Choosing The Best Drum Kit For Beginners

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Drum Kit By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: Drum Kit
Last updated: 16/08/2017
Tags: beginners, drum kit, drum tutor, drumming, shopping

So you're thinking about taking up the drums. Perhaps you're a parent and your child wants to learn, but you don't have a drum kit. Where should you begin? In this day and age it seems as though the obvious answer would lie in the cybersphere. Everything nowadays is just a Google away. You will certainly find a vast array of options when looking for drum kits online, but the yield of results can sometimes be overwhelming. Having so much to choose from can be equally gratifying as it is daunting. And how can we truly determine quality or durability when choosing a kit online?

If you have a local music store, these are normally the best places in which to look. In a small town, they might not necessarily have a wide range of equipment, but will definitely have something for beginners and sensitive to your budget, with the extra advantage of being able to see, touch and hear the instrument. If you don’t have a nearby store or you can't quite find what you're looking for in-store, then the internet is the next port of call. Whichever way you decide to embark upon your quest for the perfect starter kit, there are a few things you should consider.

Brand: There are two major brands that extensively cater for a beginner's range of drum equipment – Tiger and Stagg. For children, Tiger is a safe choice. They deal with junior-sized kits and will cover the entire scope of materials required for your learning experience, including shells, cymbals, hardware and sticks. You should expect these kits to last from 1-2 years, but your child will either outgrow or break the kit eventually. If they are serious about continuing their education, then you may want to invest in something aiming towards a full size and better quality drum set. Obviously, you could just go for a high spec setup immediately, but you should be certain that you intend to continue on a long-term basis. Drums are an investment and can become an expensive passion.

For beginners to intermediate players, Stagg is the perfect choice and you will find that they provide adequate equipment for juniors and adults. They will also provide decent quality hardware, cymbals and sticks along with shells, which are probably more likely to last beyond the lifespan of the equivalent Tiger products. In some cases, you will even see professionals using Stagg equipment, particularly their cymbals and cases, which are considerably good quality and reasonably priced.

If you have had a few lessons already and you know that drumming is for you, then you may want to approach the more “well-known” brands i.e. Pearl, Gretsch, Sonor, Premier etc. Among these brands you are sure to find some decent quality equipment, but one should never expect the best equipment to turn them into a better player. As a beginner, it is still worth starting out with a popular brand’s low-end/lightweight line. If you can sound good on a sub-par kit, you can sound good on anything!

Price: It is all good and well searching out the best or most suitable brands, but it is equally (and arguably more) important to consider your budget. Normally, you will find that price will signify the quality of the equipment. You will do well to buy a 4 or 5-piece Pearl drum kit for £500. It won’t be made from the most expensive wood and won’t necessarily come with heavyweight hardware and accessories, but you can be sure that this kit will see you through many years of learning and practice. I would advise against buying a kit for £1000 unless you are a professional touring or recording musician. For the novice, this would be a case of unnecessary overspending (especially if you decide that drumming isn’t for you).

On the other hand, a drum kit for £100 won’t last for more than a few months. If you are thinking more long-term, but are still very cautious about your budget, then it is advisable to look for second hand drums either online (eBay/Gumtree etc.) or a local music store or pawn shop. You will be surprised at some of the good quality equipment that people no longer have the space or use for.

Reviews: There really is nothing like old-fashioned first-hand experience, which is why I mentioned earlier that trying out a kit in-store is normally the best way to feel your way to the right product. For a beginner, sometimes the more superficial aspects – the colour, size or design, rather than tone, wood type and manufacturing specifications – will usually win the day, but do your best to quality check the product. If you don't have the opportunity to try the drums out yourself, the next best thing is an opinion. Read plenty of reviews online or in drum magazines. There is also a plethora of product reviews on YouTube where not only will the reviewer discuss the equipment, but they will also give demonstrations so you can hear the instrument for yourself (be sure to use good headphones).

In summary, it is best to choose your first kit first-hand. If possible, go to your nearest drum shop and try some out. You will know instantly which one you like the look of and is an added bonus if you like the way it sounds. But if you are unsure, get a second/expert opinion. If you are shopping online, do try to go beyond the more superficial details like colour or design. Be sure to look for a good brand, read reviews and product specifications. Buying expensive equipment at such an early stage in your drumming career will not make you a better player. Start sensibly, be modest and stay within your financial means.

Dean Valentine Drum Kit Teacher (South East London)

About The Author

Hi there! My name is Dean Valentine and I am a drums teacher and professional session musician. I teach students of all ages and all levels, so whether you are starting from scratch or just ironing out certain areas of technique, I am here to help.

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