First kit for a keen teeanger - christmas etc

larkim

Active member
My 13yo son has had a Millenium (Thomann) MPS-150 electronic set for a couple of years (effectively Alessis heads with a less sophisticated "brain"), and is taking lessons via school and getting pretty limited by the electronic kit. We'd like to be able to get him an acoustic set for Christmas, but have a hard upper limit of £500 to spend. In the spirit of endeavouring to get a whole kit for that price (drums, cymbals, hardware) that are new (2nd hand not an option in our household for Christmas presents etc - non-negotiable!), I've got some kits / brands knocking around and looking for any good reason to include / reject these or others, or prehaps distinguish between them.

Currently my googling has turned up reviews which are at least broadly positive of:-
Natal Arcadia
Pearl Roadshow
Tama Rhythm Star
Mapex Tornado

Most of these are compromises of course - but it's difficult to get a clear view of what the real compromises are as a non-player (we are pretty musical though). He's no thrash metal fan, nor is he a jazz afficiando, so something "modern" but in the middle of the road feels right at the moment. Obviously I know if you spend more you get more, but he's got plenty of time to invest in high end kit when he's paying for it!! I have toyed with Pearl Exports, but I think that is a price point too high for us to stomach (we've got 4 kids, so Christmas is not cheap!).

Any hints and steers would be gratefully received!! UK buyer, happy to buy from LMS or online.

Cheers!
 
Well, I don't know about the differences between the different models you posted, but I'll be the first one trying to talk you into buying used (sorry for that, but it's well intended!). There are so many great Premier drum sets in the UK that sound great and are sturdy. You can really get a professional drum set for about 300 to 400 pounds. Like this one: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Vintage-Premier-drum-Kit/202813163871?hash=item2f389b495f:g:hCAAAOSwqUldvWPN

If you MUST buy new, I'll let the others recommend drum sets. These cymbals might be alright - they've received some good reviews considering the price: https://www.thomann.de/gb/millenium_b20_cymbalset.htm
Pros: They are made of B20 bronze and you don't pay for a prestigeous brand.
 

larkim

Active member
It's a fair point about 2nd hand, and I know the chance of getting a massive bang for your buck is good, but as non-experts it can be hard distinguishing the great deals from the poor ones. And the range can be limited with such large items that I'd want to see in advance. Plus there is something nice about getting a "new" item.

One of my other sons has been into mountainbiking and it's exactly the same dilemma. If you want to get something decent, 2nd hand value can be phenomenal. But there (perhaps even moreso than drums) there's a huge risk that you buy a lemon which has been crashed or otherwise harmed in ways that you won't find out about until long after you've parted with your hard earned cash.

Thanks for the reply though. Hopefully someone has some opinions about the ones listed, or some alternatives.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
At that level of kit, your compromises are cymbals and hardware. I perused the Thomann site. I live in the US, so I didn't really know where else to look. For £500 or less, you have some decisions to make.

The Mapex has the best cymbals. Zildjian Planet Z are made of nickel silver. The Pearl, Tama, and Gretsch (good company) all have brass. "Real" cymbals are made of bronze. Brass is just a target, they will sound meh and can become dented from use. Nickel silver can sound good, and are still better than brass. The Mapex drum spurs are very basic and look cheap, and the pedal sucks IMO.

The Pearl has good hardware. The spurs are more heavy duty and the pedal is fantastic for beginners. The tom mounts, love them or hate them, are rock solid.

The Gretsch Energy has good hardware. The spurs and tom mounts are quality. The pedal is good, but not as good as the Pearl IMO. The cymbals are Paiste (good brand), but again are cheap brass offerings. It does, however, have wood bass drum hoops and is probably the best looking.

The Tama has fantastic hardware. Although I personally don't like the spurs, I'm sure they are fine. They don't telescope, but that just means less parts to fail. It also means they aren't adjustable. The pedal is just fine. It also has AccuTune bass drum hoops. They are a synthetic material. They aren't affected by the same issues as metal or wood, meaning they won't dent, chip, delaminate, etc. The cymbals, again, are brass even though they are Meinl.

I saw no Natal offerings on the Thomann site, so I can't say.

