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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
James Grimshaw

Best affordable electronic drum kits to get playing whatever your ability level

Of the various ways in which you can indulge your musical proclivities, percussion is perhaps the noblest.

Though the storied halls of tub-thwacking history are filled with outrageous scene-stealers – from Keith Moon to that one function musician nailing fills in a children’s mascot costume  – no drummer escapes the essential nature of their craft: keeping time.

Noble as drumming may be, it is also a deeply fulfilling craft to master, whichever way you fall into it. Whether you have designs on being the bedrock for the next Grammy-winning band, adding another instrument to your repertoire or simply learning more about what makes a good beat tick, an incredibly fulfilling journey awaits.

That journey will be much easier to start with a drum kit to call your own, of course – and a great majority of people won’t find it appropriate to start with a nine-piece acoustic monstrosity. A combination of factors, from noise pollution to basic upfront cost, lead most of us to electronic drum kits – and to the budget end of the electronic drum kit spectrum.

Why go electronic? 

The key advantage to any electronic instrument comes in the form of a headphone jack. To be able to drum (more or less) silently is a wondrous thing for neighbours, housemates and your own eardrums, to say nothing of the dignity saved from not having your biggest flubs broadcast to the world. 

Electronic drum kits enjoy other key benefits, too, many of which are shared even by the many budget options on the market. Metronomes and fine BPM control are practically standardised features, and most kits also include a training mode that enables you to play to a demo track or measure your drumming accuracy. 

For the more seasoned musician, the benefits come through fine control over drum sounds, whether sculpting the sound and effects for the drums or replacing the samples entirely. MIDI compatibility turns these budget devices into extremely powerful computer peripherals, making recording your performances easy, and editing them easier.

Best budget electronic drum kits at a glance:

With a near-endless array of low-price options for those of a percussive persuasion, it is not the easiest task to discern which are the best, which is why we’ve done it for you. Here is a liberal handful of the best budget electronic drum kits you can buy right now, from beginner sets to quality kits and beyond.Shop now

Roland TD-02K V-Drums

Best: overall

Roland needs little introduction when it comes to musical electronica; it is, after all, the godfather brand for electronic drums . Since the early days of the CompuRhythm CR-78 and the TR-808, Roland has been at the forefront of drum synthesis and reproduction, a pedigree that carries through in its contemporary range of electronic drum kits.

The TD-02K is the entry-level instrument in Roland’s comprehensive V-Drums range, and a well-featured instrument to boot. It is a seven-pad rack kit with two foot pedals, which each trigger hi-hat controls and kick drum sounds respectively. The pads are ‘dual-zone’, meaning you can access different sounds depending on whether you hit the centre or rim of each, giving great immersion and control as you play.

The brain of the TD-02K is the TD-02 module, which offers 16 preset ‘kits’ for you to choose between. While there’s no option to create your own user kits, there is extensive MIDI functionality – which enables you to hook your kit up to your computer, and trigger samples or VST instruments from there. In-unit, there are options to adjust how each pad responds to your playing, and some extremely engaging practice ‘games’ designed to help you improve your internal metronome.

Though there are cheaper electronic drum sets out there, some of which are more feature-rich as well – the TD-02K stands out as one of the better-quality kits you can buy at a budget price point. Not only is its build quality solid, but the quality of its drum sounds vastly outstrips many of its competitors.

This is a fantastic all-rounder, as a beginner instrument or as a professional’s at-home budget interface.

Buy now £289.00, PMT

TourTech TT12-S

Best for: sheer functionality below £200

Tourtech is a fast-emerging budget brand, joint-launched by three UK music and audio retailers as a cheaper alternative to many of the premium-brand electronic drum kits and accessories that dominate shop floors and digital sales pages. They have done a plum job, too, with a range of budget electronic drum kits that provide more features than any other kit at even a similar price point.

