What Are Drum Sets?
If you are new to drum sets and kits you may wonder what actually constitutes a kit or set. Basically, a drum set or kit is a collection of drums and various other types of percussion, such as cymbals. They are all set on stands and the entire set is played by just one person. The player uses drumsticks in both hands along with both feet operating pedals controlling the bass drum (kick drum) and what is known as the hi-hat cymbal.
Standard Drum Kit
In music schools and popular music, the standard drum kit, for right hand players, consists of:
- A bass drum or kick drum, which is played by pressing a pedal with the right foot that pushes a felt-covered beater against the drum.
- A snare drum which is mounted onto its own stand and is normally placed between the drummer’s knees and is hit with drumsticks. Brushes and rutes can also be used.
- At the very least – one tom, though most kits feature more than one that are hit by sticks,
- Hi-hat (which is two smaller cymbals mounted on top of one another that can be hit by sticks, tapping the pedal to open and close the cymbals or using the pedal on its own.
The drums above are what are known as non-pitched percussion instruments and are used in most standard forms of drum kits. This standard set-up is what you might expect to find as part of the rhythm section in traditional musical genres such as pop, jazz, blues and many styles of rock.
However, drummers, based on the genre they are playing, their playing style and preference, often extend their kits beyond the above though. Which is why you will see professional drummers with far bigger kits than the one we described.
In heavy metal music, double bass or kick drums are used extensively, as are a larger number of cymbals and toms. Other drums and percussion instruments included in kits include woodblocks, chimes, cowbells and in more progressive musicians, even things like gongs.
As drummers often look to set themselves apart from other drummers, even within their own genre and playing style and to help complement the sound of their bands; electronic pads and other equipment is often incorporated into a kit. Modern drum kits come in various shapes and sizes, compared to the original drum kits that were simplistic and didn’t even feature pedals. As we will see from the next section.
How Drum Sets Were Invented
Before anything like a drum ‘set’ was invented, the traditional way orchestras and military units used drums and cymbals was by having each individual instrument played by a different percussionist. Therefore, if a musical piece from the 1800s required cymbals, a triangle and a bass drum, 3 percussionists would be used to play those parts.
By the 1840s however, some percussions began to play around and experiment with the idea of utilising a foot pedal to allow them to play more than one percussive instrument. By the 1860s then drums started to be combined and used in the same ‘kit’ by many percussionists.
These early kits consisted of a bass drum, snare drum and some cymbals and all instruments were hit with drumsticks. The world of musical theatre, in which the pit orchestra budget was very limited, helped with pioneering the drum set invention as people working in that industry were looking for better ways and more cost-effective ways for drums to be used – with just one person playing all the instruments.
The invention of double drumming meant that one person for instance, could play the bass drum and snare with drumsticks, while they tapped a low-boy to hit the cymbals. When taking this approach, the bass drum was often played on 1 and 3 of a 4/4 time signature.
Although this beat timing was invented to complement marching soldiers, this simplistic approach to drumming helped lead the way to the creation of ragtime music. The marching-style beats started to become more syncopated and this led to a more swing-style of rhythm that was a suitable accompany dancing.
In the earlier days, it was not called a drum kit though, it was called a trap set and the people that played them were known as trap drummers. Although overhang pedals were used, the majority of drummers still preferred playing double drumming without a pedal.
By 1904-5 though, Dee Chandler of New Orleans and other companies were patenting pedal systems and there was now a chance for drummers to play without being burdened by having to use their hands for each drum and instead using a bass drum foot pedal. Interestingly, the name kick drum comes from the fact the pedal is designed to be operated by the foot of a standing percussionist.
This then paved the way for the Ludwig brothers in 1909 who introduced the first bass drum pedal system that was a commercial success.
The list of 10 best Drum sets
The Mendini kit is available in 6 different colour schemes and has a very affordable price tag. It handles abuse well and is perfect for kids that are just starting to play and may not have developed finesse or a softer touch. This is a kit that comes with everything you need to drum.
