Words of Motivation
"Every drummer that had a name, had a name because of his individual playing. He didn't sound like anybody else, So everybody that I ever listened to, in some form, influenced my taste."
― Buddy Rich
Owning a drum set is essential if one is interested in learning or playing the drums. Purchasing a drum kit, however, is no mean feat; on the contrary, one has to remember that it is a purchase which has to last for a considerate amount of time. Choosing the right drum set then is a crucial and important task that cannot be taken lightly.
Before we go into what type of drum set suits you the best, it is essential to know the components that make it a kit.
Components of a Basic Drum
1. Bass Drum: Also known as kick drum, it is used to provide rhythm to a piece of music.
2. Snare Drum: Quite a contrast to the bass drum, it outlines the rhythmic framework and is used to highlight accents in the music.
3. High Tom: It's a double-headed tom-tom drum that makes a higher sound and is placed atop the bass drum on the left side of the throne or player's seat.
4. Mid Tom: Sitting atop the bass drum to the right side of the throne, the mid tom is used to produce middle or comparatively lower tones.
5. Floor Tom: Placed to the right of the bass drum, a floor tom is used to play low notes. The three toms are used for fills and providing tonal color to a piece of music.
6. Ride Cymbal: Used during choruses or bridges and to keep time, the ride cymbal is a large, heavy cymbal that makes a light, airy sound.
7. Hi-hat Cymbal: Used to keep the beat and improvise rhythms, the Hi-hat is the most important cymbal in a drum kit.
8. Crash Cymbal: Used to accent beats and in the beginning of bars and riffs, it produces a distinct crash sound. It can also be ridden like a ride cymbal.
Tips to Consider
Material of Drum Shell
Drum shells can be made from anything ranging from plastics to metal; however, if you want good tonal quality, your best bet is one that has a wooden body.
The material of the drum shell has a lot to do with the tonal quality. The drum shell is often constructed by gluing together several thin piles of wood. The type of wood used in making the shell produces different attacks and tones. Softer wood shells are known to produce lower tones with lesser projection, while harder woods are known to produce higher tones with more projection.
For a great bottom-end punch, opt for mahogany. Birch wood is good for those looking for bright sound and sharp transient attacks, and it is favorable for live performances. Maple, on the other hand, is one of the most favored wood used for high-end drums known to produce warm tones.
Size of the Drums
The pitch of the drum is determined by the size of the drums. Always remember that a drum with a bigger diameter will yield deeper sounds with lower pitch as compared to ones with smaller diameters. Similarly, the depth of a drum shell plays an important role in determining the projection of the sound. A shallow drum, for that matter, will give you better resonance and a purer tone suitable for playing jazz music, while a large drum with lower pitch is favorable for rock music.
Time for some serious introspection. Give a thought to the style of music you are interested in and will be playing often. It is better to remember that every style of music has its own signature drum sound, tone, and punch. Take the example of jazz drummers who use drums with higher tones, while rock drummers opt for drums that produce lower tones. A versatile drummer would opt for a maple drum that is suitable for all music styles.
Defining Acoustic Space
Where are your drums going to be used the most? Is it in a church, an apartment, a closed space, an arena, or a small club? While there are huge chances of getting carried away with the variety of drums, it is always good to remember that location plays an important pointer when deciding on a drum set. The rule is as simple as remembering that larger and open venues demand larger drum kits, while smaller and enclosed spaces can make do with smaller drum kits. For those of you who're planning to play only in apartments, an electric drum will be your best bet.
Type of Drum Set
Three-piece Drum Set
The most basic and conventional drum kit consists of a snare drum and a hanging tom mounted together with a suspended cymbal on a bass drum. It comes equipped with a hi-hat and is a popular choice for kids and small acoustic bands.♦
Popular Choice: Pulse 3-Piece Deluxe Junior Drum Set
Four-piece Drum Set
An extension of the three-piece kit, this kit has an additional hanging tom or a floor tom along with the bass drum and snare drum. The crash cymbal can either be mounted on the bass drum or come on a separate stand along with a hi-hat and ride cymbal.
Variants include a four-piece with floor tom and a four-piece with two hanging toms.♦
Popular Choice: Gretsch Catalina Club Mod 4-Piece Shell Kit Drum Set
Five-piece Drum Set
The most common configuration of a drum kit consists of a bass drum mounted with two hanging toms, a snare drum, and an additional floor tom along with the three essential cymbals.♦
Popular Choice: Tama VT52KS Silverstar Accel Driver 5-Piece Shell Kit Drum Set
Seven-piece Drum Set
A seven-piece kit comes with snare, double bass drums, two each of hanging and floor toms. It also includes a splash cymbal, a China-type cymbal, three crash cymbals along with a hi-hat, and ride cymbal.♦
Popular Choice: ddrum D2 7-Piece Drum Set
Electric Drum Set
This consists of a set of pads made to mimic an acoustic drum kit. Each pad generates an electric signal which is transmitted through cables to an electronic module that produces the sound associated with the particular pad.♦
Popular Choice: YAMAHA DTX502
Pleasing to the Ear
Your drum kit is going to be your companion for a long time, so it makes sense to test a number of drum sets before finalizing on one. Trust your ear on this errand, and go with whatever sounds pleasing to your ear.
Last but not the least, do your research about the price options, and go in for one that is economical and not cheap. Remember, this is a long-term investment, and you better be wise than sorry when investing your money in a drum set that will be thoroughly used.