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If you are one of those parents who fantasize about their kids becoming musical prodigies, or you’ve just discovered a voluntary interest in music in them, then you have come to the right place. Today, I’ll be analyzing what makes a good drum set for kids to start learning on, as well as why the Mendini Junior Drum set by Cecilio is considered one of the best options in that regard.
For many parents, the dreaded question asked by their children – “Can I play the drums?” – often comes shortly after they’re exposed to a music class at school for the first time. Although many children are innately drawn towards music and other forms of creative arts, it can be hard to speculate in the beginning whether or not their passion would actually amount to anything in the future.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through all the essential components of a drum set and what you should be aiming for when buying a junior set for your child. Take it from drummers who’ve spent a huge chunk of their lives trying to break into the professional music scene: the venture for a new junior drum kit is much easier than it seems.
A word of caution, though. If you’ve already given in to your child’s demand for a drum kit, then you might also want to start arranging for a dedicated place where they can practice playing drums without disturbing everyone around them.
It’s not a bad idea to spring for an electronic drum kit, either, for your up-and-coming drumming prodigy. These tend to be much quieter than acoustic drums, sparing you the headache of those late-night practicing sessions.
Bottom Line Up Front
If you’re looking for a reliable and affordable beginner drum kit for your kids, then the Medini Kids 3-PIece Drum Set is a fairly decent budget option. However, I have to admit that while it’s a perfectly acceptable kit, it’s simply not the best one out there.
Instead, that honor goes to the Eastar 14-Inch 3 Piece Kids Drum Set. It’s not only a much more affordable option compared to the Medini Kids 3-Piece Drum set, but it’s also a higher-quality one too.
Other great choices are the following:
- Mendini Junior 5-Piece Complete Kit (A more authentic drum kit!)
- Questlove Pocket Kit (A fantastic budget choice!)
What Makes a Great Junior Drum Set?
While most drum kits tend to look almost the same, there are many subtle differences between a junior drum set and a standard full-size drum kit that can only be spotted by trained eyes. Depending on the choice of materials, orientation and placement of drums, and the hardware, the overall feel and sound of a drum kit vary from model to model.
It’s worth pointing out that age is not the main factor that decides the size, weight, and other key specifications of a junior drum set. The main goal behind designing such a kit is to make the art of playing drums accessible to a larger audience, especially for those with shorter limbs. The drums in a conventional kit are spread quite far, which makes it difficult for children to reach them, let alone hit them properly.
Because of this, junior drum kits are generally recommended to anyone who’s between 3 to 5 feet tall and people who may be having a hard time stretching their hands on a conventional drum kit. They can also become a fitting choice for anyone who’s looking to cram a drum kit into a small space, such as a bedroom or a garage studio.
However, before we get to the star of the show, let’s go ahead and brush ourselves up on some of the most commonly used terminologies in the world of drumming. This will help you navigate your options on the market, both online and in music stores.
The Building Blocks Of a Drum Kit
When it comes to building your first drum kit, here are the things you’ll want to include:
- The Kick Drum, Snare, and Toms
- The Cymbals
- The Hardware Itself
- The Throne
Each plays a vital role in assembling your kit, so you definitely don’t want to leave anything out.
The Kick Drum, Snare, and Toms
These are the three main components of any drum kit and also happen to be the fundamental building blocks of every junior drum set. Every drum kit is built around them, and depending on the needs of a player, can be expanded in many ways to include more sounds.
The bass drum is the biggest out of them all and requires a foot pedal in order to operate. It stands in the center of the drum set and is responsible for energizing the low end of your drum sound.
The snare drum, on the other hand, is the sharp and more articulate sounding one out of them all. It’s usually mounted on a stand, right between the drummer’s knees. The placement and size of the snare drum are quite critical in the beginning if you want to develop the proper hand techniques, so make sure you find a kit that checks out both criteria.
