Drummers are the heart of every band. They provide the tempo, lay the foundation, establish the groove for a track, and allow the other members to express themselves. While drummers own the most equipment, selecting the right drums doesn’t have to be difficult. In considering a drum set for beginners, you don’t need all the equipment from the start.
Drum kits for beginners seem overwhelming, yet when broken down into easily digestible segments, you will quickly learn what you need and why. We have broken the steps down into what people need to know, types of beginner kits, and essential hardware to remain motivated.
Beginning the Journey
The perfect place to begin looking for the best beginner drum set will depend on the individual. Consider the drummer’s age, where and when they can practice at home, willingness to learn, and what your budget is. Unlike any other instrument, the advantage of drums is that you can arrange them in various ways. Drummers can customize their sets according to their preferences or style.
Drum sets for beginners are different from a more seasoned drummer. A beginner kit needs to provide the individual with what they require to establish fundamental skills without adding distracting pieces of hardware that they don’t currently have the skill set to utilize.
Things to Consider
If your primary concern is your budget and you have a younger student or child, you should have no trouble locating an inexpensive drum set for them. Even if budget isn’t a concern but you want to test out their commitment level before making a bigger investment, your most cost-effective option is purchasing an all-inclusive bundle. However, you will need to verify what comes with the kit.
A beginner drum set requires shells (actual drums), cymbals, cymbal stands, a bass drum pedal, and a throne. Make sure you try out the drum kit beforehand to ensure the person using it can reach it, and that size is not an issue.
Beginner Sets for Children
If the drummer is under 11 or 12 years old, they will find it difficult to reach and play everything using an adult-sized kit. That’s why there are junior-sized drum kits where the drum diameters are reduced to permit young kids to reach the kick pedal and each drum.
Avoid a beginner drum kit found in toy stores unless the child is under five years old. They may have the appearance of a real kit. However, they tend to be plastic and play like a toy. Most manufacturers have appropriately sized junior kits (pocket kits) for younger drummers. While your child may eventually outgrow the kit, they will get years of use out of it, making it a worthwhile investment.
Some drum kits to consider are:
For an adult beginner drummer, consider:
New vs Used: Which is Better?
Whether or not you or the individual you are buying it for will continue learning how to play the drums is always a consideration. Will the enthusiasm be lost, or will it continue? Keep this thought at the forefront when considering whether you want to buy new or used drums.
Used drum sets allow for significant savings. However, first-time buyers may get overwhelmed by the choices and options. New drum sets contain warranties accompanied by the knowledge that there was never any abuse on the kit.
If you’re buying drums for the first time, a new kit is a better option, unless you know a drummer willing to help you navigate used kits. A new drum set may prevent you from experiencing the hassle and headache of sorting through the available options, and you can consult with a professional regarding the set you are looking at and glean useful advice.
The advantages of purchasing a new drum kit are:
- Pristine condition
- Broader range of brand selection
The advantages of purchasing a used drum kit are:
- Lower, budget-friendly price
- Less risk if you or the child lose interest
- Drums hold their quality
Another consideration is that some music stores may rent out equipment. The advantage to this is that, for a fee, you can test out the instrument or various drum sets to see which one works best for you. If interest is lost, then there is little money lost. If you find one you really like, you can go ahead and buy it for yourself, knowing that it is the right one.
Types of Beginner Drum Sets
There are several options when it comes to the shell pack. This will permit you to purchase a drum set without cymbals or hardware. It will provide you with a broader range of aesthetic options and brands. Most models and brands of these types of kits should be decent.
To locate the best brand, research the brand’s reputation. Find reviews to discover any flaws and to see if it is any good. There may be more than a single option at your price point, so select a set with a superior reputation and one that you like.
- Drum Hardware Should be Purchased Upfront. When shopping in person, the sales associate will inform you that you will save long-term costs by selecting decent hardware in the beginning. They are correct. When buying cymbals, ensure that it is a name brand like Paiste, Meinl, and Zildjian. These are better-known manufacturers, but not the only good ones.
- When Buying for a Child, Select One They Really Like. While it may seem counterintuitive, it is not. Children that have sets they find “cool” will tend to play longer and improve their skills quicker. It will excite your child by making practice fun.
- Select a Brand Specifically for Your Needs. Most companies make great beginner drum kits. Experts recommend sticking to well-known brands like Pearl, Tama, Ludwig, Sonor, Slingerland, DW/PDP, Mapex, and Gretsch.
- Find an All-Inclusive Kit. Second-tier kits are decent and save time on assembly. They are a sub-brand of a top brand, and most companies offer entry-level models. While they may be the second tier, a reputable brand will still provide good quality.
The only difference is in the feel and sound. Mid-range kits may include a shell pack and hardware but no cymbals or thrones. Ensure you carefully examine it before purchase. Should it include cymbals, ensure they contain a brand name.
