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Anybody’s band would be incomplete without a drummer, and drummers have more gear than anyone else in the ensemble. The good news is that you don’t have to buy it all at once.
In order to make things easier, we’ve broken down everything you need to know, from the sorts of kits to consider for a starting student, to the gear necessary to play the tunes that will keep your student engaged, into bite-sized chunks of information.
As a beginner, it’s hard to find your first kit, especially since you don’t know what you’re getting. This guide will explain everything you need to know in relation to buying your first kit. At the end of this guide I’ll recommend some of the best beginner kits.
How to Shop for a Beginner Kit?
Shopping for a drum starts with knowing the individual for whom you’re buying it. It is important to consider the drummer’s age, their willingness to learn, where and when they will practice at home, as well as the budget you’re dealing with when choosing a drum set. This all changes when you are buying for yourself. (It negates this step.)
Drums may be set in a variety of ways and tailored to the drummer’s style or tastes. Kits for novice drummers and experienced drummers will mostly appear very different. Beginner drummers should have a kit that has all they need to learn the fundamentals of drumming without having to worry about extra hardware or parts that simply serve to distract them. Some kits are more geared towards intermediate beginners who want a kit they can “grow into”.
Acoustic vs. Electric
The first thing to consider when choosing the best beginner drum kit is whether it is going to be acoustic or electric. An acoustic kit is what you think of when you think of a drum set. It’s acoustic… meaning it has one volume… loud.
The major benefit of an electronic kit is that it essentially has a volume knob. When it comes to sound control, electronic equipment has the upper hand by a wide margin. When playing on acoustic drums, you can’t practice in an apartment complex or a peaceful area because of the bass frequencies that penetrate the walls (to be fair, you could, your neighbors will just hate you). Because electronic drum sets use rubber/silicone pads or breathable mesh drumheads, they drastically minimize ambient noise, making them a fantastic alternative for producing music at home or for performing on quiet stages and worship platforms.
Two other benefits of the electronic kit are the endless sound options and its ease of recording. Since an electronic kit is electronic, it is as simple as plugging it in to your DAW or MIDI and hitting the record button. Not to mention, most electronic kits can capture a special performance of your choosing with a save button.
The benefits of an acoustic kit are pretty straightforward. They don’t need amps or speakers or special cords. Acoustic kits can just be played. Another major factor is playability. Acoustic drums definitely take the cake when it comes to the feel of playing.
Musicians rely on acoustic drum kits just as much nowadays as they do electric guitars. Classic drum sets that are tuned and ready to rock are ideal for inspiring musical ideas. An acoustic kit is bound to encourage beautiful jams in churches, schools, practice rooms, and music venues.
In terms of beginner drums and what you should choose, I personally think the acoustic kit is the right choice. That is of course, unless you have a volume limit where you play.
Using an acoustic drum set will teach you dynamic control, since you’ll be able to manipulate drum sounds with your hands and sticks. Simply put, they’re just better to learn on. Drums are loud, as I’ve said. If you have strong dynamic control on your drum set and use appropriate instruments (rods, brushes, mallets), you can create a virtually limitless dynamic range to fit any type and application of music.An acoustic drum set is one of the most versatile instruments in the world. When it comes to learning how to manage your drumming, there is no substitute for acoustic drums, even with the benefits from an electric kit.
The Kick Drum, Snare Drum, and Hi-Hat
After deciding on a kit, you can move on to the components you should look for in a kit. Any drum set must include these three fundamental components. They provide the foundation of most drum rhythms and are frequently the first to be updated as a musician advances.
Bass Drum: The bass drum, often known as the kick drum, is the largest drum in the set. It’s the one that stands in the middle of the drum set on its side and is controlled by a foot pedal. It generates the deepest sounds, which are generally fundamental downbeats.
Snare Drum: The snare drum is the most important drum in a set. It creates a loud, crisp sound when put on a stand and positioned between the drummer’s legs.
Hi-Hat: The hi-hat is a pair of cymbals placed beside the snare drum. It’s performed by using a foot pedal to crash the cymbals together and striking them with drumsticks.
Different Kinds of Toms
Toms, often known as tom toms, are the drums that make up the rest of the kit. Depending on the size of the drum, they usually make a hollow sound of varying pitches. Suspended toms, also known as hanging toms, are installed on the top of the bass drum in most drum sets. A bigger, deeper-sounding floor tom installed on its own stand on the floor is occasionally included.
