How to Buy Your First Drum Set


If you’ve decided to learn how to play the drums, you may be a little overwhelmed by all the choices available. The number of components can range from three-piece drum sets for beginners all the way up to drummer Terry Bozzio’s kit that checks in at more than 100 pieces. If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry. We’ll help you figure out which is the best drum set to start out with.

Buying Considerations

The main considerations when buying a drum kit are the age of the beginner, how serious he or she is, and your budget.

Younger Children

Younger children who are learning to play the drums should start with a simple three-piece drum set designed for young beginners. (The number of pieces refers to the number of drums in the set.) This can consist of a kick, snare, tom, hi-hat, small ride cymbal, throne, and sticks.

Because younger players may not stick with the drums, it’s best to avoid buying an expensive kit. If the student decides to continue learning the drums, you can update the kit later. You should still buy a real instrument that can produce a good sound, not a toy.

Older Players

Teens need a full-size starter drum set. A five-piece set is ideal. The set should have a bass drum, a snare drum, two mounted toms, and a floor tom. Cymbals can include a 20-inch ride cymbal, a 16-inch crash cymbal, and two 14-inch hi-hats.

You’ll also need the following:

  • Snare drum stand
  • Tom-tom mounts (usually provided with the drums)
  • Hi-hat stand
  • Bass drum pedal
  • Two cymbal stands
  • Throne

There are some good, affordable, all-inclusive drum sets that contain everything needed to get started. The advantage to this is you won’t have to put a set together from separate pieces. Here are a few things to keep in mind when buying a complete drum set:

  • The photos you find online may show more components than the ones included. Make sure the set has everything you need.
  • If the kit includes cymbals, make sure they show a brand name.
  • The quality of the bass drum pedal is important. If the pedal included is not high quality, consider upgrading. It may be more expensive now, but you won’t have to spend more money later.

Accessories Sold Separately

There are many accessories available for drum sets, but these are some you might want to get right from the start:

  • Sticks: Some beginner drum kits come with sticks. Sticks come in different sizes, designated by number/letter combinations. Higher numbers are thinner than lower numbers. Younger beginners should consider wider sticks.
  • Practice Pads: These are great for practicing quietly when it’s not possible to play a drum kit. They come in six sizes, so you can match each one with the size of the drums in your kit.

Electronic Drum Kits

Not all parents can handle the sound of drums in the house, and most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to practice in a soundproof environment. If noise is an issue, you may want to consider buying an electronic drum kit. Electronic drums have the following advantages:

  • They can be played with headphones or at low volume;
  • They can produce a multitude of drum and cymbal sounds;
  • They take up less space than a conventional drum kit;
  • Some electronic drum kits include recording tools and the ability to mix your favorite songs into the headphones so you can play along.

Some Final Tips Before You Buy

Before buying your drum kit, try out different sets in a store, if possible. Once you’ve narrowed down the sets you’re considering, read online reviews from beginners and professionals. You can then go back to the store and test the remaining contenders. Ask for recommendations, but don’t feel pressured to buy at this point. Whether you’re buying an acoustic or electronic drum set, stick to the recognized name brands. Once you’re sure you’ve made the right choice, it’s time to buy!