You've finally decided to follow your heart and take up drumming lessons? Congratulations on making a fantastic decision.
But now you might need some help on deciding which drums to buy and are not too sure whether you need a snare drum, base drum or cymbals to start off with?
What about a double base pedal? Isn’t that only for more advanced drummers?
In all these questions you also want to know how to maintain your drums and answer one of the biggest questions new drummers have - whether an acoustic or electronic drum set is better?
We hope this article will help you clear up some of the basic questions and steer you in the right direction. We would like to encourage you however, to experience the drums and accessories yourself as that would guide you to make the best decision. You can also speak to professional drummer, music teacher or visit a professional music shop to get any additional questions answered.
Acoustic or Electronic Drum Kit?
How would you know which one to choose if you’re only starting out? Maybe you will love the benefit of being able to adjust the sound electronic drums can provide, but all the bands you’ve seen are using acoustic drum sets.
The more you play drums and the more experience you gain, the easier it will become to choose.
Most professional drummers like the reactive nature and sound feedback of the acoustic drums. Other drummers prefer the fact that an electronic drum sets allow them to practise any time and anywhere.
For the purpose of this article we’re going to delve into the traditional favourite - the acoustic drum kit.
Electronic drum sets’ current prices are quite high, and they also come as standard set in most instances. By exploring the acoustic drums, we believe you’ll get a solid enough idea what is required as electronic drumming kits are based on that.
The Beginner Acoustic Drum Set
Do you want to play drumbeats from classic rock songs, or would you like to try the more interpretive, free jazz music styles? Both of these genres are quite popular in the drumming scene and if this is your dream you might eventually have to get your own drum kit.
Drum kits can range from R5,000 – R50,000 and the best way to start is to buy a basic drum kit. Suitable for beginners and professionals alike, these standard five piece kits are the foundational drums that a professional would build his entire drum set around:
- 1 Snare drum that comes on a drum stand
- 1 Bass drum, the big one on the floor that drummers work with a foot pedal
- Toms are played with sticks or brushes and a beginner start with one while a professional can increase theirs up to three
- Hi-hat cymbals are those brass plates that are opened and closed by a foot pedal. Drummers also use their sticks to play on them
- 1 Cymbal on a stand is a start, but professionals will bring in cymbals like a sizzle cymbal, Chinese cymbal, swish or crash cymbal
Armed with Drumsticks
Your first lesson would be all about how to hold the drumsticks.
Hand drumming requires nothing except your hands, but you’ll need to master the drum stick the moment you decide to create a rock drum solo.
Different sticks and rods, like the drums they hit, can create a different type of sound as they hit the drum head. With most drumsticks made of wood and some of a mix of materials, it’s just as important to assess the quality of your drum sticks when getting your drumming arsenal together.
The following types of rods and sticks are being used by acoustic drummers:
- Normal drumsticks are probably the best option for any beginner. They are wooden and have a small wooden know at the end. They have little reverberation
- Padded mallets are usually more popular in full orchestras. They have a very resonating sound and vary in size dependent on the drum being played
- Multirods are bundles of thin wooden rods
- Brushes are made out of metal or plastic bristles that make a fan shape at the end of the wooden brush stick. They create a swish sound on drums and cymbals and it’s important to ensure the different parts of the brush are all quality when selecting a brush to purchase.
A Drum Throne For a King
Hopefully your love for drumming will have you rocking and grooving in front of your drum set for hours. If this is the case you would require a good drum throne.
A drum throne is basically the little stool that you sit on in front of your drum set.
This is however, not just any little stool … It is fully adjustable, padded and will roll with your movement. It’s also very sturdy and allows you to reach the various parts of your drum set conveniently. It’s a throne fit for a drumming king.
When buying a drum throne, we recommend that you go directly to the seller or the music shop to try it out. Making an online purchase might be a mistake especially if you intend to spend hours on it mastering your drumming skills.
Drum Stands to Stand Out
A drum stand is like a wheel of a car; you don’t notice it until it’s not working and hampering the entire movement of the car.
Without drum stands, playing drums would almost be impossible. There’s nothing worse than having to stretch in order to hit a drum pad in the right spot.
