Some Background on the Drums
The drums or, as they are also referred to, the drum set or drum kit, are less a single instrument and more a collection of instruments. If you have ever been to the symphony or seen a marching band you will see some of the individual components of a drum set but played one at a time and by one musician. Somewhere along the line the snare, bass and tom tom drums, along with cymbals and other percussion goodies, became the drum set.
Pretty well every musical ensemble uses the drum set and so it is a popular instrument to learn to play.
For new music students and their families we like to refer to the drums as “the hardest instrument to get into the house”. We say this because of the perception of the instrument being loud, expensive and big.
As far as being too loud, yes it is one of the louder acoustic instruments but, like most acoustic instruments, it can be played quieter. Unlike other acoustic instruments, playing louder is what the drums do best and we need lessons to play quieter. With other loud acoustic instruments like brass and woodwinds we need lessons and developed lung power to play them louder.
Are they too expensive? Well compared to a piano they are a bargain. With a new piano starting at $3,000 that $600 drum set looks pretty good. Although a starter guitar can be $100. That puts the drums in the middle ground as far as instrument pricing but for someone wanting to learn the drums, other instruments are not an option.
Drums come in many sizes and configurations so don’t confuse that humongous drum set you see on TV with the one you, your son or daughter will be coming home with.
Now that You’ve Decided to Let the Drums in the Front Door
Once you have gotten used to the idea that drums can and do belong in your house you do have quite a few options.
New vs. Used
It is no secret that buying used can save you money over buying new. Now if I went out to buy a used car, I know I would not have a clue on what to check out. So I would take it to a mechanic. As well, there are regulations on the sale of used cars. At some level we have to trust the seller, whether private or from a car dealer. As well we have some legal recourse if there is something wrong.
With a used drumset you need to know a few things.
- What are the essential items I need in a drumset?
- What is reasonable wear and tear to expect from a used drumset?
- What is the value of an equivalent new drumset
- What do I NOT need in a drumset?
- Is everything in working order?
The instruments that comprise a basic drumset are
bass drum and pedal
You could also have a crash cymbal, cowbell, 2nd tom and/or floor tom included as part of a reasonable drumset.
The only non musical item you should get with your used drumset (or get new to go with your drumset) is a drum throne. This is a special adjustable seat for drumming and cannot be substituted with a normal chair or stool.
Things you don't need in a 1st drumset
a 2nd bass drum or a double pedal
more than 1 ride or crash cymbal
more than 2 toms or floor toms
an overly large bass drum (larger than 22")
If you buy a new drumset like the one described above you do need to price shop amongst the retail competition. Like many purchases, you have to budget for and also be aware of the ‘up sell’. For example most drum sets are priced to not include cymbals or a drum throne.
Acoustic vs. Electronic Drums
As stated before the drums can be loud and if you live in an apartment, a condo, a townhome,a semi-detached house or don't think you can deal with the noise electronic drums may be a solution. Please be advised that electronic drum sets have come and gone over the last 25 years and are not going to replace real drums.
Electronic drumsets come in 2 basic forms...affordable or good.
For the price of a starter acoustic drum set you can get something like this:
- Can sound like drums
- Headphones can be used for near silent practice
- They don't take up much room
- Cannot be configured like a normal drumset
- Contact surfaces are in dimensions much smaller than real drums and cymbals
- Contact surfaces feel nothing like real drums and cymbals
- Bear little or no resembalance to playing a real drumset
For the price of a used car you could get this
- Looks like a real drumset
- Headphones can be used for near silent practice
- The dimensions and contact surfaces are like real drums and cymbals
- it is very like playing a real drumset
- take up the same space as a real drumset
For twice the price you can get these beauties
At the River Heights School of Music in Winnipeg Manitoba we use these:
These seem to be a mix of compromises.
- They have the real dimensions of drums
- Can be used with headphones for near silent practice
- They don't cost as much as top end electronic drums
- They can be converted to acoustic drums
- They take up less space than acoustic drums
A you can see we have many options and if you have any questions about drum lessons or music classes in general do not hesitate to call us.