check out some of the best kids electronic drums.
|Alesis Nitro Kit | Electronic Drum Set with 8" Snare, 8" Toms, and 10" Cymbals||421 Reviews||View Price|
The Alesis Nitro is the most budget-friendly “real” electronic drum kit. This isn’t a lame tabletop drum set. The Nitro will get your child playing drums in no time, at a limited volume compared to that of an acoustic drum set.
While the Nitro is at the budget end of electronic drum sets, Alesis has outdone themselves on the quality for such a low price.
Things to know before you buy a kids drum set
- Make Sure Your Child Is Actually Interested In Music or Drums – I cannot stress this enough as you don’t want to have a drum set arrive at your door only for you to be the one who is playing it. With today’s technology, you can use iPhone or Android drum apps to get an idea if your son or daughter would be interested in playing the drums.
- Understand The Age Group Junior Drum Sets Are Meant For – These types of kids drum sets, as I said above, are intended for children under 10 years of age. I believe you can start your child as early as three years old with a junior drum kit.
- What Does Number of Pieces Mean? – When you see a drum set listed as a 5-piece or a 3-piece, you only count the number of drum shells. The cymbals are not included in the count, so be sure to read thoroughly as to what you are buying.
- Learning a Musical Instrument Takes Patience – Be sure to instill in your child’s head that they need to practice if they want to become better. One of the greatest benefits of playing drums at a young age is reinforcing a strong work ethic. This will not only benefit your child as a musician but in all areas of life as they grow into teenagers and adults.
- Maintenance is a big deal – As a student of drums, learning how to maintain the drums is just as important as learning how to play them. Be sure to instil a great sense of work ethic in your child for proper maintenance.
What components make up a child’s drum set?
The snare drum is what I consider to be the main and most important drum of them all. When you clap your hands to a groove, this is the drum you’re emulating. The snare drum is the backbone of a drum set and provides a sharp, staccato sound when struck.
On the resonant head (bottom), there are stiff wires held under tension against the head. Snare drums are used in more than just drum sets; they can be heard in orchestras, concert bands, percussion ensembles, symphonic bands, marching bands, and drumline.
The bass drum is generally the largest drum in a kit. It provides a big, low-end thump, that can really be felt when you’re at a show. Bass drums can also be referred to as kick drums. The term kick drum originates from studio recording engineers in the 70s, not from orchestra drums that actually were being kicked. This is a complete, fabricated myth. Although, it does sound like it would be correct. ?
Some drummers decide to use more than one bass drum, particularly in metal and hard rock. This was a big phase in the late 70s and 80s during the hair band and metal phases. Today, most drummers opt for a single kick drum with a double kick drum pedal.
Tom Toms are generally deeper drums that have no snares. They were added to the drum set in the early years of the 1900s. Most drum fills you are familiar with feature tom drums. In your head, I know you can imagine the drum fill from In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins.
Tom drums are generally between 10 and 18 inches, but drum makers do offer them in smaller and larger sizes. Other types of tom drums include concert toms, rototoms, gong drums, and floor toms.
I personally love the sound of concert toms. These drums feature no resonant head and were very popular with drummers in the late 70s and early 80s, particularly in progressive rock.
Ride cymbals are usually the largest cymbal in a traditional drum setup. The main role of a ride is providing a steady and rhythmic pattern. Ride patterns in jazz are extremely well-known and will most likely be one of the first things your child learns when taking private lessons.
Ride cymbals are usually placed on the side of the dominant hand, above the floor tom. Some ride cymbals are loud, bright, and pingy, while others are extremely dry and perfect for jazz and bop.
The ride pictured to the left features what are called rivets. You can see them on the right side of the picture. Rivets are intentionally drilled into the cymbal and give it a sizzle when struck. Sizzle cymbals are popular in jazz and blues music.
