Best Portable Drum Kits: Reviews & Tips

Drumming is considered an expensive and space-demanding hobby, and it can really be. However, there are some very good entry-level solutions as well as semi-professional and professional small drum set models. Below, I will tell you about the best portable drum kits I’ve tested over the last decade (and they’re still available). In addition, I share some useful information about this drum set category and reply to some of the most crucial questions that may pop up in your head.

My top choice for kid drummers is Mendini by Cecilio and Ludwig Questlove, as they offer all the options needed as your small drummer monster grows and progresses. The top small drum kits for adults of my choice are Alesis Surge (kid version also available), Roland TD 11KV, and Traps Drums A400, which are the smallest pro-grade acoustic drums.

Top Portable Drum Kits Reviews 1000

  1. Mendini by Cecilio 13 inch 3-Piece Kids/Junior Drum Set with Throne, Cymbal, Pedal & Drumsticks
  2. Ludwig LC178X025 Questlove Pocket Kit 4-piece Drum Set-Red Wine Sparkle Finish
  3. Alesis Surge Mesh Kit | Eight-Piece Electronic Drum Kit with Mesh Heads
  4. Roland Electronic Drum Set (TD-11KV)
  5. Traps Drums A400 Portable Acoustic Drum Set

Here are my top picks in the category. Part of them is just great for kids, while the rest can be used by both or grown-ups only.

1. Mendini by Cecilio 13-inch MJDS-1 – Best Portable Drum Kit for Kids

Cecilio Music Instruments is a medium US-based music instrument brand. It’s mostly focused on violins, woodwind, brass, and accessories. Mendini is the sub-trademark that makes excellent instruments for small children and music school/academy students.

The compact Mendini drum set is designed for small kids from 3 to 6 years old. Well, I know that the recommended age to start is 6-7 years, but the benefits for younger girls and boys are also great!

The kit includes 4 pieces, such as a single 8’’ cymbal, 8″ x 13″ bass drum with a pedal, 6″x 8″ tom, and a 4″x 10” snare. That’s just enough for a child to start smashing the kit and learn the basics and have a lot of fun. Due to the simplicity of the construction, the kit is exceptionally sturdy and affordable for anyone. By the way, a convenient rotating chair with height adjustment and sticks are also included so that you don’t need to buy any additional stuff in the beginning. Just unpack it, assemble it together, and let your kid have fun.

Medini also offers MDS80, MJDS-5, and MJDS-3 models for kids of different heights and skill levels. You can take a look at them via the MDJS1 link. The sound quality of each set is similar and quite good as for such a budget product.

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Mendini by Cecilio 13 inch 3-Piece Kids/Junior Drum Set with Throne, Cymbal, Pedal & Drumsticks...
3,897 Reviews
Mendini by Cecilio 13 inch 3-Piece Kids/Junior Drum Set with Throne, Cymbal, Pedal & Drumsticks...
  • DRUMSET FOR KIDS: This is a great kids drum set. Smaller sized genuine hardwood shells and triple flanged hoops make this the perfect first set for a younger player. It includes everything needed to get off to a great start.
  • HIGH QUALITY AND GREAT SOUND: The drum kit for kids not only looks shiny, vibrant and glittery, but the kids drums are durably made. They are strong to sustain continuous play while producing a great sound.

PROS:
  • 4 different versions for different height and skill level;
  • Good for any budget;
  • Accessories included;
  • High-quality parts;
  • 1-year full warranty.
CONS:
  • 1 cymbal and no floor tom in the basic version.

2. Ludwig LC178X025 Questlove Pocket Kit – Advanced Compact Drum Set for Kids

Ludwig LC178X025 Drum Set

Ludwig is a legendary drum manufacturer with over 111 years of history. Hundreds of star drummers, including Ringo Star, Bill Ward, Alex Van Halen, and Jason Bonem, use their kits and make an extraordinary sound.

The Pocket Kit is designed specifically for children from 4 to 10 years old and includes all the needed basic parts, such as bass, floor tom, mounted tom, snare, hi-hat, and ride/crash cymbal. It’s very easy to assemble and looks like a cool stage drum set. Due to easy height adjustment, the kit will feel comfortable several years in a row.

The price for this one is 4 times higher than for Medini, but the quality is more than great for the money. You can even use it for recording your kid’s pieces and for stage performances. The package includes all the parts, except for the throne and sticks, so don’t forget to order them along. As a bonus, Ludwig provides access to a straightforward Questlove beginner course that includes 6 online lessons.


PROS:
  • Firm Ludwig sound quality;
  • Great for practice and performances;
  • 5-star look;
  • Durable design.
CONS:
  • A bit pricey;
  • No throne and sticks inside.