Toms (or tom-toms) are slightly bigger than snare drums and are often used for fills and other accentuated rhythm styles that demand a deeper sound. You can consider the sound of toms as the backbone of the drum kit, which can vary in pitch depending on its size. They are commonly categorized as floor, rack, and mid-toms.
Standard drum kits will have a bass drum, snare drum, and a couple of toms (both rack and floor). When it comes to adding more color to their drum sounds, drummers usually start expanding their kits by adding extra toms, snare drums, cymbals, and other similar instruments.
Some high-end kits and custom-built kits can carry upwards of thirty pieces in a single setup, as well. So if you ask me, the possibilities are pretty much endless when it comes to mixing and matching sounds on a drum kit.
In addition to a standard hi-hat, some drum kits may also feature ride and crash cymbals. As suggested by its name, the main purpose of a crash cymbal is to create a loud “crashing” sound, while the ride cymbal has gentler and almost ‘washed’ tonal characteristics.
There are no ground rules when it comes to putting together a drum kit. You can choose to have as many as five cymbals and even more in a single drum kit, depending on your approach and playstyle.
The Hardware Itself
The type of bearing edges, mounting gear, and lugs used to build a drum kit plays a critical role in deciding its ability to control the dynamics of the sound, its reaction to your movements, and of course, the tuning. However, cheaper or inferior quality hardware will inevitably cause you a lot of hassle while maintaining and tuning the kit.
That means that if you’re not looking to spend hours on end fidgeting with your kit to make it sound right, go for high-end hardware components. These include the stands for your hi-hats, snare, and cymbals.
Quite possibly the most important of all the components, the drum throne should never be ignored if you are looking for a desirable drumming experience. Conventional alternatives like a stool or chair rarely work in this scenario, so it’s wise not to cut any corners here.
The drum throne will not only help you position yourself in front of the kit properly, but it’ll also save you from a heap of problems associated with the lower back in the long run. If your child is planning on spending multiple hours every day playing the drums, consider investing in a flexible padded drum throne with height adjustment options.
My Expert Decision-Making Tips
- Even though all the junior drum sets are relatively cheap on the market, you can definitely improve their sound with a couple of additional upgrades. For starters, switch the stock drum heads with a better aftermarket solution. This will dramatically boost the sound quality of your drums.
- An even tension across each and every lug is what’s needed for proper tuning stability of drums. That means the more lugs you go for; the better are your chances of improving the overall tuning capability and sound of the drums.
- If you are on a budget and cannot afford to upgrade the drum heads, it’s important to take some time out to understand how to tune a drum. This will help you in getting the maximum value out of your drum kit but at no extra cost.
- Keep in mind that even though you’re purchasing a junior drum set, it’ll still require some level of assembly knowledge to put together the kit. If this part concerns you, don’t fret! You do get instruction manuals with each and every drum kit for beginners.
- Maintenance is a big deal when it comes to drums. Make sure to have some basic tools at your disposal to engage with any minor defects that may occur from time to time. Lubrication is necessary for many components, especially the lugs. Otherwise, corrosion can take over, introducing friction and buzzing in the metal joints. That said, the best way to avoid catastrophic failures and accidents is to teach your kids the right way to handle a drum kit.
- The fact that they are called junior drum sets doesn’t automatically make them suitable for every child drummer out there. If your child is more than five feet tall, you may want to start considering conventional drum kit options for them.
My Mendini Kids 3-Piece Drum Set Review
The Mendini Kids 3-Piece Drum Set comes with all the essentials and some extra features to make it a perfect fit for children between the ages of 3 and 8 years of age. This child’s drum kit manages to pack the three basic drums (kick, snare, tom), kick pedal, a cymbal, drumsticks, and a throne, all in one package.
