Drum Tips - Buying Your First Drum Set

When buying your first drum set, I recommend trying to be very budget conscious. You don't want to spend a small fortune on some really great drums if you find after a few weeks that playing the drums is not for you.

BUT - you also don't want to frustrate yourself with drums that you can never get tuned properly or fall off the stands and make playing a bad experience.

Most young drummers are listening to rock music and interested in emulating their idols. Thus, a first drumset will need to withstand some serious pounding. Not to mention that when you are starting out as a drummer you will rarely hit the drums accurately. In the pursuit of “looking” like a drummer when we are first learning to play, we put the drums through the terrible problems of not only hitting them wrong, but basically slamming them into each other too. This is not to say that as we grow older and more skilled we put the kit through any less stress – the demands of setting up and breaking down a drum set night after night on the road takes its toll.

This all just means that if your drums, stands, and pedals are cheap, or little more than “toy” quality, they are not likely to last too long. Cheap drums will break fast and cost you time and effort trying to either keep them playable or replacing them. You can pay going in or you can pay coming out, but you end up having to pay if you want to play!

The simple answer to a first drum set is the affordable end of a good quality brand. The name brand drum companies all have low cost “introductory” lines that are of good quality and should last well for a young drummer. My personal favorites are Yamaha, Gretsch, and Pearl. All make really good quality entry level kits in the $500 to $800 price range - don't forget to budget for cymbals, sticks and a drum seat, which won't be included in the music stores base price.

Tama, Ludwig, Slingerland, Sonar, and DW, all make good quality products too. Realistically, in the last 20 years quality in drum sets has become so good that the choice really does come down to what is available in your area, and the kind of drums your favorite drummers play – although, when it comes to low priced drums, I would stay away from anything that is not one of these top name brands - some of the “cheap” drum sets that I have seen are just rubbish.
The name brand drum companies have entry level drum sets that are reasonably priced, will hold up well over time, and will include a warranty. Compared to the “cheap” brands, the name brands are a lot easier to get parts for and also have higher trade-in and resale values.

The "Five Piece" Drum Kit

Most entry level drum sets will be sold as a "five-piece" kit. This will be (1) Snare drum, (2) Bass or Kick drum, (3) Floor tom, and (4 & 5) two mounted or “ride” toms. A five piece kit will also generally include snare drum stand, hi-hat stand, one or two cymbal stands, legs for the floor tom, and hardware to hold the ride toms. However, the advertised price will generally not include cymbals, bass drum pedal, drum throne, sticks, cases, or any other essentials for learning to play. Although, some music stores are beginning to offer drum sets sold in a “complete” package - including stands, cymbals, pedals, thrones, even sticks. These "complete" packages can be a pretty good price. Make sure you clarify with the music store exactly what you are getting for the money before you make any commitment.