You’ve been putting in your time on your practice pad… or your parents have just signed you up for lessons… and now it’s time to head over to the store and look at a new drumset. It’s super-exciting! But getting a beginner drumset is a major commitment and it’s beneficial for beginning drummers and their parents to be informed about the choices available and exactly what they need to get started at home. It’s also important to know which questions to ask the staff at the store.
You wouldn’t consider trumpet lessons without a trumpet or bass lessons without a bass… and the same goes for drums! Having a set to practice on makes progress possible, and far less frustrating for the student. This short guide to looking for a beginner drumset should take some of the mystery out of the process.
The first question many people ask is, “what exactly do I even need to get?” And the answer is, that depends on your budget, what type of space you have at home for practicing, and what you’re hoping to achieve with your beginner set.
There are a few different basic configurations to consider.
1. A simple, minimal kit
These are just the basics that a beginner would need to be able to start working on the necessary coordination and groove exercises. This would include at minimum:
This setup is great if you plan to acquire your drums from a site like craigslist.com or kijiji.com, because often individual pieces will be available separately. Some major retailers will also have individual pieces available. However it’s not likely that this minimal set will be available as a unit.
2. A 5-piece set:
This is a very standard setup that will be available widely as a unit at retailers and online.
It will include:
A setup like this covers all the necessary equipment for any beginner to make great progress in any style of playing.
3. An electronic kit:
Electronic drums are becoming more and more popular these days due to the wide variety of sounds they can generate, and the fact that they can be practiced silently. The technology of electronic drums is extremely advanced and they are often fully professional instruments. The setup can vary based on how pads are assigned and programmed but often mimics the 5-piece set described above. Sticks and drum stool will still be sold separately. If you are considering this option it is wise to consult with retail staff.
The second consideration is: Do I want to buy or rent a set?
For many people, the notion of bringing a beginner drumset into the house is a major commitment and it can be hard to decide to purchase a set before being sure that the new drummer will continue to play.
Many major stores will offer you the option of renting a beginner set, until you see whether a purchase is advisable. It’s a great option for young students and will often be identical to the beginner set you can purchase – and will be quite affordable on a monthly basis.
When you go into a store you might be dazzled by the number of different beginner drumsets they have set up, in various sizes, colors, and configurations. Most of the major manufacturers these days make a good-quality set for beginner drummers.
This will likely be the standard 5-piece beginner set. However cymbals, drum stool, bass drum pedal, and other stands may be sold separately. So that gives us our third important question: Do they offer a “Beginner” package deal that puts all these things together? And if so, does it offer a significant price savings over buying those pieces separately?
What about tuning, drum heads, sticks, books, metronomes, and other accessories? There is a wide variety of different small pieces of equipment that beginner drummers needs. Some things are disposable, like sticks and heads.
A drummer who practices a lot will notice chipping of the sticks and many drummers go through a pair in as little as a few weeks to a month. This is just a fact of life for drummers but fortunately there are lots of options for sticks.
Drumheads also wear out and you can expect to change them during the life of your kit. A snare head may wear out within 4 to 6 months, a bass drum head within 6 to 9 months, and tom heads should be changed within a year.
Every beginner drummer should have a metronome to practice with – after all our main job is to keep time in a band! You can download an app on your phone like Frozen Ape, or you can look in a store for a Tama Rhythm Watch, a DB-60 Dr. Beat, or any other timekeeping device that will let you plug in headphones.
That way you’ll be able to hear over the drums. As for other equipment, your teacher will have recommendations of books to buy, and can show you how to tune your drums to get them sounding their best.