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  • Sheet Music & Drumming - Everything to Know

    Learning to understand sheet music is an integral part of your transformation into a real musician. It’s not always the easiest thing to pick up, but with careful practice and taking the time to learn the basics, you’ll be a pro in no time.

    If you’re a novice drummer, you should be proud of yourself for even taking the time to understand why reading sheet music is so important. Not all drummers desire or work to understand these technical aspects.

    It’s entirely possible to become a top-notch drummer without ever setting your eyes on a piece of sheet music. However, learning a few tricks and understanding sheet music will help you expand your world as a drummer and embrace music as power.


    Why do you need sheet music?

    If you’re new to the music scene, you might not even be sure what sheet music is.

    Sheet music is a written notation that represents things such as melodies, lyrics, rhythms, and pitches. It’s how classical music is recorded and distributed so that it can be learned and performed by anyone.

    Modern musicians often learn music “by ear” without sheet music. However, sheet music still serves as the universally-accepted form of notating music on paper.

    Think drummers don’t need sheet music? Think again. Understanding musical notation and sheet music will help you get quicker in your understanding of drum concepts and help you to stand out from the crowd of other drummers who can only play by ear.

    Becoming proficient at reading drum sheet music also comes with several additional advantages. You'll be more likely to:

    • Ace any audition
    • Secure that spot in a band
    • Book a gig
    • Sharpen your own musical genius


    There are so many drummers that haven’t taken the time to understand sheet music. What this means is that if you do indeed understand sheet music, you immediately stand out. It’s an impressive skill and will serve you well if you plan to continue involvement in music.

    Here are four reasons understanding sheet music is still important in an age of “learning by ear”.


    Benefits of learning drumming sheet music:

    1 - Learn Music Faster. Learning by ear is a great skill, but it doesn’t always click. Difficult songs can require a lot more time spent practicing to get right. On the other hand, if you have the sheet music, you can learn just about anything without the mystery. You might even be able to sight-read music eventually.


    2 - Play Accurately. Even if you have an exceptionally good ear, it’s smart to double check the sheet music to confirm your accuracy. You don't have to keep it in front of you at all times while playing. You can simply refer to it as an “answer key” for perfect rhythm.


    3 - Work as a team. While you might be comfortable learning and playing by ear, not all musicians work that way. If you’re hoping to work with a band or within an orchestra, you’ll need to be able to learn music their way. Don’t be the only one who can’t understand the sheet music.


    1. - Write your own music. If you want to unleash your creative musician and make your own music, you’ll need a way to record it. Making audio recordings will allow others to hear your creations. However, writing the sheet music will make it widely distributable. Creating music in this universally-understood notation will help spread your music far and wide.


    What's the difference between typical sheet music and drum sheet music?

    Many people get thrown off when they look at drum notation sheet music. That’s because at first glance, it can look quite intimidating. In fact, it’s quite simple to grasp since there are only two things you need to understand:

    • Which drum is played
    • When it should be played


    Drum sheet music notation uses all of the same symbols and set up as regular sheet music, so learning the basics is enough to help you comprehend both.


    The main difference between drum notation sheet music is that the notes don’t relate to pitch. Of course not, because that is irrelevant for drummers. Instead, the notation of each line or space on drum sheet music corresponds to a particular drum that should be played.



    Things you need to know about your sheet music:

    Before you dive in and try to make sense of a full piece of drum sheet music, let’s break down the basics. Let’s get started with a quick vocabulary review.


    Drum terminology to know:

    • Beat - A measurement of music. Located within a bar, but can be subdivided further into notes.
    • Backbeat - Typically beats 2 and 4 of each bar. Featured in most rock and pop music to give momentum.
    • Downbeat - Notes played on the pulse.
    • Upbeat - Notes played against the pulse.
    • Time signature - Tells how many beats are within a measure and what kind of beats they are.
    • Bars - How music is measured. Allows musicians to break down the music more easily.
    • Crochet - A quarter note.
    • Quaver - An eighth note.
    • Semiquaver - A sixteenth note.
    • Minim - A half note.
    • Whole note - There is no term for a whole note. It has the value of 4 quarter note beats.


    Not familiar with these terms at all? Don’t worry. That was just a primer before we dive into most of these terms more deeply.


    First thing’s first: The staff and bars

    This is also called the stave. These terms are often used interchangeably.

    The staff is what holds all of the notations. It’s made up of five lines and four spaces. Typical sheet music would use the placement of notes on the lines and spaces as a designation for pitch. Drum sheet music, on the other hand, uses placement of the notes to designate which drum or cymbal should be used.

    You’ll also notice vertical bars on the staff. These divide up the measures so that it’s easier to count out and stay on beat. The measure, then, is the distance between the two bar lines. If you see a double bar line, that signals the end of a section of music.


    Next up: the notes

    You’ll notice in the image above that some notes have proper circle notes, while some have small Xs or other symbols. A proper note signifies a drum, while the Xs refer to cymbals and the other symbols have special meanings.



    This might sound like a lot to remember. Don’t get overwhelmed. Luckily, there’s an easy way to use the drum kit you have: know it like the back of your hand to make sense of drum notation.

    Use this diagram to help. The height of where the note for a particular drum or cymbal will be on the staff corresponds to the where you physically play it.

    For example, both the hi-hat cymbals and the bass drum are played with the foot. That’s why they are located so far down on the stave. On the other hand, cymbals that you play with your hands high above the drums are at the highest points of the staff.

    The staff positioning was created logically so that it makes sense to drummers. Use your intuitive knowledge of your drum kit to help.


    Moving on: time signatures

    A time signature is the notation at the beginning of each piece of drum music that identifies what the meter of the music will be. It communicates the number of beats per measure. They are formatted as two numbers, one on top of the other. Most time signatures have a 4 as the bottom number, meaning the meter is based on quarter notes. Sometimes they might have another number, like an 8, at the bottom. This means it is comprised of a number of eighth notes.


     Here’s how to tell them apart:

    • The most common time is a 4/4 meter. It’s actually called “common time.” This means each time you tap a beat, it is equivalent to one quarter note. Now, this doesn’t mean the music will only be comprised of quarter notes. It can be made of half notes, eighth notes, rests, etc. As long as it equals four quarter notes, it works.
    • Waltz time is another common time signature that is in 3/4 meter. This means each measure is comprised of three quarter note beats. The first beat of the three is a downbeat while the next two are upbeats. It creates the classic “waltz” style of music.
    • March time is 2/4 meter. It is equivalent to chopping a 4/4 meter in half. With this time signature, you start and stop on the downbeat.
    • Another common time signature without a 4 on the bottom is 6/8 time. This means the beat is not based on quarter notes, as it was in the other examples given. It’s a grouping of six eighth notes in each measure. In counting out the beat to eight, the downbeats are on one and four.


    Quick guide to notes:

    Now that you understand the foundation of drumming sheet music ( staff, time signature, and measures), let's get into the actual playing of notes. While you won’t need to understand what pitch the notes have (because drum notes don’t have pitch), you do need to understand how different notes affect the rhythm.



    There are a bunch of different notes that each represent how long the beat should be held. The graphic above should make it easier to understand what they look like and how they differ. The longest notes are whole notes, and the shortest are sixteenth notes.

    To understand how these notes all relate, think of it this way:

    • A whole note is represented by a note head. Notice there is no stem. A whole note equals a duration of one measure.
    • A half note is half of the whole note, as its name so cleverly implies. If you’re working in Common time, two half notes would equal the duration of one measure.
    • A quarter note, just as above, is ½ of a half note and a quarter of a whole note. In Common time, there can be four quarter notes in one measure.
    • An eighth note splits even further. Eight of these would equal one whole note. In one bar, there would be eight of them in Common time.
    • Finally, sixteenth notes are the smallest note. You can fit sixteen of them in one measure in 4/4 time.

    See the pattern here? It all breaks down evenly.

    Keep in mind that for every value of note, there is a rest of equal value. For example, there are eighth rests and quarter rests and even sixteenth rests. Rests are crucial. In a lot of music, drums aren’t the most important part. Often, it’s the breaks in between the drums that are paramount. That’s why understanding how long to hold your rests will be crucial to your playing.

    When you combine notes and rests with different durations, you make a rhythm.


    How do I understand notes and when to play?

    Notes are a big help to answer the question “when do I play?” The timing is everything in drumming. A drum keeps the beat alive in music. It also helps to keep the whole band together if playing with other musicians. A drummer must be able to follow the beat precisely. Here’s how notes can help you understand when your moment is:

    1. First, look at the time signature. We covered this above. This will let you know how fast the music’s “pulse” is. By understanding the meter, you’ll understand when beats should be played and when you should hold off. If you’re playing on a different tempo than everyone else, it can throw off the music entirely.
    2. Next, find the line or space in which the note is. Remember the drum key graphic above and how the set up of your actual drum kit helps to indicate which position represents which drum or cymbal.
    3. Finally, the note length itself comes in. Now that you know the tempo and what drum should be hit, you just need the note length within the tempo. If you’re confused about what a note’s length should be, add up all the notes with the lengths you guess and confirm that it equals the time signature. For example, if you think there are three quarter notes and one half note in a measure of 4/4 time, that wouldn’t make sense.


    A Common Beat - What you’ll start to recognize when you can read sheet music:

    Once you’ve studied the above concepts closely, you’ll begin to get more familiar with sheet music. Once you can read sheet music, entirely new worlds will be opened up to you in the music industry.

    Whether you want to break into the big leagues or just make the cut into a local band, a background in reading sheet music is a big advantage. Here’s how you’ll notice this advantage coming into play in your drumming life:

    • Are you a part of a band? If so, ensuring you’re using sheet music just like the other members will help everyone match up. Instead of relying on your ear to tell you the right rhythms and drums to hit, you’ll have it written down in front of you to reference. While this might seem like a small difference, it can really pay off for your group’s overall sound. Your band members will be impressed with your technical know-how. Your audience will notice a higher quality to your sound. And you’ll be proud of yourself for striving towards and reaching this goal.
    • When you understand sheet music, you can grow your repertoire easily. There are many common beats that are used interchangeably in popular songs. This makes them catchy and consistent. For example, ever heard of the “money beat?” While the term might not be familiar to you, you’ve definitely heard it in action. One of the most common beats in music is this “money beat.” It even got its name from the number of songs on the radio that commonly borrow it. Some of the most popular songs that feature a “money beat” are Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, John Mayer’s Heartbreak Warfare, and AC/DC’s Highway to Hell. Even if you’re a beginner, you can still pick up on these fundamental beats. You can impress your friends and family by “jumping in” to common songs and playing along.
    • Having the confidence of a sheet music reader, you’ll be able to unleash your creativity on the drums. When you have to sit and wait carefully to hear your cue to play, you limit yourself. When you know exactly when you come in and how long of a break you have, you can get into a gnarly drum solo and show everyone the skills you’ve got.



    In this article, we’ve shown you the difference between a novice drummer and a knowledgeable sheet music reader. By following and studying the concepts and skills outlined above, you’ll be able to grow your drumming knowledge, and expand your opportunities.

    Not all drummers have the motivation or dedication to learn the technical aspects. By putting in the effort, you’ll distinguish yourself as someone who is serious about the art.

    So take your drumming to the next level by mastering drumming sheet music today. Ready to take it a step even further? Check out the high-quality drums and accessories we offer at Drum Center of Portsmouth.




  • 10 Easy Songs to Play on the Drums

    Learning how to play the drums takes practice, hard work, and dedication. Beginners should start playing the easiest songs they can. Not only will this help them to better understand how drumming should sound, but it will also boost their confidence levels as they grow within this craft.

    If you're new to the drumming community, it can seem like a great big world of difficult "rock-star level" songs to play. Sometimes a challenge is good, but a lot of times this can cause intermediate drummers to lose their nerve and not want to keep playing at all.

    To prevent this from happening, as drumming is an art-form that allows many individuals to express themselves creatively, here are 10 easy songs to play on the drums to get you started.

    1. We Will Rock You - Queen

    One of the simplest, and most popular to learn first, is "We Will Rock You" by Queen.

    This is the classic rock song played on bleachers and lunch tables, so how hard could it be on the drums?

    The answer is not very difficult. In fact, the ever-popular band Queen created this song the way that they did simply so that their fans could play along with them, and you'll be doing just that by drumming along to this simple beat.

    Keep in mind, however, the original tempo of this song was played in a higher tempo known as double-time, so you are welcome to try to play it more in tune to the original creation or the slower version used by many drummers.

    Fun fact: The logo for Queen actually has all of the band's star signs incorporated in it: 2 Leos, 1 Virgo, and 1 Cancer. Additionally, it was designed by Freddie Mercury himself!

    2. Paradise City - Guns N Roses

    Next on the list of great tunes to play with a beginner's skill level is "Paradise City" by Guns N Roses.

    This rock song by Guns N Roses is great practice for those looking to fine-tune their ability to play with riffs. It makes this skill easier to learn with its simple rhythms.

    Starting with this song is a great way to learn simple rhythms that repeat throughout the song. The tactics used in this tune are easy for a novice drummer to pick up given some time.

    Fun fact: Guns N Roses drummer Steven Adler nearly joined AC/DC in the early '90s after a brief leave from Guns N Roses, but the manager of AC/DC found out about Adler's drug addiction and retracted his offer to have him join the band.

    3. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana

    Smells like an easy song to play on the drums - and it is! "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana is such a classic hit and one you should practice as a novice drummer.

    This classic rock song gives beginning drummers the perfect opportunity to learn the basic technical skills involved in the art of drumming. Challenge yourself to keep up with the expert drummer in Nirvana, Dave Grohl, who just happens to be one of the finest drummers of his time. You will learn how to hit the cymbals and the rim clicks in time with the other instruments that you're playing with.

    Fun fact: Nirvana had a bit of trouble finding a permanent drummer before David Grohl cam along. They went through at least five different drummers before landing on Grohl, and it's a good thing they did. Otherwise, the hits that we know and love may not have been the same.

    4. Hallowed Be Thy Name - Iron Maiden

    Drumming is a very physical activity. In fact, many people begin drumming simply as a creative way to stay in shape. If you are just starting out, you're going to have to build your endurance for this activity somewhere, and many people agree that "Hallowed Be Thy Name" by Iron Maiden offers amazing practice.

    With nearly 8 minutes of playing time, you're bound to build your abilities in regard to how long you're able to play without rest, and you'll even have fun with this great song while doing it.

    This song is great for beginners to start to learn how to hit fills on accents with guitar riffs and will help you to practice using both your right and your left hand to hit the high hat, as opposed to the general habit of only using your right hand for this skill.

    Fun fact: Eddie the Head, Iron Maiden's faithful mascot, started out as just a mask that sat at the back of the stage. They fed blood capsules through the mouth that would often unexpectedly (and metal-y) drip down and soak the drummer with fake blood. The first drawing of Eddie, created by artist Derek Riggs, was based on an image that he saw of a decapitated head on top of a Vietnamese tank, and it was featured on Iron Maiden's debut album.

    5. Sad But True - Metallica

    Lars Ulrich, drummer for Metallica, both created and played his own songs, making him a very impressive drummer to look up to. This is why "Sad But True" is a great song to start out with because you're already learning from one of the best drummers of the time period.

    "Sad But True" isn't inherently difficult, but it has important elements that will help you get ready for some of the harder stuff that you will play, or even take after Lars Ulrich and create your own music that you can compose and play.

    Its dragging groove, offbeat fills, and mixture of straight roles with triplets all make for great trial runs for the more advanced songs in your future of drumming.

    Fun fact: Metallica has sold an estimated 100 million records all around the world.

    6. Beverly Hills - Weezer

    Don't worry, there is more to drumming than the rock and metal songs we have covered so far. This option is for those of you who want a more alternative rock style in your practice.

    A more alternative take on drumming, Weezer's "Beverly Hills" features simple patterns and slow-paced drumming that makes it easy to keep up with, no matter what the skill level of the drummer is.

    With its release in 2005, it was one of the first popular songs to feature the "double stroke roll," which gives us the great sound that we know and love in this early 2000s hit.

    Make sure you're working on your technique while doing the double stroke roll to ensure that it is crisp and at the speed that it needs to be.

    Fun fact: the fan favorite song "Buddy Holly" by Weezer was almost titled "Ginger Rogers" and would have made a completely different song with the lyrics "You look just like Ginger Rogers (oh, oh), I move just like Fred Astaire". Let's all say a special thanks to rewrites (and rewrites of those rewrites).

    7. Teenage Dream - Katy Perry

    Taking things into a more pop setting, Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" is a great practice song for learning the flam on the snare drum.

    This tactic is achieved by placing one drumstick a few inches above the drum with the other stick eight to ten inches higher, but these two strokes should be nearly simultaneous. This process will thicken the notes by adding a grace note, and Teenage Dream is a great song to practice this tactic on.

    The beat in this song is impossible to shake, and also almost impossible to screw up, even as a beginner.

    Fun Fact: Both of Katy Perry's parents are pastors, and Perry was introduced to singing for her church at a young age. And to answer your next question, yes, they did have an issue with her single "I Kissed a Girl".

    8. Cantaloupe Island - Herbie Hancock

    Moving into the jazz portion, this song by Herbie Hancock has drumming that makes everything easier for those looking to pursue drumming in jazz.

    This jazz song maintains a slow and groovy tempo for a majority of the song, which makes it ideal for the beginner looking to gain expertise on the jazz front of drumming.

    Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock's trusted drummer, is a well-known drummer in the jazz world, so if you're looking to become a successful jazz drummer, there is no better song to start out with than Cantaloupe Island.

    With this song, you'll be introduced to the common jazz technique called the buzz roll, which is great for crescendos and can be carried over into many other styles of music if necessary.

    The buzz roll is seen in many different songs in this genre, so it is definitely one skill that you'll need to know to succeed.

    Fun Fact: In 1986, Herbie Hancock was voted one of Rolling Stone's Sexiest Musicians of the Year, and he was displayed proudly on the cover that year.

    9. When a Man Loves a Woman - Michael Bolton

    This slow, love anthem is the perfect way to start out your drumming experience if you are looking to start out slow.

    For many, this was the very first song that they learned to drum, so it is without a doubt one of the easiest to learn to play and Michael Bolton will hold a special place in your heart for this reason alone.

    With its simple cross-sticking skills, cymbals, and a bass drum backing, this song is almost as simple as it gets, making it the ideal song to start your drumming career with.

    Fun fact: Michael Bolton, born Michael Bolotin, originally had more interest in hard rock and was even the frontman in the band Blackjack before settling down into his soothing voice-driven career.

    10. Sharp Dressed Man - ZZ Top

    While this next song may feel like cheating, hear us out...

    For the casual listener of ZZ Top, you would think that the drums in the song Sharp Dressed Man were real live drums.

    However, this song was released in a time when ZZ Top was experimenting with different styles and tools, including synthesizer and other manipulation tools, so the drums on this song are actually digitally created, meaning that the drum machine heard in the song is not created by a live drummer.

    While this may spark debate over whether or not a machine can play the same way that a real drummer can (spoiler: it cannot), it does not take away that it is a great tempo and rhythm to learn how to play.

    The song has since been replicated and played in garage bands more times than you can count due to its easy tempo and simple rhythm. It is interesting to go back and listen to the differences between the drum machine and Frank Beard's style, though.

    Bonus Tip - Practice Your Exercises

    While playing songs that you hear on the radio is likely more fun than the exercises listed in your common books on drumming, it is important to remember to continue practicing those as well.

    This includes the exercises that you involve in your warm-up, which allows you to get loose and ready for the songs that you will be playing that session and the exercises that allow you to practice certain techniques that you haven't quite mastered yet.

    For example, many common drumming books have exercises to be done on a drum pad as practice for the real thing. These drum pads will allow you to practice your technique quietly (the people living with you will thank us for this one) and from nearly anywhere.

    It's no surprise that drum-sets can vary in size, but one thing that they all have in common is that you don't want to lug any of them around. With drum pads, you can practice your exercises and better your skills from anywhere, drum-set or not.

    Once you have an understanding of the basic methods and tactics of these easier songs, you will be ready to trek out into more advanced songs, or even make your own songs with all of the skills that you learned through these beginner songs.

    Good luck and drum on!

  • Sabian SR2 Cymbals - ALL The Value

    When it comes to getting the most cymbal for your money, it’s hard to beat Sabian SR2 cymbals. What are Sabian SR2 cymbals? Glad you asked.
  • How to Mic a Snare Drum

    Many factors affect the sound produced from a snare. The positioning of the mic, the distance of the mic from the drum shell, the proximity of the mic to the head, and even the angle of incidence can all affect the sound. 

    Snare Sound 

    There are many ways to mic a snare, so getting a great live sound from your snares can be a daunting task. How you choose to do it, the mics you select, and how you place them can be determined by several factors. 

    The type of snare is a significant factor to consider because different sounds can be produced from each class. For instance, a 14” aluminum drum delivers different sounds from a 12” maple snare. Some produce deep sound while others produce sharp sound.  

    Your mic set up will either mitigate or highlight the sound depending on the genre of music. Jazz, for instance, requires a smooth, laid-back sound. On the other hand, most mainstream music requires powerful beats. 

    Lastly, the sound produced will depend on the drummer. Some will have controlled hits of the snare. Others will attempt to crack the snare with every hit. 

    Here are a few tips you can follow to get the desired sound. 

    1. Type of Mic 

    The snare is a pretty loud instrument. As such, the best mic to use is dynamic. The reason for this is that dynamic mics have better SPL handling capacity. The mics can handle the sound without distortion. 

    Some engineers might argue that mics not sold as snare mics may produce exquisite sounds. However, matching the mic to the snare produces a cleaner sound. Again, fixing mics with EQ or plug-ins may shift the phase.  

    Remember, the snare is an instrument of time, and the phase affects time. Once you add plug-ins to the chain, the phase will change. This will mess with the sound. Additionally, it will make it much trickier to sync the snare to the rest of the drum kit. 

    2. Mic Placement 

    The position of the microphone can be limited by the amount of space available between the drums. Therefore, it is crucial to get the mic in the right place. You can choose to either have only one microphone at the top or have two mics, one for the top and one for the bottom. 

    With the mic placed above the snare and close to the center of the head, it produces a sound that is low, dark, and less snare-like. As you move away from the rim, the sound becomes balanced between the snares and the head. 

    For the right balance, place the dynamic mic 1.5 inches above the head, 2 inches inside the rim of the snare, and at a 25 degrees inclination directed to the center of the head. If you desire a low-end sound, move the mic from the center of the head. 

    3. Use Two Mics 

    Most engineers might be reluctant to have two mics, one over and one under. However, this arrangement produces a brilliant sound. A little of the rattling sound of the wires at the bottom, which gives the drums its name, can add taste to the dominant sound from the top. A frequency of 80/20 for over/under works as a perfect balance. 

    The mic used under can either be balanced or bright. To get better sound, the polarity of the under mic should be reserved relative to the one at the top. The effect of this is that the sound will cause the diaphragms to move in opposite directions. This results in uniform polarity when hitting the snare. Otherwise, the signals will cancel out when combined. 

    4. Mounting the Mic 

    There are different set-ups when it comes to mounting your mics. You can either use a mic-clip or a stand. The set-up you choose depends on the position in which you want to put your microphone. A mic stand allows you to have a little bit of distance because of its separate set of equipment. If you want the microphone closer, you can use a clip and attach it right into the rim of the snare. 

    5. Experiment 

    Experimentation is the key to getting the sound you want. Remember, the sound will vary depending on the type of mic and type of drum. Therefore, there isn't a magic placement.  

    If you’re not happy with the sound produced from the initial position, change the angle and the installation of the mic relative to the head. If different musicians or different genres of music are playing at the same concert, you may have to re-position the mic for different sets. 

    6. Test It Out 

    Due to the pressure levels produced at the snares, you can have your ear in place of the mic and listen to the sound. The best thing to do is to adjust the mic position and listen to the result. This will show you that moving the microphone by the slightest margins will change the result of the sound. 

    If you are recording, get your entire set up ready first, as it is unlikely that you are only using the snares. Set up the instruments first, and then have your mic equipment. Tune the snare and make some sample recordings. Listen to the recordings and make any adjustments that you think are necessary. 

    Bottom Line 

    As earlier stated, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to micing a snare drum. Some people will have a microphone across the top of the snare. Others will have it pointing towards the rim. Still others will have it at the center. Each position and angle will bring out specific frequencies while de-emphasizing others. The placement should depend on what you want to bring out as well as factors such as the style of music and the type of drums. However, mic placement should be at a place where it isn’t likely to receive hits from the drumsticks.

  • Different Ways to Stack Your Cymbals

    The way you stack your cymbals has a great effect on the quality of sound you get. This process requires knowledge of the diameter, thickness, and quality of cymbals when doing the adjustments. Below is a summary of how you can achieve quality sound from your cymbal set. 

    Cymbal Sets 

    The sound from the cymbals is very exciting; perhaps the most impressive from an entire set of drums. Hearing the crash of the cymbals catches the attention of everyone listening. This is why drummers are keen on the quality of sound coming from the cymbals. 

    The crash of the cymbals is often used to mark the transition into a new part of a song. They can also be used to mark a musical passage or a dance number. The crash also accentuates the climax of a song. 

    Stacking up cymbals can open up endless possibilities with the sound that is produced. For instance, adding a smaller cymbal to the top of a bigger one, while keeping the wingnut loose, produces a loud and trashy noise. Having hi hat cymbals produces a washy and lower-pitched sound.

    • High Hat Cymbals 

    High hat cymbals usually sit on your left side. The two cymbals face each other and are attached to the stand that you play with a foot pedal. 

    There are several factors you need to consider when you are stacking up high hats. 

    • The Diameter 

    There are four sizes that are mainly available. This includes the 12, 13, 14, and 15 inches. The difference in sizes requires different playing techniques. The smaller sizes are brighter and generally more responsive to faster hits and are used for trickier rhythms. They need fancy footwork. The larger cymbals produce louder sounds that are washy. They work best when played in the semi-open and especially for rock music. 

    • Thickness 

    More thickness results in a higher pitch, greater volume, and more vibrations. However, thicker cymbals have a slower build-up of overtones. Thinner top hats are convenient for semi-open locations. They produce a subtle “sizzle” sound compared to the unpleasant “clangy” sound produced by the thicker ones. In closed places, however, the thicker high hats produce an articulate sound. 

    With the information above, you can stack up hi hats with a thicker bottom to a thinner top. This is the most common category. Another popular design is when high hats have ripped edges. The edges prevent airlock caused by opening and closing the cymbals with the foot pedal. 

    Main Crash Cymbals 

    When arranging your drum sets, the main crash cymbals should be arranged after the toms. This order will help you see where your sticks will be swinging when you are playing your toms. Once you find this position, try to position the first crash close enough, where it is easy to reach. The main crash should be slightly angled, at a height that you can easily reach. Proximity will make it easier to crash when you are playing a groove. 

    The second crash can be quite tricky to set up. For this reason, it is advisable to invest in a boom cymbal stand, which will allow you to fine-tune your second crash according to your needs. Having the cymbal at the correct height will give your ease of motion, easy accessibility, and will reduce stress as you play. 

    It’s advisable to mount the cymbals slightly inclined downwards to give you an excellent striking technique and promote resonance. Be careful not to put the cymbals too tight on the stand because it can choke the sound that is produced. Additionally, it can break the cymbals. The main crash should be allowed to have a full range of motion. 


    Rides are meant to play steady rhythmic patterns. They are most convenient for playing swing notes for jazz and blue or the 8th notes for rock and pop. Rides are mostly 20-22 inches in diameter. Their thickness is consistent between the taper and the bow. This design results in a “pingy” sound with a delicate wash and a strong attack. 

    The ride should be mounted loosely to encourage full range motion, bringing out more resonance and character from the sound of the rides. A free ride also has an extended life span. Be careful not to tilt the cymbal too much as it will result in an extreme impact with the sticks. 

    Splash and China 

    While the splash and china are not a necessary part of your drum kit, you can use them to add a distinct signature sound to your playing.

    Splash cymbals are quite small, 8- 12 inches, and their size result in a faster build-up and a quicker decay. Often, splash cymbals have no taper, which gives them strength. This also results in a high-frequency sound with little complexity. 

    China cymbals, like the splash cymbals, have no taper. However, they produce an incredibly complex sound because they have upturned edges. They are available in a wide range of sizes, mostly about 18 inches. 

    Stacking Up Several Cymbals 

    To add flavor to your playing, you can take a China and add a small diameter with an inverted crash on top of it. Another arrangement would be to use crash cymbals as high hats. For this, you can use a bigger crash cymbal, about 18 inches. This will produce a sound that is different from your regular high hats. The sound will be great, high-pitched, and washy. These combinations can give a great identity to your play.  

    Bottom Line 

    In the end, all that matters is producing good music and enjoying yourself. You should, however, take caution to avoid injuries. Your drum set is going to change as you add or take away new gear. You should not worry about one specific arrangement. Experiment and try out various arrangements until you get the sound you are seeking. The arrangements above are just suggestions to help you improve your drumming through ergonomics. Have fun and continue playing well.

  • 5 Iconic Moments Drummers Have Broken Drum Sticks in a Show

    Drumming is an art revered by many due to the thrill and musical sound it produces. A key component in producing these rhythmic sounds is the set of drumsticks. 

    Professionals who usually play drums in major concerts and gigs know how important it is to have good quality drumsticks. However, accidents happen even to the most experienced drummers. One of them is drum sticks breaking, so it’s always crucial to have a pair for backup. 

    Drumsticks mostly break at the tip or along the shaft. It can happen when you hit the metallic or even the soft part of the drum. The passion of professional drummers makes them take this art—and their drumsticks—to the limit. Like they say, if you aren’t breaking sticks then you aren’t playing enough! But what can you do when the drum sticks break during a live performance? 

    Here are five instances of drum sticks breaking during a live performance.

    1. Josh Dun Breaks a Drumstick During a Live Performance 

    Josh Dun is known to many for his passion and talent as a percussionist and drummer for Twenty One Pilots. Dun started learning drums from a young age and has developed to become one of the best in the industry. He has been a great part of the musical duo Twenty One Pilots and has enabled the group to produce top-selling albums and win awards. 

    Just like any other drummer, Dun has not been spared the experience of broken drum sticks. During one of his 2016 performances in Meriwether Post Pavilion, his performance was almost cut short when one of the sticks broke into half. So what did Dun do? He threw the broken stick to the crowd! 

    He used the remaining one to sum up his performance before throwing it to the audience. Nothing can stop this performer! This was an unexpected incidence that turned out to be a cool moment for his audience to enjoy. 

    2. RJ Fraser Breaks 2 Drum Sticks in a Row 

    The main aim of a drummer is to keep playing even when things aren't going right. If you are a heavy-hitter, you might need a couple of spare sticks. These can be backup for whenever you are performing to prepare for the unexpected. This can be well demonstrated when looking at RJ Fraser’s performance during a live show with the cover band Bipolar Bear. Fraser did not break just one but two sticks in the span of a few seconds. 

    The most interesting thing about his performance is that he kept going. He simply grabbed a spare drum stick as soon as he could. The recovery was flawless, and the audience didn’t seem to notice it.  

    For the less experienced drummer, breaking two sticks in a row can cause a disruption. However, Fraser’s situation demonstrated how a true artist can cope with such instances. His reaction was a mixture of preparation and experience. 

    3. Dylan Elise Breaks Drumstick During the Pasifika Festival

    Dylan Elise is a Wellington-born drummer. His passion for drumming started at an early age of 6. He has since been performing in public concerts, New Zealand TV programs, and gigs around the world. Dylan has also played and recorded with top New Zealand artists. He has played with the likes of Jeff Lorber, Bo Bice, and Janine among others. 

    During a performance at the Pasifika Festival in Auckland, NZ, Dylan was passionately playing his drums. Suddenly, the tip of one drumstick broke. Dylan seemed to take a glance at the broken drumstick for a few seconds. Then, he threw it away and grabbed another one. The best part was how he kept playing with the remaining stick in his left hand as he observed the nature of the damage on the second stick. That’s how you do it like a pro! 

    For a heavy hitter like Dylan, dealing with a broken drumstick in the middle of your performance is a no-brainer. This is something that’s likely to happen many times during practice or even during live concerts. 

    4. Yoon Do Woon’s Drum Stick Breaks During the North American Tour 

    Dowoon is a young and talented South Korean drummer for the famous musical group Day6. He started his drumming career at the age of 16. Since then, he has become one of South Korea’s young musical icons. 

    During one of Day6’s performance at the John W.H Basset Theatre in Canada, Dowoon faced a drum stick break that was fun to watch. Just like other instances, he looked more exhilarated and excited about the incident. He just laughed it off and grabbed another stick as if nothing had happened. 

    Dowoon has had to deal with multiple drumstick breaks in his career. However, it always seems like a funny thing to him. He will either laugh it off or put on a serious face as if nothing happened. His professionalism as a drummer is exceptional.

    5. Nick Mason’s Broken Stick During a Live Performance at Pompeii

    Nick is one of the most talented and experienced English drummers. His decades of experience have seen him perform in different concerts around the world. One of his most interesting performances was during a music concert at Pompeii when his drum stick broke. Nick was quick to switch to a new drumstick without missing a beat. He used one hand to keep the beat going, which created a flawless performance despite the broken drumstick. 

    Bottom Line 

    Artists dropping and breaking drumsticks is a common occurrence. Although live concerts are more demanding, how an artist reacts to such accidents demonstrates their skills and experience. No matter the quality of the instruments, sometimes the energy or tactic of a drummer pushes it to the limits. Nevertheless, it’s always fun to watch how drummers react to these incidences.


  • The Best Electronic Drum Set Under $500 Reviewed for 2019 - Ultimate Guide

    Cutting corners when buying musical equipment can come back to haunt you once you begin recording and taking things more seriously. Do you want to produce the highest quality percussion music for under $500? Read on for our full review of our favorite electronic drum set of the year - the Yamaha DTX402K.


    What to Consider When Buying Electronic Drum Sets

    With so many affordable drum kits available, the most important part of researching which kit to buy on a budget is to ensure you are getting the highest quality for your money. You want to look for quality of the set, as well as how many capabilities it will provide you with when recording your own music.

    When considering the best electronic drum set under $500 the only option should be the Yamaha DTX402K Electronic Drum Kit. Buying this kit will leave you with any possible combination of drums and prerecorded sounds to elevate your musical experience. With the ability to improve using recordings and training modules, this drum set is great for learning the basics of drumming and percussion. In addition to its use for beginners, this drum set has such a variety of percussion sounds to choose from that it can be great for an advanced musician attempting to have more creative freedom with how they create and record.


    • Built-in training modules
    • iOS and Android apps
    • 415 drum and percussion sounds
    • 10 included songs
    • 10 drum kits
    • 10 unique training functions
    • USB ports for audio


    Product Description and Review

    The DTX402K electronic drum set is the perfect kit for any beginner. Whether you want to add new ways to improve your drumming, or if you are a complete beginner and want to get off on the right foot, this product has what you need. With over 400 unique percussion sounds, there's no end to what you can learn and create.

    The training functionality on this drum kit is unmatched. With 10 built-in training functions, there are a multitude of ways you can learn to drum. The recording function alone gives you full capability to listen back to what you have just played and improve on yourself. This, in addition to functions like Pad Gate, Rhythm Gate, and Fast Blast, shows this kit is built to give people the opportunity to learn their way.

    In addition to the training functions that come with the drums, the DTX402 has free to download apps that can accompany the training. With apps for both Android and Apple devices, the accessibility of the app is what's important. Once downloaded, there are a number of ways this app can help improve your drumming skills. Having a large selection of genres of music, you can start to develop rhythm and pacing for your future jam sessions.

    One of the key features that makes this set great for anyone starting to learn is that its electronic pads dampen the sound of any practice. This makes it practical for any living situation. Have no fear when practicing early in the morning or late into the night: this kit will keep you allow you to drum to your hearts desire without disrupting the people around you.

    Another feature that sets this kit apart is its ability to be connected to any number of audio devices. With a host port that can transmits audio and MIDI information to multiple devices. This is perfect if you want to edit your music on the computer or just download all your recordings to your tablet, laptop, or phone.

    The final reason this electronic drum set in particular is a unique product is its sizable collection of different percussion sounds available to the user. With 415 different sounds to choose from and 10 different drum kits, this product is one of the easiest drum sets to customization. Giving the preference to the user and allowing them to easily access all the capabilities.


    • Great for beginners
    • Easily connectable to multiple audio outputs
    • A large array of sounds
    • Free training videos and apps
    • Improved pads for realistic play
    • Easy setup



    • Basic drum set
    • Additional app download


    Who's it for?

    • Beginners
    • Urban musicians
    • Unique artists


    Is This The Best Deal?

    The Yamaha DTX402K is the best electronic drum set under $500. Considering it has a compact build while still maintaining a high quality of material, this drum set is a great deal. Although you can not put a cost on improving your musical ability, for under $500, this product will be a great purchase for anyone looking to upgrade.

    You can purchase your Yamaha DTX402K Electronic Drum Set at Drum Center for only $499.99.


    Why We Love It

    One of the reasons we love this set is because it is the perfect fit for any and all beginners. While there are many kinds of starter kits for learning to drum, this one consistently proves itself to be the best on the market. This electronic set provides so many options depending on how you wait to train. In any situation or at any skill level, the DTX402 will give a comfortable and easy to use experience.



    How much does the set weigh?

    The product only weighs 25 pounds.


    Does this set include kick towers?

    No, this set only includes the pedal.


    What are the best headphones to use with this kit?

    This kit works best with any headphone with a USB connection. In addition to this, you can purchase an adapter to make the set compatible with any headphones you already have.


    How hard can I hit the pads?

    The DTX402 is designed to be sturdy and durable. These newly designed rubber and silicone drum pads will take a beating and remain in place.


    Bottom Line

    This drum set will change how you practice and play. Staying quite enough to perfect your drumming at any hour of the day as well as providing you with an endless supply of musical combinations, this deal can not be beat. If you want the highest quality electric drum set for under $500, the Yamaha DTX402 is your one.

    Get the Yamaha DTX402 from Drum Center today!

  • 5 Best Cajon Drums for 2019

    Choosing the appropriate cajon for you can be difficult with the wide range of options available out there. Here at Drum Center of Portsmouth, we live, breathe, and love drums and our staff have over 200 years of combined experience in the field. Our ultimate goal is to pair you with an instrument that plays well and that you can treasure forever.

    That's why the experts here have compiled a list of the 5 best cajon drums of 2019, along with a guide to help potential cajon buyers learn what they should look out for when browsing. Read on to find out which ones we chose!



    [post_product_review index = "1" title = "Pearl Sonic Boom" image_code = "https://www.drumcenternh.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/pearl-sonic-boom-300x300.jpg" pros = "

    • Angled front plate for comfortable playing
    • Solid birch construction feels sturdy
    • Earthy tone due to lack of snares

    " cons = "

    • Birch is heavy (but produces good tone)
    • Expensive

    " texts = "

    The Pearl Sonic Boom features light-colored, responsive wood and simple but elegant construction that will compliment and enhance any environment or venue you play it in.

    " productspecs = "

    • Constructed with solid birch
    • Front facing bass scoop
    • Angled faceplate
    • Subsonic bass tone
    • No internal snares

    " buy_link = "/pearl-sonic-boom-cajon" buy_title = "The Pearl Sonic Boom is available for purchase online here" features = "

    Why We Love It: This drum is aesthetically beautiful with its solid birch construction and pleasing shape. It's front plate is angled upward, so the drummer can play easily and comfortably. The drum features no internal snares, which gives it a clear, natural, and earthy tone. It's perfect for small acoustic settings, or large venues where louder is better. It's a pricey drum, but that only speaks to its high quality and manufacturing. It's a beautiful drum and it comes highly recommended.

    Call to inquire about getting yours today!


    1. Pearl Sonic Boom

    The Pearl Sonic Boom features light-colored, responsive wood and simple but elegant construction that will compliment and enhance any environment or venue you play it in.

    Product Specs

    • Constructed with solid birch
    • Front facing bass scoop
    • Angled faceplate
    • Subsonic bass tone
    • No internal snares



    • Angled front plate for comfortable playing
    • Solid birch construction feels sturdy
    • Earthy tone due to lack of snares



    • Birch is heavy (but produces good tone)
    • Expensive


    Why We Love It

    This drum is aesthetically beautiful with its solid birch construction and pleasing shape. It's front plate is angled upward, so the drummer can play easily and comfortably. The drum features no internal snares, which gives it a clear, natural, and earthy tone. It's perfect for small acoustic settings, or large venues where louder is better. It's a pricey drum, but that only speaks to its high quality and manufacturing. It's a beautiful drum and it comes highly recommended.

    The Pearl Sonic Boom is available for purchase online here. Call to inquire about getting yours today!

    [post_product_review index = "2" title = "LP Aspire Accent Cajon Sunburst" image_code = "https://www.drumcenternh.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/LP-Aspire-Accent-Cajon-Sunburst-300x300.jpg" pros = "

    • Beautiful paint finish
    • Wide dynamic range
    • Convenient and comfortable seating surface
    • Rubber feet
    • Reasonable price

    " cons = "

    • Poplar is a relatively cheap wood
    • Birch is heavy (but produces good tone)

    " texts = "

    The LP Aspire Accent Sunburst has deep brown edges that gradually fade to a light wood-grain on each maple panel. With a wide dynamic range and rubber feet, this drum gets you some bang for your buck.

    " productspecs = "

    • 3 sets of DW snare wires
    • Birch/Poplar body
    • Para wood soundboard
    • Textured seating surface
    • Rounded corners
    • 3-step streak finishing

    " buy_link = "/lp-aspire-accent-cajon-sunburst" buy_title = "The LP Aspire Accent Cajon Sunburst is available for purchase online here" features = "

    Why We Love It: The LP Aspire Accent Sunburst is a real beauty. From its edges that fade from a deep brown to a light wood-grain, its 3-step streak finish perfectly complements the name. The 3 sets of DW snare wires give you a vast dynamic range, and the body provides a deep bass tone. The feet are rubber, which allows the unit to be sturdy while insulating bass from disappearing into the floor. The comfortable textured seating allows the player to be comfortable with access to all necessary areas of the drum. This cajon is beautifully made with a perfectly doable price.

    Call to inquire about getting yours today!



    2. LP Aspire Accent Cajon Sunburst

    The LP Aspire Accent Sunburst has deep brown edges that gradually fade to a light wood-grain on each maple panel. With a wide dynamic range and rubber feet, this drum gets you some bang for your buck.

    Product Specs

    • 3 sets of DW snare wires
    • Birch/Poplar body
    • Para wood soundboard
    • Textured seating surface
    • Rounded corners
    • 3-step streak finishing



    • Beautiful paint finish
    • Wide dynamic range
    • Convenient and comfortable seating surface
    • Rubber feet
    • Reasonable price



    • Poplar is a relatively cheap wood
    • Birch is heavy (but produces good tone)


    Why We Love It

    The LP Aspire Accent Sunburst is a real beauty. From its edges that fade from a deep brown to a light wood-grain, its 3-step streak finish perfectly complements the name. The 3 sets of DW snare wires give you a vast dynamic range, and the body provides a deep bass tone. The feet are rubber, which allows the unit to be sturdy while insulating bass from disappearing into the floor. The comfortable textured seating allows the player to be comfortable with access to all necessary areas of the drum. This cajon is beautifully made with a perfectly doable price.

    The LP Aspire Accent Cajon Sunburst is available for purchase online here. Call to inquire about getting yours today!


    3. Gon Bops Cajons: Tumbao Pro Cajon Walnut with Gig Bag

    The Tumbao Walnut Pro Cajon looks sleek and classy, and provides high-end pop without compromising on low-end response. It's a great price for good quality and extra features!

    Product Specs

    • Front Panel Material: Maple
    • Adjustable? Yes
    • Extras: Premium Gig Bag
    • Size: 12"(w) x 18"(h) x 12"
    • Weight: 10lbs (4.5kg)



    • Great sound, due to internal snare wire design
    • Beautiful and easy on the eyes
    • Comes with gig bag



    • No leg seat slots for comfort


    Why We Love It

    This drum features a beautiful and lustrous adjustable maple front panel, which is both functional and easy on the eyes. It also features an internal snare wire design which contributes to its great high-end to low-end sound for versatility. The unit is held up by rubber feet, which provide a sturdy base for sitting. The rubber feet also serve as a means of insulation, preventing the bass from escaping through the bottom of the unit and getting lost in the floor. The price is a good middle ground for cajon drums, but comparatively low for drums of this caliber. Overall a great choice for those looking for a high-end drum at a middle-of-the-road price.

    The Gon Bops Tumbao Pro Walnut Cajon is available for purchase online here. Call to inquire about getting yours today!


    4. Keo Percussion Luxury Cajon

    Constructed using select tone woods and high sensitivity, the Keo Percussion Luxury Cajon is percussion perfection. With its comfortable seating and rich sound, it's bound to catch your eye (and ear).

    Product Specs

    • Constructed using select tone woods
    • Ball Bearing snare system
    • Multiple types of wood paneling



    • Ball Bearing snare system allows for separation of playing zones
    • Sitting area is made of comfortable material and has notches for legs



    • Not many technical details (weight, materials, etc) available online
    • Looks slightly cheap


    Why We Love It

    This drum features panels made of select tone woods that emphasize and amplify sound. It has a seat that has convenient slots for legs, so the drummer can sit comfortably, It's unique ball bearing snare system allows for great separation of playing zones and increased sensitivity. Unfortunately it's slightly more expensive than other items on this list while not looking as sleek or lustrous, but it's still a great buy for the value.

    The Keo Percussion Luxury Cajon is available for purchase online here. Call to inquire about getting yours today!


    5. Rhythm Tech Cajon - Enhanced Bass Port

    The Rhythm Tech Cajon with enhanced bass port is a less expensive but still beautiful cajon drum. It has finely crafted edges for comfort and a thunderous bass response, perfect for any venue.

    Product Specs

    • Enhanced bass port
    • Big low end



    • Nice color
    • Finely crafted edges
    • Bass port for thunderous bass
    • Rubber feet for strength and bass insulation
    • Good, budget-friendly price



    • Not much information on product specs online
    • Looks slightly cheap


    Why We Love It

    This cajon by Rhythm Tech can fit in with any venue. Its got a new enhanced bass port for a booming bass, and its deep brown wood provides a beautiful deep sound. The feet are insulated with rubber so bass doesn't escape through the floor. Overall it's a great drum for those looking for a budget-friendly option. There aren't too many technical details (weight, materials, etc) available online, so make sure to call with any questions!

    The Rhythm Tech Cajon with Enhanced Bass Port is available for purchase online here. Call to inquire about getting yours today!


    Buyers Guide - What to Consider When Buying a Cajon

    The cajon has quickly become one of the most popular hand drums out on the market. They're affordable, and they're easy and fun to play. If you're in the market for a new (or used) cajon, here are some things to look out for while browsing.

    Type of Cajon

    There are several kinds of cajon, so it's easy to get overwhelmed with the options. It's worth it to learn a little about a few different types so you may make an informed decision when purchasing one:

    • Peruvian cajon - The Peruvian cajon is the oldest (and original) type of cajon. It does not contain any snares or string effects, and produces a very clean and woody tone.


    • Flamenco cajon - This cajon produces a very "buzzy" sound produced by a guitar string mounted against the tapa (front face), heard in the lower and upper parts of the tapa.


    • Snare cajon - This type of cajon is typically fitted with a snare mechanism that creates a snare effect in the upper portion of the tapa. These tend to be quite rattly, and don't have as pure of a bass sound. There's a complete separation between snare and bass tone, and this cajon tends to be quite loud.


    • Cuban cajon - This cajon is designed to be held by the player, not sat on. It traditionally has no snares. This cajon produces a very woody sound.

    It's up to you which sound you desire and which type of cajon you'd like to play, but if you're a beginner, it's recommended to get a traditional cajon that has no snares, wires, or strings.



    The cajon may just look like a hollow box, and that's essentially what they started out as, but there's much to customize when it comes right down to it. Drum and wire attributes can be changed using levers on the outside of the box, and wires can even be disengaged if you'd like to use a pedal for a bass drum sound. You can often also adjust Allen screws at the bottom of the drum to adjust the pressure of the wires against the tapa, altering its sound. Models with this kind of adjustability will be pricier, but more versatile.

    Cajons without drums and snares can even be adjusted to sound a particular way. The tapa (front panel) is either affixed to the frame with screws or glue; if it's attached with screws, the screws can be loosened to allow the tapa's "slap corners" more room to move when hit. This can cause a tapping sound when the tapa slaps the frame, but if the screws are tight this cannot happen. Port placement also changes the sound of the drum, affecting volume and bass tone. Finally, some cajons purposely have multiple playing surfaces, some with different wood types on each side. Finding a cajon with a high level of adjustability and customizability is definitely something to look for.



    It's a given that the cajon should be big enough for you to sit on. Playing the cajon requires the player to sit on top and lean forward to strike it, so trying out a drum before buying is ideal. However, if buying online, check out the product specifications or call the shop to verify sizing.

    The size of the cajon affects the sound. Smaller models will have a higher-pitched bass sound, while larger models are louder and have lower-pitched bass. Beginner models will be smaller, while more advanced and high-end models will be more expensive. Try to find a good middle ground between size and price.



    The kind of materials the cajon is made of greatly affects the sound. Higher quality materials (hard woods) will produce richer, fuller, higher quality sounds. Lower quality materials (softwoods) will often sound muted or low quality. Cajons should be made from hardwoods, such as birch or beech. Birch is high density, has a broad dynamic range, and is relatively expensive. Beech produces a wide variety of tones and is similar to birch, but is less expensive. The highest quality cajons will be made of mahogany or mahogany-type hardwoods, which are strong in bass and high tones. For a budget-friendly option, stick with beech or birch. For those looking to invest, high-quality hardwoods are your best option.

    (Plastics, fiberglass, and carbon fibre can also be used, as they are strong and durable, but the sound isn't quite the same as a classic wood cajon.)



    The tapa (the face of the drum) gets the most attention from buyers than other parts. If a tapa looks cheap, it's unlikely that a prospective cajon buyer will even give it a second look, even if it produces the most rich and beautiful sounds. However, the most important aspect of a tapa is how it's made and how it plays. It should be between 3-4mm of several thin layers, for a more dense material. This type of tapa will produce crisp high tones.



    Got some questions about cajons? Look through this section for an answer.

    What exactly is a Cajon?

    The word "cajon" literally translates to "box" or "drawer" in Spanish. A cajon is an originally Peruvian box-shaped percussion instrument. It's played by slapping the front or rear faces with fingers, hands, brushes, mallets, or sticks. It's been said that 18th Century African slaves in Peru created the first Cajons, using repurposed packing boxes.


    What does the cajon sound like?

    The cajon has a loud and crisp sound. The two primary tones created by a cajon are bass and high tones. The bass tones are created by slapping the tapa (face) of the cajon near the middle/bottom. The high tones can be created by tapping the upper corners of the cajon, producing less vibration and a higher pitch. This type of sound is much like a snare drum.


    Do looks matter when it comes to cajons?

    Looks can be deceiving. The most beautiful cajons can produce the dampest, most muted sounds just as the most visually unpleasing cajon can produce rich, deep sounds. Further, the type of wood used can make two identical looking cajons sound different. Overall, looks don't matter as much as the functionality and specifications of the cajon. It's always important to test out a cajon before purchasing, or ask an expert before committing.


    Why is the cajon so popular?

    The cajon is portable, practical, and easy to learn. There are multiple ways to play it (seated or standing), dozens of sounds you can make from it, and integration into a band or group is simple. The basic cajon is about as uncomplicated as an instrument can be, and it can be modified and upgraded to suit any player by implementing snares or strings. It's a beautifully simple concept but it produces rich sounds that fit in with any set.


    How much should I expect to spend?

    The price depends on the quality of the cajon. Higher quality cajons will be pricier, as with almost any item on any market. Typically, low-end, beginner cajons can be as inexpensive as $50-100, and the highest-end cajons can be as expensive as $400 or more. If you're looking for a good quality entry-level cajon, look to be spending between $100-250.


    I've found a cajon I love. How do I know if it's right for me?

    Cajon drums, just as any other instrument, are an investment, and you should only buy one when it feels completely right to. Using this guide, you'll be able to find the perfect cajon. If the cajon feels right, has a sound that you love, looks great, ticks all the right boxes for you, and is the right price for your budget, then by all means buy it!



    The cajon is one of the most simple, but also one of the most elegant and versatile instruments out there. It can produce a variety of sounds all from one simple looking unit, and different designs can complement every aesthetic. Finding a cajon drum that's perfect for you can be difficult, but we hope that our reviews, buyers guide, and FAQ have helped you learn what to look for in a cajon, and potentially find one that suits your budget and needs.

    Remember that any questions you may have can be answered by our experts here at Drum Center of Portsmouth. Contact us today to find out more about cajon drums, or any of the other products we can provide for you!


  • 4 Best Electronic Drum Sets for Beginners Reviewed for 2019 - The Ultimate Guide

    Thinking about buying your first electronic drum kit? Maybe your kid's got a natural sense of rhythm. Or perhaps you've got your heart set on jamming with your buddies. The $6 million question is then: Which kit do you choose? There's no shortage of choice, as you've probably discovered just having a browse online.

    Thankfully, there's help at hand. At the Drum Center of Portsmouth, our specialist staff have 200 years of combined drumming experience, so we're here to help guide you through the maze. We've compiled the top four best electronic drum sets for beginners to make it easier for you. Ready to rock? Let's get started.

    Roland TD-1DMK V-Drums Electronic Drum Set - Best Starter Kit

    The Roland TD-1DMK V-Drums Electronic Drum Set is the most popular worldwide, for good reason. They're durable, sound great, and have an awesome playing feel. What's more, this satisfying drumming experience comes in a compact kit that's simple to pick up and move.

    You'll find the Roland TD-1DMK includes several expressive drum kits that are all connected to Roland's double-mesh pad for snares and toms. The two layers of mesh material are there to give some 'realistic rebound' when the drum stick bounces on hitting the drum as if it were an acoustic drum kit.

    There's more good news. They're quiet to play, and if you add headphones, your neighbors will never know about your late-night jam sessions. If you're hungry to learn the craft, there are onboard coaching functions, and you can connect to Melodics training software, too. Coupled with an attractive price, there's nothing stopping you from picking up the sticks and having a go.

    Product Specs:

    • Weight: 7 kg
    • Roland TD-1DMK V-Drums
    • Single kick pedal
    • Drum throne
    • Headphones
    • 5A Drumsticks
    • Double-mesh drum heads for snares and toms
    • 15 preset drum sets with authentic drum sounds
    • Built-in metronome with adjustable tempo
    • 10 on board coaching functions



    • Famous Roland quality and durability
    • Adjustable tension on double-mesh drum heads for quieter playing
    • Input for connecting your smartphone to play along to your fave tracks
    • 15 pre-loaded songs to accompany yourself
    • Record yourself playing to assess your technique
    • Competitive price for beginners, students, and returners



    • You may need Roland NE-10 Noise Eaters for extra noise damping


    Why We Love It

    The Roland TD-1DMK V-Drums Electronic Drum Set is accessibly priced, durable, well-built, and perfect for beginners or returners. It's easy to set up, move around, and intuitive to use. With functions like the onboard metronome and inbuilt coaching, developing your timing skills is fun. Plus, there are free drum lessons to help you develop a sense of rhythm. These are available through the Melodics for V-Drums application via Windows or Mac.


    Available for Online Purchase?

    Check them out on our online store, but these babies won't be around for long.

    Get the Roland TD-1DMK V-Drums Electronic Drum Here


    Yamaha DTX402K Electronic Drum Kit - Best Kit for Improvers

    The Yamaha DTX402K Electronic Drum Kit samples cymbals and acoustic drums for the beginner drummer in your life who wants to improve their technique. There are also two app-based challenges available called "DTX402 Touch" and "Rec'n'Share" on Android and iOS. You can use these to record songs and rehearse material.

    Intuitive to play, the Yamaha DTX420K's components are durable, with a pleasingly high-quality sound. The kit includes 10 inbuilt training functions to improve your expressiveness as a drummer. Other features to look out for include the drum pads with a silent kick unit. Plus, if you like options, you'll love this. There are 415 drum and percussion sounds to play with, as well as 10 different drum kits covering a range of different styles, 10 songs, and 10 training functions.

    Available at an entry-level price but without any compromise on quality, this is a durable, reliable piece of kit that will have you upping your game through consistent use.

    Product Specs:

    • Width: 269mm
    • Height: 147mm
    • Depth: 39mm
    • Weight: 0.5kg
    • 2 Cymbal Pads
    • 1 Hi-Hat Pad &Pedal
    • 3 Tom Pads
    • 1 Snare Pad
    • 1 Silent Kick Unit
    • 1 DTX402 Drum Module



    • Perfect if you're moving from an acoustic to an electric drum kit
    • Very well made with new drum pads for accurate transfer of you playing to the drum module
    • Authentic drum sounds from the drum module
    • Silent kick unit for minimal sound while practicing
    • Inbuilt interactive training modules to help improve speed and rhythm
    • USB to Host port for sending audio and MIDI data to your laptop, phone, or tablet
    • Adjustable height for all ages and sizes
    • Easy to fold away and store



    • You will need a smart device, USB cable, and suitable adapter to access the free apps


    Why We Love It

    Yamaha draws on their decades of experience to create a well-made electronic drum kit for beginners and intermediates alike. With 10 different training functions built into the drum module, you benefit from comprehensive support as you build up confidence and improve your technique.

    Available for Online Purchase?

    You can find them in our online store but hurry! These Yamaha favorites sell fast.

    Get the Yamaha DTX402K Electronic Drum Kit Here


    Yamaha DTX452K Electronic Drum Kit - Best Kit for Learning to Play

    Yamaha DTX452K Electronic Drum Kit yamaha dtx

    The Yamaha DTX452K Electronic Drum Kit is ideal if you want an invaluable way to learn how to play the drums at an affordable price. Its intuitive new learning system provides challenges and rewards as you improve your technique. With its new Touch app, learning becomes fun and part of an interactive game. You pass through various drumming stages until the final

    phase. On completion, you'll receive a certificate from Yamaha.

    There are 10 core drum kits to try, as well as 287 drum and percussion sounds, which you can mix to develop a signature style. Featuring everything you'd want in a contemporary drum kit, the Yamaha DTX452 has a three-zone snare pad, so you can play the different techniques you've just learned. Plus, it's built with the limitations of modern living in mind—quiet and space-efficient.

    For the price, you get a stool, 5A sticks, and HP-170 stereo headphones. All you need to do is get set up and start playing.

    Product Specs:

    • Weight: 0.5kg
    • Width: 269mm
    • Height: 147mm
    • Depth: 39mm
    • Triple-zone snare, hi-hat, three tom drums, ride, crash, hi-hat pedal plus kick pedal with kick pad
    • Power Supply: PA-130 (or Yamaha recommended equivalent)
    • Power Consumption: 5W



    • 10 inbuilt drum kits covering all musical styles
    • 287 drum and percussion and 128 keyboard sounds
    • Enhanced learning wit the voice guidance functions
    • Play from 30 to 300 bpm
    • Metronome range from 1/4 to 9/4
    • USB connector for your laptop
    • Headphones output to encourage quiet practice



    • You will need a smart device, USB cable and suitable adapter to access the free apps


    Why We Love It

    The DTX module comes with 10 inbuilt training functions to improve your timing and skills. There's the Pad Gate Function ideal for beginners, the Fast Blast Function to measure your drum roll, and the Rhythm Gate Function for perfecting that sense of rhythm. Plus there's a recording function to assess your playing.

    There's also flexibility with where you can place the hi-hat and snare drum in the most comfortable position for you. Learning to play the drums has never been such fun.

    Available for Online Purchase?

    Check out our online store for deals and discount.

    Get the Yamaha DTX452K Electronic Drum Kit Here


    Yamaha DTX522K Electronic Drum Set - Best for Established Players & Beginners

    Yamaha DTX522K Electronic Drum Set yamaha dtx

    The Yamaha DTX522K Electronic Drum Set is a solid mid-level set with exceptional sound quality that should match your budget. Compared to other Yamaha series, it offers extra flexibility and positioning options, such as being able to mount the snare on a ball joint, so you have a range of

    playing angles unheard of way back when.

    The five-piece drum kit features three cymbals, a bass drum, three toms, and a snare. The cymbal stands are stronger and will stay in place during performance. The snare is made from three-zone textured cellular silicone to produce a range of sounds depending on where you hit it. The cymbal pads are three-zoned, too, so you can perform multiple sounds that are module-based.

    To help get the creative juices flowing, the kit comes with 691 cymbal, drum and percussion samples, and presets. With 1 MB of flash memory, you can store customized presets and kits or import MIDI song files. As well as 50 factory kits, there are unique features. To build customized kits, you just mix different selections and match the sounds depending on your unique playing style. If you're a fan of EDM, these new presets are ideal for techno, drum and bass, and electro-pop.

    Product Specs:

    • Width: 251 mm
    • Height: 130 mm
    • Depth: 48 mm
    • Weight: 610 g



    • Sturdy build
    • Budget-friendly price
    • Ideal for beginners
    • Silicon snare pad for multiple sounds
    • 37 songs to play along to
    • Tidy set up with aux and headphone port on the front of the panel



    • Hi-hat is free-standing which could discourage realistic playing
    • Rubber tom pads


    Why We Love It

    The perfect solution for both experienced drummers and beginners alike, everything's provided to get you started on the instrument. You can import and download MIDI song tracks to which you can play along. Plus, each track features a metronomic click to improve your sense of timing. Beginner drummers will also appreciate the coaching function that monitors your tempo and delivers an immediate report on how well (or not) you're doing.

    For intermediate players, check out the Fast Blast function, which monitors your speed and accuracy, and then grades your progress. Remember to look at Rhythm Gate mode, which drops your playing if you deviate too far from the metronome. All in all, a very versatile and customizable kit for a competitive price.

    Available for Online Purchase?

    The Yamaha DTX522K are always in high demand—and no wonder! With our huge discounts, these electronic drums are a steal.

    Get the Yamaha DTX522K Electronic Drum Set Here


    What to Consider When Buying an Electronic Drum Kit

    Starting with your first electronic drum kit can be incredibly exciting—it puts you one step nearer to the dream of becoming a musician. But it's important to get the kit that's right for you, and there's a whole world of choice out there. Factor in the following, and you're well on your way to getting the best electronic drum kit for you:

    Space and Size

    If space is at a premium where you live, then the smaller footprint of an electronic drum kit is a definite bonus. They're easy to set up and dismantle after practice to save space in your home or studio. They're also simpler to carry around with you for practice and gigs.


    Refining Your True Sound

    An electronic drum kit will allow you to play hundreds of drum sounds, from birch kits and maple kits to metal kits and more. Plus, you can easily change musical genres and experiment with a variety of pre-loaded drum kits and sounds.

    There's also plenty of opportunities to hone your technique using the inbuilt metronome, or the option to play along with your favorite tracks or plug in an MP3. As your expertise and confidence grow, you can also customize your kit to develop as you do.


    Invest in the Best

    There's no doubt that an electronic drum kit is an investment, so it makes sense to buy the best kit that you can afford. You want a kit that's not just great to play and suits your requirements, but also has plenty of pre-loaded drum kits. That way, you can try out different sounds on your existing set-up without breaking the bank.


    Practice, Practice, Practice

    The beauty of an electronic drum kit is that once you've plugged in your headphones, you could be in the zone, practicing your fave Iron Maiden track for the twentieth time and no-one need know. Practice sessions are helped with various features of electronic kits, such as the inbuilt metronome, mix input to play along to your top tracks, and onboard rhythm coach to assess your playing.


    Try It Out

    It's classic advice, but if you're shelling out cash, you need to be sure you're making the right choice. So make sure you sit down in the shop and try it out. If it sounds and feels great, and encourages you to want to spend many hours practicing, then you're probably onto a winner.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Are the Prices of Electronic Drum Kits?

    They vary, from $499.99 at entry-level to $699.99 and $799.99 to over $4,000. As always, it depends on your budget and how much money you have available to spend.


    How Are Electronic Drum Kits Powered?

    At the back of the sound module, there is a DC-in jack. Just use the AC adapter to connect to your nearest wall socket, and you're in business.


    Are Electronic Drums Loud?

    They're far quieter than acoustic drums, and electronic drums never need tuning—but some brands are noisier than others. To end all noise as you know it, you'll need to buy a Noise Eater sound isolation board or KT-10 Kick Trigger Pedal. It may take an extra $200 to make your playing space acoustic-friendly.


    What Is a Sound Module?

    Sometimes known as the 'brain' of electronic drum kits, the sound module converts the impact of your drum stick into sound. Some modules will let you shape your sound with effects and virtual instruments, as well as enable you to play along to backing tracks or simulate acoustic drum kits using inbuilt technology.


    Is It Easy to Fix a Broken Pad?

    Yes. The pads don't wear out easily, and they're covered by the manufacturer's guarantee for a year. Without warranty coverage, you just replace the worn-out pad.


    Can I Integrate an Acoustic Drum Kit into My Electronic Kit?

    The answer's yes. You'll need to buy a few additional stands, so you can position your electronic drum and cymbal pads around your acoustic kit. The drum module must be placed in a convenient position, plus a monitor for electronics, an amp, or sound system access.


    Can I Play Acoustic Drums Through My Electronic Drum Module?

    Yes, you can use triggers attached to your acoustic drum and wired to the drum module.


    Should I Use Regular Drum Sticks?

    Yes, they're fine to use. Wood and nylon tips work well on both V-Cymbals and V-Pads, though there are companies who have developed sticks specifically for use with electronic drum kits.


    The Last Word

    Any questions about choosing the right electronic drum kit? Don’t hesitate to ask us. We live and breathe drums at Drum Center of Portsmouth. All we want to do is help set you up with the best tools you need to make great music.

    Visit our blog for the latest reviews about drum kits, products, and parts. Alternatively, just give us a call at (603) 319-8109 or come on down to our friendly store.

  • 5 Rock Ride Cymbals - Choosing The Best For You

    Do you play in a rock band? If so, chances are good you need the correct ride cymbal to keep up with those guitar amps. You’ll want enough ping to be articulate, a bell that will pierce through a Marshall stack, and a crash that drives home a crescendo. At Drum Center of Portsmouth, we specialize in rocking out. We’ve put together a short list of 5 awesome ride cymbals that we think will take your rock to the next level!

    Zildjian K Custom Hybrid Ride Cymbal 21"

    This innovative ride blends the articulate stick response and clear bell sound of the K Custom ride with the crash-ability and wash of a thinner, lathed cymbal. The lathed outer section gives you softer, darker sound while the inner area and the bell produce pronounced, brighter tones.

    Paiste Signature Reflector Bell Ride Cymbal 22"

    Without sounding bias, the Paiste Signature Reflector Bell Ride is probably our favorite rock ride. Ever. It does everything you want a rock ride cymbal to do. Perfect ping, a monsterous bell, and thin enough to produce a musical, yet powerful crash. While the price tag is a little heavy, this may be the only ride you’ll ever need, and in our opinion worth it.

    Sabian HH Raw Bell Dry Ride Cymbal 21"

    With a dark, unlathed raw bell delivering clear, cutting strokes, and ride area putting out crisp responses with the perfect amount of spread, the Sabian 21" HH Raw Bell Dry Ride is designed to deliver at any volume, in any style of music. Sabian introduces HH Remastered - with more hammering, more complexity, and more tone. As a result, HH Rides sound more traditional and complex. Much like a remastered classic album is taken from the great to the sublime, HH Remastered adds complexity and tone to each cymbal, delivering unmatched sonic texture across the entire line.

    Meinl Classics Custom Dark Ride 22”

    This 22" Meinl Classics Custom Dark Ride cymbal is crafted from B10 bronze alloy, and features a unique twist on the traditional design of these cymbals. A special finishing process gives this ride an abundance of complex, dark and warm overtones with as ton of glassy ping. The Classics Custom Dark Ride combines bright attack with an earthy sustain, and a clear cutting bell that will be heard through any mix. You can use this beefy ride for absolutely any style of music that requires strong articulation. We proudly carry Meinl cymbals at the Drum Center of Portsmouth.

    Istanbul Agop Xist Brilliant Raw Ride Cymbal 22"

    When most people think of Istanbul Agop Ride Cymbals, they think big, papery, dark cymbals that are ideal for low volume applications. While that is the case most of the time, the Xist Brilliant Raw Ride Cymbal is one Agop     that you can be comfortable rocking out with. By combining more modern production techniques with traditional cymbal making processes, Istanbul is able to offer professional quality at a price that is accessible to drummers at any level. If you are looking for a distinctive ping, you need to put this one on your list!

    There you go. Five rock rides that we can confidently recommend to any drummer looking to project clear, musical tone. At Drum Center of Portsmouth, we can also help get you fitted with one hundred other ride cymbals that might be just right for your musical situation. Call us at (603) 319-8109, and talk to a real drummer today!

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