High Tom: The High Tom is the smallest tom, positioned above the bass drum, closest to the snare.
Mid Tom: In addition to the high tom, the mid tom, if there is one, is positioned over the bass drum.
Floor Tom: The biggest tom, the floor tom is generally put on a stand near the drummer’s leg.
The toms are generally arranged in an arc, with the greatest pitch near the snare and hi-hat and the lowest pitch on the kit’s exterior. A beginning drummer should be able to get by with just two or three toms.
Because they prefer a basic kit or because their musical style does not need one, some skilled drummers never add a mid tom. Other musical genres utilize three distinct tom tones on a regular basis, thus drummers in those styles insist on a mid tom and maybe a few more.
There are two typical cymbals featured in most beginner drum kits, in addition to the hi-hats described above.
Crash Cymbals: Crash cymbals are positioned above the toms and are available in a range of sizes. They are often the loudest cymbals in a drum set.
Ride Cymbals: Ride cymbals are bigger than crash cymbals and are usually hung above or near the floor. It produces a softer “wash” sound.
One or two generic cymbals are generally included in a kid’s drum set. They are frequently not identified as “crash” or “ride” cymbals since they are smaller (to match the scaled size of the kit) and do not have the sound qualities of full-sized cymbals.
Other Things to Consider:
There are many possible drum set accessories, but here are a few that you might want to explore right away. They are needed, as well as perfect for beginners.
Sticks: Some basic drum sets include sticks, while others do not. Drum sticks are scaled using a mix of numbers and letters. The thinner the stick, the higher the number. Wider sticks work better for little, inexperienced hands. More on Drum Sticks in the next section.
Sound Dampening: When drums are struck, they make a ringing sound, but too much ringing may be irritating. A better sound can be achieved by slightly dampening a drum head. Control rings or dampening gels are both viable solutions. A bass drum kick/impact pad will also help to extend the life of the kick drum head.
Practicing Pads: These allow for near-inaudible practice while simulating the dynamics of playing a real drum. When playing the drum kit isn’t possible, even experienced drummers utilize them to refine their abilities and gain endurance.
Drum sticks may or may not come with your beginner kit, depending on what you get. If not, here’s a quick guide to everything you need to know to get your first set of drum sticks. I recommend getting more than one as you’ll probably break the first pair. First of all, let’s go over the different kinds of drum sticks:
Drum sticks: The most common type of stick used by drummers is the ordinary, basic stick.
Brushes: Brushes are used for delicate effects and are quieter than sticks. They may be found in jazz, pop, and ballads.
Mallets: Mallets are used with a number of percussion instruments and may produce a wide range of sounds.
Rods: Rods are noisier than brushes, but quieter than sticks. They’re ideal for acoustic performances with a modest volume.
Frankly, as a beginner, you won’t need any sticks other than the classic drum stick. There is still more you need to understand about them, though. A letter and a number are used to classify stick sizes. The circumference is represented by the number, while the size and application are indicated by the letter. The thicker the stick, the lower the number. Thicker sticks (5A) are often heavier than thinner sticks (7A). The feel and sound of your drumsticks are affected by their weight. Lighter sticks are thinner and easier to handle, while thicker, heavier sticks give more volume and durability. When a lot of projection is necessary, heavier sticks are a suitable choice, but lighter sticks are ideal for circumstances when finesse is required. The weight of drumsticks you require should be determined by the genre of music you’re playing.
For a beginner’s stick, I would recommend trying a few and seeing what feels best. I recommend a thinner, lighter stick as you will feel more agile and therefore a better drummer.
You may have heard the word “piece” in relation to a drum kit. The majority of drum sets come in 4- or 5-piece kits. This refers to the overall number of drums in your set, not the quantity of hardware and cymbals.
4 piece: A bass drum, snare drum, floor tom, and one mounted/rack tom are generally included in this beginning drum set.
5 piece: A bass drum, snare, floor tom, and two mounted/rack toms are included in this five-piece drum set.
For a beginner, any arrangement will suffice. However, navigating a four-piece kit may be simpler. Surprisingly, the majority of high-end “pro” drum sets are four-piece sets rather than five-piece ones.
The Drum Heads
The basic goal of these heads is to remove overtones and concentrate the drum’s overall tone. Adding a layer of Mylar or other material to the top or bottom of the outside edge is one of the most popular ways of pre-muffling a head.
