Learning how to play an instrument can be like getting into a new sport; some types are easy to take up at first, requiring little research and little investment, while others involve a more complex approach to getting started. Playing the drums challenges your body and mind, and will nourish your creativity for the rest of your life.
However, it can be frustrating if your equipment is a source of stress. To prevent this, be sure you start out with a good experience by researching and then finding a kit that fits your needs.
Just like a car, or most other things, you can buy drums that are new or used. If you have a strong preference for shopping online, you might be better off buying new drums from a reputable retailer or manufacturer, since there’s less risk of variability or fraud. However, if you’re interested in saving a few dollars, as well as possibly learning a few things and meeting new drummer friends along the way, used may be the way to go. Whatever your preference or goals, it’s a good idea to get advice from an experienced friend, trusted music retailer, or reputable teacher about instrument selection, so that you can make the best possible investment and get worthwhile use out of the set you choose.
New drum sets offer the security of the manufacturer’s guarantee behind their completeness and quality. Some may come with warranties for certain parts. On the downside, sometimes a new kit from a less-than-reputable brand can be an overpriced disappointment. Depending on your commitment level, a new kit might be too ambitious – not to mention expensive. Used kits come with some risk and require some buyer awareness, but often make up for the extra effort spent by being affordable, as well as sometimes coming with extra pieces and accessories. Also, looking for and/or buying a used drum set can often result in networking with experienced drummers who can also give you great ideas and advice!
To examine new and used kits in one stop, check out instrument retailers and local music shops. This is a great way to get familiar with kits before shopping in other ways, or to ask basic questions that can help you decide what kind of kit to get. You can also ask your drum teacher or a friend with a drum set to give you a guided tour of their set, including what you should look for in a quality drum set.
The most critical piece of a set to examine is the shells (the cylindrical wooden body) of each drum. Remember that it’s just like a cracked foundation on a house, or a dead transmission on a car – a cracked shell on a drum is a fundamentally important problem, which essentially can’t be fixed without replacing the entire drum, so never buy a piece with major problems! The heads, on the other hand, are meant to be destroyed and replaced routinely, so don’t worry about it if they’re a bit beaten up.
Next, take a look at the hardware holding each drum head on, and holding the drum to the rack (if applicable). If you’re looking at a kit to buy, make sure all the hardware is strong, stays securely in place, and can be easily removed and replaced. Don’t worry about little token streaks of rust, but do check for stripped screws and make sure you have a complete count of pieces. If you’re about to buy drums that come with a rack, make sure it stays in place with the drums mounted on it while they’re played, and check its hardware as well.
A rack isn’t the only extra piece that might be included when you buy drums. The basics of a drum set are the kick (or bass) drum, the snare, and the hi-hat (the pair of cymbals mounted together with a pedal to vary their distance), so if you’re shown a basic kit that just consists of these without any toms or large cymbals, don’t be surprised! However, you also might encounter a kit that includes a ride cymbal, a crash cymbal (or two or three), a splash cymbal, cymbal stands, pedals, a second pedal setup for the kick drum, a throne (special stool for drummers), and possibly much more. Take into account the overall size and complexity of kits when judging their value, and remember that it’s okay to stick to something simple and add new toys as you go.
Becoming a drummer can be as simple as fiddling with a set once in a while, or you might find that the magic of percussion transforms your entire lifestyle. Take some time to research, and enjoy the process of investigating your options. Your budget and the condition of the set aren’t the only things to take into account; the amount of time you actually expect to invest in playing, the style of music you want to learn, and the environment where the drum set will be kept are all very important factors to consider before finalizing a purchase. Also, it’s good to gather suggestions for accessories that can improve your experience, such as different weights of sticks to experiment with, practice pads, and a spare drum key!
To get the best of all possible worlds, consult a drum teacher or knowledgeable friends before you finally buy drums. Consider planning ahead by investing in a few lessons to kick-start your experience, and to help you explore more diverse styles of drumming than those of which you might currently be aware. You can start learning on a practice pad, for example, and then get guidance from your teacher on purchasing a kit after you’re a few lessons in.
Above all, approach learning the drums with an open mind and a willingness to be patient. It’s challenging, and the learning process can be rocky to start, but everyone has a sense of rhythm deep down somewhere! Even if you find yourself building a set out of pots and pans and pipes, do what makes drumming fun for you.
Photo by maidencitymusiccity