A beginner electronic drum set is an excellent tool to help develop fundamental skills that will form the bedrock of your future playing. Technique and timing are integral attributes for a drummer - and the best beginner electronic drum kits these days will have lots of features, largely geared at building such skills. It’s unlikely you’ll use one of the electronic drum sets featured here in a live environment, but for home practice, there’s no better – or quieter – alternative than an e-kit.
If you’re looking for the best beginner electronic drum kit, you’ll be looking for something that feels good, offers a realistic sound and feel and is compact enough to fit into your room. You’ll probably be looking for phone/laptop compatibility, too. Thankfully, big brands like Roland, Yamaha and Alesis have got you covered.
The rubber/mesh trigger pads that you find on an e-kit produce much less noise than an acoustic drum kit, and - as we’ve mentioned - take up less space. Moreover they can usually be folded away when not in use too, so fitting one into a compact corner is no problem (just make sure you don’t leave it folded away so long that you forget how to play it!).
If you’re a prospective producer or beat-maker, an electronic kit could also be an invaluable tool for you at the start of your foray into music. Learning how beats feel when played versus programming them in is a whole other ball-park. A beginner e-drum set can give you the ability to plug directly into a DAW and start procuring and producing funky rhythms yourself.
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Best beginner electronic drum sets: Our top picks
The world of e-drums is ripe with excellent choices. Take a look at our comparison of the Alesis Nitro Mesh, Yamaha DTX402K and Roland TD-1K if you don't believe us – they're all worthy of the best beginner electronic drum set title. Not to mention the new Yamaha DTX6 series or the deliciously cheap Alesis Debut!
So, who tops the list? It’s a tough contest overall, but right now we’d point you to the Alesis Nitro Mesh as the best beginner electronic drum set. For a very fair price tag, this kit offers everything a prospective drummer needs: mesh heads, great sounds, a module packed with intuitive features and now even a gorgeous red finish option! The Alesis Nitro Mesh is also class compliant, which makes laptop connectivity very easy, so it could easily fit into a home-studio setup. With all of these great features and a sub-$380/£340 price point, this is the best all-round choice.
With all-mesh pads, excellent build quality and Bluetooth functionality within the module, Roland's new TD-07KV kit offers many of the benefits of higher-end V-Drums kits - if you have a slightly bigger budget. This is the best beginner’s electronic drum kit for those who like to spend once and not have to spend again.
Best beginner electronic drum sets: Product guide
The Alesis Nitro Mesh now sits atop the throne as the perfect introductory kit. The mesh heads offer a far more realistic playing experience than traditional rubber pads, and are quieter to the touch. This alone makes this kit worth a look at this price point.
The module houses 40 drum kits, 385 sounds and 16 slots for customised, user-created kits (meaning you can piece together a kit of your preference from the existing sounds). With USB connectivity, any budding drummer who is interested in producing hip-hop, lo-fi or electronic music can record into a laptop and get creative.
The Alesis Nitro Mesh also comes with some excellent in-built software to help beginners learn the discipline of drumming. There are 60 play-along backing tracks, a metronome, a sequencer and a performance recorder. With drumsticks and a drum key thrown in, a high build quality and a very fair price, there’s nothing to complain about here. If you’re lucky, you might be able to grab one of the red special edition versions of the kit, which just feels stylish and sleek.
Read the full Alesis Nitro Mesh review
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Roland's latest addition to the V-Drums family is a hugely compelling offering if you're getting started or progressing with your playing. It features Roland's dual-ply mesh heads on the snare and tom pads, a stand-alone bass drum pad and pristine, studio-quality sounds that are customisable.
Add-in the TD-07's Bluetooth connection for jamming to your music collection, plus the on-board USB MIDI/audio interface and you've got a serious mid-priced kit that will serve you for years. Roland also includes 40 free interactive lessons via Melodics to keep you progressing.
Read the full Roland TD-07KV review
Yamaha’s DTX402 series is perfect for beginners. Building on years of drum-building expertise, they have packaged together everything a drummer needs to get started. The rubber pads feel high quality and responsive, albeit a little stiff in comparison to mesh alternatives.
The DTX402 module features 10 customisable kits, with 287 expressive drum and percussion sounds. Alongside this are 10 training tools including Fast Blast, Pad Gate, Rhythm Gate and recording functions.
What really brings this kit to life is the free ‘Yamaha Touch’ App (iOS/Android), which offers deeper kit customisation and some excellent training functions. Our favourite is a neat little thing called the ‘DTX Drum Lesson Program’, which scores you on your performance for each song and rewards you with a certificate at the end of it. If you’re looking for a kit with a focus on education and development, this is the one.
