Buyers Guide for Drummers

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Buyers Guide for Drummers

Perhaps I’m showing my age here, but I’ve always had a fancy to play the drums and be as good as Gene Krupa, or maybe Ginger Baker or Keith Moon. But there seemed to be such a variety of drum kits that I’d end up getting confused.

How do you sort out what you need to buy to suit your style of playing? Here’s looking at some basics:

If you’re just starting out, then a basic 4-piece drum kit, bass drum, snare drum, tom drum and cymbal is fine. As you progress, you’ll probably add more toms, cymbals and maybe a second bass drum, particularly if you are into rock playing.

The type of wood used in drum construction has a great impact on the overall sound. The most popular is maple, which gives a warm and balanced tone, whereas birch, being a harder wood, gives a sharper, brighter tone. Midway between the two is poplar, which has the benefit of being somewhat cheaper. Mahogany will give better response at low frequencies.

Don’t forget to include drum and cymbal stands, a bass drum pedal and a good quality drum stool on your shopping list. Collectively these items are known as the “hardware.”

You’ll find that cymbals are an essential part of any drum kit. The most common cymbals include the ride cymbal, the crash cymbal and the hi-hat cymbal. Cymbals made from sheet metal tend to be less expensive than cast, although many drummers feel the cast cymbal gives a richer and more complex sound than the sheet cymbal.

The snare drum gets its unique sound from metal wires held against the bottom drumhead. Snares can be made from wood or various types of metal to provide individual sounds and as you get more experienced you’ll get a good idea of which snare drum suits you best.

Of course, you can get away from the traditional drum kit altogether and go for the electronic alternative. These have the enormous advantage of being able to be played in almost total silence if you use headphones, yet if plugged in to a sound system can produce a full volume. Another advantage is the ability to produce different sounds at the press of a button.

You’ll need to consider the actual drumheads used on your kit. Thicker drumheads are more resilient and tend to have a quicker decay than the thinner varieties. Twin ply drumheads are often favoured by rock drummers for the fatter sound they produce.

Finally, to complete your setup, you’ll need good quality drumsticks and a set of brushes. Make sure you try a large variety of drumsticks of various weight and thickness to find those that suit you.

Happy drumming!

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