What’s The Best Drum Set For You?
Finding the right drum set for you can be a real challenge. It’s a very personal decision that should be informed by experience whenever possible. Although you’re encouraged to try out as many drum sets as possible, you can’t play them all, so we’ve prepared a short, comprehensive guide.
For Beginner Drummers
If you’re new to drums, you’ll want to find a ready-to-play kit that has everything you need to get started. These are usually sold as “combo kits” that include the bass drum, toms, snare, cymbals and hardware all in at one price. You’ll want to be aware that “shell packs” include only the bass drum, toms and snare, leaving you to get cymbals and hardware for yourself.
Most of the big brands make combo sets designed for beginners. Ludwig has inexpensive drum sets suitable for beginners in its lineup, but Tama may be a better choice in terms of reliability and robustness of construction. Beginners can’t really make a wrong choice in terms of brand, though, since with time and experience, you will learn to feel the differences between them.
For Intermediate Drummers
As an intermediate drummer, you want something that can hold its own at a concert and deliver a reliable performance without costing an arm and a leg. Also, you understand enough about the parts and components of drums to try mixing and matching different elements. There is no rule that says you can’t combine a Gretsch bass drum with a Pearl snare, after all.
If you have the time to experiment, it’s worthwhile to build your intermediate drumset over time. Get a shell pack that you really like the sound of and then get the rest of the drum set from there. You can also begin experimenting with different drum head materials and various combinations of cymbals. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes—you’ll learn from them! If you treat your instrument well, you can always resell elements you don’t need. You can reduce that price by mixing and matching secondhand elements. Often, used equipment has a “worn-in” quality that gives it a satisfying sound and response.
For Advanced Drummers
At this point, you should know what you’re looking for. You also know that a good musician never stops learning, so you want to study the instruments and elements you’re interested in. While it’s easy to get lost in technical details, an advanced player should make sure sound is his or her number one priority. Drums that ring with clarity and presence will make you sound better—and that doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive ones.
Secondly, you should look into the upkeep of your drums. Are you the type of drummer who wants to precisely tune your toms before every concert and get a specific response every time you hit them? Or do you want a drum set that you can rely on to produce a consistent sound no matter how often you tune them, hit them, or throw them in the back of a van?
If you want consistency and robustness in your sound, try a rock set. DW is renowned for their drums’ ability to deliver consistent results in a variety of conditions. Many of the Japanese drum manufacturers are similarly equipped. If you want precision, go for a jazz or fusion-style set that’s designed to respond to that type of treatment: Ludwig or Gretch are good choices. It is not uncommon for professional career drummers in touring bands to spend heavily on their sets.