Drum Kits are simply one of the most fun, rewarding and captivating musical instruments that you could own. I personally love the instrument because it is something that you can get started playing almost immediately but there are subtle complexities that take dedication and practice to achieve. The drum kit really is an instrument that takes a moment to learn but a lifetime to master.
If you are looking for your first drum kit (also called a drum set), there are now a wealth of different options for you to choose from that will not break the bank.
If you have a child under the age of about 11, consider buying a Junior drum kit. These are drum sets that have slightly smaller sizes making them ideal for the budding musician.
If you are looking for your first full sized drum kit, there are a number of factors to think about before making your purchase. Taking these into account will mean that you avoid having to upgrade or make a trade-in at a later date.
- Do you want an acoustic or electronic kit?
- What is your budget?
- What style of music will you be playing?
- Will you buy a new kit or second-hand?
We will look at the pros and cons of these below.
Electronic or Acoustic Drum Kit?
This is one of the major questions that a new drummer will face. 10 years ago it would have been a no-brainer – I would have recommend every new drummer to start with an acoustic kit, as these would give the best sound. Now things have moved on considerably. Electronic drum kits have significantly improved in terms of sound quality and their ‘feel’ when being played.
The explosion in the electronic drums market has been lead by musical instrument giants Roland and Yamaha. Their continual innovation has meant that playing on their high level kits is similar to playing an acoustic kit. This includes having a different drum sound depending on the part of the drum that is struck and being responsive to how hard the drum is hit
Another advantage of the electronic kit is that you can practice almost silently. Just put a pair of headphones on and you can bash aware happily without fear of the neighbours banging on the door.
There will always be some drumming die-hards that say that there is no comparison to playing on an acoustic kit and beginners should learn to play on an acoustic drum set before moving onto an electronic kit. There is something to be said for this, but the choice is certainly becoming more difficult and in the end could come down to personal preference.
This is always going to be an important factor in determining the kit that you want. The good news is that you can now get excellent quality drum kits at very reasonable prices. Part of the reason for this is that some manufacturers (especially at the low and middle range of the market) have their drums and hardware manufactured overseas. DON’T let this put you off. The quality of many kits with parts manufactured in places like Taiwan is surprisingly good.
Your Style of Music
The drums have made an impact on virtually every style of modern music including rock, jazz, blues, Latin and reggae. Buying a standard 5-piece drum kit will allow you to play a wide variety of different genres of music, and is probably the most versatile.
But there are some subtleties that you will want to take into account if you are going to mainly be playing a certain type of music.
Rock – This music tends to work well with slightly larger drums, that produce a well-bodied sound. You will see that some manufacturers describe their options as rock size drum kits. This is generally 12″ and 13″ toms, 16″ floor tom and a 22″ bass drum. This compares to fusion sized drums which are slightly smaller being typically 10″ and 12″ toms, 14″ floor tom and a 20″ bass drum.
Jazz – Many jazz drummers do not have over-complicated kits with many professionals only having a 4-drum set up with a single hi-tom. The bass drum is often smaller than in other styles of music as it is used for accents more than driving the beat. A good jazz set-up will rely heavily on a good quality set of cymbals especially one or more ride cymbals.
Thrash metal - If you a going to be playing thrash-metal or punk, you will probably want to invest in a double bass drum pedal. This will allow you to play fast base drum patterns without the expense of buying 2 bass drums.
New or Second Hand?
One way to save money is to buy second hand. This is how I bought my first kit. You can trawl the local newspapers, search eBay or look for notices in your local music shop. To be honest though, nowadays with the cost of a new drum kit being so low, I would probably just go out and buy a new kit
Drum Kit Manufacturers
There are a number of different drum kit manufacturers and brand names. Here is a list of the main names that you will see in the marketplace.