When you get into drumming you quickly find out that you need a place to set up drums, it’s a fact of life.
For some people that is a garage or basement, and that can open up options for setting up acoustic drum kits. Some people might live in apartments or live in places where an acoustic drum kit won’t be an option.
That’s where electronic drum kits come in. A lot of electronic drum kits are compact, quite playable and feature packed with tools that are pretty useful for beginners. So it’s best to not rule them out if you are a beginner.
Our Recommendations for Electronic Drum Kits for Beginners
We’ve looked closely at more than a few suitable kits that would work well for beginner drummers. A good beginner kit should be playable enough to allow you to practice the fundamentals, have a little fun doing so, and not break the bank. These kits are what we feel are the best electronic drum kits for beginners at this time.
The Roland TD-1DMKX
The Roland TD-1DMKX kit has four mesh drum pads, four cymbal pads and a compact size overall. We like this kit for beginners because of it’s nice lineup of pads. And the sound module, while basic, is easy for beginners to use and it has some good coaching features built in.
The four cymbal pads help make it a more fun playing experience than budget kits with only three cymbal pads. Having mesh on all the drum pads, including the toms, is great. The snare pad feels a little small at 8-inches in diameter but it works fine on this kit. The kick pad is wide enough for double kick pedals.
The sound module is pretty basic and not very deep with features, but it gets the job done. The sounds in the module are good for it’s price level, but there’s no ability to save custom kits or customize the sound.
You’re paying a little more here for the Roland name and the quality level, but it still remains a fairly affordable kit at around $600. However, this kit doesn’t include a kick pedal, so that will be an extra expense.
The Alesis Surge Mesh SE
The Alesis Surge Mesh SE kit has mesh drum pads and three cymbal pads, and the kick pad is large enough for a double kick pedal. We like this kit for beginner’s because of it’s great feeling drum pads, it’s 10-inch snare pad, and it’s drum module with good sounds and learning features.
The drum pads are fun to play on this kit, and the dual zone, 10-inch mesh snare is nicer than 8-inch alternatives from Alesis. This kit also has dual zone pads on the toms which adds more sound capabilities around the kit. The cymbal pads are pretty basic single zone pads, but they get the job done for a budget level kit.
We recommend the Surge over the Nitro kit because it has dual zone pads on the toms, a 10-inch snare, a larger kick pad and a sturdy rack. It’s more expensive by roughly $150.
The module on the Surge is basically the same as the Nitro but with a different name on the front. It has a lot of decent to good sounds on it, and you can edit the kits and save your own custom kits. There’s plenty of coaching and learning features built in as well.
The value of the Surge kit is really good, you get a lot of kit for the money and it’s a better option than the Nitro.
The Simmons Titan 50
This kit from Simmons is a similar configuration as the Surge kit, it has mesh drum pads with a 10-inch snare and three cymbal pads. The drum module is fairly basic but has some neat sounds on it, and the Titan packs from Simmons will add even more sounds.
The drum pads on this kit are pretty basic but the snare pad really stands out. The snare is a 10-inch pad with dual zones and it handles rim shots and dynamic play well. The rest of the pads are single zone pads around the kit. The kick pad is designed to fit double kick pedals which is always great.
The drum module is pretty basic on this kit in terms of features, but it has some good sounds and some good connectivity options. Sounds can be edited with some of the typical basic parameters and you can save custom kits. You can also load in new sounds as Simmons releases Titan packs which are new collections of drum kits.
This kit is also easy to setup. The rack comes fully assembled and you simply unfold it, mount the pads and cable it up. This kit can be found for $450 or less if it’s on sale, it’s a good value for it’s price.
Why Is an Electronic Drum Kit Good for Beginners?
They take up little space. As a beginner, you might not want to dedicate a lot of space for a drum kit until you know you’re going to stick with it. The smaller kits take up around 4×6 feet of space, some even less. That’s probably half of what an acoustic kit would require. They can be set up in a bedroom corner or in an office. Some kits can even be folded up for storage.
They are affordable. A budget electronic drum kit with some basic features for beginners can cost less than $500. And that’s a for a new kit. If you look out for used kits you can often score deals less than half of that. You can find an acoustic kit for for cheap as well, so we’re not saying an electronic kit will be cheaper. It’s just that the technology has matured enough to the point where electronic drum kit prices aren’t a premium.