Choosing the correct drum heads may be the difference between an instrument that feels like ‘yours’ and just any old kit. Since you’re a beginner, you’re probably not aware of the vast number of drum heads available. The possibilities are endless: coated or transparent, single or double layer, thick or thin. This section tries to answer one of the most often asked questions: which drumheads are suitable for me?
Single Ply: Drumheads with only one layer of Mylar are the most basic and thin types of drumheads available (a mil is one thousandth of an inch; it does not refer to millimeters, strange, I know.)There are 3-mil snare side heads, 6- and 7-mil specialty resonant tom heads, and different thicknesses in the single-ply category. 10 mil is the most typical thickness. Do you know why you should use single-ply heads? Having resonant heads makes them, well, resonant better. Single-ply batter heads, on the other hand, are brilliant and help bring out the overtones of a drum’s tonal characteristics. They are best for jazz and softer songs, but they are also suitable for rock.
Double Ply: More attack, decreased overtones and shorter sustain are some of the benefits of using a double-ply head as opposed to a single-ply head. It’s great for rock and other genres where durability and articulation are key. In addition to the two primary plies, many 2-ply heads have additional plies. To assist in regulating overtones, they may have a ring on the outside edge. Usually, double-ply drum heads are combined with the thickest drum sticks to really make a crash.
Clear or Coated: When a drumhead has a coating on it, it tends to muffle the sound. Heads that are clearer sound brighter and more open. For snare drums, coated heads are essential, as are brushes. No brushes and no clear heads can produce that lovely “sandpaper” sound. Toms with coated heads tend to sound warmer, while those with clear heads sound more aggressive. It’s the same with your kick drum as well. If you play jazz, a high-pitched kick drum with no muffling or a hole in the front head produces a fantastic sound. Simply putting coated heads on snares and kick drums often makes them sound more melodic, something drummers look for. This is not needed for beginners but can be an exciting upgrade to look for.
When it comes to choosing the proper drumhead for a given application, education is key. Finally, don’t be scared to try new things and see what works best. You’ll only discover what your instrument is capable of and how to handle it via trial and error. Many alternative head combinations may work nicely with your setup. For beginners, you really don’t need to worry about all the options. Like anything, try it out and pick which one you think sounds best. There really are no wrong answers with creativity.
If you’re purchasing online, make sure to read the inclusions list. Some of these sets have more items on the web images than are included in the set. Personally, I don’t advocate buying drums online, especially if you’re a beginner. You never really know what you are going to get online, so at least try the kit out in person first.
Take into account the cost and the quality. The price of a drum set is determined, as it is with most things, by its quality. A few cautions accompany the most affordable all-in-one kits.
The shells will work, but the cymbals and hardware will most likely need to be replaced soon if the set is used frequently. However, if you want a toy and an instrument in one, this could be the ideal pick.
Look into the hardware for your drums. Examine the hardware to ensure that it appears to be in good working order.
You may zoom in on the photos of the gear to get a closer look if you’re purchasing online. Each of the cymbal stands’ three legs should be constructed of two sections.
If each leg is “one-ply,” as it were, or the loosening and tightening parts resemble typical hardware store wing nuts, you’ll have to replace the stand sooner rather than later.
Look for hardware that comes with the purchase. Bundled hardware and cymbal kits are also available, which are often less expensive than purchasing individual components. If you’re buying gear online, pay special attention to the photos and descriptions of the hardware and avoid getting anything “one-ply.”
Buying in Person
If you’re buying drums in person, make sure to sit behind the kit and try to reach all of the parts. Even if you end up buying the kit online, I recommend trying it out in the store first.
If you’re attempting to choose between many kits, listen to them all being played at maximum volume. Ask the salesman whether anyone in the shop can play the entire set if you or your student is a novice. This shouldn’t be an issue because most music stores employ musicians. Compare the kits’ overall tones to see which one you like, and keep your desired musical style in mind.
If you buy the kit you tried in the store, look for broken heads, fractured cymbals and scratches in the wood or finish of the drum shells. You don’t know who was playing it before you or just how wild they are with their kit.
Hopefully, you will feel as if you have a base knowledge of everything you will need to know about drums. I have a few recommendations for different budgets.
5-Piece Pearl Roadshow Kit
9-ply poplar shells are used in the Pearl Roadshow 5-piece drum kit. The poplar shells are quite durable and should last a long time. While the sound isn’t quite as excellent as, for example, a more costly maple set, a novice won’t notice the difference.
