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    Drum Buyer's Guide

    Whether you're buying your first drum set or you're building a set that would make Neil Peart jealous, it's important to know which gear you'll need and the AMS Buyer's Guide will help you find it.

    Advice for First Time Buyers

    As you search for your first drum set consider the following:

    1. Price range
    Set an appropriate price range. You can easily filter your search results on AMS using the price range selection filters on the left side of the page or sort by 'Low to High' or 'High to Low' to see all products in order of price.

    2. Size/age of the player
    Drum sets are available in numerous configurations and sizes so it’s important to find one that will be the best physical fit for you so consider your age and size. In order to properly play your drum set you have to be able to handle it comfortably. For young children there are junior size drum sets available that are scaled down for ages 5 to 7 years of age. For age 8 through teens the standard full size drums set are best.

    3. Style of music you want to play
    The style of music you play will require the right tool for the job. Identify your favorite bands and drummers and research the gear they use -the guy in the jazz trio most likely isn’t using the same gear as the guy in the metal band so choose a drum set that best fits the music. Four piece kits are great for jazz and rock and for gigging players while 5 piece kits can work for almost every situation in between. Go big with 6 and 7 piece sets which offer more possibilities for all drummers.

    Images courtesy of: Drum Workshop Kitbuilder

    Advice for New Buyers
    Advice for New Buyers
    Advice for New Buyers

    Drum Diagrams

    Snare Drum

    Snare Drum
    1. Batter Side Counter Hoop
    2. Batter Drum Head
    3. Drum Shell
    4. Tuning Key Rod
    5. Lug Casting
    6. Snare Side Counter Hoop
    7. Snare Butt Side

    Browse Snare Drums

    Not visible in this picture:
    Snare Side Drum Head, Snare Wires, Snare Throw Off

    Bass Drum

    Bass Drum
    1. Tom Mount
    2. Tuning Key Rod & Claw
    3. Bass Drum Spur
    4. Resonant Drum Head
    5. Drum Shell

    Not visible in this picture:
    Bass Drum Batter Head

    Tom

    Tom
    1. Tom Counter Hoop
    2. Isolation Mount
    3. Tom Mount
    4. Bottom Counter Hoop
    5. Bottom Resonant Drum Head
    6. Drum Shell
    7. Lug Casting
    8. Tuning Key Rod

    Not visible in this picture:
    Tom Drum Batter Head

    Floor Tom

    Floor Tom
    1. Top Batter Drum Head
    2. Top Counter Hoop
    3. Drum Shell
    4. Floor Tom Leg
    5. Floor Tom Leg Bracket
    6. Bottom Counter Hoop
    7. Lug Casting
    8. Tuning Key Rod

    Not visible in this picture:
    Bottom Resonant Drum Head

    Choosing a Drum Set

    Drum Set

    Drum set configurations vary
    but any basic drum set will include these core components:

    Snare Drum
    Bass Drum
    One or more mounted toms
    One or more floor toms

    Drums come in a variety of sizes, depths, shell constructions and finishes. Some sets will come as a shell kit (just drums) and some come with hardware; cymbal stands, hi-hat stand, snare stand, bass drum pedal. Some sets will include cymbals and a seat. Below are a few common drum set ups which work in almost any musical style or live situation.

    4 Piece Drum Set

    4 Piece Drum Set
    Drums
    1. Bass Drum
    2. Snare Drum
    3. Tom
    4. Floor Tom

    Cymbals
    1. Hi-Hat Cymbal
    2. Crash Cymbal
    3. Ride Cymbal
    4. Crash Cymbal

    Browse 4 Piece Drum Sets

    Images courtesy of: Drum Workshop Kitbuilder

    5 Piece Drum Set

    5 Piece Drum Set
    Drums
    1. Bass Drum
    2. Snare Drum
    3. Tom
    4. Tom
    5. Floor Tom

    Cymbals
    1. Hi-Hat Cymbal
    2. Crash Cymbal
    3. Crash Cymbal
    4. Ride Cymbal

    Browse 5 Piece Drum Sets

    Images courtesy of: Drum Workshop Kitbuilder

    7 Piece Drum Set

    7 Piece Drum Set
    Drums
    1. Bass Drum
    2. Snare Drum
    3. Tom
    4. Tom
    5. Tom
    6. Floor Tom
    7. Floor Tom

    Cymbals
    1. Hi-Hat Cymbal
    2. Crash Cymbal
    3. Ride Cymbal
    4. Crash Cymbal

    Browse 7 Piece Drum Sets

    Images courtesy of: Drum Workshop Kitbuilder

    Wood & Construction

    Wood and Tone

    The woods used to make the drums play an important role in shaping the sound, look and feel of the drum.