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With the Roland TD-1DMK, what you pay for is high build quality and a brand name synonymous with years of expertise in the field of electronic music. There aren’t many added features here, but what’s on offer is very well thought-out.
The kit is sturdy and feels great to play, with the double mesh heads doing an excellent job of replicating an acoustic kit. The dual-zone snare and cymbals allow for some more intricate playing and the exploration of dynamic range, which is nice.
The module includes 15 backing tracks, recorded on real instruments, which is a classy touch; budding John Bonhams will feel a very real simulation of what it’s like to play in a band. All in all this is a simple, high quality kit which is incredibly user-friendly, albeit lacking in customisation options.
Read the full Roland TD-1DMK review
The Alesis Turbo Mesh is perfect for beginners. The module is simple and easy to use, featuring 10 drum kits and 120 sounds. There is a coach mode which grades you on how well you play along with different time signatures, as well as 30 playalong tracks and a metronome.
As with the Nitro Mesh, this kit comes with mesh heads, a drum key and a pair of sticks. It doesn’t have a dual-zone snare or crash and the kick pedal is electronic – which is not ideal – but the low price point speaks for itself.
Overall, the Alesis Turbo Mesh is excellent value for money. All mesh heads feel great, the drum sounds will definitely suffice and the coaching modes are helpful. If you are on a budget or just looking to have a go at drumming, this is well worth your money.
Read the full Alesis Turbo Mesh review
Roland’s pedigree might come at a slightly higher price point, but it’s hard to deny that their electronic drum sounds are some of the best available. The TD-1K offers 15 kits spanning traditional acoustic, electronic and percussive; all of which sound great.
The pads themselves are made of sturdy and responsive rubber, but can be upgraded to mesh for a slightly higher price. The included crash and ride pads are dual-zone and chokable, making for an even more realistic feel. The T-frame is compact and has a cool, spacey vibe to it.
Roland's Rhythm Coach feature is included on the module, along with a metronome and 15 jam tracks. The USB connectivity (for recording or triggering alternative sounds) is perfect for budding producers. While this kit is not as competitively priced as others on this list, it’s definitely an excellent tool.
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Yamaha’s DTX6 series really shows what a mid-range kit can do. The 3-zone snare and ride cymbal pads offer the superb playing feel drummers yearn for from acoustic kits. The rubber padded toms on the lowest priced option in the DTX6 series can be forgiven here because there’s just so much this kit gets right, particularly where the module is concerned.
Take, for example, the new kit modifier knobs, divided up into ‘Ambience’, ‘Compression’ and ‘Effect’. These tweak-able settings will help any beginner drummer easily get in touch with the nuances of kit sounds in a way that is normally incredibly hard to replicate on an electronic kit. A very classy inclusion indeed.
Moreover Cubase A1 is included, meaning budding session drummers and beat makers can start creating immediately. Bundle this all together with the classic Yamaha build quality and you’ve got a solid option, worth its price tag.
Simmons is something of a legendary name when it comes to electronic drums. Back in 1981 they released the SD5, which was the first ‘mainstream’ electronic drum set with bizarrely cool, hexagonal pads. Nowadays, it seems they are fully aware of the opposition and happy to compete.
The SD600 features all-mesh heads which feel great, although they will need a little tuning to get the perfect tension. Also included is a decent (albeit iOS-only) app which offers various training programmes and further kit customisation; designed to be used with an iPad mounted on the included stand.
The module is loaded with 35 kits, spanning 336 sounds, which will give budding producers a lot to play around with (for some real fun, have a look at the ‘Nails’ and ‘Chinese Dawn’ settings). All in all, the easy DAW connectivity and playable nature of this kit make it a great choice, especially for those looking for a kit to use as a MIDI controller.
Alesis have always been excellent when it comes to value for money and the Debut only reinforces this. For less than $300/$200, you have absolutely everything you need to start your drumming journey; thoughtfully, it includes a stool, sticks and headphones, as well as a comprehensive metronome and Melodics learning software bundled in.
The drum heads are mesh instead of rubber, which is the far better and more realistic option. The module has 120 sounds on board, divided up into 10 kits, as well as 30 songs to play along to, which can be customised to keep/omit certain instruments in order to better understand how each song works. The Alesis Debut also features smartphone compatibility, meaning you can play along to your favourite music on streaming services such as Spotify. There is also a MIDI output for plugging in and recording into your laptop or audio interface.