Key Features of the Mendini Kids 3-Piece Drum Kit
- One 13” x 8” bass drum (four lugs and one-foot pedal included)
- One 8” x 6” mounted tom (four lugs)
- One 10”x4” mounted snare (also with four lugs)
- One cymbal
- Included accessories: drumsticks, padded drum throne, and drum key
The drum set is an intelligent pick for aspiring drummers. For starters, all the drums are made from hardwood shells and can be bought in several color variations. The hardwood gives them a hefty amount of loudness, clarity, and sustain. The bass drum packs a lot of sonic power, too, regardless of its smaller size.
You can’t reasonably expect to get mind-melting tones in this price range, but from my time spent on this kit, I can readily agree that it sounds and plays really well. The quality of hardware and drum pieces is surprisingly high. It’s definitely built to withstand some abuse, which comes as an inevitable part of learning drums.
Upon taking a closer look, I noticed that all the components of the kit (including the cymbal) are mounted on the bass drum itself. This may be an odd choice for many, but I believe this helps make way for a perfectly modern and compact kit, complete with easy setup and storage access. A single block also feels sturdier compared to individual components placed next to each other.
Another plus point about this drum kit is the drumheads themselves, which are replaceable. This gives parents enough room for further upgrading the kit in the future, just in case their young ones decide to get serious with it and take their skills to the next level.
Thanks to Mendini’s post-sale services, replacement parts for the kit are easily available. In other words, there’s no reason for concern, even if your kid likes to get aggressive with the drum kit from time to time. This is also one of the reasons why the Mendini by Cecilio 3-piece Junior drum set is deemed as one of the most affordable and practical pieces of gear for younger drummers.
- The build quality is solid and can definitely withstand some minor accidents over the run.
- The design is ergonomic, which makes it easier for kids to get accustomed to the layout of drums.
- The sound quality is decent (but not impressive), which can be a good starting point for beginners.
- The drum kit is available in multiple colors, which should be a relief for parents with picky kids.
- The price isn’t too high compared to the value you are getting in return.
- After complete assembly, the kit requires very little floor space. You can easily place it inside their bedroom or on the porch
- The kit is very lightweight, which makes it easy to set up, store, and travel with.
- There are little to no adjustment options for toms and snare. (However, that shouldn’t be a real deal-breaker, considering this is a beginner’s drum kit.)
- The cymbals sound quite unimpressive and dull – but again, at this price point, it’s not the worst deal you’ll get.
- The cost may vary slightly depending on the choice of color. For instance, the red version of the Mendini 3-Piece Junior drum kit tends to be more expensive than the other ones due to popular demand.
Some Close Alternatives I’d Recommend
Eastar 14-Inch 3 Piece Kids Drum Set
This is the closest alternative to the Mendini Kit if you are looking for better-quality shells and hardware. Eastar’s 14-inch 3-Piece Junior Drum Set comes in nearly the same configuration and orientation of drums as the Mendini, yet it feels totally different when it comes to playability and sound quality.
They have managed to gain this by using only the best and most relevant components to build their junior drum kit. Let’s take a look at what they are.
The Key Features of the Eastar Junior Drum Set
- One 14” x 10” bass drum
- One 10” x 5” snare
- One 8” x 6” tom
- Included accessories: the drumsticks, kick pedal, and a drum throne
For starters, you get excellent cymbals with this drum kit, which is quite a rare encounter in this price range if you ask me. The drum heads are made from high-quality plastic and vibrate uniformly. The overall kit is a hybrid of metal, plastic, and wood, which is a tell-tale sign of a robust drum kit.
The hardware elements are all made from metal, which is not only great to look at, but also makes the kit sturdy for a long lifespan. All the metal parts at Eastar underwent an extensive electroplating and quality-check process to ensure that they hold their own.
Considering the price and performance of this kit, many refer to this kit as the mini version of a professional drum kit for young enthusiasts. It offers an optimum playground for players who like to take their craft seriously. If you are confident that your child will have a future in drumming, I don’t think there’s a better option for you than the Eastar 14-Inch 3 Piece Kids Drum Set.
