Sunday, October 2, 2011

Buying a First Drum Set - Part 1

The Christmas season is just around the corner, so it's time to talk about getting that first drum set. Before you go on, though, read this post I wrote a while ago.

Buying a drum set is not complicated, but it's worth considering a few things before you drop a bunch of cash. Here are a handful of considerations to get started:

Think about the size of the drums and the size of the drummer or drummer to be. "One size fits all" has been the motto of the entry-level drum world for a long time, and it simply isn't true. For example, I'm 6'1" tall, and a standard size drumset (22" bass drum, 12, 13 and 16 inch toms) is pretty hard for me to set up in a comfortable, ergonomically friendly way because it's just too big.

Check out this post for more info about drum size and player size.

Especially if the player is younger or smaller, make sure to get drums that fit. While the sound of the drums will be nominally affected by their size, today's drum makers are making great sounding drums in a variety of sizes.

Imagine a pee-wee football player wearing NFL sized pads, helmet and shoes. The equipment won't protect them, and may actually get them hurt if they go out to play in it.

Developing good technique and enjoying drumming is a lot easier when the drums are set up right and you can get to everything in a natural, easy way.

Consider buying used. Purchasing a new kit can be expensive, but buying used - especially from an individual - is an entirely different story. Once I was able to buy a "bulk lot" of drums and equipment from somebody who was moving and just wanted to get a little quick cash. I paid $225, and as I inventoried and researched the items, what I had purchased was worth well over $1,000. Score!

Online sites such as and are great places to shop. I'm a little obsessive about it, but I skim online ads a few times per week, and there's always at least one good deal on a drum kit.

Other sites, like eBay, allow you to list items that are within a certain geographic area, so that you can actually go to pick up the kit (and examine it) after you purchase it. Guitar Center lists used gear on their website, and you can purchase it online and have it shipped to your local store or to your home.

In Part 2 we'll discuss how to get the best value for your dollars, and how to decide what's worth buying.

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