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Getting Started Part 3 - Drum Sets

Buying a Drum Set

Disclaimer: I'm not connected to these websites or brands even thought I use some of them. I'm offering links to good basic gear that you might find helpful. Feel free to do other research or purchase other brands, and by all means, if you can buy local, I hope you do! 

Buying Drum Sets:

There are too many options when looking to buy a drum set, but a I have a few basic suggestions that will help. Ultimately, you can play any size drum set for any genre of music, but smaller drum sizes are generally associated with jazz playing and larger drums are used for rock, country, funk, etc. If you have a young drummer starting out, a jazz set my be a better fit physically.

Set-ups for drums are much more varied than for any for any other instrument. On piano or guitar, the distance between individual keys and strings is basically the same. But on the drum set, the distance between instruments (hi-hat to snare drum, for instance) and the variety of set up options, including the number of drums and cymbals that comprise a drum set, are endless.

To illustrate this vast universe, look at these two drums sets. A smaller jazz kit used by the great Elvin Jones, drummer for John Coltrane in the early 1960s. It's four drums, two ride cymbals and a pair of hi-hat cymbals. The other drum set was used by Neil Peart, drummer for the progressive rock band Rush. Let's just say two things, one, it's a lot more than four pieces and two, if you swing in the general direction of this kit, you are guaranteed to hit something! 

So, what do I actually buy, Josh? Excellent question!

Used Drum Sets:

I always tell new students looking for drums to search Craigslist and check the local paper. Sometimes you can find amazing deals. Someone that has taken the time put together drums, hardware, and cymbals but needs to unload it for whatever reason. You might also find a starter set from someone who tried drums, didn't stick with it, and now needs the garage space. 

If you are not finding much or really want to check out some new drums, read on...

New Drum Sets:

Buying a new starter drum set has become very affordable. You can buy something super cheap and it will probably work. There is a good chance it won't sound super good and it may not stand the test of time, but you can play it! If you can spend a few more bucks, you will a set that sounds better, is more durable, and, if down the road you are looking to sell the set to upgrade or whatever, it will hold its value much better.  

Jazz sets tend to have an 18" Bass Drum and a standard Rock Set will have a 22" Bass Drum. The compromise is 20" Bass Drum( it works for both).

You will also see that the same kit comes in a variety of colors. Drums look cool and are cool, so pick a color you like and have fun with it! It's a very exciting day when you get your first drum set. I have a vivid memory of mine(Yamaha Stage Custom in black with silver squares. It looked super 80s...because it was).

Jazz Sets:

Here is a great jazz set. Just the drums. It is called a shell pack. You will need to add stands, cymbals, a throne, and a pedal. It can add up but this stuff holds its value well. But look at the finish on these! So cool looking! 

Gretsch Catalina Club Kit

These are a couple hardware packs to check out. 

Here is a PDP hardware pack that has everything except a throne. 

Here is a Gretsch hardware pack that is more a bit more expensive but everything will match. Some folks really need that! 

If you are looking to save some cash and get drumming, this set comes with everything you need - drums, cymbals, stands, pedal, and throne. Not my first choice, but it will work! You'll want to look at buying a jazz ride because the cymbal that comes with this kit won't be awesome. 

Pearl Roadshow

Rock Sets:

This set comes with everything - drums, cymbals, stands, pedal, and a throne. Is it awesome? No, but for $500 you are in the game. 

PDP Center Stage

Here is a better set that still includes everything! 

Ludwig Element Evolution

This Drum Set is just the drums. You'll need add stands, cymbals, a throne, and a pedal. Definitely more of an investment but you can get your money out them if you choose to upgrade or stop playing(but of course, you're not ever going to stop playing).

PDP Concept Maple

Here is another shell pack. 

Gretsch Catalina Rock Set

Check out this Gretsch Hardware Pack. It's a few more bucks but this stuff will last 20 years or more. 

 The In-between Drum Set:

Another Gretsch but with a 20" Bass Drum. Also a shell pack so you'll need hardware. This is a nice compromise that can cover anything. 

Gretsch Catalina Jazz Set with 20" Bass Drum(Four Drums).

And a five piece Rock Set with 20" Bass Drum. 

Hopefully, this gives you a basic idea of where to start and what to look for. There are many other sets and brands out there, so feel free to look around. For somewhere between $500-$1000(sometimes less...or more) you'll have a solid kit that can last a many years. Don't forget to search for used sets.

The search is part of the fun. The set can present your personality. Do you like the classic reserved look of a natural wood finish or a bright blue stain flame that says "hey, I'm over here!" Enjoy the process! 

Play on!

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