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A beginner's guide to acoustic drum kits

What is included with a drum kit?

There are many different parts to an acoustic drum kit, with a standard rock configuration shell pack typically consisting of a bass drum, a floor tom, two rack toms and a snare drum. Crash cymbals and hi-hats are common additions found in larger sets, while a complete starter pack, such as the Drum kit by Gear4music, 5 Piece, will also come with a set of drum sticks, a pedal for the bass drum and a height adjustable stool, or throne.

What different kinds of drum kit are available?

The drums and cymbals make different sounds when hit depending on their size. There are two main configurations for the way drum kits are set up based on this - rock and fusion. Generally with the rock configuration, the bass drum will be the biggest piece with a diameter of 22 inches, with the floor tom the next largest at 16 inches. The rack mounted toms will probably be slightly different in size, with one measuring 12 inches and the other 13 inches, while a normal snare drum is around 14 inches.

Fusion drum kits do not generally feature a floor tom, instead having three rack toms that are ten inches, 12 inches and 14 inches in diameter respectively. The bass drum is also sometimes smaller than 22 inches, with 20 inches a fairly common size.

Junior sets are smaller to accommodate younger players, with the Junior 5 Piece Drum Kit - which is designed for five to ten-year-olds - consisting of a 16-inch bass drum, a 12-inch snare drum, a 13-inch floor tom and rack toms that are ten inches and 11 inches.

How do kits differ in sound?

Rock and fusion drum kits differ in sound and whether a drummer decides to use one or the other is often down to a matter of preference. Rock kits tend to create a more booming sound, while fusion sets - which evolved from jazz fusion - are considered to have a brighter resonance. The types of wood used in each is often a key factor, with fusion strongly associated with birch and rock kits more closely identified with maple or poplar.

Other things to consider

While some drum kits come with cymbals, these are often bought separately and some professionals use upwards of half a dozen in order to be able to create the kinds of sounds that they want. A White Horse Primitive 6" Splash Cymbal, for example, creates a raw and primitive sound, while a White Horse Pro 15" China Crash cymbal produces a bright and vigorous sound. A full White Horse Pro Cymbal Pack containing 14-inch hi-hats, an eight-inch splash cymbal, an 18-inch crash cymbal and a 20-inch crash/ride cymbal is available for £179.95.

While drums have a reputation for being loud, it is possible to lessen the sound they make significantly in order to practice quietly through the use of silencing pads. The Drum Kit Silencing Pad Set, for example, can reduce the noise of a drum kit by up to 90 per cent. It contains a bass drum pad, a 16-inch plus cymbal pad, a 14-inch hit hat pad, a 14-inch snare drum pad and 12-inch, 13-inch and 16-inch tom pads.

Posted on 20 Mar 2009 09:00 to category : Tips and advice

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