The DIY Drummer 3 Ways to Build Your Own Drum Set

The DIY Drummer: 3 Ways to Build Your Own Drum Set

The DIY Drummer 3 Ways to Build Your Own Drum Set

When you’re learning to play drums, you may want to explore other options to practice your craft besides spending money on an expensive drum set. Here, San Diego, CA drum instructor Maegan W. shares some creative ideas to help you build your own drum set….

Have you ever thought about building your own drum set? Maybe you’d like to save a few bucks and build your own drums instead of shelling out money on an expensive drum kit. Or, maybe you’re super crafty and you would just like to create something unique and awesome!

Whether you want to build your own drums from household items or restore an old kit and make it your own, here are three simple ways to build your own drum set.

Build Your Own Drum Set Using Household Items

If air drumming isn’t cutting it, and you’re ready for the next level but not ready to invest in a new drum set, then take a look around your house.

Many of the most famous and successful drummers started out playing on pillows. Sounds crazy, right? Well actually, it sounds like nothing at all…  which is an added bonus because you can play any time — without disturbing anyone.

Pillows are great, not only because they’re quiet, but they also offer little bounce (pretty much none), which means you will need to work twice as hard.

Why is this a good thing? Let’s look at an analogy: A baseball player uses a doughnut to add weight to his bat when he warms up. Then, when he goes up to bat, he removes the doughnut and the bat seems light and swift. The same thing happens when you move from pillows to drums; your hands feel lighter and faster.

Check out some of the drummers who were raised playing gospel music, like Tony Royster Jr. and Arron Spears. They have what’s called “gospel chops,” and they’re blazing fast. This is because most of them couldn’t have drum sets, so they practiced on pillows.

You can also build your own drum set with plastic bottles. Use smaller bottles (12 or 16 ounce bottles),  and arrange them in the shape of a drum set. Fill each bottle with a different amount of water, for different pitches of sound.

Now, take some heavy tape (like masking tape) and tape the bottles to a wood or cardboard surface. The surface can be cut out in a way that makes it easy to reach the bottles and mimics a real drum set.

Lastly, you can use pots and pans to build your won drums. Make sure to get your parents’ permission first. Remember, if you hit a pot our pan with a drum stick, it will be REALLY loud, so make sure to tape the ends of your sticks, or tape a paper towel onto the pot.

Lay the pots and pans out like a drum set and have at it! If you think this sounds lame, just watch some STOMP videos. I was in a similar group that played on pots and pans. Not only did we sound great, we had a lot of fun!

Build Your Own Drum Set With Old Parts

I have personal experience building a drum set this way. I was raised playing on my grandfather’s kit, which he passed down to my dad. It was an old Slingerland kit. Once that one started to fall apart, I invested in my first drum set — a deep blue five-piece Pearl Export Series kit, and I was in love.

I kept the kit in the garage. After 10 years, the hardware rusted and the final wrap warped and began to fall off, so I decided to clean them up myself. This was a very tedious process. Although there was something zen about scrubbing each and every washer, screw, and lugnut with WD-40 and an SOS Steel wool pad, I got the worst headaches and lost about two months of time I could have been practicing. I stripped the shells, sanded and painted them, and scrubbed, sanded, and painted the hoops, too.

In the end, the parts looked great, but this is a project for someone who loves crafts (long, time-consuming crafts). If you’re super crafty, here’s an in-depth look at building your own drums. If you try this, let us know how it goes!

If you’re like me, however, and you’d rather not devote this much time to restoring old parts, you can find decent drums for a fair price — if you look. Some people will even give their drums away if they don’t use them or are unable to store them.

Want to buy a quality used drum kit? Check out this guide!

Build an On-the-Go Drum Set

These days, it’s rare that I get to practice on my full drum set, which of course is what I prefer. If you’re constantly on the go or if you don’t have a drum set, an on-the-go drum set will be your best friend.

Using practice pads is a great way to get the feel and response of a real drum set. Plus, practice pads are portable, inexpensive, and quiet.

There are several different practice pad options. I personally like firm, rubber pads, as opposed to jelly or soft rubber. I bring my drum pads with me wherever I go. If someone else is driving, you can bet I’m drumming in the car!

DW drums makes a pad set that comes with a stand, and is great to learn proper spacing and movement. This set even has a pad for a drum pedal.

When it comes to mobile, DIY drums, you can also do what the “buskers” (street drummers) do; use buckets. This is a great way to get a full set feel and play different sounds (you may even be able to make some money). Keep in mind that buckets can add up in cost and are really loud, but they can help you work on chops and patterns.

Play on Whatever You Can Find

Last but not least, play on whatever you can find. Maybe it’s the ground, your shoe, your annoying little brother (just kidding), but I have played on the grass, dirt, carpet, table (at a park, not in the house), and even the rubber sole of my shoe.

The main thing is just to practice as much as possible. Keep running rudiments, and keep your arms and wrists, hands and fingers warmed up and ready to go.

As a drummer, you need to accept and adapt to imperfect practice conditions. This just comes with territory when you play a large, loud, expensive instrument.

Be creative, and have fun finding new, fun ways to practice!

Do you have some other ideas to build your own drum set? Let us know in the comments below!


Post Author:
 Maegan W.
Maegan W. teaches drums, songwriting, and more in San Diego, CA. She earned a degree in Percussion from the Musician’s Institute, and has been teaching private lessons since 2004.  Learn more about Maegan here!


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