This makes it an excellent choice for novices, and with some tweaking, it will sound even better. Because of the tonal range of the shells and the numerous configurations available, this drum has high playability.
While the hardware and cymbals aren’t ideal, no beginning kit can claim to have excellent hardware and cymbals. The kit’s best feature is that it includes a drum stool, pedal, drumsticks, and even a stick bag.
As a result, you will be able to hop right into the kit and begin playing without having to invest any more funds or time. The Pearl roadshow is a fantastic value for money because of its sound quality, features, and playability.
The drums are adjustable and, with appropriate tuning, may sound as good as a studio kit. For a beginner kit, that’s impressive. It has Pearl’s 500-series hardware, which is best for novices. The Roadshow is really simple. It will be updated when you feel ready for an upgrade. It sounds amazing right off the bat, which is the best. With a few improvements and some attention, it can be made suitable for any skill level or musical genre.
Unless you already have good hardware, cymbals, or a drum pedal, then Roadshow’s gear will be a waste of money. You’d be better off saving money by purchasing shell packs. The kit has a tendency to create overtones. It can, however, be alleviated with correct adjustment. For an advanced drummer, the cymbals are simply not good enough. While it may suffice for a novice, as you gain some experience, you will want to improve them. The bass drum pedal isn’t quite up to par.
Ludwig’s Backbeat 5-Piece Kit
A full drum kit, Ludwig’s BackBeat includes strong double-braced hardware and bronze alloy cymbals to get you jamming in no time. Onstage or in the practice room, the BackBeat’s 7-ply hardwood shells produce a warm, powerful tone. 45-degree bearing edges on the shells provide a concentrated sound and assure complete contact with the drum heads.
Because Ludwig has been making high-quality drum kits since 1909, the company knows a thing or two about excellent drum sounds. Among its most notable users are Led Zeppelin’s Ringo Starr and John Bonham.
The Ludwig Accent’s main strength, though, is the drums themselves. When they are tuned properly, they sound great — rich and powerful. Overall, this is a terrific starting set. Because of their excellence, you want to play them, and they’re quite durable.
The bass drum’s sound will be greatly enhanced by the cushion that is now standard. Without any dampening, it’s far too clanging and resonant.
The drums alone are worth the price of the kit. Incredible quality.There’s also the matter of a name. Ludwig is a well-known name and one of the best brands around.
No instructions are supplied with the building kit, but there are a number of decent tutorial videos on YouTube that you may watch. Cymbals will set you back an additional $100, which isn’t great for those buying on a budget. The stool/drum throne also can’t be adjusted.
Gretsch Catalina Club
Gretsch has been linked with high-quality drums for over 150 years. They’ve been offering the Catalina Club for the last ten years as a way for newcomers to get a taste of this heritage at an inexpensive fee. We’re partial to the Blue Satin Flame finish, but there’s something for everyone.
Seven-ply, 100 percent mahogany drum shells are used in this set, which is topped with Remo Ambassador drumheads. The tonal richness is deep and consistent right out of the box. When beaten hard, the drums will stay in tune. As a result, drummers who are just starting out may focus on their technique and performing without having to bother about re-tuning all the time.
Although there are many configuration choices, the 20″ setup is a real rhythmic chameleon. Looking for a versatile player? Look no further. When it comes to drum lessons, the Catalina Club is the place to go. There aren’t many options in this pricing range that can compare.
With a classic vintage tone, it’s extremely flexible, small, and portable.
The snare sound is solid. The sound is rich and resonant at low frequencies, yet strong and dramatic at higher frequencies. Beautiful to look at, and great for jazz or blues, this guitar is worth every cent. Despite its low price tag, the features, hardware, and workmanship far outweigh it.
- If you favor low-resonant bass drums, you may not like the bass drum head. When heavier sticks are utilized, this kit may still carry a punch. If you plan on using it for stronger musical genres, you may need to change the drumheads.
In conclusion, you should be excited! You’re buying your first drum kit! This is big news! You’re on your way to becoming a rock star, or at least a hip-hop star! Either way, congrats.
It is definitely an intense process to buy your first kit. So many things to think about, and so many options. It’s going to be tough and it will probably take longer than you would like. Just keep plugging away, try all the kits out, enjoy playing, and talk to experienced drummers.
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