Drum Kits: A first-time buyers guide1:33, 15th July 2019
With July being our percussion issue, we asked Austin of Consordini to prepare this introductory guide to help any budding drummers out there
Playing the drums is a great activity for children of all ages. It is one of the most popular instruments to play but comes with some minor challenges that should be recognised before you purchase. If you’re looking to buy your first drum set, either for yourself or your child, then this article will take you through some of the things to look out for when purchasing. If you’re a percussion teacher, feel free to share this article with new students!
It’s important to get the right drum kit for the right situation. Learning to play the drums takes time. Some people pick this up quicker than others. Either way, you need to have a suitable place with enough room to play and store the drum set after use. The good news is that drum kits come in all shapes and sizes.
Drum kits are either acoustic or electronic. Electronic drum kits are convenient in that they allow you to play at any volume. They are usually smaller and more portable, which makes for easier storage. Acoustic drums are actual drums with resonating drumheads.
Acoustic drum sets come in sizes for both adults and kids, so you need not worry if you’re planning on purchasing for a young student – there are lots of options. Let’s examine some alternatives to acoustic drum kits first.
If you want a quick and easy introduction to drumming, there are many downloadable apps that can be played on smart devices for free. These apps will take you or your child through the basics of a drum set and can be played simply by tapping on the screen. Some popular examples are ‘Ratatap Drums’ for iOS and ‘Simple Drums’ for Android. These apps may be the quick and convenient introduction to drums that you need and can help build rhythm skills.
Moving on from apps, there are a whole host of electronic drum kits which are compact in size. Roll-up drum sets are just that; they can quite literally be rolled up and played on. These drum sets are small and portable and even come with a connecting bass drum pedal. The cost of these sets is low too – most can be purchased for under £40.
While roll-ups do not provide the realism of a full drum set, they do allow the user to get to grips with some of the fundamentals of drumming coordination. Check out the Music Alley Roll-Up Drum Kit for an example.
The DD40 is another table-top electronic drum set which can be played with drumsticks. This set is bigger, bulkier, and more robust than any roll-up drum kit. It also comes with a variety of different drum kit sound banks, so that you can change style whenever you please. There is a pedal for the bass drum and the hi-hat. These drum kits can be configured to suit either left- or right-handed players and can be used with headphones to keep the volume down to a minimum.
Full-size drum kits
If you’re looking to get something that closer resembles a full drum kit, there are other options. Drum sets such as the Roland TD-1K are an ideal introduction to electronic drum sets for either kids or adults. These sets can be configured to suit players of all sizes. They come with individual pads for snare and toms. There are also two pedals included which function as a hi-hat and bass drum.
If space is at a premium and you want to keep the size down, take a look at the Roland TD-4KP. This electronic drum kit is aimed at players on the move and is extremely portable. It can actually be carried quite easily in two carry cases.
One of the most common mistakes parents make when buying a drum kit for their child is the size of the instrument. There’s no point in buying a full adult-size drum set for a five-year-old – they won’t be able to physically reach the drums. For this reason, there are many child-size drum kits on the market. They cater to kids of all ages, from two upwards.
These drum sets are light and portable and do not create as much volume as a full-size drum set. In most cases, child drum kits come with both a drum stool for sitting on, and a pair of kid-size drumsticks, so you’ll have everything you need to get going right away.
The average drum set that you will be familiar with can be made from many different types of material, but by far the most common is wood. These drum kits are referred to as ‘acoustic’. Acoustic drum sets can produce high volumes of sound when played, so it’s important that you have an appropriate practice space in which to store your set.
A typical adult-size drum kit can suit many children, from ten years old and upwards. It depends on the size of the child in question. Full-size drum kits range in price from around £160 to £8,000. In some cases, cymbals will need to be purchased separately, as you will only be purchasing the individual drums.
Make sure when buying that you are getting drums, cymbals, and hardware altogether. Hardware, in this case, means the metal stands and pedals which make up a drum kit.
For parents, if you’re not sure where to start, it can be a good idea to send your child for one drum lesson to see how they get on. At the end of the lesson you can get some feedback from the instructor as to how they fared and what kind of drum kit would be suitable. You don’t want to make the mistake of spending hundreds on a drum kit only for your child to realise that they actually are not so keen on the idea.
To summarise, there are two main points to consider before you make a purchase of a drum kit for your child. The first is what size of drum set will suit best. The second is how long they will get out of the drum set before they get bored or need an upgrade
Do your research, weigh up the options, and be sure to get an opinion from the budding drummer themselves. Good luck!