An electronic drum set is the ideal tool for budding drummers taking their first steps with the instrument. These days, with a wide array of features that have trickled down from higher-end electronic kits - from learning tools to the quality of sounds - the best electronic drum sets for kids are more advanced and inspiring than ever before.
Learning the drums is majorly gratifying, particularly for kids and learner drummers. Hit a drum pad and it makes a sound, and most people can pick up a basic drum beat with ease. However, acoustic drum kits are extremely noisy, so a parent-and neighbour-friendly electric drum set with a set of headphones is the ideal choice.
In this guide we’re looking at great e-kit options for kids to help them take their first steps on the instrument.
We've included some expert buying advice at the foot of this guide, so if you'd like to do more research click the 'buying advice' tab above. If you'd rather get straight to the products, then keep scrolling.
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Best electronic drum sets for kids: MusicRadar's choice
Choosing the best electronic drum set for kids is tough. There are so many criteria that child-friendly e-kits have to meet - does it look cool? Does it sound good? Is it easy to operate? Is it compact? Will it help them learn? The list goes on.
Amongst all that noise, there are two that stand out as the best - the Alesis Turbo Mesh and the Roland TD-1K.
The Alesis Turbo Mesh takes the number one spot for us. It’s the perfect combination of fun and serious, with the onboard learning tools being a huge selling point. It’s got backing tracks, time-keeping exercises and 120 drum and cymbal sounds, as well as realistic-feeling mesh heads - making this e-kit a near-perfect option for beginners and kids.
The Roland TD-1K is similarly built with beginners and children in mind, packed with cool coaching tools. It’s compact and sounds great, and will evolve with your child’s playing, thanks to Roland’s range of optional extras like a mesh snare drum, extra cymbals and bass drum pads. The Roland is the most expensive option on our list, but you’re buying a reputation as well as a quality electronic drum set.
Best electronic drum sets for kids: Product guide
The Alesis Turbo Mesh is perfect for kids and beginners alike. 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 play-along tracks and a metronome. As we mentioned earlier, these modes are the perfect place for kids to start when learning drums.
This kit comes complete with mesh heads, a drum key and a pair of drumsticks, meaning - providing you’ve got a seat or drum throne - you’re ready to go right out of the box! Kids will love how many cool features there are to play with here and will be happy to get stuck straight in.
Overall, the Alesis Turbo Mesh is excellent value for money. All mesh heads feel great and almost as realistic as an acoustic drum head, the drum sounds are great for the price and the coaching modes on-board the module are helpful in helping your child learn their first rhythms and master time-keeping. If you’re on a budget or just looking to have a go at drumming, this kit is well worth your money.
Read the full Alesis Turbo Mesh review
The TD-1K might cost a little more than others featured here, but with Roland products you pay for decades of experience and R&D which translates to reliable products with pedigree. This kit includes four single-zone rubber pads for toms and snare, choke-able dual-zone crash and ride cymbal pads, and a hi-hat pad. Spend a little more on the TD1-KV model to bag a mesh-headed, dual-zone snare. The TD-1K features standalone bass drum and hi-hat pedals so they can be positioned where it feels most comfortable.
On board the sleek module are 15 preset kits of reasonable quality, covering everything from standard acoustic kits, to electronic and percussion set-ups, Roland's Rhythm Coach feature to help beginners boost their playing skills, a metronome and 15 jam tracks. The quality of construction and USB connectivity (for recording or triggering alternative sounds) means this kit won't be outgrown in a hurry.
We love Alesis here at MusicRadar. They have always been excellent when it comes to value for money and the Debut only reinforces this. For ~$300/£200, the Alesis Debut delivers 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 and smartphone compatibility; meaning you can play along to your favourite music on apps such as Spotify.
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.
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The Digital Drums 400 electronic drum set is sold exclusively by online retailer Gear4Music, who know a thing or two about quality budget music gear. At the heart of the kit is a stylish, simple to navigate module that delivers loads of features that belie the price (the DD400 is the cheapest full-size e-kit on this list). For starters, drummers have the choice of 10 pre-configured kits, or they can program their own custom setups using the 108 on-board sounds.
With your bespoke kit loaded, drummers are free to practice rudiments, jam along to music on their smart device via the aux input, or explore the module’s exhaustive training tools, including 40 drum patterns to learn and play along with. The lightweight aluminium tubing of the adjustable rack makes the kit a breeze to set up and move into place.
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TourTech has recently emerged as one of the key players when it comes to well-built, affordable entry-level and mid-range electronic drum sets, designed to last far beyond the first few drum lessons. On the TT12S, five rubber tom and cymbal pads feature velocity sensitivity, meaning they will react dynamically to expressive playing while the snare drum offers dual zones, so players can trigger two distinct sounds from the same pad – think a traditional snare sound plus a cool cross-stick tone, for example.
The module delivers 30 kits (20 preset, 10 user-defined) giving drummers plenty of sound options. A boon at this level, pad sensitivity and crosstalk can also be tweaked to the drummer's liking. If you're just starting out you'll will most likely be jamming along to your favourite tunes, so 20 built-in backing tracks should come in handy, or you can plug a device into the aux input and plumb the depths of Spotify for inspiration. Multiple adjustment points mean pads can be positioned for playing comfort and the sturdy rack folds neatly when practice is over.