- Top-notch build quality and design
- Superior sound quality
- It comes with a drum key
- 12-month warranty
- Slightly pricier than other junior drum sets
Mendini Junior 5-Piece Complete Kit
If you are looking to give your children a full-fledged drumming and learning experience, this is undoubtedly the drum kit you should go with. The Mendini Junior 5-piece drum kit is the most affordable kit that also happens to feature all the components of a standard 5-piece drum kit – but in a compact version.
For those wondering how this drum kit serves a better purpose than other drum kits, well, for starters, you’ll be learning the industry-standard drum configuration. Children learning on a 5-piece kit will find it easier to transition to bigger setups in the future and have a better overall understanding of how drums work.
The Key Features of the Mendini Junior 5-Piece Complete Kit
- One 16″ x 11″ bass drum
- 10″ x 5″ and 8″ x 6″ tom-toms
- 10″ x 6″ matching snare drum
- 8″ hi-hat with chain drive
- 10″ crash cymbal with a bass drum mounted stand
- Accessories include: a padded, adjustable drum throne, a bass drum pedal, and a pair of wooden drum sticks
Mendini decided to pack a few extra features in this kit, which opens the door to more customization and adjustment options for drummers. For instance, each drum comes with four lugs, which allows you to tune the drums to the preferred pitch.
Just like its smaller brother, this kit comes in six color options. It may not seem much to us adults, but for children, colors seem to induce a lot of emotionalities (which is great from a creative perspective!).
You can also buy this drum kit with confidence, as it comes with a 1-year warranty against any manufacturing defects. It has everything your child needs to get set up and start playing drums in no time.
- The most affordable full-size drum kit
- Surprisingly good sound and build quality
- It offers all the sound combinations as any other standard drum kit out there
- The lug design is poor, which affects the tuning of the kit
- Some users have reported hardware failure quite early in their run
Questlove Pocket Kit
The chances are that your kids are gravitating towards drums as a result of the ever-popular hip-hop and rock music that’s dominating our radio stations right now. If that’s the case, then the Questlove Pocket Kit would be the most fitting choice to buy for them.
This pocket drum kit is brought to you by the gentle giants of the drumming world: Ludwig and the legendary drummer, Ahmir Khalib “Questlove” Thompson. The genius minds that went to work while designing this kit wanted to compress the feel, sound, and dynamics of Questlove’s iconic drum kit into a smaller package for kids.
The Key Features of the Questlove Pocket Drum Kit:
- 16″ bass drum
- 13″ floor tom and 10″ tom-tom
- 12″ snare drum with stand
- Hi-hats and crash/ride cymbal with stand
- Accessories include: a kick pedal, drum throne, drum key, and drumsticks
The drums are made from hardwood shells that add a distinct punch to the mids and high-end. At this price point, there aren’t any other options on the market that offer a significant improvement over the Questlove Pocket Drum Kit.
The sound of this kit is, again, very much up to your tuning capabilities. The only thing that sets this kit apart from the others is the exceptional sound quality and tonal expressions you can extract from it once you are able to nail the tuning properly. In other words, students who are serious about learning drums will find a great asset in this drum kit.
Stock drum heads are rarely good in this price range, and this was also the case with the Questlove kit. Feel free to upgrade the stock drum heads to better ones, as they will offer a considerable improvement over the factory sound of the kit.
- Uncompromised hardware quality
- Excellent sound
- More tension rods that offer extra stability
- Cymbals fade too quickly
- Drum throne isn’t the best on this list
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: Junior drum kits are essentially stripped-down versions of bigger drum kits. A standard 5-piece configuration consists of a snare drum, a bass drum, and three tom-toms. The number “5,” in this case, refers to the number of drums in a kit and not the actual total number of components.
A three-piece junior drum kit includes the three main drums (bass drum, snare drum, and tom), plus a ride cymbal, bass pedal, a throne, and drum sticks. Some brands may include a separate hi-hat stand with cymbals.
