Let’s face it:
Drumming is an expensive passion.
We’ve got to purchase and replace everything from drum sticks, drum heads, beaters, mallets, dampening gels, not to mention the set of drums and cymbals you get.
Drumming doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby, and in fact, that’s the entire reason we are writing this report.
Today I’ll be exploring five of the best cheap drum sets under $500 that don’t completely suck.
Under each kit, I will give overall value, quality, and how budget-friendly the kit is.
The Best Cheap Drum Sets under $500 for Drummers on a Budget
I believe that the Pearl Roadshow is by far the best cheap drum set for drummers on a budget. The shells sound great and having hardware and cymbals included is a huge plus.
With that said, let’s dive into reviews of each drum set.
1) Pearl Roadshow 4-Piece Drum Set
Coming in at the top of the list is the Pearl Roadshow. The kit is at a steeper price point than other cheap drum sets, but it offers quality and value.
Pearl isn’t an unknown name in the drum world; in fact, they are one of the most popular drum makers to date. The Roadshow kit offers quality that other cheap drum makers can’t match.
The kit has several configurations, depending on your budget and needs. Pearl’s Roadshow kit comes in a four-piece with an 18″ kick, a five-piece with 20″ kick, and a five-piece with a 22″ kick.
For a rookie player, I wouldn’t worry too much about sizes, as you can get more specialized as you progress as a drummer.
The shells of the Roadshow
Entry-level drum sets have come a long way since I began playing. I would have loved to have this affordable drum kit as a beginner when I started playing.
The Roadshow kit is excellent right out of the box, but if you decide to change the stock heads out, your shells will sound even better.
The included cymbals are poor quality
The cymbals included with the kit are atrocious. A word of note: all entry-level drum sets include low-quality cymbals.
If you’re a beginner, I wouldn’t worry too much about the sound of the drums and cymbals; try to focus on learning the fundamentals of playing.
If upgrading your cymbals is something you’d eventually be interested in, be sure to read our roundup article on the best cymbal packs available.
The hardware on the Roadshow kit
The metal hardware included isn’t going to wow anyone, but it’s far better than most of the other kits’ hardware I’ll be listing here.
From my personal experience, I believe Yamaha makes the most excellent drum hardware, but it’s really up to your taste.
You can always upgrade to a different set of hardware at a later date.
The kit does include a drum throne, but be sure to check the listing before ordering.
Pearl’s Roadshow kit is a fantastic cheap drum set that is perfect for any new drummer on a budget. Be sure to check out all the shell configurations before making a decision.
2) Mendini 5-Piece Adult Drum Set
Mendini offers one of the cheapest drum sets available today. You'll sacrifice a little bit on quality, but get your money's worth in a practice drum set.
The five-piece kit from Mendini is very affordable. It’s about half the cost of the Roadshow. For the absolute beginner in need of a cheap drum set, you can’t go wrong.
In sacrificing cost, you’re also sacrificing the brand name. Mendini is not a familiar name to most drummers, as they focus mostly on entry-level student instruments.
The brand isn’t terrible, but don’t expect the most exceptional quality in the world.
Mendini’s kit gives you everything you need to play right out of the box.
The quality of the shells
Upon opening and setting up, you’ll notice that the drums look decent, but they’re nothing that would blow you away.
The wrapped plastic around the shells is very cheap, and the lugs are tiny when compared to professional drum sets.
When comparing to more expensive drums, the Mendini also doesn’t contain as many lugs on each of the drums.
Lugs hold the tension rods that keep the drum head in tune.
With fewer lugs, it’s harder to keep a drum in tune consistently, so keep that in mind (for a beginner, this shouldn’t be a huge issue).
The cymbals are poor
Just like the Roadshow, the included cymbals are something you may want to consider upgrading.
For the entry-level drummer, leave them as is, but you or your drummer may one day complain of the quality of the cymbals.
The drum hardware of the Mendini
Compared to the Roadshow, it’s night and day. The hardware on the Mendini isn’t great, but you’re sacrificing for cost remember.
The included kick drum pedal is also something you may want to upgrade (seems like there’s a running theme here).
