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How to Choose a Drum Set

by | Jan 12, 2022 | 1 comment

Playing the drums can be intimidating at first because of all the equipment you have to buy and the skills you have to learn, but it also gives you options as to the kind of music you want to play, which can be very liberating. Many of the most popular styles of music, from jazz to electronic to rock, include a drum kit as part of their instrumentation. The types of drums may vary depending on different factors, but there are some basics that almost every set includes.

Which Types of Drums Are in a Basic Drum Set?

Types of Drums

You have probably seen professional drummers with large, complicated drum sets. You do not need anything that extensive to start. Adding a lot of equipment that you do not yet need can be confusing as you are learning. Furthermore, you probably want to refrain from buying a complicated drum kit until you are sure that you want to keep playing the instrument.

There are all-inclusive drum kits that include everything you need to get started. You can also acquire each piece individually and put it all together yourself.

Basic drum sets consist of either four or five pieces. The four-piece set includes the following types of drums:

  • Snare drum
  • Bass drum
  • Floor tom
  • Mounted tom

A five-piece set includes all the same drums as a four-piece set with the addition of an extra mounted tom drum. In addition to the drums, the set may include a crash cymbal or a hi-hat, which mount on stands. A crash symbol is one that you hit with your drumsticks as an accent. A hi-hat consists of a special rack that holds two thin cymbals that strike each other when operated by a foot pedal.

The drums themselves consist of two basic parts. The drum head is the part that you hit to make a sound. The shell is a wooden cylinder that supports the drum head and acts as a resonance chamber to amplify the noise produced by striking the drum head.

There are other types of equipment required for playing a drum set. A drum throne is a stool on which you sit to free up your hands and feet to play the drums. It needs to be adjustable so you can sit comfortably to play without having to reach too far. You also need tools to strike the drums and cymbals to make them sound in the way you intend. These include a foot pedal for the bass drum and drumsticks or brushes for the others. Brushes produce a sound that is quieter than drumsticks, but even drumsticks produce different tones depending on the length and the material used to make the tip.

What Different Types of Drum Sets Are There?

There are several different ways to categorize drum sets.

Acoustic Versus Electronic

The acoustic drum set is what most people imagine when they think of a drum kit. Electronic drum sets have been available as an alternative to the traditional option since the 1970s. While it does all the same things that a traditional kit does, an electric set consists of rubber pads to strike rather than drum heads and shells. An electronic drum set may be more appropriate for certain types of music. A major advantage of it is that you can control the volume. You can connect the drum set electronically to headphones so that only you can hear them, or you can hook them up to an amplifier. This is an enormous benefit if sound levels are a concern while you are practicing.

Standard Versus Fusion Types of Drums

Playing different types of drums

Not all acoustic drum kits are the same. If you want to play rock music, you probably need a standard kit. Standard drum kits are louder with a larger tone because the diameters of the toms are wider. Fusion kits produce a tone that is sharper and more punchy because the diameters of the toms are smaller.

If you acquire each separate piece of your drum set individually, you can include both standard and fusion elements according to your tastes and preferences. Bear in mind that you will not be able to buy an all-inclusive kit that combines them. If you want to buy an existing kit, you’ll have to choose one or the other, and if you want to combine elements of both, you’ll have to buy not only the parts of the drum kit separately but possibly parts of each drum as well.

Metal Versus Wood

The shells of a drum kit are either metal or wood. If the shells consist of wood, it can be difficult to tell because they usually have a finish consisting of vinyl covering. In addition to being decorative, this also helps protect the wood of the shell. Rarely, the polished and varnished wood of the shell may be visible.

Drum kits for beginners are often made of poplar and other less-expensive woods. Other types of wood are often used for kits for more serious drummers. Each has its own unique qualities.

  • Maple: A highly versatile wood that produces tones that are bright and warm.
  • Birch: If you’re planning to make a music recording, you may want to choose birch shells, which are loud yet balanced.
  • Bubinga: If you want a mid-range sound with punchy notes, you may want to consider this rare type.

Mahogany: The rarest type of wood used to make drum shells, mahogany produces a darker sound.

How Do You Determine What Types of Drums You Need?

There are several factors that go into the determination of what types of drums you need.


If you are an adult wishing to buy a drum set for yourself, size should not be an issue either way. On the other hand, if you are purchasing a drum set for a child, he or she needs a junior-sized set or a pocket kit. These drums are an appropriate size so that your child can reach all the pieces without straining, which could lead to injury.

Experience Level

It is never too late to learn to play the drums, but if you are an adult at the beginner’s level, you need a set that includes everything you need without wasting money on hardware that you do not. As you gain more experience, you can gradually add to your set as you determine what your needs are.

The same holds true when buying a drum set for a child. Start with the fundamentals and then add more hardware as required.


choosing the right type of drum

As a drummer who plays with a band, you require more gear than anyone else in your ensemble. That can mean a significant investment. As a beginner, use the fact that you don’t need all the hardware immediately to your advantage. Starting with the essentials and then adding to your drum set over time allows you to spread out the cost and make it more affordable.

Another way to save money when purchasing a drum kit is to consider buying them used. You have to check first to make sure they are in good condition, but most components stand up pretty well unless they have faced serious mistreatment. If you are a savvy buyer and do your due diligence, you could end up saving a bundle on a drum set.


Whether you purchase a new or used drum set, it is important to choose one of high quality. Be sure to purchase one of the most trusted brands that have a reputation for high quality.

When you go to a music store to buy a drum set, there is usually one on display that you can try out before buying. Bear in mind that the one that is on display is often the one that the store will end up selling you, which means that other people have tried it out as well. While this shouldn’t have a significant effect on the quality, you should still inspect it thoroughly before committing to buying it.

When buying a drum set for a child, you have to weigh multiple factors, including cost, quality, and your child’s level of interest. On the one hand, your child needs high-quality drums on which to practice and learn rather than mere toys. On the other hand, he or she is still growing, and you do not want to spend a lot of money on a junior kit that you will have to replace completely within a few years.

Type of Music

The kind of music you want to play has a bearing on the type of drums you should get. As noted, standard drums are best for rock music, but if you want to play jazz, Latin, world music, or progressive rock, you may prefer a fusion set.

Once You Find the Right Type of Drums, What’s the Next Step?

Once you find your drums, the next step is learning how to play them. Lone Star School of Music offers drum lessons for kids and adults of all experience levels. Find out more about options such as online instruction and trial lessons.

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How to Choose a Drum Set |  Lone Star School of Music – Austin, TX