Basic Drum FAQ
1. What size sticks should I buy?
The standard drum stick size is 5A. There are many different makes of sticks (Vic Firth, Vater, Pro Mark and Zildjian to name a few) but 5A is a standard size whichever brand you go for.
I would recommend this size to 95% of new players.
Younger drummers (8 and under) may want to go for something a little thinner and lighter like a 7A.
Players looking for greater volume and something a little bigger can try a 5B, or even thicker, a 2B.
2. What's the difference between wood tip and nylon tip drum sticks?
Wood tips are the original and are recommended for complete beginners and rock players. Nylon tips were developed to sound brighter when playing the cymbals and are good for lighter playing settings such as jazz or pop. Students looking to expand their sonic possibilities should experiment with nylon tips when ready.
3. How much should I spend on a first drum kit?
The drum kit market is very competitive at present, with many kits being imported from China and the Far East. Some are made better than others. Two lines worthy of mention are the Mapex Tornado range and the Sonix Beginner range. They both retail for between £250-300 and Sonix kits come in a range of different sizes. Both are well made, with lots of decent features and come with everything you need to get started.
In summary, I would recommend spending between £200 and £300 to get a semi-decent drum kit which will last a couple of years and still maintain some value should you come to sell it.
4. Should I buy an electronic or acoustic drum kit?
Ideally, I recommend students buy acoustic drum kits to get started. Electronic kits are slowly getting more realistic, but still don't match their acoustic counterparts for feel and response.
If noise or space are limiting factors then an electronic kit is probably the best solution, but also be aware that you can buy silencing pads for acoustic drums which allegedly reduce the volume of a kit by up to 90%.
5. What's the difference between a Rock and a Fusion drum kit?
A Rock drum kit is slightly larger than a Fusion kit, but on cheaper kits this makes very little difference to the sound. The larger drums give slightly deeper pitches and sound 'rockier'.
Fusion kits are sometimes better for younger players because they are smaller, which makes it easier to reach everything.
Rock Kit: 22" Bass Drum, 12", 13" and 16" Toms and 14" Snare
Fusion Kit: 20" Bass Drum, 10", 12" and 14" Toms and 14" Snare
6. What's a metronome and why do I need one?
A metronome is a device which gives you a tempo (speed) to play to. By practicing playing along to different tempos you become a more reliable time-keeper and therefore a better drummer.
7. I've put the drum kit together but it doesn't sound great. What can I do?
Drum kits need to be tuned correctly in order to sound good. What you need to try and do is tighten all of the lugs (bolts that hold the drum head on) the same amount on each individual drum to create even tension over the head. The drum needs to be in tune with itself and also sound good in relation to the other drums of the kit.
There are many videos on YouTube which can help you to understand drum tuning.
If you'd rather not try it yourself, you can enlist the help of a professional or enquire at your local music shop.
8. My drum heads are all dented/broken. How do I replace them?
Each drum head or skin is held on by bolts (also know as lugs) which, when loosened, will allow the head to be removed. The heads on cheaper kits especially tend to get dented and occasionally go all the way through so will require changing from time to time. You can buy new sets of heads for your drum kit which you can fit yourself or enquire at your local music shop.
9. I'm getting noise complaints, is there anything I can do?!
Drum Silencer Pads are available from all good music shops and they can reduce the volume of a drum kit by up to 90%. Stick response is slightly sacrificed but they are very effective for reducing the overall kit volume.