3. Alesis Surge Mesh Kit – Universal Electronic Compact Drum Kit

Alesis is a famous manufacturer of electronic music instruments, including keyboards, recording gear, synths, drum machines, drum kits, etc. It’s also the inventor of the ADAT format that was widely used in the music industry in the 90s and early 2000s.

The Surge kit is an awesome electronic instrument that’s available in 2 adult and 1 child versions with optional mesh and rubber surfaces. The prices vary from $250 to $520, depending on the type you choose.

The kit is extremely compact and will fit absolutely any corner in your place. The sizes of the pads and cymbals are quite small, but it’s easy to get used to them and feel fluent even after playing a big acoustic set.

The best part about getting a compact electronic kit is, of course, its smart brains. Alesis core sound processor provides 40 HQ kits, all of which sound very natural and let you match any style you like to learn. You can also browse play-along tracks in different genres to practice your skill at different difficulty levels. If you’re good with a computer, you can also upload your own stuff, connect kits on your computer for new sounds, and record MIDI/MP3 without effort.

Alesis Surge Mesh Kit - Eight-Piece Electronic Drum Kit with Mesh Heads, 40 Kits, 385 Sounds, 60...
5,738 Reviews
Alesis Surge Mesh Kit - Eight-Piece Electronic Drum Kit with Mesh Heads, 40 Kits, 385 Sounds, 60...
  • Natural feel, premium response; 8” mesh kick drum Tower with kick drum pedal (included), 10” dual-zone mesh snare and three 8” dual-zone mesh Tom pads
  • Express yourself: (3) 10” cymbals: Ride cymbal, hi-hat, Crash w/choke

PROS:
  • Direct MIDI output;
  • 60 pre-installed HQ kits and play-along tracks;
  • Metronome included;
  • Equal to a full-sized kit;
  • Available for adults and kids.
CONS:
  • You will need to buy speakers/headphones and a throne.

4. Roland TD-11KV – Full-Fledged Compact Electronic Kit

Roland is a cool Japanese brand of electronic musical instruments and accessories that makes some of the best digital sound processors and gear out there. The quality of their products is exceptional.

Similar to Surge, TD-11KV is a kit with all the drums and cymbals that a big acoustic kit has. Using the processor, you can switch between dozens of kits. Each kit sound pack is highly natural due to high pad sensitivity and digital sound modulation. The dynamics feel very close to that on acoustic drums.

The set comes with removable mesh heads, sticks, pedals, and cables. You can also connect it directly to your PC with a USB cable, which makes it easier to work with musical software in real-time. Make sure to install a fresh driver for your PC or Mac.

Roland Electronic Drum Set (TD-11KV)
36 Reviews
Roland Electronic Drum Set (TD-11KV)
  • Supernatural-enhanced sound engine with Behavior Modeling provides an expressive and natural drumming experience
  • Diverse sound library covers a wide variety of musical genres for performance and practice

PROS:
  • Professional sound quality;
  • Dozens of kits, play-alongs, and tutorials with a COACH app;
  • Direct USB connection for real-time work;
  • Full 8-piece kit.
CONS:
  • Only adult version available;
  • Quite pricey.

5. Traps Drums A400 – Great Acoustic Travel Drum Set

Traps is a young drum manufacturer from the UK. The idea behind these drums is to squeeze the acoustic kit to the size of an electronic kit without losing the sound quality. Well, the engineers succeeded.

This travel drum kit sounds really well and offers the capabilities and convenience of a full-size kit. Of course, it’s not that loud because there are no resonators, but it’s also a benefit if you live in an apartment. You can also mute it almost totally with meshes and quiet cymbals if needed. The quality of the sound is high enough for studio recording in various genres. Similar to conventional kits, you can change heads on this one to sound differently.

Traps Drums A400 Portable Acoustic Drum Set
23 Reviews
Traps Drums A400 Portable Acoustic Drum Set
  • 5 Piece Portable Drum Set
  • Rack Mounting System

PROS:
  • Insanely compact acoustic kit;
  • Take-anywhere rack design;
  • Full 8-piece kit;
  • Can be muted with meshes;
  • Replaceable heads and cymbals.
CONS:
  • May not be loud enough for you.

Why Do You Need a Portable Drum Kit?

Alesis Surge Mesh Kit Drum Kit

Let me answer this question by asking you questions and explaining the benefits of compact drums.

Are you short on space?

If you live in a small house or apartment, you will feel much better if your room isn’t totally crowded with a full-size kit. Compact acoustic and electronic kits let you obtain all the needed features of a full-size instrument without sacrificing too much free space. You will also have much more space for additional accessories and gear, such as mic stands, extra cymbals, etc.

