Acoustic Drum Set Reviews

Ludwig Breakbeats Review: Best Beginner Kit in 2024?

We may earn a commission from the affiliate links on this site. Learn more›

About a month ago, I picked up a set of Ludwig Breakbeats by Questlove from my local Music Go Round store. Today I will review the kit and find out if this set of drums holds up professionally or should mainly be used by beginners only. 

When I walked into the store, I did my usual round—check out the cymbals, see what snares came in, and I always have to check the microphones. When I got to where they have acoustic kits, I saw the shell finish on the Breakbeats. I knew I had to have them.

And not solely for this review. I genuinely wanted a new set of smaller drums that could be set up quickly and offer a unique sound that I can’t get from my larger, traditional-sized DW Design drum set. It’s a compact kit that packs a punch.

Ludwig Breakbeats at a Glance

Best Drum Set for Beginners
Ludwig Breakbeats By Questlove

Configuration: 16”x14”, 10”x7”, 13”x13", 14”x5”

Shell: 7-ply poplar

Finishes: White Sparkle, Black Sparkle, Wine Red Sparkle, Azure Blue Sparkle, SaharaSwirl

View Price at Sweetwater View Price at Guitar Center
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Ludwig is no stranger to making quality instruments, so I had a feeling even with a cheaper price tag, it would sound incredible. And fortunately, I was correct.

The one and only Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, drummer of The Roots (Jimmy Fallon’s house band), designed the kit in collaboration with Ludwig.

“I wanted to build a device that was apartment-friendly and compact for the street musician, but also something that was quality-sounding. A gritty, raw, ‘break-able’ kit for gigging in clubs that you can fit in a cab. Breakbeats by Questlove does it all.” -Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson

When it comes to signature instruments, quality can be a problem, and the artist’s name is just slapped on the product along with an endorsement. Thankfully with the Breakbeats, this isn’t the case.

Questlove’s vision focuses on the New York City drummer. In many cases, drummers in NYC have limited space in their apartments. Transporting their instruments is also tricky, considering most people take the subway or taxis and don’t own cars.


Ludwig’s Breakbeats drum kit includes a compact 14×16″ kick drum, 7×10″ tom, 13×13″ floor tom, and a 5×14″ snare drum. The shells are 7-ply hardwood with a hand-sanded 45-degree bearing edge.

You don’t need much space to set this kit up, either. In most situations, you should be able to fit into a 3.5′ x 5′ area.

In the box of the Breakbeats, you’ll get:

  • Snare drum
  • Kick drum
  • Rack tom
  • Floor tom
  • Rack tom mount
  • Floor tom legs
  • Bass drum riser

The product images shown on most retailers’ websites are a little misleading. The Breakbeats is just a shell pack and does not include hardware or cymbals.

If you don’t already own them, I’d suggest going with the Gibraltar 8700PK 4-piece hardware pack, the Wuhan Traditional Cymbal setYamaha FP 7210A kick pedal, and a Roc-n-Soc throne if you can afford it all.

Currently, the Breakbeats come in three finishes (unfortunately, the finish I have here is no longer made):

  • Silver Sparkle
  • Blue Sparkle
  • Black Sparkle

The kit ships with Remo Pinstripe heads for a warm and beefy sound. The heads sit nicely on the bearing edge of all the shells.

As I said, the shells are super warm sounding, especially with the stock heads. I switched out the stock heads and put Evans clear G2s on the toms. I used a medium tuning with a Big Fat Snare Drum donut on the snare. 

For the kick, I kept the stock heads and put a few blankets inside with a lower tuning on both the batter and resonant heads.

With some dampening and low tuning, I got the kit sounding like a 1970s Steely Dan or Chick Corea record (channeling my inner Steve Gadd). I was super impressed at the sound I was able to get with these small and compact shells. You can hear it in my full video review of the kit.

The lugs, tension rods, tom mounts—everything feels quality. In addition, the single tom holder features a ball mount, allowing you to adjust your tom position far more easily than ratchet-style mounts. 

The tom holder also has an additional clamp, allowing you to mount a cymbal arm to reduce the number of full-size stands you need to haul.

