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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...
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.