The Hi Hat
Hi hats are similar in nature to the bass drum, as they require a foot pedal to operate. This foot pedal is actually an entire piece of hardware that allows the play to open and close two different cymbals stacked opposite of each other. Upon using the foot pedal, the hi hat makes a “CHICK” sound. Hi hats were first referred to as “sock” or low-boy cymbals, as they were just a small cymbal mounted to a foot pedal on the floor.
These cymbals are also played with drumsticks and at varying levels of being open and closed, creating either a tight, rhythmic sound or a loud and washy sound. Playing the hi hat with your foot is very common in jazz music.
Understanding technical drum terminology
- Drum Shell – the heart and soul of every drum. If you were to disassemble all the metal hardware from a drum, you’d be left with just the shell: a metal or wooden hoop of varying diameters and lengths.
- Drum Head – the plastic skin that covers the top and bottom (most the time) of a drum. Drum heads are held in place by tension rods and lugs.
- Batter Head – this drum head is the side of the drum you hit with sticks or a mallet.
- Drum Key – a T-shaped tool with a square head; drum keys are used for tuning drums by adjusting tension rods at each lug on a drum.
- Ply – Wooden drum shells are made up of multiple layers of wood called plys. A 7-ply drum shell has 7 layers of wood.
- Drum Set vs Drum Kit – there is no difference; these words mean the same thing.
- Drum Stool vs Drum Throne – Drum thrones or drum stools are the seats that we drummers sit on when we play. I would suggest staying away from thrones bundled with children’s kits and have many of my favorite suggestions you can read about here.
- Kick Drum vs Bass Drum – Bass drums can also be referred to as kick drums. I wonder if it was because drummers used to physically kick them. Both of these terms mean the same thing.
Some assembly is required with junior drum kits
Many of the drum kits on this list will not come pre-assembled. You’ll need to crafty and follow some directions. The instructions are simple, but parts can easily be misplaced, so take your time when putting the drums together.
How to make the drums sound great
Even though all of the youth drum kits on this list are relatively cheap, you still can make them sound very good with a bit of hard work and a couple of extra purchases.
For the sound of the drums, you’re going to need to buy new drum heads. These can be from Remo, Evans, Attack, the name doesn’t matter as long as it’s a quality brand. The drum heads that come stock with all of these kits are not going to be great, with the exception of possibly the Pearl Roadshow.
I personally use Remo Emperors on my drums. I find that they have a brighter tone and really cut through different kinds of music. I don’t particularly like Pinstripes, as I believe that they sound cheap and are too thick.[infobox color=”#dd3333″ icon=”exclamation”]Be sure to check the sizes of your drum shells prior to purchasing new drum heads, as drums come in many different sizes![/infobox]
Remove overtones from the drums using dampeners
Drums can sound much better when the overtones or ringing is eliminated from the drums altogether. Many recording engineers swear by dampening the drums.
Certain companies, like Moongel, create a product specifically designed to dampen drums. A homemade variant of this can be achieved by taking a piece of paper towel and taping it to the edge of a drum head where you generally won’t be playing.
When to change the drum heads on your kid’s drum set
You’ll want to change the drum heads on your kit when you notice a couple things: wrinkles or big dents on the heads, holes or split heads, the white coating on the heads vanishes.
While the drum still will operate as normal in most of these situations, the sound will be dramatically worsened over time. Fortunately, a child playing the drums will unlikely ever be able to pierce the drum heads, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about that issue.
For a full breakdown on drum maintenance, be sure to read our guide here.
Get the tuning of your drum set correct
Even if you can’t afford to purchase new drum heads, it’s important to take time to understand how drum tuning works. There are zillions of YouTube videos detailing the process of tuning and how dramatically it can affect the sound of your drums: both for good and for bad.
How to tell if your drum is in tune with itself
Applying even tension across each lug is key to getting a good sound. Your drum head should resonate evenly at every point where there is a tension rod. To achieve this, a good tip is to hold one finger, index usually works well, in the center of the drum, applying very light tension on the head.
From here, take a drumstick and tap at each tension rod about an inch from the rim. Adjust the tension of each rod so that the pitch across each one is close. While this practice isn’t very easy, if you are patient and take some time practicing tuning, you’ll get a great sound from each one of your child’s drums.
