Parts of a drum set

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drummer pov

For a start, let me tell you that one drum set consists of many parts and pieces. In this article, I will guide you through the basic drum set part because this is the most expandable instrument. What does that mean? It means that you can always add a few cymbals, cowbells, electronic pad. 

The world of drum gadget is enormous, but as you get more into drums and drumming equipment, you will filter those things and use what fits you and your budget.

Let’s dive into it!

When we say drums we mean on wooden parts, right? Of course, there are some acrylic drums as well, but mainly it’s made out of wood.

Wodden parts

Bass drum tama

Bass drum

It is the biggest drum component in the set.

A basic drum set will contain only one.

If you want to play hard rock or metal beats, you are going to need one more bass drum or a double pedal.

For the beginner, one bass drum and one pedal will be more than enough.

Ludwig snare drum

Snare drum

With a cheaper drum set, you will get a snare drum; one of the most important drum components.

Snare drums have a completely different sound than the rest of the drum kit because of the snare wire on the bottom.

You can adjust it to get different sounds or simply experiment with different drum heads to get diverse sound.

As a bass drum, some professional drummers use two snare drums, usually smaller, shallow or tuned lower or higher.

toms for drum set

Toms

In most cases, you will get 3 toms, but some jazz or rock drum sets contain only 2 toms, a high tom, and a rack tom.

Toms are mounted on a rack or a tom holder, like on an image.

Toms on an image are High toms or high and a Middle tom and the bigger ones are Floor or Rack toms.

All drum companies have a similar pallete of drums. The best drum sets are made out of maple tree. Nowadays they add additional ply of some exotic tree. 

If you have enough money, you always touch base with a drum company and choose the would for your drum set.

Middle series comes with an oak tree while to low budget series come with birch or some combination. You can find oak or maple wood in lower series, but that’s not the same quality as for the top series. 

There are no two exactly the same wood pieces; that’s why there are no two exactly the same drum sets. Go to the to store try out a couple of models, listen and finally buy what sounds the best to you.

Hardware

Drum equipment, in general, come in many sizes and shapes. The same thing goes for the hardware.

The basic hardware structure is made out of:

  • snare drum stand,
  • drum pedal (single)
  • hi-hat stand
  • two cymbal stands
  • drum throne

What they are and what is their purpose?

Mainly their purpose is to hold something, a hi-hat, drum throne, snare drum, toms but they can have a different purpose.

Snare drum stand

As you probably realize from the photo, it’s made of aluminium, and, it’s purpose is o hold a snare drum. The options you can adjust with knobs are the height and the angle.

Drum pedal

Nowadays, we have several different drum pedals. Here is a little comparison. On the left, we have new models. The main goal is to improve transmission and a feel. Trought the history drum pedal evolve. 

The first type was a single chain pedal. On the right, you can see a second type that has a double chain. On the left, you can see the new generation pedals. 

They don’t have a chain, but the transmission is direct what makes pedal do be more accurate. This system is called direct drive. Also, as you probably realize the apparent difference between single and double pedals.

What is a double pedal for?

In the old days, the rock and metal drummers had two bass drums. The double pedal allows you to play the same way with only one difference. 

Big disclaimer here is that two separate pedals with two bass drums are always a better solution when it comes to feel. With double pedal, the one does not hit directly so usually the feel on the left and right pedals is a little bit different.

Hi-Hat stand

It’s there to hold a hi-hat cymbal. You can adjust the height, fell off the pedal, amount of space between top and bottom hat when you move the foot from a stand.

The more solid stand is and more small adjustments it has, the more expensive it is.

Also here we have a couple of types. On the image to the right, it is a basic type but let me show you two hybrid ones.

yamaha ho hat stand for drummers
hi hat stand drum parts
hi hat stand for drummers

As you can see, they can be folded, moved around and all of that. Generally, in the music world, the more adjustment features you have the object is more expensive.

Cymbal stand

This one is straightforward with few variations but all very similar. It is made with a purpose to hold a crash, ride or any other type of a cymbal.

Like on all stands, height and angle can be adjustable.

crash cymbal stand

Drum throne

The main variation is whether the throne has a backrest or not. Also, the same rule applies here, with stability and comfort increase price increases even.

Main hybrid variation of drum throne has a speaker inside the seat.

This is not just a drum throne but the whole system by Porter & Davis.

Check out the video of hardware makeover just to get a few ideas of drum hardware possibilities.

Cymbals

sabian hhx evolution cymbal set

Beside drums (wood), cymbals are the most expensive part of drum equipment and the most important one. Let me tell you a bit more about the basic types of cymbals you need for a start, what their purpose is, and how they sound.

Types

The three basic cymbals you are going to get with a cymbal set are:

  • Ride cymbal – the biggest one
  • Crash cymbal – middle size
  • Hi-hat cymbals – two cymbals combined

Drum equipment, in general, come in many sizes and shapes. The same thing goes for the hardware.

The basic hardware structure is made out of:

  • snare drum stand,
  • drum pedal (single)
  • hi-hat stand
  • two cymbal stands
  • drum throne

What they are and what is their purpose?

Mainly their purpose is to hold something, a hi-hat, drum throne, snare drum, toms but they can have a different purpose.

