Buying a drum set for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. Drum sets come with so many parts within a broad price range that it can be difficult choosing what you need from what you do not, and what the difference is between drum set brands and price options.
The most important factors to consider when buying a drum set are: brand, price, the number of drum pieces needed/desired, the look of the drum set, and of course, the sound quality of the drum set.
Drums can be quite an expensive instrument to play when you start adding up all of the hardware, cymbals, and accessories, not to mention the cost of the drum set itself. You can expect to pay $400 - $800 for a new 5-piece kit or buy a used drum kit for $200-400, depending on the brand. Expect to pay another $400 - $600 for all the other hardware, cymbals and accessories that do not come with the drum set.
You may consider buying a used drum set when you are first starting out through your local classifieds, Craigslist.org, or your local music store. Buying a used drum set will be much less expensive, but you will need to check it for any cracks or broken hardware. If you buy a used drum set, you may also have to buy new drum heads for the set, which can cost up to $100 if the drum heads need replaced.
Most drum sets come as a 5-piece set: the bass drum, snare drum, floor tom, and two rack toms. Some packages also include a snare stand, cymbals, cymbal stands, and a throne, but be sure to check with the seller as to what is included, especially if you are buying a drum set online. Most drum sets do not include cymbals which can be expensive, costing $120 - $250 per cymbal, not to mention high-hat cymbals, which can run anywhere from $100 - $300.
You will also want to make sure you do not buy drum parts that you do not need – there are quite a variety of "extras", but if you are just starting out as a drummer, it is not necessary to have two crash cymbals, a splash cymbal, and five tom-toms. Start with the bare minimum if cost is an important factor. If you are a newbie, you will be overwhelmed by too many pieces of drum equipment, even if you can afford them.
In addition to buying the drum set, you will want to make sure you have a "throne", or drum seat, a high-hat stand and high-hat cymbals, a bass drum kick pedal, one ride cymbal and stand, one crash cymbal and stand, a snare drum stand, and, of course drum sticks. Yes, buying a drum set can get very expensive!
A few brands of drum sets you may want to consider are Ddrums, Pearl, Percussion Plus, Tama and Yamaha. Ddrums and Percussion Plus tend to be on the lower-end of the price scale, with Pearl and Yamaha on the higher-end and Tama in the mid-range. Of the different brands, you can choose the color, finish, and type of wood. The type of wood you choose will play an important factor in the sound quality and type of sound you are seeking.
When buying a kick pedal for the bass drum, stick with a higher-end brand, such as DW, Yamaha, or Pearl. These higher-quality brands tend to last much longer. Cheaper brands will break or bend more easily.
There are two types of cymbals that you will need to purchase along with your new drum set – the crash cymbal and the ride cymbal. The crash cymbal makes the sound you hear after and in-between certain song parts (for emphasis), as well as during high-energy song parts. The ride cymbal often carries, or "rides" the song through the chorus, although both cymbals can serve different purposes and be combined in creative ways.
You also will need a pair of high-hat cymbals. High-hats make the "tss tss" sound and are controlled by a foot pedal on the high-hat stand, in addition to being hit with drum sticks or brushes.
Drum cymbals have different manufacturers who each produce different sounding cymbals. Take your time picking out cymbals and test out the sounds of each by playing them in the music store to see which sound you prefer. Good brands of cymbals include Zildjian, Alesis, Paiste and Sabian.
Justin Sarra - About the Author
Justin Sarra is Sales Manager at N' Stuff Music Store, which sells drum sets online and in their brick-and-mortar music store in Pittsburgh, PA. See http://www.nstuffmusic.com for more information on buying a drum set.