At the time of publishing, the Breakbeats kit sells for $599 at most retailers. However, Ludwig has had to raise the price of the Breakbeat kits since, in 2020, they sold for $429

Since the Breakbeats are just a shell pack, if you don’t already have hardware and cymbals, you’re looking to spend upwards of over $1000 to play. 

That said, most entry-level drum kits that include hardware and cymbals are trash. So if you’re trying to go pro, I’d suggest saving up and getting quality instruments.

Alternatives to the Ludwig Breakbeats

In my opinion, the Ludwig Breakbeats by Questlove is the best drum set for beginners (you can see that opinion reflected in our roundup here). In that article, I also suggested the Donner DDS-520 as a possible option, but that kit is more for quieter practicing since it features a practice pad internal mute system.

Another popular option at this price point is the Pearl Roadshow, though I have a hard time recommending that drum set. You get cymbals and hardware with the Roadshow, but the cymbals are of inferior quality. So I’d say seriously, only consider it if you’re tight on budget and aren’t sure drums are the instrument you’ll end up playing for life.

The Ludwig Breakbeats are just so versatile. You can use them in a professional studio session or on any gig you can imagine. They sound incredible and have a wide range of tuning possibilities. You’ll have no issue whether you want to use the kit for bebop or for playing in a rock band. Even at low tunings, the Pinstripe heads sound good.

My Final Thoughts

Undeniably, the Ludwig Breakbeats kit from Questlove is the best drum set a beginner can buy. Everyone can play this drum set. If your young child wants to play the drums, the smaller, compact size of the Breakbeats will help them learn without having difficulty reaching full-size drums. 

Best Drum Set for Beginners
Ludwig Breakbeats By Questlove

Configuration: 16”x14”, 10”x7”, 13”x13", 14”x5”

Shell: 7-ply poplar

Finishes: White Sparkle, Black Sparkle, Wine Red Sparkle, Azure Blue Sparkle, SaharaSwirl

View Price at Sweetwater View Price at Guitar Center
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

And for adults, you can adjust the kit to feel like your regular acoustic drum set. Don’t let the size fool you, either. These drums sound massive and can easily be used to track a studio record or play gigs live.

If I had the chance to go back to the music store that day, would I pick these drums up right away? Absolutely, without a doubt. The quality of Ludwig drums is superb, and it’s no different with the Breakbeats.

So that’s it for the review, and if you get a chance, be sure to watch my video review to hear how the drum kit sounds recorded. Also, if you have a question, please leave it in the comment section below. I always do my best to reply!

I sincerely hope the review was helpful to you. If you decide to pick up the Ludwig Breakbeats kit, please consider using the links on the page. I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. With your support, I can continue bringing quality content to the website and my YouTube channel. Thank you for reading.

Nick Cesarz

Nick is a drummer, percussionist, and blogger from Milwaukee, WI. He toured extensively with Vinyl Theatre, opening up for acts like twenty one pilots, Panic! at the Disco, and more. Now no longer touring, his passion lies in gear and playing the kit as much as time allows.

Related Articles


  1. This is the best drum kit for beginners! I am a professional drummer and I was looking for a starter kit for my nephew. I wanted something that would sound great and be well-suited to his small hands. He played this kit the first time he tried it and loved it! Ludwig Breakbeats is worth every penny!
    Great post, by the way:)

  2. Hello! Thanks for the article! May I ask what you mean with the space the set needs? Obviously it cannot be 3,5 x 5 inch 🙂 do you mean 35 x 50 inch?(90×130 cm)?

    1. Whoops, had a typo there! I meant to put 3.5’x5′ (in feet). Depending how far you sit from the kit will also determine how much space you’ll need. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Thank you! I should have guessed, but as an Austrian I am not so familiar with these measurements…I would love to buy this kit, I play alternative rock, our rehearsal space is only 6 square meters for drums, 2x git and bass, so I need something not so loud and quite small which fits in a corner with max 150 cm to the right and to the left, the Ludwig set should fit there nicely I hope… I think the kit can do rock sounds, not just jazz, thanks for your superb review!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *