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  • How To Do A Drum Roll The Right Way? A Beginner Guide

    Even if you’ve never had any experience playing the drums, you’ve probably heard a drum roll. It’s a staple of performance culture and a universal symbol for anticipation. It’s the quick beat that gets played when right before a major announcement or the appearance of a VIP.

    Learning to play the drum roll is simple in theory. However, it requires a lot of practice to perfect.

    It’s not as simple as pounding randomly on an instrument! There are many different versions that require different techniques to perform.

    Read on to learn what a drum roll is, the different kinds, and how to play them. Then why not get your own snare drum and try it out for yourself?

    Understand the Basics

    A drum roll is a technique used by drummers to generate a sustained sound over a single note. It is a repeated stroke that maintains consistent length and volume, characterized by the constant nature of the sound.

    While the tempo is usually relatively fast, it can also be slow. The slowed-down tempo creates an audible pause between each stroke. The different tempos and notes change the feeling of anticipation.

    This musical technique comes in many different varieties. The most basic types include:

    • The single stroke
    • The double stroke
    • The buzz

    While somewhat more advanced and less common, triple stroke, five-stroke, and other rolls with different stroke counts exist.

    Drum rolls usually use a snare drum, but you can also play a roll on any kind of drum. 

    Learn the Proper Grip

    One of the essential parts of executing a successful drum roll is the grip. 

    There are several different types of grips used by drummers. Most prominent among these are:

    • The German grip
    • The French grip
    • The Traditional grip

    For a drum roll, the German grip is preferable.

    The German Grip

    For the German grip, the backs of the drummer’s hands should be flat, with the palms parallel to the floor. The hands and wrists should be in a relaxed, natural position, allowing an open space in the hand.

    The Finger Positioning

    The most critical part of the grip is the finger position. The thumb and the first knuckle of the index finger should be gripping the stick, forming a fulcrum for the stick to pivot.

    The remaining fingers should very gently grasp the rest of the stick, but not so tightly that the stick cannot pivot on the fulcrum.

    The Strike

    When striking the drum with the stick, you want the stick to do most of the work. Let the stick pivot down towards the drum and bounce back, catching it with the remaining fingers.

    Practice this bouncing and catching motion as often as possible until you learn to control it effectively.

    Start with the Single Stroke Roll

    Now that you’ve mastered the proper grip, you’re ready to move on to playing a drum roll.

    The first technique you need to learn is the single stroke roll. This style is the most basic drum rudiment, and you want to perfect it before moving on to the more complicated techniques.

    Each type follows a basic stroke pattern. The single stroke pattern involves switching back and forth between each hand, leading with the right hand, striking once per hand before switching. 

    The strokes occur as follows: right, left, right, left, right, left. Easy, right?

    Practice maintaining this rhythm slowly at first. Once you’ve gotten used to this pattern, you can try to speed it up.

    When speeding up, make sure the increase in tempo is gradual and natural, rather than erratic. Once you’ve mastered this basic technique, you can move on to the double stroke roll.

    Advance to the Double Stroke Roll

    The double stroke roll is the next step up from the single stroke roll, and it is only slightly more complicated. It is also what we call an open roll.

    The difference here is that while the single used one stroke per hand before switching, the double uses two strokes for one hand.

    The double stroke roll pattern, then, is as follows: right, right, left, left, right, right, left, left.

    It is vital to employ the bouncing technique to achieve a fluid double stroke with one hand. Just make sure to bounce exactly once before catching the stick and switching hands to produce two strokes. This precision requires the drummer to maintain control of the stick.

    Like with the single stroke roll, you can practice speeding this one up once you’ve gotten used to the pattern.

    Remember that the goal is to produce a continuous sound. However, for this method, you should be able to hear every stroke individually, even if the strokes are very fast.

    Pro Tip: It can help to practice with a metronome to make sure you are maintaining the proper rhythm. New drummers commonly use this tool in the early stages of the learning process.

    Challenge Yourself with the Buzz Roll

    The most complicated of these techniques is the buzz roll, also known as the press or crush roll.

    The main distinction between the buzz and the open roll is that while the stick only bounces once for the open (producing two strokes), the stick must bounce at least two or more times per hand for the buzz.

    The pattern for the buzz roll is right, left, right, left. However, the stick must bounce as much as possible for each hand, so in reality, it is more like RRRR, LLLL, RRRR, LLLL.

    You should speed up the tempo slowly and gradually to maintain control.

    The key to producing a proper buzz roll is by applying the correct amount of pressure to the instrument. Too much pressure results in no buzz at all or a very short buzz. Not enough pressure and it sounds too much like a double stroke.

    Conclusion

    This guide is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to drum roll techniques. After you master these, why not learn the five-stroke, the seven-stroke, or the one-handed roll?

    Endless possibilities await you on your percussion journey. Go ahead and make some noise!

  • What’s the Best Cymbal Set Around $300?

    The Drum Center of Portsmouth is here to help you navigate the marketing hype and help you choose the best cymbal set around $300.
  • What is The Best Drum Set under $1,000?

    With so many options, it can be difficult to definitively choose the best drum set under $1,000. Once again, The Drum Center of Portsmouth is here to help! We’ve done the heavy lifting to help you find the perfect drum set to fit your budget.
  • The Best Drum Sets Under $2000

    You’ve done your time behind your entry-level drum set. After countless hours of practice and gigs, your old drum set just isn’t up to par anymore. You have made up your mind - it’s time for an upgrade! You’ve saved your pennies, and you’re ready to take the plunge. Let Drum Center of Portsmouth help you choose the best drum set under $2,000!

    The Criteria

    There are 4 categories by which we judge a drum set. The first is SOUND. At the end of the day, how your drum set sounds is its most important attribute. Second is PERFORMANCE. Do the drums stay in tune? Does the hardware function properly? Third is APPEARANCE. Chances are, you’ll be looking at this kit for a long time. It had better look good! Finally, there’s the PRICE. How much value are you receiving for your drum-dollar?
    Luckily for you, we’ve done the heavy lifting. Here’s our list of the 5 best drum sets under $2,000.

    DW Design Series - 5 Piece - $1,600

    This DW Design 5pc Drum kit in gorgeous Steel Gray Lacquer is sure to turn heads at your next gig. Make no mistake, this is a DW kit. No detail overlooked, no corners cut. Every efficiency in their production process to meet this killer price point has no negative bearing on tone or sound. This DW kit will get noticed and most importantly, perform with DW quality. We are big fans of the low-mass mini-turret style lugs on this kit. Other professional level features include STM (Suspension Tom Mounts), True-Pitch Tuning, MAG throw-off, low-mass die cast claw hooks, and HVLT shell technology. Perfect sizes: 22x18, 10x8, 12x9, 16x14 AND a 14x5.5 snare drum! This kit is a steal at this price.

    Gretsch Renown - 5 Piece - $1,600

    Gretsch Renown Series drums are regarded by many to be the best bang for your buck. The collective sum of its parts just sound better than most drums at this price point. The Renown maple shells are 7-ply with 30 degree bearing edges, and the toms feature classic 3mm, double flanged Gretsch "302" hoops, and the inside of these shells are finished with Gretsch Silver Sealer. The tone projects just the right amount of cut, warmth, and volume, while never being overpowering. This versatile kit will absolutely excel in any genre or style. Sizes are: 22x18 kick (with mount), 16x14 floor tom, 12x8 and 10x7 toms, with matching 14x5.5 snare in Satin Tobacco Burst.

    Mapex Saturn - 4 Piece - $1,700

    Revered by many for their incredible sound and attainable price-point, The Mapex Saturn Series innovated exploration of hybrid shell sonic properties. By adding interior plies of walnut to more traditional shell formulas, Mapex started a trend that has become an industry standard. This latest iteration of Saturn employs upgraded Black Panther Design Lab features, including their “SONIClear Bearing Edges” which reduce unwanted frequencies and project a strong fundamental pitch and a better tuning experience especially at lower tunings.
    Whether tuned up high for jazz or down low for rock, these hybrid shells make for clear and focused toms and a bass drum that sounds bigger than it should.

    Pearl Masters Maple Complete - 4 Piece - $1,700

    If you are looking for a workhorse of a Maple drum set, this Pearl MCT 4-Piece might be the kit for you. Masters Maple Complete's EvenPly 6-layer premium Maple shell delivers the warmth, power, and clear mid-range tone that performs like a dream on stage or in the studio. Road proven hardware like the SuperHoop II triple-flanged 2.3mm hoops and OptiMount Tom Suspension System will give you confidence night after night on the road. Our only gripe is the lack of tom arms with this 4 piece setup, because they are not an insignificant additional expense.

    Tama Starclassic Walnut Birch 4 Piece - $1,800

    For Tama, Starclassic has represented versatility, durability and continuous sonic evolution using different wood shell materials. The evolution of Starclassic continues with the new Walnut/Birch hybrid shell line. This combination of Birch and Walnut produces a unique quality of low-to-mid frequency warmth blended with clear attack and higher frequency projection.
    Tama Starclassic W/B shells for toms and floor toms are 6mm thick and constructed using 4-ply European Birch for the outer plies with 2-ply American Black Walnut interior plies. The kick drum shells are 8mm, 5-ply European Birch outer plies with 2-ply American Black Walnut interiors. The biggest standout, however, is the hardware. Starclassic W/B’s die-cast hoops, Star-Cast Mounting System, and Quick-Lock brackets on the toms and floor toms make it feel PREMIUM. The sum and quality of its parts allows this kit to hit WAY above its price point.
    If you’re looking for an EXTRA special Tama W/B kit, check out our LIMITED EDITION DCP Exclusive W/B in Liquid Charcoal Oyster.

    Which Kit Speaks To You?

    Any of these drum sets under $2,000 will serve you well at home, in the studio, or on the road. When you’re ready to pull the trigger on your next drum set under $2,000, trust the pros at Drum Center of Portsmouth to help you invest your money wisely!

     

  • How To Tune a Bass Drum in 7 Steps - The Basic Guide For Drummers

    Your drum kit is an ensemble of different pieces of equipment, each contributing to the overall texture of the sound. You must finely tune every piece to get the sound you want, for your audience or a recording session, including the often neglected bass drum.  

    You’ll also want to tune a bass drum if you’ve got a new head, or if your current one sounds a bit off. This is a tricky process for beginners who have no experience with bass drum tuning, but we’re here to help. Continue reading for our step-by-step guide. 

     

    Step 1 - Portholes 

    When dealing with a kick drum, there is a huge debate about whether or not to have portholes. You can buy drum heads made this way, or you can craft your own. It all really depends on the sound you are looking for.  

    Some people will say no porthole, while others say one. Some even say get two drum heads with one of each. The Evans Emad is good for this, as you can get both a coated and uncoated version. Regardless of what preferences you hear, it’s best to make a decision based on what a porthole offers:  

    A porthole gives you the following benefits:

    • Removes the warmth from the sound resulting in a brighter sound 
    • Provides better projection
    • Receive more definition from the beater. This is especially helpful when using microphones because mics can’t capture beater definition without a hole
    • Allows you to put in dampening 

    Without a porthole, there is a more resonant sound and slightly more sustain. 

    These factors also depend on the location of the hole and how big it is. If you opt for a porthole, then it’s best to keep the size to a maximum of five inches.  

     

    Step 2 - Consider Dampening 

    After you’ve decided whether you want a porthole in your kick drum, it’s time to start thinking about dampening.  

    Dampening is when players use materials such as felt strips, towels, and blankets to alter the sound of your batter and resonant head.  

    Not sure what the difference is between the two? 

    • The batter head is the top head that gets hit during playing. 
    • The resonant head is the bottom part of the front head that responds when you strike the batter. 

    Whether you want to ‘dampen’ depends on the sound you want to come out. The environment you are playing in also affects dampening.  

    If you’re adjusting the batter head sound before playing live, it’s likely you don’t need any dampening materials. In a live situation, you want the resonance to ring out and not limit the sound of the front head. Body count in the room usually affects the sound, meaning dampening is not necessary. 

    If you’re heading to the recording studio, you may want to bring a blanket or pillow. Using these essentials or specific kick drum muffling materials will help control sustain on the resonant head, which creates a better sound when recording.  

     

    Step 3 - Seat the Batter Head on the Drum Kit  

    This step is for positioning purposes to ensure everything gets set up right. This is especially important if your kick drum is new.  

    • Seat the head on the drum and make sure the rim is placed on top. Screw in the tension rods, so that they are hand/finger tight. Don’t screw them in too much as this may mess with the bass drum tuning process. This is solely for positioning purposes. 
    • Once you have secured the rods, you will want to stretch out the drum head. You can do this by making your hand into a fist and pressing it in the center of the batter head. Don’t press too hard! 
    • After doing this, go back to the rods and ensure they are still all hand/finger tight. If you have a hole in your batter head, then the best way to perform this process is to lean on the skin while pressing on the center with your hands.  

     

    Step 4 - Time to Begin the Tuning Process

    Now it’s finally time to begin tuning. You should, ideally, tune the batter head first with the resonant head off the drum.  

    • Tighten the tension rods opposite to each other. So, start at any rod of your choice, and tighten it with a finger tight or a few turns. 
    • Once you adjust the first rod, go to the opposite rod on the kick drum. Work around the drum until all the wrinkles from the skin have been straightened out. 
    • Now it’s time for a bit of a test with your drum key. It’s likely you won’t have achieved the right sound straight away, but that’s okay. Choose a tension rod to start at and tap the drum head lightly around that rod. Around two or three inches away will do the trick. 
    • Work your way around the drum head and listen out for inconsistent sounds. If there aren’t any obvious sound differences between each part of the drum, then it shouldn’t need much more adjusting. If there are, then turn the rods ever so slightly until it sounds more in tune with the rest.  

     

    Step 5 - Dampening Time 

    So, we already mentioned dampening the kick drum and what it does. If you have decided you’d like to dampen, then now is the time.  

    An easy and simple way to create a dampened sound is to roll up a towel and place it on the front of the resonant head. If you’re doing some recording or mic’ing, then you may want to dampen up both the batter and resonant head. Put the towel on the front and also place some material inside the drum head.  

    You will want to put the towel inside the drum before you have put on the front head so that it’ll rest against it once fully assembled.  

     

    Step 6 - Tweaking Time  

    Thought you were done? Not quite yet. Now you’ve got the wrinkles out of the drum head and dampened (or not dampened) your kick drum, it’s time to make the finishing adjustments.  

    This is when the focus is on the resonant head. This is the part of the bass drum that can make or break your bass drum sound. 

    At this point, you haven’t actually tuned your drum head. The previous steps have just sorted out the pitch and smoothed out the drum head wrinkles.  

    Set up the kick drum in the playing position, attaching the spurs and the bass drum pedal you want. Here, if you can, find someone else - another band member perhaps - to help you out. If there is no one else around, then sit or lie down next to the kick drum with your foot on the pedal.  

    Whether it’s you or someone else with a foot on the pedal, play it slow and steady. While you keep a consistent beat on the bass drum with the pedal, tune the rods accordingly. From a position that is not sitting behind the drum, as you would be when playing, you can get a more accurate sound. This is the sound the audience, or recorder will pick up when you play.  

    Having someone else with you can also help you get a second ear on the accuracy of tone and pitch that you desire.  

     

    Step 7 - Play!  

    Now your kit is ready! You may need to tweak the rods again once you begin playing, but you can expect a clean sound that’s ideal for practicing.  

    It’s important to note that once you start playing the kick drum, the pitch will go up, but the focus and clarity will also improve. If you like your drum sound more defined and punchy then you’ll want tension in the drum head. If you like a less-defined, rumbling sound then less tension is best.  

     

    Conclusion  

    Remember, this is just a general guide. No two kits, or drummers, are the same. The whole tuning process is determined by how you (and possibly your band) would like the bass drum to sound. It’s subject to change, and you will probably want to change the tension rods and dampening techniques accordingly.  

    Whatever your desired sound, this should set the basis for a long and joyous road to drumming!

  • Parts of a Snare Drum: What You Need to Know

    Understanding the actual nuts and bolts of the drums can help you master the sound you are trying to achieve. Whether you are attempting the tight pop of Questlove's piccolo snare or the rich, full sound of Bonham at his best, getting to grips with the snare drum parts will help shape texture and tone. 

    Each snare drum part has a specific role to play. The key lies in understanding how these separate parts work together to produce the overall sound. Here we will go through the main parts of the snare drum.

     

    Shell 

    The shell is the body of the snare drum in which the sound resonates. There are two main aspects to the shell that affect the sound: size and material. 

    • Size: the diameter and depth (or height) of the shell. The diameter affects the pitch while the depth affects the 'thickness' or 'fatness.' 
    • Material: the two main options for materials are metal and wood. Metallic shells produce a brighter sound, and the more popular wood shells produce a sound richer in mid-tones.  

     

    Heads 

    Snare heads are the skin-like surfaces stretched across the top and bottom of the shell. Every snare drum needs both a batter head and a bottom head.

    • Batter heads are the top head that you strike. These are thicker for durability. 
    • Bottom heads are at the bottom of the shell. These provide a surface for vibration.

     

    Hoops and Tension Rods 

    The drum hoop is a metal ring placed over the batter head and bottom head.  

    Tension rods are long screws threaded through holes in the hoop and screwed into lug casings on the side of the shell. Tightening or loosening the tension rods changes the tension of the drum heads.  

    The tighter the screw, the more taught the snare head, and the higher the pitch. The tightness can bring the texture closer to the funk 'crack' that drives a backbeat. Having a taught batter head can also change the feel of hitting the drum, giving a solid bounce-back useful for ghost note and Moeller techniques.  

     

    The Snare 

    Up until this point, every aspect described is common among all types of drums. The body and construction of the drum, however, gives it the unique sound.  

    The drum consists of a series of snare drum wires that rest on the surface of the bottom head. The drum connects to the snare strainer on one side of the shell and the snare butt on the other. With this design, the snare wires stretch across the bottom head with a tension created between the butt plate and the snare strainer.  

    The snare strainer has a screw that tightens and loosens the wires' contact with the snare head. It also has a release that drops the wires below any contact with the snare head, stopping them from vibrating and creating that unique snare sound.  

    Playing around with the snare strainer settings can produce very different sounds. Loosening the wires' contact with the bottom head by loosening the screw creates a 'buzzy' loose sound. This method is useful for more aggressive rock sounds. Tightening it makes the sound short and crisp. It's perfect for subtle jazz strokes or brushwork. 

     

    Conclusion 

    The snare drum is the most characteristic of drums that make up a standard kit. Tuning and customizing it can tie together a kit's sound. A proper set-up can also have benefits in a player's striking techniques and the durability of the snare drum itself. 

    Knowing the drum's parts means knowing the sound you can create with just a few simple alterations. So experiment with different settings and find the sound that suits your style.

  • How To Set Up A Drum Set: A Complete Beginner's Guide

    You'll never forget the excitement of getting your first drum kit. But if you've never set one up before, you may feel confused about where to start. 

    The good news is that there's no fixed way to arrange your drum kit setup. As long as it's comfortable and enables you to make the best sound you can, you've found something that works. 

    That said, while other musicians might just be able to pick up their instrument and start playing, your task as a drummer is a little more complicated. A standard drum kit can contain as many as five or six pieces. This includes parts like the bass drum, cymbal, floor tom. So, if you're a beginner, how do you know how to assemble the perfect drum kit set up for you? 

    If you're wondering how to set up a drum set, read on. We will guide you through the complete process of setting up your drum kit, from adjusting your stool to angling your snare. 

     

    1) Adjust Your Drum Throne 

    Finding the perfect height and position for your stool is the first step to take when learning how to set up a drum set. This is known as tweaking the drum throne. 

    Remember that the height of your throne will determine the height of your drums. It's important to start by finding the right position for your drum throne. This way, you won't have to adjust the other pieces in your drum set later. 

    Your drum throne needs to be the right height. This is so you can reach the foot pedal of your bass drum comfortably:

    • If it's too low, you might end up straining your shins, as you'll be forced into an unnatural position when pressing the pedals.
    • If it's too high, you could develop upper and middle back pain. The infamous 'drummer's slouch' posture may have become iconic for stars like Brian Blade and Buddy Rich. However, having to bend over to reach your drum set won't do your spine any favors in the long-term. 

    You'll know that you've found the sweet spot once your thighs are almost parallel to the floor, with your knees ever so slightly angled towards the ground. This should enable you to reach the bass drum pedal with ease. 

     

    2) Set Up The Bass Drum And Pedal 

    The next stage of your drum kit setup is one of the most important. It's time to arrange your bass drum. This is also called a kick drum. The bass drum is the heaviest piece of kit. It typically forms the focal point of your drum set. 

    Your bass drum pedal (or kick pedal) should be set at a comfortable tension. You can adjust this by tightening or loosening the spring on its right-hand side using your drum key. 

    After finding the right tension for you, add the bass drum pedal. Use the wingnut on the bottom of the kick pedal to attach it to the hoop, making sure that the beater is roughly at a 45-degree angle to the bass drum. 

    If your kick drum has a logo, design, or hole, this should face outwards away from your throne. But don't fall into the trap of thinking that this should point straight ahead. Angle the bass drum slightly to reach the pedal comfortably. This way, when you want to tap the bass drum pedal, you won't have to won't have to turn your foot inwards. 

    It doesn't matter whether you want to use your left foot or right foot - just make sure that you've positioned the bass drum pedal to suit you. Don't go off the drum set layouts you've seen in photographs or at gigs. Your upper leg should run parallel to the drum. 

    Make sure that you've arranged the bass drum so that there's plenty of space either side of it. This means that you'll have enough room to build the rest of your drum kit around it and won't need to move it around later. 

    Once you're happy with its position, use the bass drum spurs on its legs to secure it. The bass drum spurs will stop the piece from sliding around when you're trying to play! 

     

    3) Position The Snare Drum 

    Next, it's time to position your snare drum. You must be able to reach this comfortably, as it's probably one of the most hardworking pieces in your drum kit. It's also an incredibly versatile piece, so make sure that you can hit both the rim and head of the snare drum without having to bend your arm uncomfortably. 

    The snare stand should sit between your legs in front of the bass drum pedal. The height and angle of the snare are crucial:

    • Too low, and you'll end up sitting too far forward on your seat. 
    • Too high, and you might struggle to strike the skin of the snare drum as opposed to the hoop.

    A good rule of thumb is to start at roughly the same height as you would wear a belt buckle, then tinker with it to find the most comfortable height for you. 

    When it comes to angle, it's a matter of personal preference. Some players prefer to angle away from their body so that it's sloping towards the floor. Others prefer to angle it towards them, as this allows them to make better contact with their sticks.

    The position you choose might depend on the way you hold your sticks. There are two main methods for this:

    • The traditional grip. When using the traditional grip, you'll hold each stick differently, one overhand and one underhand.
    • The matched grip, or parallel grip. However, with the matched grip, you'll hold the sticks in the same way (typically overhand) in both your right hand and left hand. 

    Many players find that it's easier to use the traditional grip when their snare drum is angled away from them, and the matched grip when the snare is flat or angled towards them. 

     

    4) Arrange The Hi-Hat Stand 

    When arranging the hi-hat stand in your drum kit, you should use the same principle you used to set up your bass pedal. You need to be able to reach the hi-hat pedal without twisting your left foot. 

    With your legs at a 45-degree angle, there should be a direct line from each of your knees to your foot pedal, creating a V-shaped formation with your hi-hat pedal on one side of your snare stand and bass drum pedal on the other. 

    Ultimately, the height of your hi-hat stand will depend on your personal playing style. If you're a total drum kit beginner and haven't worked out your style yet, it's best to make sure that your setup won't stop you from experimenting with certain techniques.

    For example, leave your hi-hat high enough that you'll cross your left hand (or right hand) to reach your snare. This is known as the 'crossover technique,' and most players end up alternating between this and open-handed playing. 

    Make sure that your hi-hat is positioned so that you can hit it with both the tip of your stick and the shoulder (the widest point at which your stick begins to taper towards the tip). 

     

    5) Adjust The Hi-Hat Clutch 

    There are two ways to play the hi-hat cymbals:

    • Closed, which is when the plates are held together by holding down the hi-hat pedal.
    • Open, when the top cymbal is allowed to crash down onto the bottom cymbal. 

    The top hi-hat cymbal is held in place using a clutch. Ensure that the clutch is holding the top plate at the right height, meaning it's neither too tight nor loose when the hi-hat is in the open position. 

    If the plates are too close or too far away from each other, you won't achieve the sound you want, so adjust the clutch until you're happy with the position. 

     

    6) Add The Toms 

    Next, add the toms. You need to be able to access all of the toms in your drum set without overreaching, so take a seat on your throne and make sure that you can carry out tom runs (hitting your toms in quick succession) simply by rotating your stool. 

    You shouldn't have to angle your elbows differently between each strike. If this is the case, move your toms until you can reach them all without having to adjust your position.

     

    How To Arrange Your Rack Toms: 

    Let's start with the rack toms, otherwise known as mounted toms. 

    Although these will sit above your bass drum, ensure that they're not resting on top of it. If the toms do touch the bass drum, neither will be able to reverberate properly. This will make your sound dull and rattly. Adjust the height and angle of your mounted toms so that they're touching neither each other nor the bass drum. 

    Many beginners make the mistake of angling their toms too steeply. Over time, this can wear out the head because it puts a lot of strain on the center. 

    A good way to find the best angle is to position your rack toms so you don't need to move your shoulders up or down to reach them. This is not only a better setup, but it will also prevent you from straining your shoulders when playing your drum set. 

     

    How To Arrange Your Floor Toms: 

    Floor toms sit on three adjustable legs.  

    The first step is to insert the floor tom legs through the brackets on the side of the drum, making sure they're angled from the base. Now you're ready to put the tom into position. 

    When arranging the floor toms in your drum kit, try placing them at the same height as your snare drum. As you know that you're already able to reach this comfortably, this should mean that you're able to alternate between hitting the snare and your floor toms with minimal effort.

    To adjust the height of your tom, unscrew the brackets on the sides and slide the tom further up the floor tom legs. Play around with each leg's height to change the angle of your tom, until you've found the most comfortable position for you. 

     

    7) Attach Your Cymbals To Their Stands 

    Attaching your cymbals to the cymbal stands might seem easy, but you need to follow a few steps to make sure that the instrument will sound as striking as possible. 

    The golden rule to remember when mounting your cymbals is this: no metal part should be touching any of the other metal parts in your drum kit. 

    This is crucial - the noise your cymbals should make occurs when the metal plate reverberates after you hit it with your sticks. If your cymbal is touching its stand, or even one of your other cymbals, you won't get the same effect when you try to play them. 

    When attaching your cymbals to the cymbal stand: 

    • Make sure that the plate is resting in between a pair of cymbal felts. Cymbal felts will guarantee that the plate isn't going to rest directly against the metal stand. 
    • You will also need a nylon sleeve, which will prevent the cymbal from touching the thread (or screw) that attaches it to the stand. 

     

    8) Arrange Your Cymbals  

    In addition to your hi-hat cymbals, you'll probably have one crash cymbal and one ride cymbal as part of your drum kit. Crash cymbals are the loudest variety, typically measuring between 8 and 24 inches in diameter. Ride cymbals are used to achieve a sustained cymbal sound, as opposed to an accent for emphasis. 

    The best position for your crash cymbal stand is above your snare and high mounted tom. Make sure this isn't too high, as it will be hard to reach with any accuracy! As with most drum kit pieces, the most important thing when arranging your crash and ride cymbal stands is that you can hit them comfortably, without having to change your center of gravity. 

    As long as your cymbal stands aren't touching any other component of your drum set, it's perfectly fine for them to hang over your toms or snare (adjust the height if you need to). This is much better than having to stretch to reach them when you're playing! 

     

    Conclusion 

    Congratulations! You've just learned how to set up a drum set. 

    We hope this complete beginner's guide has been helpful, but it's important to remember that every drum kit is different. 

    Depending on the brand of your drum set, you might have to change some of the steps included here. For example, some brands use different systems for altering the bass drum pedal with a drum key. Make sure you spend some time getting to know your kit and finding what works for you. 

    Although there are some golden rules when learning how to set up a drum kit, the most crucial thing to focus on is comfort. As long as you can reach all of your pieces without having to stretch your arms or leave your throne, chances are you've found an arrangement that will enable you to get the most out of your drum kit.

    Be patient while setting up - it will take time to get everything just right. But once you do, you'll have set up the best possible kit. Now, get practicing!

  • Top 3 Best Drum Kits Under $500 for 2020 Reviewed

    The drum kit you purchase influences your ability to play as well as playing style. Whether you are a pro, intermediate, or beginner, the drums will determine your level of development, success, and enjoyment as a drummer.  

    If you've just started learning how to play drums, you need an affordable but reliable kit. Once you improve your skills and feel it's time to upgrade, you can choose sets for recording or gigging, without being limited by a budget. Finally, at the pro-level, you'll know which drum sets suit you in kit configuration, drum tone, and the size of the shells. 

    This article reviews the best affordable sets for 2020. Because the price range for drum sets can fall anywhere from a few hundred dollars to nearly $10,000, we will discuss our top three picks for the best drum kit for under 500 dollars. 

     

    Here Are the Best Drum Kits Under $500 

     

     

    Ludwig Accent Drive 5-Piece Drum Set w Cymbals Red Foil

    Ludwig makes some of the highest quality drum sets for new drummers. The package contains 22x16 bass drum, 12x9 tom, 10x8 tom, 14x6.5 snare, and 16x16 floor tom. It also comes with a hi-hat stand with cymbals. 

    The drive configuration is complete with durable hardware and a chain-drive pedal. The brand upgraded these features to give the drummer an enjoyable drumming experience. The best thing about these drums is that they are available at an affordable price range.  

     

    Pros

    • All-inclusive set for beginners
    • Unique design with a red finish
    • Affordable price
    • Perfectly balanced pedals
    • Comes complete with cymbals
    • Durable hardware
    • Includes a hi-hat stand and a seat
    • Easy to assemble 

     

    Cons

    • The seat is not comfortable enough

     

    Verdict

    The Ludwig Accent Drive 5-Piece drum set is an ideal choice for adult beginners. It is affordable and produces excellent quality sound. 

     

    Buy it here

     

    Mapex Rebel 5-Pc SRO Complete Set-Up with Fast Size Toms Black

    If you want your first experience playing drums to be unforgettable, the Rebel by Mapex drum set is the best choice for you. The package comes equipped with cymbals, stands, pedals, sticks, and throne. 

    The cymbals include a 14" crash and 16" ride. The drums also have Rebel by Mapex series shells, which are famous for their solid tone and durable covering. The bass drums give the set a full low-end punch, and the toms are at a lower height for younger players.  

     

    Pros

    • Comes with a throne, cymbals, sticks, and pedals
    • The shells produce great tone
    • Bass drum produces solid low-end punch
    • Suitable for younger players
    • Affordable price
    • Great Mapex Lug design
    • Fully adjustable tom mounts
    • Accurate and faster tuning
    • Self-muffling and powerful bass drum
    • Durable coverings
    • Rebel double-braced hardware 

     

    Cons

    • The kit doesn't come with an installation manual

     

    Verdict

    The Mapex Rebel 5-Piece SRO offers everything you need in a beginner drum set. Its adjustable toms make it a fantastic kit for both adults and children. 

     

    Buy it here

     

    Pearl Roadshow 5 Piece Drum Set with Hardware & Cymbals - Charcoal Metallic

    Coming in at just under $500, the Pearl Roadshow kit is well worth a look. Its bass drum, tom-toms, and snare all feature a 9-ply Poplar shell that provides excellent tonal power. The hardware that comes with this kit makes it an amazing price for what you get - and a drum throne is also included. 

    You can use this kit for both practice and gigging, as the set Roadshow snare is powerful enough for loud play but also sensitive enough to play at quieter volumes. The whole kit is adjustable in just about every way possible, making it great for people who love to customize and personalize their sets.

     

    Pros

    • Professional Pearl Stick bag and two sets of Maple Drum Sticks included
    • Drum throne included 
    • Multi-angle locking tilters for maximum adjustability 
    • 2 year warranty 
    • Roadshow kick pedal designed for effortless play
    • Matching shell and finish 

     

    Cons

    • Only just under $500

     

    Verdict

    With a great warranty and an excellent kit for pretty much any skill level, the Pearl Roadshow set is a brilliant choice. It’s priced at just under $500 dollars, but it’s one of the best sets you can get at this price level. 

     

    Interested in this kit? You can purchase it here!

     

    What to Look for in a Drum Set 

    Here are the essentials when looking for a good drum set while staying within your budget to guide you on your buyer's journey. Some of the things to consider include:

    Cymbal & Stand 

    Because you will be playing your cymbals more frequently than some of your other drums, it's crucial to check the quality. Cymbals should be the first component you look out for when purchasing your sets. 

    Ensure the drum set has two cymbals: a crash and a ride. The ride cymbal is usually thicker and larger than the crash. It is responsible for the higher pitches that improve the quality of sound in choruses and guitar solos.  

    Just like with the actual cymbals, you shouldn't compromise the quality of your stands. Your stand needs to be sturdy. It shouldn't necessarily be heavy-duty, but you should avoid brands that have unstable or extremely lightweight stands.  

    Size 

    When purchasing your drums, make sure the toms and bass drums are of a size you can comfortably play. Younger or smaller drummers should go for drums with smaller depths and diameters to make practice and performance enjoyable and comfortable.  

    Another factor you'll want to consider is the height of the seat. Preferably, you want an adjustable drum throne. An unstable or wobbly stool will mess up your control and balance when playing.  

    To make sure the sizes are right, apply the rule-of-thumb test. When sitting, ensure the upper legs are above the 90-degree angle while the feet are firm on the floor. Next, ensure you can reach all the pieces. Your arm length shouldn't fully extend to reach any part of the set. You should be able to reach the toms and cymbals and easily get back to the original position of 90 degrees from the arms being vertical to your upper body.  

    Whenever you're playing, ensure you are comfortable and in a natural posture. Failure to consider this might make it difficult for you to move freely or do other activities. 

    Purpose 

    It's vital to consider what you want to do with your acoustic drum set. Are you going to use it to learn and practice, play live on stage, or record at home?  

    Because you are likely to stick with a set of drums for a few months at least, you should think of the long-term use. Consider what you'll use the drums for in the next five years or so. If you're undecided, go for budget kits. 

    If you anticipate home recording sessions, consider purchasing an electronic drum set. Electronic kits are convenient for home-recording purposes. An electronic drum set is also ideal for indoor use when there is limited space. 

    Setup 

    The possible setups for drum sets are limitless. However, there is one standard setup that you can use to play most of the songs you hear. It involves arranging your set from left to right in the following order:

    1. Hi-hats
    2. Crash cymbals
    3. Snare drum
    4. Small tom
    5. Bass drum
    6. Medium tom
    7. Floor tom
    8. Ride 

     

    With this arrangement, you'll only need a few years of practice to master playing the instrument.  

    The tuning of the drum set is also essential. Without proper adjustment, a novice player might assume the kit is of inferior quality. The tuning of the drums is the difference between pleasant sounds and noisy sound. The quality of the materials also influences the sound of the drum sets.  

     

    What Makes Up a Drum Kit? 

    Here are the parts that make up a typical drum set: 

    The Bass Drum 

    The bass drum, also known as the kick drum, is the largest of all. You play it using a foot bass drum pedal attached to the hoop or rim of the drum.  

    The resonant head of the drum will sometimes have a hole in it, which can vary the tone of the drum. For live performances and recording, drummers often insert a mic in the hole as well.  

    The kick is what drummers use to soundcheck. If asked to play only the kick, you should play solid hits of the bass at a regular volume.  

    Sometimes, drummers will place a pillow or other damping material on the bass. This technique is useful in controlling the resonance of the drum and diminishing the volume level. The bass drum has spurs (feet at the resonant head side), which, when angled, minimize movements of the drum while playing. There's a wide variety of bass drum sizes; the most common are 20 or 22 inches in diameter.  

    Some drummers, especially those that play in the metal scene, may have more than one bass drum to play faster rhythms. An alternative of using two drums is using a double bass drum pedal, which allows you to use both feet to strike a single bass drum.  

    The Snare Drum

    Snares are an essential piece of the set and form the center of the kit. You can play them in multiple ways, and they are often the backbeat of the familiar 8's beat.  

    The snare consists of a metal or wooden shell with resonant and batter drum heads. Snare drums are commonly 14 inches in diameter and 6 inches in height.  

    Snares produce a classic snare buzz sound. They achieve this through a mechanism known as snare strainer, which has wires attached. The tool also includes a throw off, used to switch the snares on and off. Finally, an adjustment thumb-screw varies the tightness of the wires.  

    Snares go on a unique stand with legs and a three-arm basket to keep it in position.  

    The Hi-Hats 

    This pair of cymbals close against each other when you press their foot-operated pedal. The hit-hats are available in multiple sizes, but the most common is the 14". These cymbals are the most dynamic because of the different sounds they produce. You can achieve different tones with various techniques: 

    • Leaving the hats fully open and hitting the top one with drum sticks. The cymbals don't vibrate each other, so the only sound produced is the ring of the top hat.
    • Holding the hats closed from the foot pedal and hitting the upper cymbal with sticks.
    • Holding the hats half open with the foot and hitting the top hat with drum sticks so that the cymbals vibrate against each other. This technique produces a swishing sound.
    • Playing the hi-hats with your left foot only.
    • Splashing the cymbals, i.e., closing the cymbals with your foot and then immediately opening them to produce a ring of the hi-hats. The sound is similar to that of the hand-operated crash cymbals in an orchestra. 
    • Varying the sounds by playing different parts of the hi-hats, such as the bell, bow, and edge. 

     

    The Tom-Toms 

    On a five-piece drum set, you'll commonly find high toms, mid toms, and floor toms. The floor toms are separate from the others and have their own three legs. Tom toms are available in a variety of sizes, mostly 10", 12" and 14" on a fusion kit, and 12", 13" and 16" fusion kits.  

    Most toms have batter and resonant drum heads, although the resonant head isn't compulsory. One of the most common arrangements of the high and mid toms has them attached to the bass drum. You also can clamp them on the cymbal stands.  

    The Ride Cymbal 

    This larger cymbal generally sits on the right side of your setup. It's usually 20," and a heavier cymbal played with the tip of the drum stick to produce a ping sound. 

    To produce a more defined ping, you can play the bell of the cymbal by using the tip or shoulder of the stick. Make sure you don't crash this cymbal because it could get damaged.

    The Crash Cymbal 

    Smaller than the ride at approximately 16", crash cymbals hit hard when you use the shoulder of the stick. Crashes produce accent notes.

    However, you can play a crash as the ride to play solid rhythmic patterns similar to the sound produced by hi-hats or rides. This technique is common in rock music, especially the loud parts of the song.  

    The Throne 

    The throne is the stool you sit on when playing the drums. It is a round padded stool that has three chrome legs. The height is adjustable to suit your personal preference. 

    To measure the right height of the stool, you should ensure your feet are flat on the floor with your thighs slightly sloping downwards.

    Other Items 

    The items listed above are the most common in five-piece drum kits. However, there are a few extras you might want to consider. They include:

    • The splash cymbal—A small crash cymbal, usually about 8", used to give a variation of texture to your play. It produces excellent sounds when used as a subtle accent cymbal. 
    • Crash/ride cymbal—This alternative is cheaper than purchasing separate cymbals for the crash and ride.
    • China cymbal—The cymbal has an upturned edge, mounted upside down so that the shoulder of the stick hits the bow, to produce a distinctively trashy crash sound. 

     

    What Makes a Drum Kit Great? 

    Here are our findings and recommendations to help you get the best set: 

    Essential Components

    The drum kit should come with specific necessary elements. The five drums discussed above are mandatory for any set unless a young drummer is using it. The hi-hats and two cymbals are also essential for optimal performance. Adding at least two tom-toms makes it an ideal kit. 

    Shell Material 

    The quality of the shell material dramatically influences the sound and performance. The significant difference is why manufacturers are keen to mention the material that comprises the shell.  

    Drum shells are typically wood, but the type of wood may vary. Don't expect cheap drum models to make shells with expensive wood such as mahogany.  

    The appropriate wood for manufacturing drum sets is a lightweight type that delivers consistent sound. Warm and soft tones are suitable for many genres of music.  

    The quality of the shell also determines the kit's cost, which is why some kits are more expensive than others. Maple, for instance, delivers bright and warm tones, which is appropriate for jazz music.  

    Drum Throne 

    The drum throne is an essential part of the kit. It's uncommon for manufacturers to sell sets without a throne because they affect the drummer's comfort and reach of other pieces.  

    To enhance comfort while playing, you should ensure the drum throne has padding so that you can play for long periods without discomfort. The throne should also be adjustable. 

    Hardware and Assembly 

    There are a few hardware parts that drum kits should have. These include stands for the cymbals, the drum pedal, and a pair of sticks. More professional and complex sets have additional components, such as cymbal arms, when you need multiple hi-hat stands.  

    Assembling a drum is quite easy, but this doesn't mean you don't need instructions. It's best if you purchase drums that come with clear guidelines on its assembly. If they don't come included, you can check online for the manufacturer's instructions.

    Visit Drum Center of Portsmouth 

    Ready to buy your first budget drum kit? Our expert team at DCP is happy to talk you through exactly what you need! Come down, call us, or send an email to find your perfect set today.

  • 3 Best Studio Headphones Under $200 Reviewed for 2020

    When you're recording music, you should have a quality pair of studio headphones on hand. This gear is essential if you want to get an accurate idea of how your track sounds. Instead of relying on the pair of cheap earbuds you've had for years, you should consider investing in a quality product. 

    However, too often, musicians steer clear of this investment because they're afraid of breaking the bank.  

    We're here to show you that it's possible to purchase high-quality studio headphones at a reasonable price. Try for under $200! We have three top picks that are visually appealing, provide superior performance, and offer excellent overall value. In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about these products, including their sound, build quality, and materials used.  

    Check out our top three picks for the best studio headphones under 200 dollars.

     

    Top 3 Studio Headphones Under $200 

    There are plenty of quality studio headphones on the market in a variety of price ranges. Here, we'll offer some affordable options for under $200. You'll be recording and mixing music like a pro, all while sticking to a reasonable budget.  

     

    1 Vic Firth Stereo Isolation Headphones Version 2

    Vic Firth Stereo Isolation Headphones Version 2
    Pros

    • Stylish gray carbon finish
    • Focuses on mid- and high-range notes
    • Offers a tight grip on ears for maximum support
    • Comes with 1/8" stereo plug and ¼" adapter

    Cons

    • The sound may be a little shallow in some instances
    • Doesn't heavily focus on bass response

    The Vic Firth Stereo Isolation headphones are an improved version of the brand's more popular product. This pair reduces outside noise by 25 dB, so you can play and listen to music at safe volume levels.

    This pair of headphones has a built-in driver (50mm). The design delivers superior sound, including clean mid-range notes and clear high notes.

    This Version 2 product from Vic Firth also offers comfort and style. The redesigned features include a padded headband so that you can wear them for hours on end with no discomfort. The ear cups grip the user's ears tightly, so there's no chance of them slipping off in the middle of a recording session.

    If aesthetics are important to you, this product doesn't disappoint. It features a stylish gray carbon finish with the Vic Firth logo located on both ear pads.

    You can get a lot of use from these headphones, as the integrated cable comes with a 1/8" stereo plug and a ¼" adapter. With adaptability, there's no need to have multiple pairs on hand. You can plug them into different amps and audio setups as you're on the go.

    One flaw with these headphones is that they tend to pick up on the mid- and high-range notes rather than the bass notes. This issue isn't a big deal since your final mix won't be overwhelmed with too much bass. However, if you are going to be mixing tracks and brain-rattling bass notes, you may want to check out another product on our list.

    Features:

    • Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz
    • 50mm driver
    • Noise reduction: 25 dB
    • ¼" and 1/8" plugs

    Verdict

    These headphones fit the price range of a new music enthusiast, and they work great for those with more ambitious goals, too. They are comfortable, functional, and a significant improvement from Vic Firth's earlier model. Check out their current price here.

     

    2 Studio Kans Wired Headphone System - SKG

    Studio Kans Wired Headphone System - SKG
    Pros

    • Wide range of frequencies
    • Comfortable gel-filled ear pads
    • Comes with an extra-long 9-foot replaceable stereo cord
    • Built-in click track serves as a metronome

    Cons

    • Some users report discomfort after wearing them for a long time, but this is common with headphones that offer a high level of passive isolation.

    The Studio Kans Wired Headphones are one of the industry's best-known isolation headphones. They feature a diverse bass range and superior treble clarity. In particular, drummers have found this product useful.

    This pair has a slightly fuller frequency range of 15-25,000 Hz. You'll be able to hear sounds of various pitches, so you can listen to intricate sounds that can be difficult to pick up with cheaper headphones.

    This product also looks particularly sleek. The silver headband with cushioning offers premium comfort. The ear pads boast a gel filling for optimal comfort.

    Perhaps most impressively, these headphones feature a built-in click track that serves as a metronome. With these headphones in your arsenal, you can simultaneously stay on beat and listen to your tracks.

    Features:

    • Frequency response: 15-25,000 Hz
    • Noise reduction: 29 dB
    • ¼" stereo line-in jack 

    Verdict

    For the price range, the Studio Kans headphones offer superior comfort and versatility. They let you pick up a range of pitches and even serve as a metronome when you're recording your tracks. Check out their current price here.

     

    3 Yamaha Pro Audio: Studio Monitor Headphones - HPH-MT5

    Yamaha Pro Audio: Studio Monitor Headphones - HPH-MT5
    Pros

    • Comes with a convenient bag for carrying
    • Effective noise isolation
    • Good bass response
    • Lightweight
    • Folding arm

    Cons

    • May not fit all ear sizes perfectly

    The Yamaha Pro Audio HPH-MT5 deliver whole sounds that remain true to their source. Whether you are producing music at home or in a real studio, they will meet your needs.

    This set produces crisp, low mechanical sounds. They enable a wide frequency range between 20 and 20,000 Hertz, so you'll be able to experience a variety of pitches comfortably.

    While these headphones offer great sound, they are also convenient in several ways. For instance, they come with a carrying bag so you can easily take them with you as you travel. Plus, they have a folding arm for additional compactness.

    If you like to multi-task as you're recording music, these headphones can help you remain productive. They feature moveable ear pads, which allow for monitoring with one ear at a time.

    Features:

    • Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz
    • 40mm custom drivers (with CCAW voice coils)
    • 3mm cable and 6.3mm stereo plug adapter (standard)
    • Weight: 250g

    Verdict

    These headphones are lightweight so that you can wear them for hours on end with no discomfort. The adjustable slider length and 3-D arm pivot construction let you adjust them for maximal comfort. These headphones allow for versatile use, as the 3mm cable and 6.3mm plug adapter can plug into multiple kinds of devices. Check out their current price here.

     

    Are $200 Studio Headphones a Good Place to Start? 

    Some music enthusiasts may hesitate to purchase a pair of studio headphones for under $200. A low price range like this often raises questions about the quality and durability of the product. However, when you go with the right brand, you can find a high-quality, long-lasting item.  

    If you have the money, more expensive pairs (upwards of $500 and more) can offer better sound and overall enhanced user experience. However, our under $200 recommendations are a fantastic starting point, especially if you plan to use them casually.  

     

    Features to Look for 

    With our lineup of the best studio headphones under $200, you have a variety of features to keep in mind. Before making a purchase, ensure that the pair you have in mind has all of the features you want. Some features to look out for include: 

    Plug  

    The plug that comes with your headphones is an essential component. Most ordinary headphones come with a 1/8" mini plug connection. However, your headphones will require a ¼" plug if you are planning on connecting them to a professional audio interface.  

    Before you purchase a product, make sure it is compatible with your current equipment. You can always get an adapter so you can hook up to professional gear. 

    Cable Length 

    Some musicians and mixers can put up with a shorter cable length. However, if you plan on moving around a lot in the studio, you may want to get headphones with a long cable length. 

    Around 4 feet is a standard length, but some headphones come with longer cables. You can also look into getting cord extensions, but these can be cumbersome to hook up every time. However, they grant you a lot more mobility as you're recording your musical creations. 

    If possible, try to avoid getting a rubber-coated cord. Cables made from this material tend to tangle easily and wear down more quickly than other kinds.  

    Some musicians may want wireless headphones. These are attractive because they're compact and portable. However, most wireless headphones use Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth headphones can distort sound because of issues with range or battery life. While these distortions are okay for casual use, they can affect the outcome of your recording.  

    Some users may be on the hunt for headphones that come with a detachable cable, which protects the longevity of the product. While this feature can be useful, the products we've reviewed have high-quality cables built to last for the long term. They shouldn't fray easily as long as you treat them with care. In most cases, a detachable cable isn't necessary for a good user experience. 

     

    Build Quality 

    One part of build quality has to deal with how the headphones fit on your ears. There are two models to keep in mind: 

    • Over-ear: Over-ear headphones feature cups that cover your ears completely. This type tends to be better at blocking out sound. They are also more comfortable, which is helpful if you plan on wearing them for hours at a time during long recording sessions. 
    • On-ears: On-ear headphones have pads that lay against your ears. These tend to be more compact and convenient to carry around with you. They're an excellent choice for a musician who's always on the go and traveling from studio to studio.  

    You'll also want to consider how these headphones feel when you wear them. 

    Padded headbands are desirable as they allow the headphones to sit comfortably on top of your head without digging into your scalp. 

    On-ear and over-ear headphones should both offer a significant amount of padding so you can wear them for long sessions. They also grip tightly so that they don't slide off in the middle of your recording and mixing sessions. Make sure the pair you get is adjustable so that they don't cause any pain or discomfort.  

    For studio headphones, you want a set built to last. Look out for cheap plastic components that connect the headband to the cups. These components will break more quickly than they should for the money you're spending.  

     

    Sound Quality 

    The quality of sound is the most crucial factor to consider when selecting any headphones but especially ones for the studio. When you're listening to music, it's okay if portions of a track sound "colored," or different from the recorded version. However, when you're mixing a track, you need to have the clearest sound possible.  

    Some technical aspects that will ensure great sound include: 

    Impedance 

    All headphones come with an impedance rating. This rating typically ranges from 8 to 600 ohms. 

    Headphones that have a higher impedance rating need more amplification. These models typically boast better materials and produce clearer sounds. 

    Most headphones with an impedance rating of 32 or higher are more than adequate for studio use. If you need your headphones to be compatible with a mobile phone or consumer-level device, consider getting a pair with an impedance rating of less than 32.  

    If you want to buy a pair that has a high impedance rating, make sure you have a dedicated power source on hand. If you don't have enough power, the headphones won't perform to their highest capacity. On the other hand, a pair that has a low impedance rating will use its full power to deliver high-quality sound.  

    Sensitivity 

    Do you have particular sounds you are trying to create? You will likely want a pair of studio headphones that offers high sensitivity. 

    Sensitivity, measured in decibel level per volt, indicates how efficiently electrical signals converted into sound in the earpieces. The higher the sensitivity of your headphones, the more intricate sounds you'll achieve. 

    However, you need to be cautious about choosing a product with a high sensitivity measurement. If you use amplifiers along with your headphones, you may sustain damage to your hearing over time 

    Most sound experts recommend headphones that are no higher than 120 dB. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration advises against using headphones with a sensitivity of 85 dB or more for prolonged music sessions.  

    Open Back vs. Closed Back 

    Ideally, your studio headphones should have a closed back. The closed back feature eliminates other distracting sounds from your listening experience, like voices or other instruments in the studio. 

    However, open-back headphones may fit your needs in some circumstances. They allow air to pass through the cups, which creates a more realistic sound. Open-back headphones can be ideal for some of your mixing and mastering. 

    You may even need to invest in one pair of open back and one pair of closed-back headphones to meet your diverse needs in the studio. 

    Frequency Response

    Frequency, measured in hertz (Hz), determines the pitch of your music. Its upper limit is the treble sound, and its lower limit is the bass sound. 

    If you need to hear a wide range on the audio spectrum while mixing and recording, make sure your headphones have an adequate frequency response.  

    The average human can hear sounds that range from 20 to 20,000 Hz. A decent pair of studio headphones will be able to replicate sounds within this range. Some may even produce sounds outside of this range, which can be helpful if your music is incorporating particularly soft or loud noises.  

    Driver Size 

    A driver is the speaker unit in the headphones that produces sound by converting electrical signals into music. A larger driver will produce louder sounds. 

    When headphones have multiple drivers, they are better at handling a fuller frequency range and reducing distortion. While the size of the driver plays a role in sound quality, so does its material. 

    The most common driver types include dynamic, planar magnetic, and electrostatic drivers. Dynamic drivers are the cheapest and most popular, while electrostatic ones are rarer but provide benefits like distortion-free sound.  

    Ambient Noise Reduction 

    Outside sounds can distract from your recording experience. To filter out these noises, ensure your headphones have adequate ambient noise reduction. 

    Only closed-back headphones offer this solution, so keep this in mind when choosing which pair you are going to buy. 

    Typically, headphones can eliminate nearby sounds that range from 8 to 12dB. Some pairs can cut off higher sounds of up to 25dB. 

     

    Conclusion 

    Our top three picks for the best headphones under 200 offer an excellent starting point for both novice and professional music enthusiasts. These products provide the clarity and transparency you need for a pleasurable listening experience. 

    No matter what pair you purchase from our list, the headphones won't disappoint. The Yamaha Pro Audio may be better if you're looking for a product to take with you as you travel, while Studio Kan set is well-suited for those who need a higher frequency response. Our lineup of picks was intentionally diverse, so everyone can find the top headphones to suit their needs. Be sure to order yourself one of these pairs today!

  • How to Hold Drum Sticks: Learn the Proper Technique

    Not many people know that there are several techniques for holding drum sticks. These different grips are useful to learn since one may work better for you than the rest. 

    The world of drumming has seen various holding styles come on the scene, including the American, German, French, and Traditional grips. It's useful to try out each of these styles to determine what works best for you and the type of music you play.  

    The quicker you learn the proper stick grip, the quicker you will master how to play the drums. Read this guide to learn both the matched and traditional grip. When you discover the proper way to hold your sticks, you'll improve your progress as a drummer. 

     

    How to Hold Drum Sticks with Matched Grip 

    Often, many drummers will practice incorrectly, using informal methods that will ultimately result in wrist pain and other long term damage. Learning the right grip for you and your style involves breaking these bad habits and creating new ones that help you improve as a drummer. 

    One of the foundations of the proper hold is learning to play with a matched grip.

    Using a matched grip style means that you hold your drum sticks the same way in both your right and left hands. This form has become the most common grip for most styles of music.  

    Within the broader category of "matched grips," there are several variations. These styles include the American grip, German grip, and French grip.  

     

    American Grip 

    For many beginners, the American grip is the easiest and most common grip style. This matched grip style is relatively easy to learn. It offers both power and control while playing, and you can use it when performing most types of music. 

    Follow these steps to learn how to play with an American grip: 

    Step 1

    Sit down at the drum set as if you were about to play the drums. Raise your left hand and turn your wrist, palm facing down, fingers pointed straight ahead and parallel to the floor.  

    Step 2

    While maintaining this position, make sure your hands are no more than two inches above the snare drum head. 

    Step 3

    Curl your index finger in towards yourself. 

    Step 4

    Bend your index finger so that the tip of it aligns with the edge of your palm. This hold forms a "pocket" for your drum stick. This pocket will act as both the primary support of your drum stick and the balance point.  

    Step 5

    Place the drum stick between your thumb and index finger, curling your index finger slightly, so it looks like you're going to be pulling a trigger. The drumstick should rest on your first knuckle on your index finger. 

    Step 6

    Next, you need to find the balance point. This balance is vital for playing the drums because it gives your sticks a "bounce" as they hit the head of the drum. When you do it properly, your sticks should bounce back from the drum, falling back down without any extra effort on the part of the drummer. 

    You can slide your drum stick up and down to figure out where the best balance point is; the best option should give you about seven bounces. For most people, this is about two-thirds of the way from the tip of the stick.  

    Step 7

    Place your thumb along the top of the drumstick. Once you've found the best balance point, you'll want to turn your wrist so that the palm of your hand is facing towards the floor once again. 

    Remember, your thumb shouldn't apply pressure on the drum stick. Instead, it holds the stick in place while you play.  

    Step 8

    Curl your other three fingers onto the drum stick, wrapping your ring, little, and middle digits underneath it. Much like with your thumb, these fingers shouldn't grip too tightly. This hold enables advanced control of your drum sticks while letting them bounce back from the drum head.  

    Step 9

    Repeat the same steps for your left hand for your right hand, since the American grip is one type of matching grip.  

    Step 10

    Play! When you're ready, strike the snare drum with a finger and wrist motion. You accomplish this by flexing your wrist to move your drum stick up and down. Make sure to keep your palms facing downward, almost parallel to the floor. 

    While playing, adjust the tightness of your supporting fingers and thumb to give more or less bounce. Remember to keep your forearms, shoulders, and elbows loose. The drumming motion should come from your wrists and fingers almost entirely.  

     

    German Grip 

    This grip is most common for musicians who play corps or rock. While similar to the American grip, the German style allows the drummer to have additional power while they play the drums.  

    Here's how to play with a German grip:  

    Step 1

    Begin the German hold in the same way as the American style. Sit down at the drum kit. Then, start with the left hand and slide the drumstick up and down until you find the balance point of your stick.  

    Step 2

    Much like with the American grip, make sure that your palms are parallel to the drum surface. It's most common for the drum surface to be parallel to the floor, so your hands should be as well. 

    However, if you have your drum positioned at an angle, the angle of your hands should be parallel to the drums, not the floor. 

    Step 3

    Next, curl your index finger around the stick so that it is tight underneath your first knuckle.

    Step 4

    Curl your middle finger underneath the drum stick. Your stick should now be resting gently on this finger. 

    While your pinky and ring fingers still support your stick, they are less critical for this grip. For this reason, you can wrap them around the stick with your middle finger or fold them underneath.  

    Step 5

    Hold the sticks with your elbows relaxed, letting them bend out from your torso. This position makes it easier to get the control and power necessary to play correctly.  

    Step 6

    When utilizing the German style, you should strike with a wrist motion only. Try to avoid using your fingers, arms, and shoulders.  

    Step 7

    As the German style is another matched grip, you want to repeat these steps for your right hand. 

     

    French Grip  

    In contrast with the German hold, the French grip mainly uses the fingers to hit the drum rather than the wrists. This matched grip style is more suitable for music that needs extra control and dexterity.

    Musicians who play the drums for jazz, technical rock, or drumline style pieces use this style of grip. On the other hand, those who prefer rock or heavy metal will find that this technique isn't powerful enough to get the desired sound.  

    Here's how to implement the technique of the French hold: 

    Step 1

    Begin this technique as you would the other two holds. Start with your left hand and find your stick's balance point with your thumb and index finger.  

    Step 2

    Next, hold your drumsticks so that the flat parts of your palms are perpendicular to the floor. Keep in mind that while facing each other, your hands should still be about a foot apart.  

    Step 3

    Curl your pinky, middle, and ring fingers underneath each drum stick for support. 

    Step 4

    Tuck your elbows in towards your body so that they are about an inch from your torso.  

    Step 5

    Repeat this process for your right hand to complete the matched grip technique. 

     

    How to Hold Drum Sticks with Traditional Grip  

    Unlike a matched grip, a traditional grip is mostly standard in jazz drumming rather than rock drumming. The reason for this is that because the drummer's hand is underneath the stick, the strokes won't be as powerful. These powerful strokes are more practical with rock drumming, which is why players in these genres don't use a traditional grip. Both, however, are applicable for corps drumming. 

    Drummers in the army corps first designed the traditional grip. Their drums were resting on their hips while they played, meaning that using a matched grip was impossible to utilize due to the angle.  

    To achieve a traditional grip, follow these steps:

    STEP 1

    Hold the stick with your left hand upside down, palm up. 

    STEP 2

    Next, find the balance point of the stick and place it in the pocket of your index finger and thumb. 

    STEP 3

    Rest the stick on the ring and pinky fingers. 

    STEP 4

    Place your index and middle finger on the top of the stick.  

     

    Conclusion  

    No matter what style of drumming you prefer, it's beneficial to learn all techniques of drum stick grips. By practicing various matched and traditional grips, you can hone your skill and increase your control over the drum sticks, enabling you to play the drums with more expertise.  

    Always make sure that while practicing, you frequently check to make sure you're still in the proper position. Practicing is very helpful, but only if you are practicing correctly. If you get too caught up in the music without paying attention to your form, you could potentially injure yourself in the long run. You also won't have the proper muscle memory if you are practicing incorrectly. 

    Hopefully, this guide has given you a variety of styles to add to your repertoire. Let us know in the comments below how you enjoyed the matched grip and traditional grip!

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