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If you lack the space, or your child isn’t quite big enough for a full-size electronic drum set just yet, a compact kit like the DD-75 from Yamaha is a great entry point into the world of percussion. And it’s portable, too. While it won’t feel like a full kit, the position of the eight rubber pads introduces new players to the layout of a drum set, while two supplied pedals take care of bass drum and hi-hat control.
Pads are responsive enough that most techniques can be played on them. The DD-75 has its own module of sorts, loaded with 75 pre-configured kits and 570 sounds which can be assigned to the pads – being Yamaha sounds are mostly of great quality. The unit comes with a pair of sticks too, so it's ready to rock right from the box.
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Alesis’ take on the compact kit concept delivers fewer sounds and seven rather than the eight velocity sensitive pads found on the Yamaha DD-75, but for a snip of the price. That doesn’t make it any less of a viable electronic drum set for kids, though. Playing along to songs is a great way for young drummers to get comfortable with timing and locking in with other instruments, and for that the Alesis is ideal.
On-board are 100 jam tracks of varying styles and lengths, a metronome and even the facility to record a performance so players can revisit and assess their drumming. There are plenty of percussion sound offerings too and pads can be played with hands so there’s fun to be had by the whole family. The icing on the cake is that the Alesis Compact Kit can be powered by 6 C class batteries, making it a truly portable machine.
The Paxcess roll up drum kit is one of the best electronic drum kits for kids because it offers a laid-back introduction to percussion, welcoming younger drummers into the fold with open arms. It offers five ‘timbres’, which act as the on-board kit varieties, allowing children to play around a little bit with different tones. As well as this it houses a rechargeable battery and 8 demo songs to play along to.
The built-in speaker is a nice addition as it encourages children to play out loud, perhaps paving the way for performance in front of parents or siblings and helping boost confidence. Of course, the included headphone jack will allow a child to continue playing in relative quiet when a little respite is needed.
As far as roll up electronic drum kits go, the Paxcess has everything a parent could want. It folds away neatly and won’t break the bank, either. If you have a larger budget or are looking for something a bit more substantial then perhaps it’s not the most obvious choice (a full kit is the logical next step), but we’d recommend it as a birthday or Christmas present for a younger child who’s expressed an interest in rhythm.
Best electronic drum sets for kids: Buying advice
How do kid’s electronic drum sets work?
For the uninitiated, a starter electronic drum set consists of a series of rubber or mesh trigger pads, representing tom toms, snare drum, cymbals and bass drum. Pads are mounted to a rack, along with bass drum and hi-hat pedals on the floor. Everything connects to a module which contains a selection of sounds which trigger each time a pad is struck with a drumstick.
Because the sounds are simulations as opposed to real noises, they need some form of amplification in order to be heard. As such, headphones are the best choice for kids; although an amplifier can also be used for those who want to play out loud.
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Do these kits come with educational tools?
Many electronic drum set modules - especially those aimed squarely at kids - will offer developmental tools to help direct those first 20 or so hours of practice. Such training programs will focus on precision and timing; two fundamentals of drumming. The essential metronome will be there to give a steady hand to keep young players in time. You’ll also often find built-in backing tracks to jam with, plus smartphone connectivity for playing along to songs on Spotify, YouTube or other streaming services.
Does my child need a full-size electronic drum kit?
If space is an issue, you might consider a compact desktop kit. First and foremost it is important to note that these don’t do the proper job of getting a child used to the way a drum kit is ergonomically laid out; since they are flat pads as opposed to a full kit. If this doesn’t bother you, or even if you are looking at introducing your child to percussion as opposed to full kit drumming, definitely keep this option open.
What is a good age for kids to start learning the drums?
In short: as soon as they express more than a passing interest. If your child is tapping away on their leg whenever they hear a catchy rhythm, perhaps it would be a good idea to see if they enjoy transferring this to drumsticks and one of the kits listed in this guide. For some kids this might be age four, others age 12. It really depends on when they’re inspired and what inspires them.
One scroll through YouTube will show you that there are kids around the world, of all different ages, who have a passion for the drums. What this highlights is that there is no “right age” per-se, to begin learning the drums. Only that when a child does show a level of interest, it would be a very good idea to nurture this as early as possible.
Where should kids start when learning the drums?
At the early stage, having fun is the most important element of learning the drums. If it’s not fun, they won’t stick with it for long. Playing along to songs is a great way to engage with the drums. This could start as simply as aiming to match the snare drum hits in a song (a band like AC/DC and their drummer Phil Rudd are a great starting point), before building up to introduce the bass drum and hi-hats as their coordination improves.
Another area that kids should learn in tandem with this is rudiments. These are the building blocks of rhythm, and practicing these will help drummers train certain muscles and help them feel more natural behind the kit. They could start with something as simple as a 4/4 metronome going at 90BPM, and hitting alternating sticks between left and right hands on the snare drum pad in time with every beat. From here they can branch out into double strokes with each hand, before exploring more complex rudiments like the paradiddle.
From here we would recommend utilising the basic training programs included on most modules to improve time-keeping and accuracy. The more of this they do, the more they will be able to jam with music. Of course, all of this can be done even more effectively under the watchful eye of a qualified drum teacher.
At this entry-level the quality of sounds, hardware and pad response won’t match more expensive electric kits that boast mesh heads and more powerful modules, however the options in this guide represent an accessible, affordable and feature-packed starting point for budding drummers.