Just because I mention a brand here, it does not mean everything they produce is worth buying – in fact quite the opposite! As a drum teacher, in my drum lessons I'm forever pointing out that nearly every brand produces low-end ‘toys’ to try and cash in on those deluded into thinking they can buy a musical instrument for next to nothing, which will all have many of the features (detailed above) that should be avoided at all costs!
On all but their most budget kits the feel, functionality, triggering accuracy and dynamic response is great - especially hi hats and cymbals which other manufacturers (except Yamaha and perhaps Alesis) have struggled to get anything close to, making them a good choice for buyer 2. Many of their kits feature half-open hi hat controllers. They also tend to use mostly very good sounds (though I find many of their snare sounds a little disappointing).
However, I’m recommending them less and less during my drum lessons - though they were the first to introduce kits with mesh heads, Roland got greedy, charging the earth for them, and still only giving you a rubber kick unless you bought the really high-end kits at an eye watering £2000+ new (their add-on upgrades also costing the earth!). They have improved on that a little, offering all mesh heads (mostly apart from the kick) on some lower end kits, but the more recently released ones seem to all be plagued with design flaws, mainly with the frame (see above).
Their only current all mesh offering (with decent frame design) for under £1000 new (still way too much for most buyers!) is:
TD-07KV (£860) (Thomann bundle for £978 with great kick pedal, stool, headphones and sticks)
Then they have one with mesh snare & toms a bit more more reasonably priced:
TD-1DMK (£520 + mesh kick upgrade cost) Small cymbals, only 15 kit sounds (Thomann bundle for £610 with great kick pedal, stool, headphones and sticks)
So, the only real way to get a great Roland kit with a proper frame design, decent cymbals, all mesh heads and a good selection of sounds at a low price is to buy second-hand – looking for mesh snare models only, and upgrading any other non-mesh components (there are several variations of most of their kits, some with only rubber pads [avoid], some with or without mesh toms, so make sure you check carefully). This will all involve hassle some can’t be bothered with - searching for bargains on eBay, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace etc (be prepared to travel, as most are collection only), ordering second-hand Roland mesh kicks and toms (or new 3rd party alternatives, see above), selling off the replaced rubber pads to help cover the cost etc.
Prices vary from £400 to £1000+, plus upgrade costs.
TD-4 Look for TD-4KV model with mesh snare & toms
TD-6 Mesh snare models (upgrade toms to mesh) or rare mesh snare & toms models. All models need mesh kick upgrade...
TD-8 All models – very old now! Replace hi hat (was just a rubber tom pad back then!) with eg. Roland CY5 or 3rd party one
TD-9 Mesh snare & toms. Needs mesh kick upgrade
TD-11 All mesh models
I mention them here only because they are one of the longest standing manufacturers, with fantastic sounds onboard their sound modules, great feeling softer cymbals (tri-zone on some models along with some top features like moving hi hats and continuous hi hat controllers, which as a drum teacher I really approve of!) and accurate triggering, but bizarrely they have never produced a mesh kit (!) meaning I never find myself recommending them in my drum lessons.
Instead, their higher end kits feature a unique soft white ‘silicone’ material for the drum heads, which feels a lot more pleasant than rubber pads to play, but still in my opinion little like playing an acoustic drum, and inferior to mesh heads. These kits are also prohibitively expensive new, and still too expensive for what you get second hand really!
DTX582 (£800) Silicone pads (not mesh)
DTX562K (£900) Silicone pads (not mesh)
DTX700 (£1000) Silicone pads (not mesh)
An early producer of drum machines, Alesis moved into manufacturing electric kits early on after Roland and Yamaha, which also feature great sounds and accurate triggering, though their cymbals are not as soft/comfortable to play or as quiet.
Their kits continue to improve and are very popular with pupils I see during my one-to-one online drum lessons. Unfortunately they don’t introduce dual, or tri zone, cymbals until their considerably more expensive mesh head models though...
Nitro Mesh Kit (£295 - or Thomann bundle with stool, sticks and headphones for £345) Single zone cymbals, though with choke function. Comes with basic kick pedal. Small 8” snare, drums rims higher than those on an acoustic kit (not ideal) and frame not very sturdy and too low for taller players. Needs mesh kick upgrade
Surge Mesh Kit (£439 - or Thomann bundle with stool, sticks and headphones for £489) Single zone cymbals, though with choke function. Comes with basic kick pedal. BUYER 1. RECOMMENDED!
Command Mesh Kit (£573 - or Thomann bundle with stool, sticks and headphones for £615) As for Surge Mesh Kit - not a significant upgrade for the extra money in terms of playability (same pad configuration) but more sounds, plus can load your own
Crimson II SE Mesh Kit (from £688 or Thomann bundle with sticks, stool, headphones and great kick pedal for £759.) Features large 12” snare, 3 cymbals including a tri-zone ride, and ‘dynamic articulation’ making huge difference to realism of sound. Standard Crimson model with one less cymbal around £420 second-hand) BUYER 2. RECOMMENDED!
DM10 MKII Pro (from £900) - As for the Crimson model, ticks every box. (Standard DM10 and Studio models around £500 second-hand) BUYER 2 RECOMMENDED!
