Choosing the right Drum Set for beginners

Choosing the right drum set for beginners

You are so brave, I salute you.

If you are a parent considering empowering the next generation of Rockstar with the tools of the trade but find that the waters may be a little choppy to navigate on your own, you have come to the right place. In this installment of our Back to School blogs, we will walk you through what to look for as well as what to keep in mind when buying the perfect starter kick for your little John Bonham or Cindy Blackman for that matter.

I personally started “playing drums” on the couch, pillows neatly laid out in front of me on the coffee table in the TV room in the shape of what I imagined a drum kit would look like, all the while beating the “dust” outta them with my Mom’s knitting needles… Pots, pans, table tops, nothing was safe from being turned into a makeshift drum kit when I was a youngster (scratch that, I even play drums on my steering wheel on the way to work now so not much has changed…).

If you see any of these tell-tale signs in your little drum prodigy, odds are fairly good that they are pretty serious about drums, so the best advice I can give you is to avoid buying the toy-store variety. Toy drums are just that—a toy. Toy store “drum sets” can’t produce proper tones or provide the right kind of performance that would keep a new drummer engaged and practicing. So, with that said, here are the main things to take into consideration when buying a beginner drum set:

Acoustic Drums

Possibly the biggest downside to an acoustic drum kit is that it is very loud. There are ways to make an acoustic drum kit quieter with the use of pads or even the RTom Black Holes system with a Cymbal solution like the Sabian Quiet Tones (which we will be bringing you a full review of in the very near future) but not only is this an additional expense to an already relatively “expensive” starter kick but it also takes away some of the playability of the drum kit itself.

The other thing is space, an Acoustic drum kit tends to take up a lot of floor space and would practically require a dedicated “music room” with some form of sound suppression to just get around to playing enough to actually get better. Did I mention that learning to play drums is incredibly repetitive? The old saying applies here, Practise makes perfect and there will be a whole lot of “noise” for you and your neighbors in your young prodigy’s quest to mastering the drums (I believe it takes 10 000 hours to master a skill? I’m just saying, that’s a lot of LRLL).

If, however the above has not completely scared you away, a great place to start would be the Jinbao 5 Piece Drum Kit. It‘s perfectly scaled to accommodate a child’s smaller frames appropriately, but it is built of steel not to mention that you can actually replace the drum heads so it’s definitely not a toy. It comes complete, with a kick, snare, hi-hat, toms, a small ride cymbal, throne, and drumsticks. Everything you would need to get started right out of the box and perhaps best of all, it is very budget-friendly.

If you are looking for a junior kit with more professional features, look no further than the Ludwig Junior Outfit Drum Set. In short, this would be the “Real Deal” starter kit for your aspiring John Bonham.

If your new drummer is a teen, a full-sized starter kit is a good place to begin. Drum diameters are similar to more advanced and expensive drum kits and the overall build quality is higher than that of junior sets.

The Tornado 5 Piece Drum Kit is a very affordable set that includes everything necessary to begin playing right out of the box. With its step-up hardware and poplar drum shells, it can make a great introduction to drumming that will keep new players enthusiastic as they progress in their skills.

 

I would personally spend some of the money you have budgeted on earplugs for you and the rest of the family as well as pretty much anybody in a 100m radius of your home if you haven’t made some sort of effort to soften the blow of the thunderous sound of the drums.

Truth be told, there is very little that even comes close to playing an acoustic drum kit with all its subtle nuances. All jokes about volume aside, this is the place your little drummer should start and please remember always, always, always practice with earplugs in. You only get one set of ears.

Pros:

Perfect for the beginner
Relatively inexpensive

Real tone and subtle nuances of a “real” drum kit


Cons:

No volume control

Takes up a lot of space

 

Electronic drums

Electronic drums have come a very long way in terms of sounding and even “feeling” more authentically “acoustic” and all of this with a smaller footprint and controllable volume… For the most part, the solution in today's “normal” home environments is to go with an electronic drum kit like the Roland TD-1K. Electronic drums let you bang away in relative silence. If you want little Johnny or Janet for that matter to play drums but you're worried about the noise, this is the answer.

They make far less noise unless you plug them into an amp or PA system, and they could even use a pair of headphones for near-silent practice. They are also a lot easier to pack up and lug around. For people who live in apartments, or for parents who fear the wrath of the Neighbourhood Association, they are the ideal solution. They do however usually cost a little more than the typical starter acoustic drum kits but I assure you, the juice is worth the squeeze, especially when your child is just starting out.

A great place to start when looking at electronic drum kits for beginners would be the Roland TD-1K electronic drum kit. It scales perfectly to any size making it perfect for a child’s smaller frame, and when junior is asleep, you could play on them too (Trust me, you won't be able to fight the urge)

Pros:

Adjustable volume levels or play directly to headphones
Takes up less space
Multiple sound options
Built-in click

Cons:

Cost
Without quality triggers, you'd rather be beating on a phone book

There are a lot of optional accessories for drum sets, but here are a few small pieces you may want to consider right away:

·        Drumsticks - Some beginner drum kits come with sticks, but some don’t. Drumsticks are sized by number and letter combinations. The higher the number, the thinner the stick. Small, inexperienced hands generally do better with wider sticks

·         Dampening Devices - Drums ring when they are struck, but too much ring is loud and annoying. Dampening a drum head slightly can produce a much better sound. Dampening gels or control rings are both good options. Additionally, a bass drum kick/impact pad will extend the life of the kick drum head.

·         Practice Pads - These allow near-silent practice while providing playing dynamics that resemble playing a real drum. Even professional drummers use them to hone their skills and develop endurance at times playing the drum kit isn’t possible (very similar to playing an electronic drum kit).

Still unsure about getting them drums?

If you’re still not convinced about getting junior a drum kit, consider this: Learning to play the drums improves a person’s sense of rhythm and coordination, and can provide a healthy outlet for frustration. Research also shows drumming encourages synchronous brain activity in which both hemispheres of the brain work together at the same time. Think of it as an investment into your child’s future with those guys in white coats assuring us that not only is it a great instrument, but it is a brain builder as well. So, if they don’t become a Rock Superstar, they can always fall back on that Nobel prize in physics.

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