Color: Black, Blue, Green, Silver, Wine Red and Bright Red
Weight: 42 pounds
The Gammon Percussion Complete kit is perfect for any individual interested in having a go at drumming, before really investing in it as a hobby or serious instrument. Although it does not have the cleaner, more responsive tone of the pricier high-end models, it is a great kit to jam with and learn on.
Brand: Gammon Percussion
Color: Black and Blue
Weight: 84.4 pounds
Dimensions: 30.3 x 24 x 22.1 inches
Pearl RS525SCC706 Roadshow
The Pearl Roadshow kit comes with all you need to get started in the world of drumming. That includes all the necessary hardware, so you don’t need to buy extras. Some customers who have even upgraded parts of theirs eventually, still use the original pedals. This is available for a great price and an ideal investment.
Weight: 50 pounds
Dimensions: 46 x 46 x 50 inches
Alesis Nitro Kit
If you are looking for something a little quieter and more portable, the Alesis Nitro is the electronic drum kit you need. Not only is it marked up as a great price, as its electronic it benefits from being compatible with headphones – perfect for parents who want to encourage their kids but don’t want all that racket!
Weight: 33.1 pounds
Dimensions: 27.6 x 47.3 x 43.3 inches
Another fairly inexpensive model – so perfect for budding drummers taking their first steps with the instrument. It comes with all the parts necessary, including the bass drum pedal and can be adjusted to suit the user.
Model No: 5270
Pyle Electronic Drum Set
If space is really an issue, but you want to be able to play drums or encourage your kid to practice his timing, the Pyle electronic drum set pad is a good place to start. Although you won’t get a feel for the real spacing on a real kit, it will help with timing and rhythm.
Weight: 1 pounds
Dimensions: 16.5 x 22 x 5.5 inches
Ion Audio Redline Drums Illuminated Electronic Drum Kit
Another great electronic drum kit, with striking red illuminated pads and a well-designed layout, the Ion Audio Redline illuminated electronic drum kit is great for beginners or anyone wanting a more electronic sound.
Brand: Ion Audio
Model: Redline Drums
Weight: 13.32 pounds
Dimensions: 10.2 x 26.7 x 19.7 inches
ddrum HYBRID6BLKRED Electronic Drum Set
One of the higher end models on our list, this is a rugged and very robust, quality natural-sounding electronic kit that has been influenced by the advice and expert knowledge of drumming legends such as Andy Selway and the late Vinnie Paul.
Model: HYBRID 6 BLK RED
Weight: 75 pounds
Dimensions: 46 x 46 x 50 inches
Ludwig Accent Fuse Blue
There is a lot to like about the Ludwig Accent Fuse Blue. Not only is it made by drum manufacturing pioneers Ludwig, but it has that awesome blue colouring and is a very sturdy kit for its modest price tag.
Weight: 880 pounds
Dimensions: 31 x 25 x 23 inches
By far the most expensive kit on our list and with good reason. Roland have always been top of the list when it comes to electronic instruments and this kit is no different. It comes complete with everything you need to get started, is a very professional design and even comes with Austin Bazaar polishing cloth for keeping it clean.
