You’ve just started playing the drums. You have had several lessons and decided you liked it. Okay, now it’s time to have a drum set at home to practice it whenever you’d like. And while you can decide on a certain model at once if you read about it at Simply Drum, there are some considerations to help you choose the optimal home drum set.
No matter if you want to learn playing drums or to play them seriously, you need a full set to practice. A standard drum set includes several musts:
- Kick drum (or bass drum);
- Tom (one or more);
- Hi-hat (a double cymbal with a pedal);
- Ride/crash cymbal (can be separate or one combined cymbal).
This set may also include exotic drums like congas, bongos, cajon, or others. But these are not necessary unless you are determined to play ethnic music. A minimal set may include even four elements (ditching a tom or a ride), but the reasonable number of components is five.
In addition to drums themselves, you need compatible hardware to install them onto. It’s no problem if you buy a premade set by Ludwig, Meinl, Yamaha, or other world-famous vendors. On the other hand, in Walmart or Target, you can find decent drums by a noname vendor that include all the necessary elements. In addition to drums and hardware, there has to be a drum chair, a key for adjusting drums, a chair to sit on, and maybe cases for transportation.
What’s the Purpose?
The answer seems obvious: to play the drums. But you can pursue at least three various aims:
- To practice and master the art of playing;
- to play gigs while warming up at home;
- to record drums for your music.
The latter is the most problematic at home, and, frankly speaking, we’d recommend you to either rent a studio for recording or settle for electronic drums with the support of numerous sound banks and a built-in digital output. As for the first two, they are similar but with some specifics in both cases. So, let’s see each of them separately.
Only Training at Home?
If your drum set is meant for practicing purposes only, it means you won’t have to move it. So, a full-size one with a sturdy set of hardware is a must (unless you have kids who want to learn too; then, you may need a compact drum set). If you only play at home, you better choose drums with thinner wooden shells. They don’t sound as loud as thicker ones, but they provide precise response are easier to handle.
You can save space by choosing a compact set, which will be more comfortable for kids or teenagers if they want to learn too. On the other hand, playing a full-size drum set after this may feel unfamiliar and require more effort and self-control.
Playing at Gigs?
The advance of this approach is obvious. Using the same drums for training and for actual playing grants you will feel at home wherever you take them with you. In this case, you disassemble your drum set, transport it, and reassemble it at the venue.
This makes your potential versatile drum set more expensive (for around $1000 you can get a very decent one). On the other hand, you will need better hardware and sturdier drums. As for shells, you better choose thicker ones, especially if you play at large clubs and concert halls. These work better in open spaces, though they make more noise indoors, so you will have to use soundproof curtains or other methods of acoustic insulation when playing these at home.
When it comes to accessories, you better always have an extra pair of sticks, even if you play with only one pair, and an extra head for snare and tom. All the adjustment keys are also necessary. Unlike a purely home set, this one requires cases for transportation. Without them, you will wear these drums out too soon.
Hello Neighbor! Or How Not to Make Enemies Around
There is one more requirement for your home drum set: it has to be neighbor-friendly. If you have a deep basement that some may call a dungeon, your problem is virtually solved. If not, you can go for some measures that minimize the noise you produce.
For training purposes, many vendors produce and sell training packs. Providing the feel of real drums, these make much less noise, so you can practice even in your living room. The setup includes the following:
- A bass drum practice pad. It’s a pedal that provides the real bounce of a bass drum but does not have an actual drum and thus sounds lower.
- Low volume cymbals. They are lightweight and perforated, which makes them sound lower, while the feel stays.
- Snare and tom pads. They imitate the feel and the bounce of real drums but have no shells and sound much lower.
If you opt for practice drums, you must position them the way you position the real drums and sit behind them the same way. This will provide you with silent and efficient practice. But for real gigs or recordings, you will require a separate full set.
If you are determined to have the real drum set that feels the same at home and at the gig, that’s great. But its loudness, so welcomed at gigs, may cause you problems when at home. In this case, you may want to buy a mute pack for drums. It preserves the same physical feel but makes the output much lower.
A mute pack includes several mutes that are put on top of actual drums. They reduce the level fantastically, down to 5% of the original loudness. Alas, they only can cover snare and tom drums. To grant the same with bass drums and cymbals, you will still need a practice bass drum pad and special low volume cymbals. On the other hand, installing these separately is easier than replacing the entire set.
Investment or Hobby? (Instead of Conclusion)
How confident a drummer are you? How much are you ready to invest in your drum playing? Well, a pure practice set may cost you around $300, while a real set may be around $1000 or more, and a compact set is somewhere in between. The difference is impressive, but so is the sound and the usability: a practice set is only great for practice, and it won’t last that long, while a fully-fledged one will serve you both at home and at gigs.
If you are ready to hit it, don’t beat it. Pay your hobby the price, and your soul will repay you with the pure joy you get from playing drums. Just don’t wake your neighbors in the middle of the night.