Mesh pads are quite playable. There was a time when drum pads were mostly harder rubber surfaces like a practice pad. There still are some rubber drum pads out there, but the industry has largely moved toward mesh drum pads. Mesh drum pads use mesh drum heads to simulate the feel of an acoustic drum head without the noise. They feel great to play and practicing on mesh drum heads can translate well to playing on acoustic drums.
Drum modules have good practicing and learning features. They say you should always use a metronome when practicing and playing drums. A metronome is always a standard feature on any drum module. You’ll have no excuse to not practice along with a click if you can just hit a button on your module to turn it on. Many modules also have learning features and coaching modes, as well as patterns and songs to play along with. These can be very useful for beginner drummers and they’re right at your fingertips with an electronic drum kit.
Having a variety of drum sounds is fun. When you have a smaller budget, you’ll get a lot more sound variety from electronic drums than you will from acoustic drums. Buying extra cymbals and other specialty drums can add up quick. It’s nice to be able to have a variety of sounds to practice with on a smaller budget, and that is an area where electronic drums win.
What Else Will You Need When Starting Out With an Electronic Drum Kit?
Buying a kit isn’t always the only thing you’ll need, unfortunately. Not all drum kits come with everything you need to start playing. Most drum kits will include the rack, a drum module, the pads and all the cables to connect everything. But they don’t always include a kick pedal, a throne, headphones or drum sticks. So it’s good to keep an eye out to see what a drum kit doesn’t include, since those things will be an extra expense.
It’s not uncommon for beginner level kits to include a kick pedal of some sort. Usually they are pretty cheap pedals, but they are perfectly fine for beginners and a decent kick pedal can cost a hundred bucks or more. Some budget kits have electronic kick pedals that work similarly to the hi-hat pedal, and they work without a beater striking a pad.
A Drum Throne
Don’t discount the need for a solid, comfortable drum throne. When you get into a good groove you could be sitting there playing drums for up to an hour or more at a time. If you have a cheap, uncomfortable drum throne, you’ll know it pretty quickly because you’ll have a sore back and sore rear. You’ll get tired of feeling off-balance, and you’ll get tired of the squeaking that cheap thrones tend to do. So just trust us here and get something that is comfortable, even if it’s not the cheapest option.
A Good Rug
Setting up your kit on a solid rug will be essential. The hi hat pedals, kick pads and kick pedals will likely have velcro or spikes to stick to carpeting to keep them in place. Carpeting will also keep the rack stand from moving around and sliding on the floor. Not all rugs are equal. Look for the really stiff or heavy types of rugs that don’t bunch up or wrinkle and that will stay flat on the floor.
Headphones & Extension Cables
Very rarely will an electronic drum kit include a pair of headphones. You’ll need a pair of headphones if you want to play your electronic drum kit quietly. There are so many options available for headphones and it’s possible to find decent drumming headphones for any budget. Check out our headphone reviews to see what we recommend for electronic drummers.
The reason we also mention extension cables is that not all headphones have long enough cables to be comfortable for electronic drumming. For example, I’m currently using Sennheiser HD 280 Pro’s, which have a shorter, coiled cable and it gets in way unless I add a headphone extension cable. You’ll probably want a total of at least 10 feet of cable length for any headphones you are connecting to your kit so you can get the cables out of the way of your arms and give yourself some room to move around while plugged in.
Most kits will include a basic pair of drum sticks. Some don’t, though. If you are just starting out, the included stick will be just fine to use. Some people prefer to use nylon tips sticks if they use mesh heads. The reasoning is that they are less likely to have barbs or slivers that damage the mesh drum heads. So that is something to consider. It’s also best to avoid using any drum sticks that you’ve used on an acoustic kit on your electronic drum kit, since worn, chipped sticks could damage the mesh and rubber pads.
A Cable For Connecting Audio Sources
You will at some point want to hook your phone or an MP3 player or some sort of audio player to your drum module to play along with music that you like. To do this, you’ll need a cable that probably didn’t come with your drum kit. Usually you’ll need a 3.5mm stereo cable, but it could vary depending on your equipment.