The layout of a junior drum set makes it clear that they are designed to reduce the overall size of the kit while increasing playability and ease of access. Other than the size, you’ll also find that these kits are built with lighter components, which helps bring down their weight by a significant margin.
Last but not least, junior kits are much easier to set up and disassemble. You can easily put together a junior drum set from scratch within an hour tops.
Answer: Due to the obvious limitations, the price of junior drum kits is much lower compared to full-size drum kits. They will usually cost you anywhere between $100 to $300, based on the brand.
The most basic versions of junior drums that usually cost less than $150 are made from plastic and other cheaper materials. If you are looking at drum sets made from metal or other hybrid materials, then the price may jump slightly. Toned-down versions of high-end kits will cost you somewhere between $300 to $500.
The purpose of these kits isn’t to create the most versatile sounds but rather to create a safe and easy playground for students to learn the basics of drumming. For this reason, manufacturers tend to sway towards affordable price tags in order to make their products available to a wider audience.
Answer: The benefits of learning drums are spread across a wide spectrum, covering both mental and physical aspects of children’s health. Learning the ropes of drumming will not only boost a young child’s motor development, but it’ll also elevate their skills associated with timing, reasoning, decision-making, and many more.
Countless studies have proven that learning music or playing a musical instrument can have an enormously positive effect on our children’s ability to feel and express emotions. This will help your children become effective communicators in their social circle and better leaders in the future.
Most importantly, though, is that the world of drumming has many role models to offer our young generation. Many of these legends have helped shape the lives of hundreds – if not thousands – of people around the world in a positive and meaningful way.
Answer: Junior drum kits are definitely functional in the sense that they can produce realistic notes and drum sounds. That said, there are definitely the “toy” versions of drums on the market, and they should be avoided if you are looking for a workable musical instrument. Junior drum sets will not output you a studio-ready sound by any standard, but that does not go to say that their sound is absolutely unusable.
As a result of downsizing the drums, you do strip them off some tonal qualities and loudness, but it’s not a complete deal-breaker. If the main purpose of your purchase is to help your child learn the basics of drumming, there isn’t a better choice on the market.
Answer: Junior drum kits and other compact drum kits go head-to-head when it comes to their footprint. The Mendini 3-Piece Junior Drum Set, for instance, will take about 38 x 35 inches of floor space, give or take. This is very close to a compact drum kit that typically takes about 33 x 28 inches of floor space.
The overall size of the kit will also vary according to the placement of drums. If you have longer limbs, then you may choose to go with a bit of gap between each drum, thereby increasing the respective floorspace needed.
Answer: Hand techniques and movements in drumming are dependent on many variables, to begin with, so to say that a junior drum set would hamper or staunch your ability to play is actually quite contrary to the actual reality.
Setup is vital here, too. If you know how to place the drums and other components of the kit in the right place, then it’ll drastically improve your chances of learning efficiently. The impact of teachers and lessons is also pretty resourceful, as it warns students of bad habits and mistakes that need to be avoided.
All things considered, the main purpose behind using a junior drum kit is to increase playability. If your child is having a hard time playing on a small kit, then definitely consider switching to a full-size drum kit.
My Final Thoughts
Buying a drum set for your child may very well become the biggest turning point in their lives, so don’t take this decision lightly. As parents, you want to give them every chance to enhance their lives in a positive manner, so don’t be afraid to take that leap.
Remember, the path to becoming a professional drummer will test your child’s potential in many ways. So before you go out and buy them a full-blown drum kit, start with a safer investment. With that in mind, I do definitely recommend the Medini Kids 3-Piece Drum Set, even though it isn’t my favorite one out there. My top choice would have to be the Eastar 14-Inch 3 Piece Kids Drum Set.
If the only thing on your mind is to give your child a medium so they can explore their creative abilities and discover their passion in life, then this is a safe bet you can make. The Mendini 3-Piece Junior Drum Set by Cecilio is capable enough to take on that challenge and turn the time spent with it into something fruitful for every child.
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