If you want to learn how to play the drums you’re going to need one fairly essential big purchase… and that’s a drum kit. Buying a drum kit is a big decision. Drum kits are unlike any other music instrument in that they’re not standard in any way. Every component of a drum kit can be customised. Drums come in all shapes and sizes. Cymbals come in all shapes and sizes. There’s a vast array of hardware to choose from (stands, pedals and the like). At first glance it looks like total chaos. But fear not! Don’t be intimidated, it’s not as scary as it looks. Let’s try to narrow things down a bit.
Buying a Drum Kit – Acoustic or Electronic?
This is the biggest initial decision you need to make and there’s a full article on the subject here. In a nutshell:
- Acoustic kits are CHEAP and LOUD
- Electronic kits are more EXPENSIVE and QUIET
Obviously this is massively simplifying things but you can get a lot more for your money if you go down the acoustic route… but there are downsides.
Acoustic Drum Kits
If you live somewhere that can handle the noise of an acoustic kit then these will always win hands-down. You get more for your money and they’re more fun to play. If you join a band, which I’d highly recommend, then you’ll almost certainly need an acoustic kit. So consider an acoustic drum kit if it will be played in:
- A basement
- A detatched house
- A soundproofed garage
- A soundproofed room
- A rehearsal studio
- A gig
TYPICAL BUDGET FOR REAL DRUMS: Around £400 will get you a really nice brand new starter kit with cymbals and all the accessories. Second hand you can sometimes pick up a bargain drum kit for as little as £200. You can easily spend £3,000 on a pro-level kit.
BUT please don’t underestimate how loud real drums are. They’re LOUD. I’m been playing drums my whole life and I still think they’re load. You MUST protect your hearing and have good neighbours! There are loads of great drum manufacturers out there – Pearl, Yamaha and Tama being a few of them. If you’ve settled on the acoustic drum route, great decision – take a look at this guide next.
Electronic Drum Kits (e-kit)
If noise is going to be an issue, which it is for most people, then go down the electronic route. Consider an electronic drum kit if it will be played in:
- A flat
- A semi-detatched house
- A non-soundproofed garage
TYPICAL BUDGET FOR ELECTRONIC DRUMS: £700 will get you a reasonable starter kit but even at this price there’ll be compromises. Again, look out for second hand bargains!
Electronic kits are pretty awesome these days however the biggest downside is the cost. Cheap electronic drum sets are generally terrible and are more likely to put you off playing the drums for life. The top manufacturers to look out for are Yamaha and Roland, closely followed by Alesis.