With a generous amount of features at a very low price, this kit feels like an open-arms invitation for children and beginners to enter the world of drumming. Solid build quality, Melodics software and the succinct learning tools on board the module will provide brand new drummers a jumping off point to help build vital rhythmic foundations.
Best beginner electronic drum sets: Buying advice
A beginner electronic drum set comprises a set of trigger pads connected by cables to a drum module (a small computer which holds the data, sometimes referred to as a brain), affixed to a hardware frame (or drum rack). On a beginner kit you will usually find eight drums altogether – one snare, three toms, three cymbals (hi-hats, a crash and a ride) and a kick drum – as standard. They are relatively painless to set up and it’s possible to get everything connected and ready to play quickly.
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Beginner electronic drum sets: an overview
An beginner electronic drum set comprises a set of trigger pads connected by cables to a drum module (a small computer which holds the data, sometimes referred to as a brain), affixed to a hardware frame (or drum rack). On a beginner kit you will usually find eight drums altogether – one snare, three toms, three cymbals (hi-hats, a crash and a ride) and a kick drum – as standard. They are relatively painless to set up and it’s possible to get everything connected and ready to play quickly.
Trigger pads emulate various drum and percussion sounds when hit. They are made from either rubber or mesh and are designed to sound and feel like acoustic drums. Mesh heads are more expensive but feel more like an acoustic drum and deliver less ambient noise. Rubber pads are cheaper but feel a little less realistic and produce more ambient noise.
Most beginner e-kits will use a pad for the kick drum, along with an actual bass drum pedal – meaning there is a ‘kick’ motion happening. On cheaper kits, manufacturers will swap this out for an entirely electronic pedal, which will simulate sounds entirely. This offers less dynamic range and is not entirely representative of how an acoustic kit plays, so bear this in mind when making your decision.
The drum module
The module is the computer that holds all of the information. They are generally user-friendly, with buttons to toggle between kits and activate programmes, songs and the metronome. This is also where you adjust the volume and plug in the most important accessory of a beginner’s electronic drum kit: headphones!
Plugging in a pair of quality studio headphones and listening to yourself, knowing only you can hear what you’re doing, is very liberating. Shy beginners need not worry about being overheard and – providing housemates don’t mind the ambient noise – it’s much easier to practice late into the night.
Hardware and cables
The pads and module will fit onto a small metal frame and there will be a cable for each pad, connecting it back to the module. Most beginner’s electronic drum kits will be easy to set up and take up a relatively small footprint.
Is an electronic drum kit a good option for beginners?
In many ways, an electronic kit is actually the best place for beginners to start learning, since they offer an ergonomically realistic simulation of playing a full drum kit without the worry - and natural tentativeness - that comes with having your mistakes heard out loud. Moreover electronic kits can be cheaper than acoustic alternatives and take up significantly less room in a house.
Manufacturers will also include learning programmes within the drum module (also known as the brain). Features include play-along tracks, precision tests (where a score is given, based on how accurate your performance and timing is), the ability to record yourself and assess your performance and, of course, the all important metronome for working on your ability to play in time.
Many popular musical genres use electronic drums as an alternative to acoustic. A lot of hip-hop, R&B and pop artists often value the ‘sampled’ kit sound over acoustic drums – even in live settings. Therefore an electronic kit is definitely favourable to beginners interested in developing these more contemporary styles of music.
Is it easy to learn to drum on an electronic drum set?
In a word, yes. Whilst they are not quite as intuitive to the touch as acoustic kits and oftentimes the pads have smaller surface areas, these minor issues aren’t deal breakers when you’re at the start of your playing journey.
Electronic drum kits provide easy access to many different sounds; allowing you to explore various genres at the press of a button. Without exception they come with a metronome feature to ensure that any learner can work on timing - the most essential skill a drummer needs.
On top of this, when learning any new instrument there is always going to be an initial period of getting to grips with things which, in drum terms, results in a lot of bashing away. It’s much easier for a beginner to do this on an electronic drum kit because headphones allow for privacy and peace of mind (for both the player and others in the house). Not to mention the on-board programmes that are aimed squarely at teaching beginners how to play.
Do I need to buy an amp for my electronic drum set?
Not necessarily, no. Beginner electronic drum kits are best used with headphones for private practicing. If you are going to use an electronic kit for live purposes, or would just like to be able to play out loud, then it would be worthwhile investing in an amplifier.
However if your reasons for purchasing a beginner e-kit are primarily for practice, learning and potentially recording into a DAW, there is no real need for an amp.