How To Buy Drums

Chris AtchleyWhen I started writing this article, I initially planned on creating a quick 2 or 3 page piece to help you know what to look for in a kit. What ended up happening was it quickly grew… and grew… and grew into a full fledged buyers guide for drums and cymbals. The reason for this is because I stepped back and remembered when I was buying my first kit.

I was 10 years old and my mom and dad took me down to the local small market music store and proceeded to get reamed on an entry level kit. The reason for this was because none of us knew any better. No one took the time to explain what everything was, how it worked, why I did or did not need it, etc. I wrote this article to help that scenario from happening to you.

This article includes everything I wish someone would have told me and my blue collar parents before we set foot in a local music store. Just like with anything in life, if you have someone willing to help educate you on a certain topic you can make sure you are not taken advantage of and insure you get the most bang for your buck! With that being said, here is my offering to you, enjoy!

Ok… so you are ready to buy a set of drums, your next logical question will most likely be, “Where do I start?”

One thing you should know right from the start is that your options and possibilities are endless. Like with the “Play Drums by Ear” course, in order to know how to get started, it helps for you to do a little self evaluation and try to determine where you want to end up.

In this case, what I mean is if you want to eventually end up playing rock ’n roll with your buddies on the weekends, I absolutely no reason to spend a fortune on the perfect jazz set up. Make sense?

So, now that you know your goal I can help educate you a bit as to what to look for, or more accurately listen for, when you are buying a drum set. I will warn you though, gear is a slippery slope. Addiction can set in quickly and has been known to trouble more than one relationship. Just ask my wife! 🙂

So, if you are ready let’s dive in and learn what to look for…

KNOW YOUR PARAMETERS: This simply means to couple your desires for a rock, funk, or jazz set up with your personal budget. This seems to be a no brainer, but when you find yourself in the moment, staring at a brand new shinny “whatsit”, or the latest and greatest “doodad” your focus can be quickly led astray and you will be reaching for that credit card before you know it!

Stick to your budget and the sound you want to develop. I promise you will be a much happier camper in the end.

FOCUS ON THE TRINITY: In the drumming world your bass drum, snare drum, and hi hat are commonly known as “The Trinity”. The idea behind this nickname is the foundation of any drum set.

If you think about playing a song on your kit, 90% of the time what are you playing… kick, snare and hat! So, the idea I want to convey to you is to spend the bulk of your money here.

We will dive into specifics later on, but the grand idea is to equip your drum set with a descent sounding kick drum and a bass drum pedal that feels comfortable to you. Then go the extra mile to find a snare that fits the style of music you want to play and that you think sounds great. Then add a set of hi hats that fit beautifully to create your signature sound. (By the way, did you notice I just used the “Build from the Bottom Up” method? Oooh shooot! 🙂

Okay… now you are ready to dive into some of the specifics you will need to know in order to make an educated decision as to what gear is right for you.

Leave A Reply (7 comments so far)

  1. jon bennett

    hi a how to tune the drums vid woud be good ..

  2. Hi Jon,

    I have a full comprehensive section in my “Play Drums by Ear ” course that covers tuning, muffling, and the whole process. Check it out if you get the chance. Talk to you soon.


  3. thanks for “BUILD FROM THE BOTTOM” idea…..keep it up.

  4. Thanks Samir! I have certainly found that this system works wonders for beginners. It really seams to be the best way I have found to get all your limbs working together to learn new lessons.

  5. MikeS

    Hi Chris,
    As one of Griff, guitar students, I’m not looking to become a “real” drummer, but I’d like to improve my sense of timing and be able to jump in with a simple beat at jams.
    I have minimal space and a wife that thinks I’m crazy for all the money I’d spent on guitars ( = an expensive drum kit is out of the question).
    Do you have any suggestions on how I could best begin working on the things that you have already sent out? Sticks and a pad? electronic kit? (electronic is appealing if only because I could play with headphones)
    BTW, you rocked Midland!

  6. @Mike S: Thanks for the kind words Mike! Although I am not a big fan of electronic kits, they are great for being able to practice at a volume which will keep the wife happy! 🙂 Here is one of my articles on the subject… Every acoustic company has introductory level kits, but if you stick with the big names you should be fine. Check out Pearl, DW, Ludwig, Yamaha, etc. Any one of these companies entry level kits will do just fine for you. Talk to you soon!

  7. chris I want to thank you for your time and insprition on all matters concerning drums. your profisionalism is outstanding i look forward to leaning from you. thanks kirk