The TT12-S is the most basic in the series, and yet still a remarkable full-featured unit. There are seven rubber pads (one of which is dual-zone to enable snare rim shots) and two full-sized footswitches to play with here, on a sturdy four-footed rack that is highly adjustable for comfort. 

The true value that the TT12-S presents lies within its module, though, which boasts more than 250 drum sounds – over double that of most other kits around £200. More crucially, the module enables you to create up to 10 of your own drum kits out of these samples, a feature you won’t find on any other budget kit below even £300. There are deep settings, too, for adjusting sensitivity and trigger curves for velocity – and, to top it off, a reverb effect to add space to your sounds.

This is a budget kit that does everything, and it is practically impossible to find anything equivalent at the same price. Concessions are made to make this possible, including the rubber pads and limited dual-zone functionality, but these are worth it for the control you are given.

Buy now £199.00, PMT

Millenium Rookie E-Drum Set

Best for: child-friendly quality and value

Millenium is a house brand dedicated to high-quality, entry-level drumming equipment, attached to online European retailer Thomann. Millenium’s instruments run the gamut, from basic acoustic drum kits to quality cymbals and hardware and beyond. Their electronic drum series is particularly strong, the Rookie E-Drum Set the most affordable of the bunch.

Of the seven pads included, four are mesh; a welcome surprise at this low price, and a great feature for parents adjusting to a new life of persistent rhythmic sound. Mesh pads are often considered superior to conventional rubber pads, on account of their responsiveness; the mesh surface is tensioned not unlike a real drum skin, providing a more authentic feedback or ‘bounce’ when hit with a drumstick. They are also quieter than other forms of pad, which can be a small mercy early in a drummer’s journey.

The Rookie is a drum set geared towards younger learners, with a simple but effective feature set that puts accessibility at its core. Twelve preset drum kits, a number of simple demos to play along to and a metronome to practice along to collectively describe the brains of the unit, while its I/O enables MIDI connectivity and the piping-in of external music. The low price and mesh heads are enough to make this a great buy for any young learner, but the simple and intuitive drum module is also a great bonus.

Buy now £159.00, Thomann

VISIONDRUM Electronic Drum Kit with Stool and Headphones

Best for: all-in-one drumming solutions

The VISION imprint is a beginner-focused instrument brand, and another house brand – this time by national retailers Gear4Music. The brand encompasses a number of different instrument ranges, from keys to guitars, and from basses to - of course – drums. The VISIONDRUM Electronic Drum Kit is the cheapest and most austere of the VISIONDRUM range, but offers a lot for its price point.

The VISIONDRUM kit has seven pads (four of which have mesh heads) and two footswitches, offering a ‘full-size’ kit for learners to grow accustomed to. The drum module offers 12 different drum kit presets and 10 song demos to practice to, much like the Millennium Rookie before it. Similarly, there’s MIDI and analogue connections galore, making it easy to use this with and for practically anything. As a little brucie bonus, the VISIONDRUM kit comes with sticks, headphones and even its own drum stool – something which can present as an unexpected additional cost to many beginner drum-sters.

Buy now £199.99, Gear4Music

Alesis Debut Electronic Drum Kit

Best for: getting used to full-sized kits 

Alesis is a music and audio brand with a distinct specialism for electronics; from early production of studio digital reverb units to contemporary forays into PA systems and digital instruments, the brand has been long-aligned with experimental success and professional quality. This rings true even for the budget entrants to each range, and particularly so with regard to the Alesis Debut.

The Debut is a powerful and inexpensive electronic drum kit, featuring four mesh-headed pads for the snare and toms and three 10-inch cymbal pads which carry a familiar cymbal-y weight. The supplied footswitches are basic but responsive, giving you a full kit with a great deal of adjustability and a surprising feel for the price range.

The real surprises come in the kit’s module, though. Alesis has always excelled in the digital realm, and it remains true here; the DM-Lite drum module has 120 sounds across 10 kits, and 30 tracks to experiment or play along to. Especially exciting at this budget bracket is the well-thought-out coach mode built into the module, which lets you work on either tempo control or pattern development – and has a handy UI to guide you through your performance.

