So, your child has said they want to play drums and you have no idea what that’s going to entail…
There are 3 main things to think about. They may seem negative, but they are honest.
- They are one of the more expensive instruments to start with
- They are large and will take up a lot of space
- They are LOUD!
To start with there are two different drum kits that you can get; acoustic and electric.
Acoustic kits are usually what your child wants to play. Just the way they look and sound is always a draw-card.
What should I get to start with?
I would recommend getting a pair of sticks and a practice pad with a stand. There are lots of different types of sticks. They vary in weight, length, diameter and tips. I would suggest getting a middle of the road type stick. These are called a 5A. Every brand has one. They come in a wood tip or nylon tip.
At the moment it doesn’t matter so much on the tip. They have a different sound about them but most students don’t notice the difference when they start. The wood tips are preferred by most drummers but the nylon will last longer.
The brand doesn’t matter at the moment either but there are some very cheap and badly made sticks out there. Good sticks usually are between $15-$20 for a pair so, if you see a pair of sticks for under that price chances are, they won’t last and will probably have some sort of defect. In saying that, occasionally there will be a sale and the top brand sticks may be under $10 if you’re lucky.
Some of the top brands are:
When buying a pad there are also lots of different types ranging from $30 up to $200. So, how much you spend will be up to you. They come in varying sizes, 6” to 12”.
A 6” is fine as you are trying to hit the centre most of the time but some people like a bigger pad. The bigger pads are usually designed to sit on top of a snare drum or onto a snare drum stand, whereas the smaller ones will often have a nut in the bottom to screw to a stand. You don’t need a stand but it does help. The reason I think a stand is good is that it’s hard to find a table or chair the right height for the student and this could cause bad techniques or body pains. Sitting up straight is always a good idea.
You can buy a pad and stand set at The Rockshop for around $130.
WHEN IS A GOOD TIME TO BUY A DRUM KIT?
This will depend on your circumstances. It is always best to learn on the instrument rather than a substitute. But what if you don’t know if your child will stick with it? that is also up to you as you will know your child best, however, I do recommend that you wait for 3-6 months on a pad before you spend the money. It could be a great upcoming birthday or Christmas present. I’d they can stick it out on a pad, and they are still going around the house hitting everything all the time then chances are you have a drummer.
The basic and most common drum kits that get sold are 5 piece kits. This is a bass drum ( another name is “kick drum”) and bass drum pedal, snare drum and stand, two toms that are mounted on the bass drum one bigger than the other and a floor tom with legs, or maybe another big mounted tom on a stand. Then it should have a hi-hat stand and hi-hat cymbals, a bass drum pedal, a seat/throne and a stand with a cymbal on top.
The starting price for these kits is about $400 to $500. You may be able to get a cheaper kit on Trademe, Market Place or from a family member or friend. They can be great options but not everyone has these. Also, it is hard to choose a cheaper kit as you may not know what you are looking for and even if the kit being sold has all the parts.
Buying a kit from a reputable store is the best way to go. One of the best stores around is Rockshop, Drumshop in K Road, Auckland. They are all drummers in there and know what they are talking about. But even that can be a bit daunting so it is best to ask your drum tutor to help you choose. The standard colours are black, red and white but there are lots of different colours out there if you look hard enough.
As you are looking around at kits you may notice that the cymbals don’t have the same name on them as the kits. This is because they are separate companies. If you choose to buy a cheaper kit ($400-$500) the cymbals will come with the set but they aren’t very good so your child will want some better ones later on. Often the store may do a deal where they sell a drum kit with a set of cymbals in some sort of deal. In most cases, you are allowed to swap things or add more things if you want to. Cymbals can range in price as well. They can come in cheap sets starting around $300 for 2 cymbals with other professional packs of 3 cymbals being up to $2000.
There are 5 main types of cymbals:
But there are many different types. Crashes are about $300-$400 for 16’ to,20”. Rides are $500-$1000 from a 18” to 24”, hi hats are $400-$800 standard 14”. Splashes $100-$300, China’s are from about $300-$700.
There are, alas, lots of different sizes and models of each of the cymbals. But 6oy don’t have to worry about these things yet. They are usually something that a student will buy on their own as they get better and more involved.
My suggestion is to buy an intermediate kit with a good set of cymbals. This will usually be about $1000 -$2000 or to get a good second hand kit which your teacher can help with. Though the cost is a lot greater than a basic kit, the equipment is much better so it is better to play, sounds great and will last the student for their whole life if it is treated well. From experience I have found that a lot of drummers either still have and use their first kit in later life or wish they still had an older, good sounding kit just to take to rehearsals.
But money is certainly an issue for most people and the basic kit will see them having a great time straight away.
This is usually one of the reasons why not to get a kit. The thought that your child will be in their room wailing away at maximum velocity is not something that most parents will be keen on. Or your neighbours for that matter. Because of the frequencies of drums, the sound can travel quite a distance. I can remember a friend of our family, who lived 7 houses away from us, would mention that they could hear me playing some days. The good news is there are some solutions.
The two easiest ones are drum mutes or an electric kit. More on the electric kit soon. Drum mutes are about $150-$200 for a set. They go on every drum and cymbal and reduce the sound by about 70 to 80%. You will still hear the tapping in your house but the neighbours shouldn’t hear at all. Very simple to use but the student will want to take them off at some point as they don’t feel that good to play on and let’s face it……..sometimes you just want to play loud! There is something about hitting a drum that makes you feel really good. The feeling is like when you hit a ball perfectly with a racket, bat or club.
A lot of parents will go for this option. The pluses are that the volume is no longer an issue. The student can simply put on some headphones and play as loud as they want without disturbing most people. There is still a tapping sound that can be heard but obviously, not anywhere near the acoustic volume. The other is they are generally smaller so can be put in tighter spaces. These are great for apartments and houses that are very close to each other.
Three main companies have been around for a long time and have great products. They are Yamaha and Roland with the other company Alesis that has been around for some time but has, in the last few years, bought out a new range. The good kits usually cost around $1000-$2000, and though that is quite high, they don’t tend to lose their value, this is evident when you go on TradeMe, they are still selling for about $1000. You can buy a cheaper brand, I have seen some for about $400 but tits looked flimsy and didn’t look like it would last very long. Also, parts for those kits are very hard to come by. There are also other companies like Ddrum and 2box, which have some very expensive high-end kits and some entry-level kits.
There are also some kits out there which don’t have a bass drum pedal. Instead, they have a pedal with spring underneath it. These are ok for hi-hat pedals on electric kits but not good for a bass drum – therefore, avoid these if you can.
For an electric kit you will get:
4 drum pads
1 bass drum pad
2 cymbal pads
1 hi-hat pad
1 rack to attach the pads to
1 module with cables
You will need a bass drum pedal, seat, sticks and headphones but these may not come with the kit so expect to pay for these separately.
Seats are about $80-$400, bass drum pedals can be anywhere from $100-$$2500! Any headphones will do, though some of the modules have the larger 6mm jack rather than the 3.5mm jack, so you may have to get an adapter.
I hope this has helped. But if you need anything clarified or if you need help in choosing a kit, I will be glad to help out.