Best Small Drum Sets

Portable, Travel & Compact Kits

Introduction:

Let’s face it, drum kits are huge instruments. The weight and size of your drum setup sometimes make it a mission to carry around to play at gigs. Several drum companies have taken that fact and provided products that are easier to move around.

Portable drum kits have become widely popular in the drum world. They provide everything you need in a compact package. If you’re thinking of getting a travel kit, we have a list for you of some of the best ones. 

What Makes a Great Small and compact Drum set?

A great portable kit should still fulfill the purpose of your playing. The only thing you should be sacrificing is size. This means that a great portable kit will sound great, look fantastic, and make you want to play it. 

There are a few portable kits of different shapes and sizes. Make sure that it fits your situation, whether that be gigging or recording.

Table of Contents

The 5 Best Small Drum Sets

DW’s take on a portable kit is pretty unique. At first glance, you’ll see that the DW Performance Series Low Pro has an unconventional look. There’s a good reason for that. This kit fits into just one bag! 

Included with the kit is a set of shallow drum shells that produce a surprisingly large sound. They’re made from maple wood, giving them warmth and punch. There’s a 12” snare drum, 10” rack tom, 13” floor tom, and a 20” bass drum. 

These drums have a quick attack that makes them great for hip-hop, EDM, and funk music. 

The 12” snare can convert into a rack tom, meaning you can add a separate snare while having an extra tom option. 

DW doesn’t really make cheap kits and this set is no different. The DW Performance Series Low Pro is one of the most expensive compact shell packs out there. However, it’s highly worth the price. 

For more about the DW Compact Kit, check out customer reviews.

Build Quality
99%
Performance
100%
Price to Value Ratio
90%
PROS: THINGS WE LIKED
  • Fits into one carry bag
  • Snare converts into a tom
  • Punchy sound that is great for hip-hop, EDM, and funk
CONS: THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • Can crack if you crash/ride a lot

Sonor was one of the first drum companies to get on board with the portable kit trend. Their Martini and Safari kits have been popular for years. They recently relaunched their portable kits under the AQ2 line, with the Martini having the smallest shell sizes. 

Included in this shell pack is a 12” snare, 8” rack tom, 13” floor tom, and a 14” bass drum. The shells are made from maple and have a rich and focused tone. 

One standout part of this kit is the 14” bass drum. With a bass drum that small, you’ll be sure to produce some unique sounds. It’s not the best option for a huge rock sound. However, it will fit right in within a jazz, reggae, or hip-hop setting. 

Another standout part is the steel snare drum. It has a crispy dry tone that cracks when tuned high. Most portable kits don’t have great snare drums. This one doesn’t follow that trend. 

For more about the Sonor Martini, check out customer reviews.

Build Quality
95%
Performance
94%
Price to Value Ratio
92%
PROS: THINGS WE LIKED
  • 14” bass drum provides unique sound opportunities
  • Steel snare sounds great
  • Rich and focused tone
CONS: THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • Too small to get a big sound

Best Portable Electronic Drum Set

Some drummers aren’t able to play with an acoustic kit, no matter how compact it is. So, we’ve put the Roland TD-1DMK on this list to provide an electronic option. 

It uses the Roland TD-1 sound module which includes 15 preset drum kits. You can also connect it to a computer via USB to get an unlimited amount of sounds. You’d just need some sort of digital audio workstation to do that. 

The kit itself has mesh pads for all the drums, an attractive quality as the mesh pads can be tuned to have different tensions. This is great for drummers with specific feel preferences regarding drum heads.

The module also includes 15 jam tracks to play along with. These will help you practice playing drums in different styles. 

Overall, the TD-1MK is a good option for anyone who can’t use an acoustic kit. It provides all you need in a kit and it has a relatively small footprint. 

For more about the Roland Kit, check out customer reviews.

Build Quality
92%
Performance
93%
Price to Value Ratio
94%
PROS: THINGS WE LIKED
  • 15 preset kit sounds
  • 15 jam tracks
  • Great for environments where noise is an issue
CONS: THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • Doesn’t replicate the true feel of an acoustic kit

Best Cocktail Drum Set

Another unique-looking entry in this list, the Tama Cocktail Jam kit provides serious punch in a small package. It looks different to your conventional drum kit. It’s designed in a way to save as much space as possible and has the bass drum placed at the bottom instead of having a standard bass drum. 

The shells are made from a birch wood that delivers a strong low end and a relatively powerful punch. This kit would sit comfortably in any mix. 

The kit includes a 12” snare drum, 10” rack tom, 14” floor tom, and 16” bass drum. It has the option of being set up so that you can stand and play. The kick pedal is unique to this kit, meaning you won’t be able to use a standard kick pedal. 

Overall, it’s a worthy compact kit option that can fit into one carry case.

For more about the Tama Kit, check out customer reviews.

Build Quality
93%
Performance
94%
Price to Value Ratio
99%
PROS: THINGS WE LIKED
  • Fits in one carry case
  • Very small footprint
  • Great for different styles of music
CONS: THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • You can’t use a different kick pedal

Another unique-looking entry in this list, the Tama Cocktail Jam kit provides serious punch in a small package. It looks different to your conventional drum kit. It’s designed in a way to save as much space as possible and has the bass drum placed at the bottom instead of having a standard bass drum. 

The shells are made from a birch wood that delivers a strong low end and a relatively powerful punch. This kit would sit comfortably in any mix. 

The kit includes a 12” snare drum, 10” rack tom, 14” floor tom, and 16” bass drum. It has the option of being set up so that you can stand and play. The kick pedal is unique to this kit, meaning you won’t be able to use a standard kick pedal. 

Overall, it’s a worthy compact kit option that can fit into one carry case.

For more about the Pearl Kit, check out customer reviews.

Build Quality
92%
Performance
90%
Price to Value Ratio
95%
PROS: THINGS WE LIKED
  • Large sound
  • Highly affordable
  • Red and black sparkle finishes look great
CONS: THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • Snare drum isn’t great

Things To Consider:

What is the best sounding small drum set?

From the above list, the best sounding small drum set would be the Sonor AQ2 Martini. The AQ2 Series kits have such wonderful craftsmanship and tone, making the Martini a great kit for anyone to have.

What is the best drum portable set for a beginner?

The best kit for a beginner from the above list would be the Roland TD-1DMK. The other kits only come as shell packs, meaning they don’t include hardware and cymbals. The Roland kit has everything needed to get you started.

What is the best cheap compact drum set?

The best cheap compact kit would be the Pearl Midtown. It produces a huge sound and is great for a variety of musical styles. It’s inexpensive because it’s made from poplar wood. However, it doesn’t sound cheap at all. 

Can you make a small drum set sound good?

There are several things you can do to a drum kit to improve the sound. The same tactics work on both big and small kits. If the drums are too resonant with a ringing sound, you can use several things to dampen the heads. There are products such as Moongel that do the trick. Otherwise, just use some tape. 

If the bass drum sounds too boomy, place a blanket inside to control the tone. Many portable drum kits don’t need this as the bass drums are quite small to begin with. 

The last thing to note is that most snare drums that come with portable drum kits don’t sound great. A good way to improve the sound of your setup would be to replace the snare drum with a better one.

Conclusion


Portable drum kits are fantastic pieces of gear to have at your disposal whenever you play gigs. If you’re a drummer that has to set up your drum kit in a different venue every night, a portable drum kit will make your life so much easier.

These kits also work well for drummers with minimal practice space. They have a significantly smaller footprint than a standard kit, allowing you to fit them into small corners. 

Pair your portable kit up with some good hardware and cymbals and you’ll be ready for anything!

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