Kits of this value are typically purchased as a try it out thing, not for someone who is serious about drumming. You will end up spending more money for better cymbals, hardware, and heads anyhow. Eventually the whole kit will be replaced. Seriously reconsider looking at the Pearl Export, or an equivalent from the other lines. Buying used really is the best option financially.

Find some used options and post it here. We will be more than happy to help you.
 

larkim

Active member
Here's a review of the Natal https://www.musicradar.com/reviews/drums/natal-arcadia-630667 - the review write up does make these sound good.

For example, this kit at Gear4Music - https://www.gear4music.com/Drums-and-Percussion/Natal-Arcadia-Poplar-22-Drum-Kit-w--Paiste-Cymbals-Black-Sparkle/364B - Paiste cymbals (only 101 though, so I know not great) at £499 for a 5 piece plus hardware, HH, crash and ride cymbals.

Using the analogy of the mountain bikes again, we spent £350 on a half decent bike when my eldest was 13. Aged 17 he'd learned a great deal abotu getting a lot out of that bike, but needed to spend £1200 then to get something which matched his ability, but the £350 bike was great VFM for the 4 years of use. I'm in the same mindset with drums. What 13yo doesn't want to get something shiny and new, and if in 4 years time were dropping £1500 on a great set that plays just the way he wants to, or picking up quality 2nd hand bits to gradually build the best set he can think of, I'm happy with that. For now I want a trouble free, good enough set for a 13yo to cut his teeth on, but I've not got the time to put into finding the right s/h set or components.

At the back of my mind the Exports are sort of on the radar - is there anything that can match them at that sort of price?
 

larkim

Active member
(and btw, I really do appreciate the input - and sorry if I'm sounding unconvinced about the s/h. It just isn't an option that will fly in my household, for a variety of reasons!)
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Here is what I might do in your shoes—buy him a new shell pack, and let him keep using the electronic cymbals. At his next birthday, if he’s still excited about drumming, get him some really nice hi-hats. Next Christmas, get him a really nice crash cymbal, if he still loves drumming. Then, at his NEXT birthday, if he’s STILL in love with playing drums, get him a really nice ride cymbal.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
After a long hiatus my wife and kids gave me a beginner Pearl forum kit that came with everything. Their beginner kits are great I used it for a decade before I gave it to a young kid. Mr. InsanePolack is right the pedal and hardware hold up well to abuse so a perfect beginner kit. I’m sure the Roadshow would meet your needs- and you’re correct a beginner will be more impressed with new over a used quality Kit - no worries they will develop a taste for better , but then will have a better idea of needs.
 

larkim

Active member
Here is what I might do in your shoes—buy him a new shell pack, and let him keep using the electronic cymbals. At his next birthday, if he’s still excited about drumming, get him some really nice hi-hats. Next Christmas, get him a really nice crash cymbal, if he still loves drumming. Then, at his NEXT birthday, if he’s STILL in love with playing drums, get him a really nice ride cymbal.
New shell pack = physical acoustic drums, yes? Not just new heads for the electronic set he has? So in effect spend £500 on better quality drums, then allow for upgrades to the cymbals as affordable etc - e.g. buy Pearl Export shells? Just chekcing i'm understanding!
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
What bands does he like? He might prefer the drums used by those drummers and bands. Try to match the look, number of drums and configuration (such as one mounted tom and two floor toms).
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
New shell pack = physical acoustic drums, yes? Not just new heads for the electronic set he has? So in effect spend £500 on better quality drums, then allow for upgrades to the cymbals as affordable etc - e.g. buy Pearl Export shells? Just chekcing i'm understanding!
Yes. Shell packs are drums only, hoops, heads, lugs, and a little hardware. You could buy cymbals, cymbal stands, hi hat stand later.
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
Hi Larkim

Go to www.drumshop.co.uk and sign up for their Sale Club emails, every month to 6 weeks they do some ridiculous deals. If my wife had let me I'd have pulled the trigger on a Natal Arcadia 3 piece Rock (BIG drums) shell pack for under £300 the other month. Ex demo so as good as new.
Of your list my "expertise" such as it is would say avoid the Mapex Tornado, from what I've seen it's not up to the standard of the Natal Arcadia.
A possible solution is to buy a shell pack (that's the drums themselves) then buy a hardware pack separately either at a shop or online. A hardware pack will contain stands for two cymbals, a snare drum stand, a hi hat stand and possibly a bass drum pedal. Anything from Yamaha, Mapex, Tama, Pearl etc will be good quality.
 

larkim

Active member
He's at the age where this will be solo practice most of the time - school has a decent enough kit which would get used too, and he's not yet in a band or a studio musician (!) so won't be carting this around any time soon to studios!