    Maple

    Maple
    Balanced high and mid range
    Enhanced low end
    Excellent for live performance

    Birch

    Birch
    Enhanced highs and lows
    Reduced midrange
    Excellent for recording

    Mahogany

    Mahogany
    Balanced high and midrange
    Extremely rich low end
    Warm and vintage sound

    Oak

    Oak
    High end attack
    Resonant lows
    Great volume

    Steel

    Acrylic, steel and carbon fiber
    Have become popular options with the pros

    Images courtesy of: Drum Workshop Snare Drums

    Other Woods

    Beech
    Clear, powerful and rich tone

    Ash
    Clear attack
    Balanced low end

    Basswood, Falcata, Poplar and Lauan
    Are low cost alternatives

    Construction and Tone
    Drum Shells

    Drum shells
    are made from multiple plies of one type or several types of wood. The more plies a shell has will increase the attack and volume of the drum but will decrease resonance. The fewer plies a shell has will decrease the drum’s volume but increase its resonance. The most common shell sizes are 8, 10, 12, 13, 14 or 16 inches in diameter. Depths range from shallow to deep.

    Bearing Edge

    The bearing edge
    of a drum also plays a role in shaping the drum’s sound. Edges can be cut at either a 45 or 30 degree angle. A sharp bearing edge cut at 45 degrees will result in a brighter sounding sound with more cut and sensitivity. When cut at 30 degrees, the edge will be more round, making the drum sound mellow and thick.

    Drum Shell Hardware

    Drum shell hardware
    starts with the castings that come in many shapes and sizes, hollow or solid. Powder coating offers many color options but the standard is plating chrome, nickel, black nickel or gold. The counter hoops come in flanged, die-cast or wood and can follows the same as above. Isolation mounts enhance sustain and are low mass to show more of the shell. This is usually on middle to higher-priced drums.

    Images courtesy of: Drum Workshop - DWDrums.com

    Finishes & Lacquering

    Finishes

    Drum finishes come in several varieties but the most commonly used are wraps. Wraps are made of vinyl which is a flexible durable covering that comes in solid colors, patterns and sparkles.

    Solid
    Mirrored
    Sparkle
    Smokey
    Pearloid
    Pearloid with Graphics
    Swirl
    Lacquering

    Lacquering is a multi-step process used to create solid colors, sparkles, crushed glass, fades or bursts. The wood grain is usually visible beneath fades and bursts which can have a high gloss, satin, waxed or hand-rubbed oil finished look.

    Burst
    Fade
    Solid
    Glass
    Sparkle
    Satin
    Stain
    Hand-Rubbed

    Images courtesy of: Drum Workshop Kitbuilder

    Hardware & Cymbals

    Hardware

    Hardware refers to the metal components of the drum set including the bass drum pedal; stands, mounts and clutches which support the drums and cymbals; drum thrones; racks and accessories.

    In most cases drum sets will not include a drum throne. Hardware can be single or double braced, light weight to heavy duty. Drum Hardware Packages come with cymbal stands, hi-hat stands, snare stands and bass drum pedals.

    Cymbals

    Most drum sets do not come with cymbals
    so you'll have to identify the cymbals that fit the style of music you play. The most commonly used cymbals are the ride, hi-hat, crash, splash and China cymbal. There are many shapes, sizes and weights to choose from, and each creates a unique sound.

    Sheet cymbals
    are made from rolled sheets which are cut into discs, shaped and then hammered or lathed. They tend to be consistent in their sound and are available in pre-packed boxed sets or individually. Sheet cymbals are the most affordable option and they are great for beginners or students.

    Cast cymbals
    are made by smelting base metals into castings which are then heated, rolled, shaped, hammered and lathed. This process offers a wide range of sounds and colors.

    Browse Cymbals

    Drumheads & Tuning

    Drumheads

    Tuning a drum
    is the art of getting the desired sound balanced with the right amount of ring. Single ply heads have a higher tuning range and increased projection while two ply heads have a lower range. Each style of music has its own characteristics so experiment with several sounds to find one that fits your style of playing.

    The first step in tuning a drum
    is to make sure that the drumhead is tensioned evenly. Isolate the head that you are tuning by placing the drum on the floor or on a table away from the rest of the drum set. Inspect the bearing edge and make sure that it is clean. Next, check the mounting screws on the drum hardware and tighten them up if they have become loose. Place the head on the center of the drum; make sure the counter hoop is clean then place it on top of the head.

    Browse Drum Heads

    1. With your fingers tighten the tuning screws (key rods).Tuning Screws2. With the drum key (below, center) tighten each screw one rotation at a time, using a crossing pattern –first the screws at 12:00 and 6:00, then the screws at 3:00 and 9:00.Tuning Screws Locations3. As the tension on the head increases the wrinkles will smooth out. Tap the head near a tuning lug and listen to the pitch. After you have made your way around the drum press on the center of the head to stretch and seat it.

