Gear Recommendations

Gear Recommendations

In general, you do not need to spend a lot of money to get started and learn to play the drums. If you don’t intend to use the kit for anything requiring high end sound quality (for performances or recordings etc..) you can get started with a minimal investment and learn, play and enjoy without much issue. If you decide to upgrade in the future, you could sell what have 2nd hand.

Even if you plan to use your kit for performances and recordings in the near future (even on a professional level) and want to start out with something a bit higher end, you do not need to break the bank.

I do not take responsibility for any of the products, stores or deals I mention below. Info is provided simply for the purpose of being helpful and pointing you in the right direction 🙂 Please confirm all details and mention any questions/concerns you have with the store staff before making your purchase as some of the info below maybe out of date or incomplete

If you’re at all unsure about what to get, I’d recommend renting something to reduce the risk and allow you the ability to switch or take it back. I think some places have a program where you can apply some of the rental fees you’ve already paid to the purchase price if you decide to keep something you’re renting.

I can also provide some suggestions on the use of hearing protection depending on which type of kit you choose.

FYI, I AM NOT ASSOCIATED WTH ANY OF THE MUSIC STORES I LINK TO BELOW FOR DRUM SET EXAMPLES.

I recommend an acoustic kit, but an electronic kit can work very well too especially if noise is a concern for other household members or neighbors.

I recommend getting a kit that has:

1 Snare Drum

1 Bass Drum

2 Mounted Toms

1 Floor Tom (or a 3rd Mounted Tom)

Hi Hat Cymbals (these come as a pair) with Hi Hat Stand and/or Pedal

1 Ride Cymbal and Ideally 1 Crash Cymbal (or a single Cymbal that is a combo Crash/Ride Cymbal)

A Drum Throne (seat)

The kit will need a Bass Drum Pedal and a Hi Hat Stand and/or Pedal, but as far as the other stands and hardware go- it depends on the kit you get. The staff in the store should be able to help make sure you have all the stands and hardware you need for your specific kit.

A double bass pedal is not at all necessary to get started (unless you have a particular interest in this) and could be added later on (even years later after starting).

A Music Stand can be helpful as well- although you may have something at home already that you can put music sheets, books or a tablet on, so that you can comfortably read exercise sheets while playing the drums.

Here is a diagram of a typical 5 piece kit to help you arrange the parts if you get one. You can certainly ignore the Splash Cymbal, one of the Crash Cymbals and the Cowbell for now.

Acoustic Kits

For acoustic kits- here is an example of what I think is a really good deal. I actually rented a kit similar (if not the same as this) and used it for a professional gig at a corporate event a few years ago (On average I do about 125 gigs per year and I usually use my own kit- but I rented one in this case because multiple drummers were going to be sharing a kit).

Very nice for the low price. Comes with 1 basic combo Ride/Crash Cymbal and a pair of hi hat cymbals. I assume they are pretty low end/cheap cymbals- but again not an issue for learning, playing and enjoying (and with the money you save on the kit you could always buy some nicer cymbals down the road and you’d have a pretty good set up).

It appears as a kit with 2 Mounted Toms and a Floor Tom but only mentions 2 Toms in the written description- so best to confirm that. Again, I recommend a kit that has 2 Mounted Toms and 1 Floor Tom (or a 3rd Mounted Tom).

This is just one example. There may be better deals/cheaper deals out there and buying 2nd hand is not a bad option either.

https://davesdrumshop.com/collections/acoustic-drums/products/mapex-tornado-complete-set-20-bass-drum-new-1

FYI, for acoustic kits- if choosing between spending more of your budget on the drums or cymbals, I would err on the side of spending more on the cymbals. Cheap drums (assuming they are basically structurally sound) can still be made to sound pretty good if you put good heads on, tune them well and mount them well (I can help you with that as I offer drum tuning services). However, cymbals are what they are and if they are cheap, there isn’t much you can do to make them sound much better.