We did originally get him the electronic set on the basis we expected him to be hammering away in near silence with headphones on, but he much prefers to route it through our old separates hi fi system so we've given up on expecting peace and quiet!

tbh I doubt I could name the bands he's into, but he's not very visual so I doubt he'd be that fussed about brand names or colours - though I can't see him wanting a pearlescent white set etc. Lacquered black most likely. I chatted with him last night about it, and he's going to talk to his drum teacher too about what he would recommend. Brands that immediately leapt out from him were Pearl and Mapex.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I like the Natal ..... comes with 2 rack toms and 2 floor toms. I'd be cool with the Pearl (the sample I just looked at had 1 rack tom and 2 floor toms) 'cause I'm a 1 up, 2 down mostly guy. The other two kits are 2 up, 1 down ... and if he wants that, well, the Natal covers that easy (just remove 1 floor tom).

I think part of a drummers rite of passage is playing on "crap" cymbals. Makes you appreciate "good" cymbals. As he gets more into drums .... he'll figure out what he needs, cymbal wise. And you can forever just keep buying him drum gear for birthday/Christmas.

My 60's starter kit lasted me 15 years. The stuff made today is so much better.
 

larkim

Active member
Yes, he already has a throne for the electronic kit. Nothing fancy though.

@harryconway I think that was my broad thinking. Though i suspect we'd look at the single floor tom with two racked kits, he's already said he doesn't want two floor toms.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Here's an idea:

Ddrum Journeyman Player kit. Basswood/birch shells, isolation mounts, good hardware and pedal. £399.04


Millenium B8 bronze cymbal pack. Off brand yes, brass no. Perfectly fine to start off with, and you aren't paying for a name. £108.59


Total price for the two is £507.63. The drums are a bit better quality than the starter offerings listed in the shell department. The isolation mounts are a no brainer. The cymbals are bronze. They will be/sound better than the big names brass offerings. If I had to buy my kid a complete drumset and it had to be new, this is the route I would take.
 

larkim

Active member
Cymbals there are a great spot, well worth considering. Not come across ddrum or that range Journeyman Player in my search for reviews, how do they compare to, say, Pearl Exports or Pearl Roadshow (just naming those as they appear to be the most widely commented on sets in the sort of range that I'm looking at, even if the Exports are probably just out of reach price-wise).

Yellow is a little "marmite" (love it or hate it) as a colour scheme, but that isn't / shouldn't be a deciding factor! Snare is small compared to the others I've seen at 13", no idea whether that is a "good thing" or a "bad thing" or just "different".

That's the first set I've seen with isolation mounting for the toms.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Since you mentioned Pearl, the Ddrum Journeyman would be on par with the Export, which is a step up from the Roadshow. Ddrum's beginner set is called D2. Ddrum has been making electronics for drums (their triggers are fantastic) since 1983. They started making acoustic drums in 2005. There are plenty of known and not so known artists in their roster.

It comes in other colors than yellow lol. The yellow was the only one shown on the Thomann site (I don't know where else to look for UK sites). Personally I like it with the black hardware, but my opinion is moot, I'm not your kid!

Isolation mounts are better than direct to shell mounting. It makes the drum sound better because the mounting hardware isn't preventing the drum from vibrating/acting as it would with direct to shell mounts. Direct to shell mounts also adds mass to the drum itself. The more stuff touching the shell, the less it vibrates.

13" snares are fine. Plenty of people love them, myself included. It will be easier for a 13 year old to straddle also. That 1" makes a difference. A 13" head is also cheaper than the same head in 14".
 

larkim

Active member
Cheers - it looks like the Journeyman PLayer is only available in yellow (even on the ddrum website), is the "player" the same as the "rambler" fundamentally? I couldn't discern a difference.
 
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