    4. Fine-tune the drum by listening to each tension point near the tuning lugs. Even the pitch for any lug that sounds too high or too low.

    5. When the head is in tune, turn the drum over and repeat the process on the opposite head.

    Drumsticks & Brushes

    Drumstick

    Drumsticks
    come in many sizes, lengths and dowel (handle) diameters. The most common sizes are (from widest to thinnest) 2B, 5B, 5A and 7A. Choose a stick that is comfortable for your hand and durable for your playing style.

    Drumstick Types

    The tip
    of a drumstick is made of wood or nylon; wood has a natural softer sound on cymbals while nylon has more stick definition. The shape of the tip can be round, oval, acorn, or barrel-shaped.

    Brushes and specialty sticks (such as rods) can be used instead of traditional drum sticks for playing styles that require softer textures.

    Drumstick Brush

    Brushes
    require great technique. Brushes are telescoped or fixed with metal or plastic bristles which can be bent, looped or have ball ends.

    Drumstick Rod

    Rods
    are commonly used in low-volume settings. Rods are made of a group of small dowels (wood or plastic) that have been banded together.

    Browse Drum Brushes & Rods

    Electronic Drums & Triggers

    Electronic Drums
    Electronic Drums

    Electronic drums
    are set up similarly to acoustic drum sets but use rubber or mesh playing surfaces called trigger pads. Electronic drums feature a digital sound library capable of generating numerous drum and percussion sounds as well as sound effects.

    Browse Electronic Drums

    Features
    Digital sound library
    Low level of surface noise
    Volume control when played through an amplifier or played through headphones
    Create custom drum sets by shaping sounds
    Easy to play along with and/or practice with a stereo or TV
    Takes up less space than an acoustic drum set; great for both home and studio settings

    Acoustic Drum Triggers
    Drum Trigger

    Drum triggers
    give players the ability to blend in hundreds of sounds while using an acoustic set. The sounds can be samples of the natural sound of each drum or a different drum set and sound effects.

    Browse Drum Triggers

    How do triggers work?
    Let’s say you own three snare drums. You can bring only Snare Drum 1 on a gig and use triggers to get the sound of Snare Drum 2 and Snare Drum 3 even though you left them at home.

    Triggers are fastened to the rim of bass drums, snares and toms

    Each trigger has a sensor that rests against the edge of the drum head

    When the drum head is struck the resulting vibrations trigger the sensor, which sends a signal to the sound module

    Triggers are touch sensitive; the sample produced by the sound module will have the same force you hit the drum with

    Images courtesy of: Roland.com

    Gretsch Energy 5 Piece Drum Set With Zildjian Planet Z Cymbals White
    Gretsch Energy 5 Piece Drum Set With Zildjian Planet Z Cymbals White
    Mapex Mars Crossover 5 Piece Birch Shell Kit Drum Set Smokewood
    Mapex Mars Crossover 5 Piece Birch Shell Kit Drum Set Smokewood
    Tama Imperialstar 5 Piece Drum Set with Meinl Cymbals Vintage Red
    Tama Imperialstar 5 Piece Drum Set with Meinl Cymbals Vintage Red
    KAT Percussion KT3 Advanced Digital Drum Kit
    KAT Percussion KT3 Advanced Digital Drum Kit
    Roland TD11KV VCompact Electronic Drum Kit
    Roland TD11KV VCompact Electronic Drum Kit
    Yamaha DTX450K Electronic Drum Kit
    Yamaha DTX450K Electronic Drum Kit
    Mic Holders HiHat Stand Microphone Mount
    Mic Holders HiHat Stand Microphone Mount
    Pacific PDP 700 Series Drum Throne Double Braced
    Pacific PDP 700 Series Drum Throne Double Braced
    Drum Workshop 9002 Double Bass Drum Pedal With Plates
    Drum Workshop 9002 Double Bass Drum Pedal With Plates
    Aquarian Super Kick 2 Clear Bass Drum Head - 22 Inch
    Aquarian Super Kick 2 Clear Bass Drum Head - 22 Inch
    DrumDial Precision Drum Tuner
    DrumDial Precision Drum Tuner
    KickPort Sonic Enhancement Bass Drum Port Insert Black
    KickPort Sonic Enhancement Bass Drum Port Insert Black
    Zildjian A Custom Value Added Cymbal Set
    Zildjian A Custom Value Added Cymbal Set
    Sabian B8X Super Cymbal Set
    Sabian B8X Super Cymbal Set
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