With a wide range of drum stands you can use to customise and set-up your drums in such a way that you can reach all of them and play comfortably. Here are some of the drum stands you could use:
- High drum stands – Made for single drums (snare stand) or several drums (like tom-toms or octobans), these will give height to your drums and lift them above the others. They usually have three feet to anchor them so that they remain stable after continuously taking a hammering. Rosettes, brackets and rods for them are sold separately so ensure you have all you need to get started
- Floor stands – these are usually used for bass drums and floor toms and some of them have wheels. The bass drum has two varieties, the ones that are hanging stands to lift them off the ground and then those classic ones with feet and kick pedals
- Cymbal stands – These come in the simple and boom varieties. They enable drummers to separate the crash or ride cymbals and the standard hi-hats are usually on a cymbal stand. The boom variety has an arm that allow you to adjust it closer to you and stackers allow you to have more than one cymbal on a stand. Just make sure they’re not too heavy to balance them as it’ll all come crashing down
- Drum racks – These are pre-set racks that allow you to stack all your drums and cymbals on one stand. It’s very useful if you move around a lot. They’ve become a lot more modular and useful, but they can be quite pricey.
Giving Your Drums Love
Drums, just like any other musical instrument will need a bit of love and maintenance.
They will show some wear and tear and, even though this might enhance the sound quality as they get played in, it’s something that needs to be watched. Snare drums and drum heads for example might need to be replaced every year.
Getting a good drum cleaning kit would be recommended and make sure you check your drum kit continuously to see if maintenance is needed. You can wipe the surface with a microfibre cloth and if you don’t play frequently, wipe the drum heads to get rid of excess dust that could damage the drum pads.
Electronic drums and practice pads also need a wipe every now and then. Ensure you research which cleaning materials would be most suitable for your equipment. The sales consultants at the nearest music store would point you in the right direction and, if you have your own drumming coach, they’ll know all the tricks of the trade.
Drumming Accessories Worth Drumming For
The more you drum, the more the world of drumming will open up for you.
You’ll discover some amazing accessories that can enhance your drumming experience. Most of these are not really necessary when you are still starting out, but we thought we’ll cover them as you might be able to scoop them up at a great secondhand price.
- Drumstick holders will hold your drumsticks conveniently when you’re not using them. It can be useful if you have to quickly switch to some hand drums or percussion instruments
- Drum bags will help you move and carry your drums, who knows you might book a show in the next couple of months
- Drummer headphones. Only useful if you have a practice pad or electronic drum set, unless your drumming is so bad you don't want to hear it yourself
- Drum rugs are important if you want your drums to stick. All the bashing might make them move away and that could become problematic in the middle of a song
- Drum carriers are generally for drummers in a marching band. It’s a harness that goes over your body and allows you to carry the drum while beating along with the rest of the band
- Music stands are only useful if you know how to read music. If you don’t know how to read sheet music, maybe it’s time you learn as it’ll help any musician’s career.
- Metronomes could be useful if you are still learning to pace your drumbeats. It’ll tick you along to teach you how to tap along with an eight note or a sixteenth note for example
As drummer you will also uncover a wide variety of percussion instruments if you are fortunate. These add-ons to any base drumming sound in music can be played by percussionists individually or by the drummer when he doesn't have all hands on deck (or drums). They can create mystical, foreign and interesting sounds and some of these are quite unconventional like whistles and bells.
Some people would list hand drums under percussion instruments, but here are a couple of interesting ones that you can explore when you have a chance:
- Pellet drum
- Wood Block
- Bongo drum
- Conga drum
- Djembe drums
The list of percussion instruments is endless and it’s certainly a colourful world to explore and play in.
Are You Ready To Drum?
Getting into the world of drumming is an exciting adventure. With great music teachers in your area and drumming teachers online you can get the drum lessons you are looking for.
There is no better time to get your drumming practise going. Visit Superprof for some drum teachers in your area. They can come to your house if you have a fixed drum set, or they might have a space where you can practise. It’s also very easy to do online classes, safely in the comfort of your house.
We hope your discovery of drums, percussion instruments and the world of beats is joyful and exhilarating.
May the rhythm drive and inspire you to become a drummer to reckon with.