As for ins and outs, the Debut has everything you’d expect: mono or stereo outputs for recording or amplifying your kit, a headphone out for quiet play, an aux in for playing along with your own tracks and USB MIDI for triggering computer samples or recording performance data. The Debut is particularly easy to use, demonstrating just what you can get for a few more pounds over more basic budget models.

Buy now £234.00, PMT

Carlsbro Rock 50 Electric Drum Kit

Best for: young rockers-in-making

Carlsbro is a UK brand with fingers in many pies; broke musicians and avid eBayers will be familiar with their pre-millennium produce in the world of budget amplifiers and PA systems, so frequently are they traded around as bombproof low-cost equipment options. Carlsbro continues it tradition of producing affordable equipment today, and not just for guitarists either.

The Carlsbro Rock 50 is nothing if not minimal; it features just three rubber drum pads and one footswitch for the kick drum. These limitations are not only testament to its low price, but also of major benefit to young learners – especially those who enjoy music of a heavier demeanour. Not only was rock and punk drumming effectively borne of cheap and minimal drum kits, but learning on an austere kit set-up can be a wondrous thing for learning fundamentals and fostering creativity; too many options can be distracting, especially for less-focused learners’ minds. 

In spite of its price, the Rock 50’s drum module is rich in features. There are over a hundred individual drum sounds to choose between, 10 demo songs to play along to, and record and playback functions to mess around with. There’s also a MIDI output alongside the conventional audio line out, meaning your intrepid youngster could access more sounds and recording capabilities with a computer. To top it off, the kit comes with a stool, sticks, and headphones – everything your little one needs to get drumming right out of the box. 

Buy now £145.00, Amazon

Fazley DDK-020 Electronic Drum Kit

Best for: bread-and-butter practicing

Here we have yet another house brand, in Fazley – a core range of beginner instruments stocked by online and Netherlands retailer Bax Music. This range adds to a veritable pantheon of inexpensive and accessible musical equipment, with a budget electronic drum kit to rival the rest: the Fazley DDK-020.

The DDK-020 is a seven-pad rack drum kit, with mesh-head snare and tom pads and three dual-trigger drum pads – for accessing rim shots and bell sounds on the snare and cymbals respectively. Dual-trigger technology below £200 is always a treat, and especially well-received here. The module is offers 144 drum sounds spread across 12 different preset kits, and a simple metronome to help keep time. As for I/O capability, there is USB MIDI compatibility for playing computer samples, line and headphone outputs and an aux input for playing along to your own music. More extensive features are conspicuously lacking, but not overly missed in a sub-£200 kit anyway.

The DDK-020 strikes an ideal balance between function and cost, being the very definition of a bread-and-butter electronic kit; get this if you’re looking for something simple to keep up your practice. 

Buy now £179.00, Bax Music

Korg Volca Beats Drum Machine

Best for: budding beatmakers 

Here, we’re going off-piste for an instrument designed to scratch a different percussive itch. Rather than being an electronic drum kit with pads and tactility, here we have a drum machine – a programmable beat factory with an entirely different toolset and interface, and with some fun functionality as a result. 

Drum machines like the Roland TR-808 were initially designed as at-home accompaniments for practicing musicians, but were ‘misused’ into notoriety by early hip-hop and electronica pioneers. Korg’s Volca Beats is a compact unit that trucks in this same tradition, utilising a unique mix of analogue synthesis and digital samples to provide ten tweakable sounds which can be played, sequenced, looped and otherwise affected to your heart’s content. Six core drum sounds – including kick, snare, toms and hi-hats – are produced via analogue synthesis, imbuing them with warmth, life and versatility that is practically impossible to find in conventional electronic drum set samples. 