Thomann, a large German musical instrument retailer, has produced their ‘own brand’ Millenium electric kits for several years now, which offer lots of high-end features at very affordable prices, making them a serious, low cost ‘one stop shop’ competitor to Roland and Alesis, without the need to upgrade anything.
There is a trade-off for the price - don’t expect their cymbals to feel as good to play, trigger quite as accurately, or have quite the same dynamic range as eg. Roland's. You could potentially at a later date replace eg. the hi hat with a second-hand Roland model to overcome this if you’re not happy. As a drum teacher I find myself recommending their kits more and more in my drum lessons.
MPS-150X (£249 - or bundle with stool, sticks and headphones for £299). Comes with a basic kick pedal! But single zone everything, very small cymbals (though do have stop function) - may be a bit flimsy, basic sounds.
MPS-450 (£333 - or bundle with stool, sticks and headphones for £359). Comes with a basic kick pedal. Single zone cymbals, though chokeable. Upgrade ride to two zone MPS-400 cymbal pad for extra £41 - ask if sound module supports extra zone) BUYER 1. RECOMMENDED!
MPS-750X (£409 - or bundle with stool, sticks and headphones for £459 **BEST QUALITY & VALUE ALL-INCLUSIVE DEAL**). Ticks every box except sadly no half-open hi hat sounds. Tri zone ride cymbal. Hi hat even moves up and down and is mounted on supplied proper acoustic style hi-hat stand, and comes with a great double-chain kick pedal with metal base plate! BUYER 1. & 2. RECOMMENDED
MPS-850 (£489 - or bundle with stool, stick and headphones for £539). Ticks every box including tri-zone ride, except maybe half-open hi hat sounds – perhaps ask prior to buying. Like MPS-750, the hi hat even moves up and down and is mounted on supplied proper acoustic style hi-hat stand, as well as coming with a basic kick pedal. This is a BIG kit with an extra (4th) tom and (3rd) cymbal! BUYER 2. RECOMMENDED!
Gear4Music is a large, UK based musical instrument retailer who has, in recent years, also introduced their ‘own brand’ WHD kits (in a similar way to Thomann). Accepting the same trade-off with cymbal quality, they could now also be a serious, low cost ‘one stop shop’ competitor to Roland and Alesis, without the need to upgrade anything.
As a drum tutor I'm a little hesitant to fully recommend them in my drum lessons as I have found some of their budget own brand items to be of poor quality - one drum stool bent upon first use (borderline dangerous!) and was immediately returned for a refund!
600-DX (£430) - All mesh heads, comes with a basic kick pedal. Ride possibly tri zone – ask before buying. BUYER 1. RECOMMENDED!
650-DX (£580) - not a huge upgrade from the 600-DX for the extra cost, but larger 3rd tom, more (and likely better) sound options BUYER 2. RECOMMENDED!
DV247 is a large musical instrument retailer based in the UK and Germany who have also introduced their ‘own brand’ Fame kits (in a similar way to Thomann & Gear4Music).
Though supplied with single zone cymbals, their demo videos show very impressive sounds with great dynamic range to them, as for their snares, which sound incredibly natural – I think I prefer them to Roland!
DD-6600 (£348 - or bundle with basic stool, sticks and headphones for £379). **BEST QUALITY & VALUE ALL-INCLUSIVE DEAL** Basic kick pedal included. Single zone cymbals – could they be upgraded to dual or even tri-zone? BUYER 1. RECOMMENDED!
DD-ONE XT (£726 - or bundle with stool, sticks and headphones for £745). **BEST FEATURES & QUALITY FOR THE MONEY, ALL-INCLUSIVE DEAL** Ticks every box including tri-zone ride, and even continuous hi-hat controller. The hi hat moves up and down and is mounted on supplied proper acoustic style hi-hat stand, as well as coming with a great kick pedal. This is a BIG kit with an extra (4th) tom and (3rd) cymbal! BUYER 2. RECOMMENDED!
TT-22M (£400) Basic kick pedal included. Sounds impressive for the money. BUYER 1. RECOMMENDED!
HD-30 Marauder (£365 - or Thomann bundle with basic kick pedal, stool, stick and headphones for £423). **2nd BEST QUALITY & VALUE ALL-INCLUSIVE DEAL** Very limited availability & info/reviews on the ‘net - can’t vouch for the sounds beyond a YouTube vid, but incredibly at this price point comes with 3 cymbals including a tri-zone ride! BUYER 1. RECOMMENDED!
DED-200 (£336) **CHEAPEST ALL-INCLUSIVE DEAL** Features never seen before at such a crazy low price! Incredibly (for the same price as without on Amazon?!) comes with basic kick pedal, stool, sticks & headphones (though don’t expect much from these...). Reviewers are largely very impressed, but expect some re-triggering from the hi hat, and perhaps some missed stokes when playing very fast! BUYER 1. RECOMMENDED!
CSD 400 (£350) Small single zone (but chokeable) cymbals
SD600 (£426 or Thomann bundle with stool, sticks and headphones for £460) Single zone cymbals, though crash chokeable.
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