Hardware, cymbals, and drums do not lose quality with regular use. The only time you lose quality is when they are abused or mistreated. Many reputable stores contain used drum kits wherein you can be confident you are receiving something in good condition.
Inspecting Your Equipment
Private sellers can have great pieces, but you need to examine each piece closely.
- Cymbals. When examining cymbals, look for cracks. No matter how tiny, it will grow with time. Pass on anything with cracks. Pay special attention to a cymbal’s circular grooves, as they can be easily missed. Additionally, if the center hole isn’t perfect, it indicates stress from not being properly fastened. This is an area prone to cracking.
- Shells. Again, examine the area for missing hardware and cracks. You can replace nuts and screws if you have sound equipment. Used drums may require new heads (the area you hit). While they aren’t difficult to replace, this is an added cost to consider.
- Hardware. Ensure no pieces requiring tightening or loosening are stripped. No straight pieces should be bent, either. Cymbal stands need to contain two felt discs, allowing the cymbal to rest with a piece holding it in place on its stand.
Acoustic vs Electronic Drum Set
While the drum may be the simplest musical instrument, the introduction of synthesizers has provided the option of an electronic drum set. These drum sets create a variety of sounds. Even the traditional acoustic set contains two drum kit types.
Both an electronic kit and an acoustic kit have two distinct configurations: standard and fusion. Standard drum kits are better for rock because they have a larger tom diameter for more volume, larger tone, and mix with electric guitars. Fusion has toms with smaller diameters, creating a punchy, sharp tone.
Acoustic Kit for Beginners
These contain metal cymbals. They have metal and wood drums that project sound. They have a better feel, and the setup is straightforward.
Electronic Beginner Drum Sets
Electronic kits contain rubber pads. When hit, these pads emit a sound to amplifiers or headphones. They can eliminate or reduce drum volume. Electronic kits are a better option for people who live in an apartment or somewhere sound level may be a concern.
What is the Best Wood?
Manufacturers of drum sets can only use certain types of wood. Many types of wood are rare and only seen in high-end equipment. Maple is the most common, but you may see mahogany, birch, Bubinga, and other common types. The type of wood used makes a difference in the sound the drum makes.
Wood type and the pile number located in the drum shell, drum diameter, and depth all effect sound. With these influences, avoid shopping for a particular wood type. Instead, make a purchase dependent on sound for a first kit.
- Birch- Balanced sound, loud drum, and great for recording
- Bubinga- Made from exotic wood, contains punchy notes with a mid-range sound
- Mahogany- Rarest, with a darker, warmer tone
- Maple- Highly versatile with a bright, warm sound
What Parts to Look For
Drum kits contain many elements, with the main category being hardware, cymbals, and drums. Kits require knowledge and setup time. Once the kit is purchased, you will need to know how to assemble and disassemble it. You should secure all drums securely and tighten all hardware.
Parts and drum accessories include:
- Cymbals. The three main types are hi-hats, rides, and crashes. The crash cymbal is used when accenting songs. Ride cymbals are large and thick. They generate a bell tone. Hi-hats are parts of thin, small cymbals activated by a foot pedal and played with sticks. They strike each other to produce sound.
- Drum and Cymbal Stands or Racks. Some types have their own stands. Stands are adjustable so you can control the positioning. Rack systems integrate several stands and are good for elaborate kits.
- Tom Drums and Snares. A snare drum is a more prominent and loud drum. The resonant snare drum head contains a snare system or thin wire that makes a sharp sound. Most kits can have three toms – one mounted on a stand, and a medium or high tom drum mounted to the set.
- Drumheads. Each drum has a head included in the purchase. Top heads (batter head) and bottom head (resonant head) come in the kit. Heads are tuned with lugs that circle each drum. Two types of bass drum pedals are double and single. Beginners should start with a single pedal.
- Drum Throne. The drum throne or seat should be comfortable and adjustable.
- Brushes and Drumsticks. Drumsticks are important to sound. They are available in various sizes and produced with different wood types. The stick’s size and tip type produce a different tone. Brushes are sticks containing fanned plastic or metal on the end. They look like a rake and produce a quieter, softer sound.
Four vs Five Piece Drum Sets: Which is Better?
Drum sets come with either four or five pieces. This reference alludes to the number of drums, not the total parts of the set.
- Four-piece sets include a snare drum, bass drum, floor tom drum, and one rack or mounted tom drum.
- Five-piece sets have a bass drum, floor tom, snare, and two racks or mounted toms.
Each set will equally benefit a beginner working on their drumming skills. However, a four-piece may be easier to use when starting to learn.
Finding a drum set for beginners is a bit of a process, but once you know what you are looking for and what pieces you require, the rest becomes a matter of personal preference. Do you prefer electronic drum sets or acoustic? A four- or five-piece drum set? What about a junior drum set? Ensure that you or the person learning is excited about their starter drum kit as they will use it for a longer time if they are.