The best budget drum kits in the world today

22nd Jan 2009 | 16:15

The best budget drum kits in the world today
Introduction
Ready for the next level? Step right this way...

This is a guide to the best budget drum kits on the market today, carefully selected from the archives of our sister publication, the venerable Rhythm magazine, as well as buyer's guides and MusicRadar's own round-ups.

Arranged in price order, we've collected eight kits that we think will prove themselves as either future-proof starter sets, or (perhaps, more realistically) a worthy 'next-step' for those graduating from basic beginner kits.

Also, be sure to check out our generalbuying tips below before proceeding...

4 buying tips

1. While beginner kits are mostly generic, budget kits are the slightly more expensive entry-level kits from the dedicated drum companies – the 'designer' labels, if you like.

2. They are mostly made in China or Taiwan, and with their distinctive design touches – lugs, tom mounts, badges and the like – you can feel like you own a proper Pearl, Tama or Gretsch. The idea is to build brand loyalty from the bottom up.

3. Shells are still cheaper semi-hard woods, such as poplar or basswood, but they are often a bit thinner and better finished than the shells of beginner kits. Look for a wider range of sizes, including contemporary 22"x18" bass drums plus a bigger choice of coloured plastic wrap finishes – which should be fully glued to the whole shell, not patched on with double-sided tape. Some kits come complete with lacquered paint finishes.

4. You should still get a decent hardware package, often including a stool/throne. Small toms are usually mounted off the bass drum, although some kits have up-market isolation mounting brackets. Bass drums should have enclosed, drum key-tightened tension claws rather than old-fashioned 'T' handle types. And bass and snare drums should have a respectable eight lugs per head, although floor toms may still only have six.

The best budget drum kits in the world today
Performance Percussion PP300R Starter drum kit
£399

MusicRadar’s verdict:

"A solid performer that provides almost everything the beginner could want."

FULL REVIEW: Performance Percussion PP300R Starter drum kit

The best budget drum kits in the world today
Ludwig Questlove Breakbeats drum kit
£459

MusicRadar’s verdict:

"An affordable kit that lives up to its design, this kit will suit any style of 'groove' player and is even a great quality set for kids. Breakbeats offers a cohesive package of portability, sound and all-round style!"

FULL REVIEW: Ludwig Questlove Breakbeats drum kit

The best budget drum kits in the world today
PDP MainStage drum kit
£525

MusicRadar’s verdict:

"At over £500 the Mainstage kit is at the upper end of the entry-level price band, but still represents good value for money. It would appear to have been designed as much to a drummer's specifications as it has to meet a price, and, as we've come to expect from PDP, the build quality is faultless."

FULL REVIEW: PDP Mainstage drum kit

The best budget drum kits in the world today
Gretsch GS1 drum kit
£575

MusicRadar’s verdict:

"Scoring almost maximum points for quality and value, the GS1 is a package that's hard to beat."

FULL REVIEW: Gretsch GS1 drum kit

The best budget drum kits in the world today
Mapex Meridian Maple Jazz drum kit
£585

MusicRadar’s verdict:

"The affordable answer to jazz player's prayers... The Meridian Jazz's specification and attention to detail are highly impressive. Mapex has gone all-out with this superbly-appointed package and you'd never guess this was a budget kit."

FULL REVIEW: Mapex Meridian Maple Jazz drum kit

The best budget drum kits in the world today
Odery Fluence Fusion Series drum kit
£599

MusicRadar’s verdict:

"We don't know how Odery can afford all this at such a low price - perhaps it's something to do with the relatively low value of Brazilian currency? Whatever the international economics, this is certainly one the best value kits ever."

FULL REVIEW: Odery Fluence Fusion Series drum kit

The best budget drum kits in the world today
PDP Concept Series Kits Birch CB5
£729

MusicRadar’s verdict:

"With this kit, the gap between DW (the premium brand) and PDP (the budget brand) has been dramatically reduced."

FULL REVIEW: PDP Concept Series Kits Birch CB5

The best budget drum kits in the world today
Mapex Meridian Retro Fusion drum kit
£749

MusicRadar’s verdict:

"This kit will appeal to jazz or funk drummers, or indeed any drummer who needs to squeeze into a small area without compromising the sound of their drums."

FULL REVIEW: Mapex Meridian Retro Fusion drum kit

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