My first kick drum pedal was the older model of the Pearl P530. It’s relatively affordable and feels excellent playing.
The Mendini five-piece kit is the ultimate choice for a drummer on a very tight budget. Drum sets don’t come much cheaper than this one.
3) Gammon 5-Piece Drum Set
Coming in a very similar price point to the Mendini is the Gammon five-piece drum kit.
I believe the Gammon beats the Mendini by a slight margin, especially in the quality of the hardware.
Gammon is a drum manufacturer that exclusively makes quality affordable percussion. The make everything from kids drum sets to full-size kits, to world percussion.
Despite their being relatively unknown to most professional drummers, Gammon delivers with a great cheap drum kit.
Gammon gives you everything you need to get playing right out of the box.
The quality of the drum shells
Gammon’s drum shells sound fantastic. With a little tender love and care, this kit can sound almost as great as a professional drum set.
For all cheap drum kits, as stated earlier, I suggest replacing the drum heads with professional heads from companies like Remo or Evans.
The quality of the included cymbals
Once again, it should be no surprise to anyone that the included cymbals with the Gammon are not satisfactory.
The ride cymbal sounds like you’re hitting a piece of sheet metal with a stick.
The quality of the hardware
Gammon does pretty well in the hardware department. The metal knobs hold the stands tightly and are easy to use.
I think Gammon focuses heavily on the quality of their hardware and shells, while still maintaining an affordable cost.
Gammon knocks it out of the park with their cheap drum kit. I would choose this kit over the Mendini, but the Pearl Roadshow over the Gammon.
4) Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit
Ludwig is a drum manufacturer that needs no introduction. They make killer drums and some of the greatest drummers of all time endorse the manufacturer.
Ludwig’s Questlove Pocket kit is no exception. It’s incredibly affordable and looks incredible on first glance.
Three color options are available, and the sparkle finish looks fantastic.
One thing to note, this drum kit is marketed towards younger players, so if you’re an adult, it may be much too small for you to play comfortably.
Despite being a smaller kit, I’ve read countless numbers of people online who are upwards of 6′ tall who play the Questlove kit!
The Pocket Kit comes packed with a 12″ x 16″ bass drum, 10″ x 13″ floor tom, 6″ x 10″ mounted tom, and a 5″ x 12″ snare drum.
Right out of the box, you’ll have everything you need to get playing: drum heads, hardware, pedals, cymbals, stands, a drum throne, sticks, and a drum key.
One significant benefit of the Questlove Pocket kit is the included lesson pack redeemable with a valid serial number.
Do your self a favor and pick up some new cymbals and drum heads; you’ll have a cheap drum set that sounds fantastic.
5) Sawtooth Command Series 4-Piece Drum Set
The Sawtooth Command Series kit looks and sounds incredible. It reminds me of something you'd see at Fork's Drum Closet from the late 60s! The Command Series kit gives you the look and sound of an old kit without the price tag.
Hard to argue with the way this one looks.
Vintage drum lovers rejoice! Sawtooth’s Command Series four-piece drum set looks and plays like drums of the past.
Sawtooth isn’t an instrument brand I’d heard of before, but I’m glad I stumbled upon them.
The Command Series isn’t the most affordable line in this list, but it is when compared to buying a vintage bop kit.
Sawtooth has two main lines of drum kits that sound fantastic for the price.
The only downside? These are just shell packs. You’ll need to provide your own cymbals.
The Command Series is a drum kit that will sound great and can last a lifetime if properly maintained. I love the look and sound. What do you think?
Out of all the cheap drum sets available today, I’d have to pick a kit from Sawtooth. I love the older look and vibe of the drums and cannot get over the quality of sound they provide at such an affordable cost.
The Mendini and Gammon kits are not terrible, they aren’t the highest value in my opinion. If you are desperately on a budget, I would pick either one of those.
If acoustic drums don’t seem to be the right answer, perhaps an electronic drum set would fit you better. Cheap options like the Alesis Surge Mesh, Alesis Nitro Mesh, or the Yamaha DTX450K won’t break the bank either.
What say you? Do you have an opinion on the best cheap drum sets available? Is there one I missed? Be sure to leave a comment down below. We’d love to hear from you! Bye for now.