 

Cymbal set sizes

  • Ride is usually 20″ or 22″
  • Crash goes from 14″ to 20″
  • Hi-hat is often either 13″ or 14″.

There are different sorts of effect cymbals like China, Splash, O-zone and many more. You can also find two cymbals combined together as a Stack

Sound

The larger the cymbal, the louder the sound, it is as simple as that. Ride and hi-hat are rhythm cymbals, and the others are used to accent some note or parts of the song. The purpose of the cymbal also depends on the music genre. Some cymbals are great for metal but not for jazz.

Nowadays we have a lot of cymbals sounds, so it is tough to classify them. Most drummers have expressions for a cymbals sound like:

  • Bright – high pitch
  • Dry – lower, not so clear
  • Dark – low pitch

From my personal experience, I can tell you that if you don’t have a proper technique, the cymbals will crack more often, but I notice a difference between brands also.

For instance, with Paiste, you will be able to find pretty good middle-range cymbals, with great sound and a reasonable price. On the other Paiste and Meinl cymbals are more brittle that Zildjian or Sabian. 

However, Zildjian and Sabian middle-range doesn’t exist or at least for the Paiste price.

My recommendation for you is to start with the cheapest cymbals for in order not the crack the $500 cymbal in the first couple of months. Later, when you decide to level up.

  • For middle-range, my recommendation is to go with Paste PST 8 or PST 7 series. For top-level Zildjian A and K custom or Sabian HHX, AAX or Vault Series.

Additional Gear

Drum heads

They come in all sorts of sizes and types, but the basic ones are:

  • 1 and 2 ply heads
  • Clear or coated

These are the basic types, but nowadays you can find coloured ones, black muffled heads etc.

In this video, you can get a closer picture of the difference between these basic drum head types

Drum sticks

Here you definitely want to pay attention to your choice because, it will matter in the future. Whichever drum stick you choose, there is a huge possibility you will change them in the future. Experimenting with sticks is very common among drummers; it will, however, be tough to switch when you get used to one pair. 

Every drumstick has a printed mark which signifies the length of the stick and the thickness. Industry standards are 7a,5a,5b,3a… The higher the number, the thinner the stick.
Also, you can have sticks with plastic tips, different size, shapes, colours, etc. 

Here is and example of three totally different stick types.
The top model is used for unplugged gigs it has a purpose to change the attack and to get a different sound out of the drum.
The middle one is the most commonly used in jazz but also for ballads.
On the bottom, we have the basic type of drum stick

drumstick types

Addons

I already mention that you can expand a drum set with many different drums set parts.

I wanted to give you a few ideas and inspire you with all these creative possibilities.

Mics

The first thing you are going to need for a live gig or to record the sound are the drum mics. The basic set consists of two overheads used to mic the cymbals from the top. 

Three tom mics that you will mount directly on toms. Bass drum mic with whom you will need a stand. The mic that usually doesn’t come with a set is a snare drum mic. It can be mounted directly or with used with a stand.

My recommendation here is to go with Shure mics for overheads and a legendary Shure SM57 snare drum mic, Audix D6 for a bass drum and for the toms Audix D series or Seinheiser E604.

It is hard to find a professional drummer who doesn’t have at least a few of these mics on his drum set. These mics can be used for the studio as well, but in the studio, you can find a lot of more expensive mics, that’s why I am suggesting these.

Electronics

roland octapad
eletronic drum parts

Possibilities are endless, but the few most common is to trigger your drums with drum triggers instead of mic them with drum mics.

How do drum triggers work?

They pick a signal from your playing and convert the sound of the drum into whatever sound you assigned them on your computer. With drum triggers, drummers use and external sound card in order not to get any latency (late audio).

Electronic drum pads VS Electronic drum sampler

You can add some of these electronic pads to your drum set; the main difference is in their purpose.

Electronic drum pads such as Roland Octapad SPD-30 have a large sound base, but you can’t add any new sounds.

Electronic drum samples such as Roland SPD-SX or Yamaha DTX Multi 12 usually come empty or with a few presets. They allow more creativity. You can add you own samples, loops, play the metronome to yourself etc.

Both devices could be used with external bass drum kick or some other external electronic.

Perccusisson

percussion for drums

Drummers often tend to add all sorts of  percussion instruments to their drum set. The most common ones are cowbell, tambourine, timbales, rototoms, chimes etc.

In-ear monitors/headphones

For the on-stage monitoring, you have few options. The first one is to use a speaker like in the good old days — second option i to go with headphones or in-ear monitors. Before you go out and purchase a product, find out why do drummers wear headphones.

My vote goes to in-ear monitors and here is why:

  • They provide the highest level of sound isolation
  • Reasonable price
  • Best hearing protection
  • Go with Shure; they are well made
If you decide to go with regular headphones, check out our post Best isolation headphones for drummers.

Gadgets

The market is full of drum gadgets invented to make you life more comfortable. 

Here is a shortlist:

The most tedious parts of the equipment are bags and cables for sure, but unfortunately, you will need them also, and you will change them a lot.

Wrap up!

I hope you enjoyed the parts of a drum set article and that you find it useful. If you want to get more into pricing check my drum set cost post.

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