If you live in a rental flat where you cannot put enough sound isolation, an electronic kit will give you the needed versatility as it has an output for AUX and professional headphones. Else, you can use an electronic kit with monitor and lead speakers in a small rehearsal studio.

Are you making a home studio?

An electronic kit lets you record high-quality drum sounds at home without the need to buy sound-isolating materials and pricey studio microphones. You can simply plug the MIDI cord into your computer and enjoy simple recording with digital presets and downloadable sound banks. If recording acoustic audio is too important for you, a compact acoustic kit will make recording chores notably simpler as you will need fewer mics to connect and adjust. The sound guys at some venues will love you for that reason as well, especially if they’re short on space around the kit.

Are you looking for a kid set?

Kids under 10-12 years old usually don’t feel comfortable enough playing using adult-size kits. Here’s where beginner-level kid-friendly models come in handy. You can either get an acoustic or electronic kit that’s designed for kids or opt for an electronic kit that offers easy height adjustments. Unfortunately, acoustic kits cannot offer such a level of flexibility.

Do you want to travel with a drum kit?

If you are traveling by car or a van, you would prefer your kit to be easily transferable, both electronic and compact acoustic kits (like Traps Drums A400) are easy enough to disassemble and pack into the boot. If you need to travel abroad by plane, I’d not recommend taking any drum kit along as it will cost you a fortune to transport it. Consider such an option only if your gigs pay off such expenses. I usually rent a kit in such cases and take only the essential accessories that make a real difference, like pedals, heads, sticks, and cymbals.

Are you short on budget?

Compact kits are usually cheaper than full-size models and include less part, which means lower maintenance costs in the future. The prices for worthy kid-friendly kits vary from $89 to $300, and adult kits vary from $150 to $700+. That’s a great price range to choose from.

Do you want to force creativity?

All drummers know that smaller drum kits constrict freedom and require a lot of creativity to keep sounding creative enough. That’s why some of them use small kits to concentrate more on the core rhythms and force creative thinking. The downside of this is that you may get bored and lack options, especially if you had a big set before.

FAQ

Roland Electronic Drum Set (TD-11KV)

Do you still have questions? Take a look at my replies to the most frequently asked questions on the topic by other readers. I bet you will find what you need. If not, see you in the comments.

What’s the best drum kit for beginners?

If you are a kid below 12 years old, one of the best choices will be Mendini by Cecilio. It’s a totally basic drum kit with a kick, snare, tom, and cymbal that lets you exercise rhythms and train your body to feel fluent when at the kit. If you’re older and the kit height should be adult, take a look at Alesis Surge or Traps Drums A400 if you have a budget and still need something compact and beginner-friendly. If the size doesn’t matter, look for any beginner kit by Ludwig, Sawtooth, Pearl, Hama, or another leading brand. Just take a simple one, learn to read the notation, play along with YouTubers, and save up for a kit that will later match your growing skill.

Is it cheaper to build your own drum set?

Let’s take a look at the facts, by which I mean the prices. Compact and beginner-level kits, such as Sawtooth Command, Ludwig Questlove, Alesis Surge, and Pearl Roadshow, etc., cost from $200 to $500. Now, let’s count how much the cheapest kit will cost if you make it yourself. I’ll pick the best cheap parts out there.

  • Ride cymbal – Sabian 20″ SBr Ride Cymbal – $79;
  • Meinl 13” Hihat – $69;
  • Lexington 5.5 Inch Snare – $69 plus Luvay Snare Stand $29;

Of, wait, it’s already more than $200, and we still don’t have even a half of the set. So, if the price is what matters the most for you at the moment, you should be looking for ready-made kits. Later, you will be able to modify your budget kit with better heads and cymbals and achieve much higher sound quality without the need to upgrade the entire set.

What’s special about portable drum kits?

Portable drum kits make a big difference when you:

  • don’t have enough room for a full-size kit in your apartment;
  • travel a lot without a rider;
  • are short on budget;
  • are a total beginner and need to practice;
  • is a kid who wants to learn how to play, and full-size kits are too large.

Small Drum for Big Drumming

Are you ready to start learning your first grooves right away? Now you know what compact kit will match your room limits, age, and other demands. Congratulations on your determination! Remember that you can learn really well on any kit, but a good one will also make you happier, even if it’s inexpensive.

Which of the kits on my listing matches you the most? Tell me about your choice in the comments and explain it. I’d also be happy to read about your previous experiences with compact drums if you had any. I’m also open to questions, so feel free to ask below.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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