Each analogue voice has parameters for you to fiddle with, enabling you to dramatically change the timbre of each sound. Four further sounds are digitally sampled, but their character can be changed by adjusting the speed at which they play (giving you access to downpitched, bit-crushed sounds to elevate your beats). There’s a sixteen-step sequencer for programming drum loops, and eight memory banks for saving your work. 

The Volca Beats is functionally rich beyond these basic sounds and functions, too, with a stutter effect which can be applied to individual drums or the whole loop – and a ‘motion record’ feature which allows you to record changes to parameters into your beat. What’s more, the Volca Beats squeezes all of this into a plastic case barely the size of a VHS tape. Between this and its internal 9V battery clip, the Volca Beats becomes one of the most portable drum machines you’ll ever meet. 

It might not meet the criteria for drummers looking to hone their practice, but it is an extremely accessible entry point for people looking to experiment with beat-making outside of their computer – and could be a gateway instrument to an exciting new world of analogue synths and electronic music production.

Buy now £129.00, Bax Music

Yamaha DD-75 Digital Drums

Best for: saving space and song-arranging

Yamaha is absolutely a go-to brand for learner instruments; every high school rehearsal room and brass teacher’s living room has seen at least a hundred Yamaha clarinets, keyboards, trumpets or trombones. Further, Yamaha are decidedly excellent at making such instruments, being a capable and quality brand amongst a great many imitators.

It is for these reasons that space-challenged learners might consider the DD-75 as a high-quality budget electronic drum kit, despite its deceptively amateurish form. The DD-75 is a desktop drum kit, wherein eight rubber pads and a powerful drum module are contained within a single plastic body. You can sit with it on a table, in your lap or held up by a conventional snare stand; you can play it with sticks like a normal kit, or with your hands like a set of hand drums.

A potential downside presents in the foot-pedals included with the unit. These can operate the kick and hi-hat, but do not feel amazing to use. Luckily, the DD-75 is designed to accept inputs from other foot-pedals, such as those supplied with Yamaha’s full-size DTX e-drums, enabling you to upgrade your drumming experience with the unit.

The internal system, though, is set apart from the cost savings discovered elsewhere. This is because it is an especially powerful unit; there well over 500 voices to choose between, and 75 presets that make the most of them; further, there are 30 different slots in which you can create your own kit, and a powerful MIDI recording mode that lets you record – and overdub – your own compositions. 

The DD-75, then, is a modular thing, the experience of which can be improved any number of ways. A powerful internal module and a versatile form factor make this an intriguing and powerful space-saving option for drummers of every ilk.

Buy now £212.00, Amazon

Startone Mat Drum

Best for: babies banging their first beaters

Even at the very lowest end of the price spectrum for budget electronic drum kits, it is exceedingly difficult to find a proper racked drum set beneath £150. It is similarly difficult to find a padded desktop drum machine for under £80, which can make sourcing an exploratory learner instrument for the youngest of budding drummers a (relatively) pricey endeavour. Enter the Startone Mat Drum, a roll-up drum set that expertly toes the line between cost, quality and fun factor.

The Startone Mat Drum features nine hexagonal pads, each of which correspond to a drum or cymbal; two footpedals are also provided, which trigger the hi-hat and bass drum samples. The module to which this mat is attached provides three different kits to choose from, nine demo songs to play along to and ten preset rhythms to play back and listen to. These features are admittedly austere, but nonetheless ideal for someone making their first forays into playing with percussion. The module also features a built-in battery, chargeable by USB-C cable; your young’un can bring their new passion with them, much to your inevitable joy!

The Startone might be considered a toy of sorts, but its design is brilliant for getting across some key drumming fundamentals. It's quiet pads and headphone output are also a not-so-small mercy.

Buy now £50.00, Thomann


From conventional bare-bones kits to absurdly cheap analogue drum synths, there is something affordable for everyone. For us, special mention needs to go to the Tourtech TT12-S on account of its deep functionality and user preset options.

However, for sheer quality of build and sound, it is difficult to beat the Roland TD-02K.

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