Should I tune the bottom head higher or lower?
This decision will be ultimately up to you. Some drummers advocate for a higher resonant head and others vice versa. Tuning the bottom head higher often results in a fatter sound whereas tuning it lower can get you a punchier “jazz” sound, at least for the tom drums.
Upgrade those cheap cymbals!
If your little drummer wants to sound better when he or she plays, consider upgrading the cymbals. Generally, cymbals have the most impact to perceived “expensiveness” when hearing a drum set.
I believe this is because when cymbals are bad, they are really bad. Take a minute and check out the best cheap cymbals.
Remember, you don’t need to start out with the most expensive cymbals and drums ever, but if your child ever gets to the point where they would like to sound better when playing, these are two ways you can help them.
Do I need to buy drumsticks? My child’s drum set includes them!
All of the kits I have listed today do come with drumsticks. These aren’t going to be very high quality, but they will work for a start.
If your child does show some interest, I would recommend you buy a brick of drumsticks. You’ll save money and won’t have to buy them again for a long time.
For a young child, I recommend them to play with a thin drumstick – like the Vic Firth 7A. These sticks are much thinner than the standard 5A or 5B, and will be much more comfortable in your child’s hands.
Your child should begin to read sheet music eventually
As a bit of a side note, when your child is learning drums, it’s a good idea to either get them lessons or have them follow an online instructional course. Understanding drum sheet music is very important to a new drummer and can help set a great foundation as they progress as a player.
Other ways to find an affordable kids drum set
If you’re looking for a way to find a drum set on the cheap, consider purchasing a used set of drums. Guitar Center usually has a decent supply of used gear in their stores. Another great resource for used gear is a franchise company called Music Go Round. This is your best bet for finding a quality drum set at a much cheaper price than purchasing one brand new.
Note: stores that carry used drum kits will most likely only have adult-sized drums.
If you like to shop online, you can check Ebay or Amazon. Once you find a drum set you like, click on the listing and scroll down to where you see used & new (y) from $xx.xx and FREE shipping. You generally can find used deals on whatever product you may be interested in.
Buying a drum set can really enhance your child’s creativity. You know how they always say it’s better to learn a language when you’re really young? The same goes for music. The earlier you start them, the quicker they will learn and retain.
Even though some of the youth drum kits on this list are very cheap and don’t sound the greatest, these are the best kits available of everything found on the market.
Remember, this drum kit will test their interest in music and playing drums. You need to establish that before you go and buy a full-blown drum set.
Our favorite pick has to be the Gammon 5-Piece. It’s the perfect beginner drum kit for any age and allows your child to grow into playing the drums.
|Gammon Percussion Full Size Complete Adult 5 Piece Drum Set with Cymbals Stands Stool and Sticks,...||732 Reviews||View Price|
If you enjoyed this article at all, and if it helped you out, please feel free to share it with your friends or other parents who are considering buying their little one a drum set.
Leave a comment down below if you’ve purchased a kit for your child, or if you have any questions. I’ll be sure to reply to them all. Thanks for reading. 🙂
[infobox color=”#ebf0f6″ textcolor=”#0a0a0a”]How Our Reviews Differ From Others
Many music websites love to review products. Unfortunately, a lot of them just want you to buy and every product is sold to you rather than actually reviewed. Many times, these websites outsource their product reviews to ghostwriters who are just writing to get on the first page of Google with SEO (search engine optimization). We encourage our readers to make informed decisions and hope to eliminate the mistake of buying a poor product marketed as gold. DrummingReview.com strives to give accurate, non-biased reviews on all products we use.[/infobox]
Hey there fellow drummer, thanks for reading the post. I’ve got a private Facebook group called Drum Junkies. It’s made up of people just like you and me who are sharing pictures of their drum kits, talking about industry trends, and sharing tips about drumming. I’d love for you to join! Here’s a link to the group; we’ll see you on the inside.