Acoustic drum kits are a lot of things including loud, expensive, and big enough to fill a small room. However, if you have the space and the money and you (and the neighbors) don’t mind the noise, an acoustic drum kit is absolutely the best drumming experience both in terms of sound and ease of playing.
Below are a range of decent and lower cost acoustic drum kit options. None come as cheap as some other instruments listed on this site, but they are indeed the most affordable kits containing the basic qualities necessary for a student to succeed.
Note: All of the drum kits below will arrive disassembled and you will need to put them together yourself. This is not an overly complicated project, will not require any special tools not included, and will only take about an hour or two (at most). Think about it like an Ikea coffeetable or bookshelf, where instructions are included.
After that, you will need a quick tuning.
P.S. If the prices below scare you, check out my post on buying used instruments.
Please Note: I have not tested all of the instruments and options recommended below. I have chosen these recommendations mostly based on three factors: included features, overall perceived value, and word-of-mouth/online reviews. I encourage everyone to do their own research before making a purchase.
If you indeed choose one of the options listed below, please use the links in this post to make your purchase. A small portion of the purchase amount will go towards a budget for improvements and upgrades to the instruments used during private lessons.
The Ultimate Starter Drum Kits
This is the first of three drum kits that are about as basic as you can get. The companies who make them are clearly “beginner only” brands. However, they are all indeed full size kits, complete with a pair of hi-hat cymbals and a crash cymbal.
In my opinion, the Sound Percussion Labs (SPL) drum kit is the best of the two cheapest options (for about $260). Compared with the Gammon below, it has a slightly more professional look. However, it only comes in one color: Silver Metallic Glitter.
If you are looking for more color options than the SPL drum kit, the Gammon brand offers a bit more variety.
This Gammon drum kit comes in Black, Blue and Red Wine colors. The red is the cheapest at about $250 with the other two colors only about $10 more.
Sawtooth is another brand for beginners only, but their drum kits look a bit more professional, have a bit better ratings, and are only about $30 more than the SPL and Gammon kits. While I can’t speak to how they play, they just look to be better built in the pictures.
You also have three color options for this drum kit: Storm Blue Sparkle, Crimson Red Sparkle, and Pitch Black.
In addition, the Sawtooth drum kits come with the option to upgrade from no-name brand cymbals to Zildjian cymbals, which is a great deal. Zildjian cymbals are typically about $100 a piece, but you get three for just $120.
A Brand Name Drum Set on the Cheaper Side
This drum kit is from a trusted percussion brand which has held its own in the industry. As such, it is a bit higher priced than the options above (at $399), even though it is still very much a beginner level instrument.
That said, this Ludwig kit will definitely be better constructed than the options above and will likely have a better sound overall.
The Ludwig drum kit comes in three colors: Silver Foil, Red Foil, and Black.
Clearance & Used Items
There are many places to get used drum kits at a steep discount. Check out my Buying Used Musical Instruments Guide for more details.