Model: TD-11K DLX
Weight: 30 pounds
Dimensions: 34 x 34 x 34 inches
The list of ten best Drum set brands in the world
Sonor are one of the most widely recognised and venerated drum brands on the market. Especially known for their durability and tone, they are the perfect drums for jazz; but suit other forms of music too.See Price on Amazon.com
ddrum is a brand that not only produces electronic drums that sound crisp and are very responsive; but look great too. This brand is also especially favoured over others because of its affordability.See Price on Amazon.com
Gretsch, also known for other types of musical instruments, are a brand you should consider if you are looking for a fine balance between quality and affordability. They are often chosen with this in mind for beginners and especially younger drummers.See Price on Amazon.com
One of the biggest, best and original drum brands is Ludwig. Ludwig have always been a brand to watch and are favoured by many professional and famous musicians. Experts in drum tone quality and sound they also have a very traditional and authentic look.See Price on Amazon.com
PDP drums offer affordability, durability and tone and sound quality all in nicely presented packages. They are easy to customize and produce a crisp and professional sound that is undeniably nice. Even if the name doesn’t sing out to you particularly as being popular, they are known in drummer’s circles.See Price on Amazon.com
Yamaha are known for turning their hand to various things, from electrical goods, motorbikes and lawnmowers to electric guitars; but, one thing that they are particularly famous for is producing high-tech drums that have superior durability and quality. The name Yamaha is a sure-fire sign of quality.See Price on Amazon.com
Pearl are something of a household name, when it comes to designing and manufacturing high performance, superior quality drums. However, one of the best things about this brand is that many of their kits are available at very reasonable and competitive prices. Pearl are one of those brands that everyone seems to know, even people who are not big music fans.See Price on Amazon.com
Mapex drums are a famous Taiwanese branding that is designed and manufactured by KHS Musical Instruments Company of Taiwan. They are considered one of the brands that offer the highest quality of drums not just in Asia, but the world too. Even if you are unfamiliar with the name, you should still give them a try.See Price on Amazon.com
One of the more recent entries to the drum market, DW Drums have always been known as a brand that is innovative. The smallest and most minute detail is paid incredibly close attention to in the design and building process. The major downside for the style and substance you get from these drums, is the price.See Price on Amazon.com
Music lovers and professional musicians love Tama Drums. They have a wide variety of different sets available, from beginners to professional performance models. Known for their attention to detail, expertise in creating the best drums that produce the best sound quality. You’ll know Tama because you have probably seen them on stage behind many big names in rock.See Price on Amazon.com
How to buy Drum set
Buying new things is always exciting and fun, so if you are in the market for a new drum kits – you are probably already bubbling over with excitement. If you are just starting your drumming journey though, it may feel like too many to choose from. It is vital then that you get the best drum kit for you, taking not only your budget into consideration but other aspects too.
Below we have put together a guide to buying the best drum kit.
Understanding a Basic 5-piece Drum Kit
Drum kits can vary considerably, from the incredibly complex 56-piece kits to the basic kick drum and snare set. A basic 5-piece drum set normally will consist of:
- Bass/Kick Drum
- Snare Drum
- Two Rack Toms
- Floor Tom
(Hi-hats and cymbals are not considered or counted as pieces of a kit, which is why they are not mentioned, you usually have to buy them separately, unless it has been stated otherwise.)
Cymbal shape and size along with the metal used is what makes it sound how it does and as you’d imagine, there are various cymbals out there to choose from.
Keep Size and Floor Space In Mind
As you probably realise, a full-size drum kit takes up considerable amount of floor space, and when you are first starting your drumming journey, you will find that your kit and all accessories and tools related to it take up a lot of room. Be sure to measure the available space you have, then, and choose a site that fits into that space.
Finding Your Sound
It’s all very well trying to emulate the sound of famous musicians you really love, but one of the most important and exciting parts of finding a drum kit that suits you, is finding one that will help you define your own specific sound. Along with cymbal size and shape, the diameter and depth of drum shells can affect how they sound, as does the actual material they are constructed from.
Acoustic drums, for example, can be made from various woods, such as:
While maple drums are good for boosted low, with very smooth high and mid frequencies, they are especially known for open or resonant tones, giving a brightness and warmness. Birch on the other hand have relatively smooth high frequencies, but with a robust range of low tones, making them great for darker tones and more mahogany produces some of the finest low frequencies, with classy and smooth mids.
Choose a Kit that can grow with you
A drum kit should be seen as an investment, because when you are first starting to learn the drums, you might only need 5 drums and a small selection of cymbals. However, if you want to progress and refine your sound, you will want to add to your kit – so keep this in mind when choosing one. Good luck and enjoy.