Electronic Kits

If using an electronic kit, you’ll need some kind of speaker to play through (or an audio output on the kit that goes from the kit into Skype/Zoom) so I can also hear the drums and your voice. This is not too complicated to figure out and I might be able to help.

If using an electronic kit, it is important that it is touch sensitive (ie. it responds differently depending on how hard you play- louder or softer etc..).

I do also suggest (if possible) an electronic kit that has what are called “mesh heads” (sort of like a screen door material) as these type of pads are usually much quieter than the pads that some electronic kits have. Some of the ones with rubber pads (or other types of material) can be a bit louder then you’d expect acoustically speaking, especially when they have rims made of hard material which you may hit occasionally (ie. not the actual electronic sounds but the acoustic sound of the stick hitting the rubber pad or hard rim). It can be tiring on the ear to the point where you can argue you need some hearing protection in some cases.

Here is an example of a mesh head electronic kit:

It is important that the electronic kit be a full drum kit style of set up and not a “tray” style kit where the pads are very small and are all laid out in a small tray the size of a table place mat. If this is your only option, we can probably get started with it, but with the goal of upgrading to a normal kit at some point.

Also, electronic finger style drum kits with which you tap buttons with your fingers actually require a completely different technique- so I wouldn’t really be able to teach you drums on these.

Other Options

I would suggest an acoustic or electronic kit- but another option is to get an acoustic kit but use special “quiet” mesh drum heads instead of regular drum heads, as well as special low volume cymbals. It also helps to apply something soft to the drum rims or any other percussion you might hit (woodblocks etc..) to quiet them as well. The people at the store can give you more details and specific recommendations on this. The downside is that the low volume cymbals can’t really be used for most normal volume acoustic playing situations (unless the music is very quiet or the cymbals have microphones on them). The drums could still be used for normal volume acoustic playing if you simply put regular heads on them (the mesh heads would only be usefully in normal acoustic situations if the music was extremely low in volume or if the drums had microphones on them). If you are thinking of going this route, consider touching base with me first for help determining if this is actually the best way to go based on your situation (it is a bit of specialty set up).

Here is an example: https://youtu.be/ovEgsMLeqzQ?t=357

For students just starting out and unsure of how long they may take lessons, a practice pad and pair of drum sticks can work for the first few lessons until you are ready to get some drums. This is not a bad thing to have regardless of the set up you use. It allows you to practice technique much more quietly then on the drums. It is portable and also may save the sensors and pads on your electronic kit (which can sometimes be treated like practice pads when the kit is turned off) from unnecessary wear for practice sessions when you are just practicing raw technique.

Here is an example:

https://davesdrumshop.com/collections/practice-pads/products/evans-realfeel-practice-pads?variant=17973861063

Purchasing Higher End Drums

Finally, if you are going to spend a significant amount of money on a high end kit or even intermediate level kit- do your research on what features actually improve the sound and general use value of the drums and are worth paying for.

For example, I would not buy a high end drum kit that did not come with a good isolation mounting system for the Toms designed to prevent frequency cancellation and this is a feature I think is worth paying for. Likewise, shell thickness can be relevant to the sound. The ability to mount the mounted toms off of stands instead of on the bass drum is important too (this usually means purchasing some extra clamps and/or stands).

Conversely, aesthetic features or complicated shell material combinations and bizarre sounding treatments of the materials based on theories that this makes the drum resonate more, may or may not be relevant to the sound.

I believe the sound is largely determined by the type of heads, tuning, depth and diameter of the drums and the physics of how the drums are mounted and the mounting systems/brackets.

Below is a link to an aftermarket system which I use for some of my toms, but some companies have their own similar system built in (some work better than others). I think it is important that it reach half way around the drum and not a quarter or a third of the way as some versions of these mounting systems do.

This video explains a bit of the idea behind this mounting concept:

I hope this info is helpful to you!