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  • 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!

  • Drum Center of Portsmouth Store Hours During COVID-19

    As of June 2020, and for the near future, we are continuing to ship items, and we are available for curbside pickup only.
  • How to Read Drum Tabs Quickly: A Complete Beginner's Guide

    Drum tablature, or drum tabs, provide drummers with an easy way to read music and learn to play a song quickly.

    Tabs tend to be easier to find and create than sheet music, making them a popular choice for drummers around the globe.

    If you are interested in learning to read drum tabs, then you have come to the right place. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about reading drum tabs. You will be well on your way to playing all sorts of beats in no time with this useful skill.

     

    What Are Drum Tabs?

    Drum tabs are a simplified form of musical sheet music that is explicitly written for drums. Instead of notes that represent different sounds, the symbols in tabs represent when and how you are to strike the instrument.

    Many people prefer using tabs to traditional sheet music because tabs are much easier to write, and some people even consider it easier to read drum tabs. This notation easy to type out and share over the internet while sheet music generally requires music notation software.

    With drum tabs, instead of going through the trouble of crafting a beautifully shaped quarter note, you only must place an x or an o. You can easily find all drum notation in tabs on a typical keyboard. As a result, it is no wonder that tabs became immensely popular in the 1990s during the advent of the internet.

    If you are looking for an easy way to share drum music, then tabs are the way to go. However, if you are serious about drumming and want to pursue it professionally, you will likely need to learn how to read traditional sheet music because it allows for much more nuance in drum notation.

     

    How Drum Tabs Are Written

    Tabs are written so that time is represented horizontally, and the different components of the drum set are written vertically. Generally, the first column of the tab features an abbreviation for the type of drum represented by that line of music. Moving toward the right, symbols indicate the beat to be played by each drum individually.

    Example:

    SN xx-xx-xx-xx

    B x—x—x—x

    In the brief example above, the HH and the SD represent two different pieces of the drum set, the snare drum, and the bass drum, while the x's and dashes represent whether to hit that instrument or not on that beat.

     

    How to Read Tabs Quickly: The Complete Guide

    1.  Familiarize Yourself with the Kit

     You will have a hard time reading the different parts of the drum tablature if you do not know the different parts of the drum kit. In drum tabs, each drum is represented by a different abbreviation.

    However, it is essential to note that tabs can vary based on the writer. Some people may choose to use different abbreviations, so it is essential to always look for a key or legend at the top of the page to determine that you understand the writer's notation. The most popular abbreviations for the nine pieces of the kit are listed below.

    • HH – Hi-Hat
    • Hf – Hi Hat with Foot
    • B – Bass Drum
    • Rd – Ride Cymbal
    • CC – Crash Cymbal
    • SN – Snare
    • T1 – Hi Tom
    • T2 – Low Tom
    • FT – Floor Tom

     

    Generally, in drum tabs, the drums will be listed in this order, which loosely corresponds with the height of the instruments.

     

     2.   Understand the Symbols

    Now that you know the abbreviations for the drums, let's take a closer look at the different symbols in the music portion of drum notation.

    There are five main symbols for hitting drums that are as follows:

    • o = strike or normal hit
    • O = accent or hit harder than normal
    • g = ghost or hit softer than normal
    • f = flam or two strokes hit by alternating hands with the first hit being a grace note followed by a stronger first hit with the other hand. The two notes are meant to be played in extremely close succession, so it almost sounds like one hit
    • d = double stroke or a roll

     

    Now that you know the symbols associated with the drums, it is time to take a look at the characters used for cymbals in tabs.

    • x = strike
    • X = hit hard cymbal or loose hi-hat
    • o = hit open hi-hat
    • # = choke or hit the cymbal, then grab it so the sound stops abruptly

     

    The last symbol to take note of is the dash (-), which can be used for drums or cymbals to let you know not to hit the instrument on that beat.

    It is also important to note that some people will write the drum abbreviation to denote a hit instead of the above symbols. Drum tabs are not an exact science, and there is some variation from writer to writer. Some people also choose to use x's to denote bass drum hits instead of o's. Other people may use x's for every instrument. However, the reason most people tend to use x's and o's instead of all the same is that it can make the composition more natural to read. All these discrepancies are a matter of personal preference as there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to drum tab notation.

    Spend some time studying these symbols so that you will not have to think twice about what to do if you come across one while you read drum tabs. The quicker you learn to recognize these symbols, the quicker you will be able to play your favorite songs without losing a beat, pun intended.

     

    3.  Pay Attention to Rhythm

    When playing drum tabs, the symbols that are written in the same vertical column are meant to be played at the same time. Most often, music is written in 4/4 time where the beat is divided into 8th or 16th counts. Each set of 8 or 16 beats is known as a bar. Bars are usually separating by vertical dividing lines so that it is easy to tell when one bar ends, and the next one begins.

    When it is divided into 8ths, you can count it as 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and. If it is divided into 16ths, it's a little different. You can count it as 1 e and a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4 e and a. Keeping a clear and consistent count will help you ensure that you are playing each beat precisely when you are supposed to. Sometimes the count will be written below the tabs, but this is not always the case, so it is crucial to keep a solid count in your head or out loud.

    Keep an eye out for a repeat symbol that may appear above a bar. It will be hard to miss as it usually includes the repeat and then the number of times that bar is to be repeated before moving onto the next bar.

     

    4.   Start Simple

    It can be a little complicated to read drum tabs. When you are first starting, consider getting comfortable only using a few different instruments, such as just the snare drum, bass drum, and crash cymbal, as opposed to throwing yourself in the fire by trying to use nine instruments at once. Try to become comfortable with two or three lines of music before building up to more while you read tabs. You will likely become stressed and frustrated if you try to take on too much at one time. No one becomes an expert overnight.

     

    Conclusion

    Drum tabs are a fun way to learn how to play your favorite rhythms without having to acquire and learn how to read complicated drum sheet music.

    While learning to read drum tabs can be a bit complex at first, with a bit of practice and perseverance, you can become a pro in no time. A quick internet search will likely yield you with many different drum tabs to choose from for your favorite songs.

    So, what are you waiting for? Start practicing today and learn how to read drum tabs confidently!

  • The 5 Best Drum Sets for Kids for 2020 - Reviewed

    Raising a child with the ability to express themselves creatively can be a challenge. Providing them with all the best tools, though, is a great start.

    Regular instruments aren't designed for the size and skill level of kids. High-quality drum kits for kids can allow your child to learn the skills necessary to operate a musical instrument, even before they're old enough to reach the kick pedal on a standard adult-size set.

    We've compiled some of the best drum sets for kids in 2020 in this guide, making it easy to choose your kid a set they'll love and encourage them to pick up the drum sticks. With different features, colors, and sizes, there is no way to go wrong! Check out our favorite kits for mini drummers down below.

    The Best Junior Drum Sets for Kids 2020

    In this list you'll find some of our best picks for the year! Be sure to check the product specifications to be sure the set you choose has everything you need.

    Each high-quality junior drum kit is designed specifically for use by young kids, without compromising on features and standards. Check out the sizing and what's included in the set, and move on to pros and cons when you want to hear about why it might be a good fit for your child. If your kid is interested in playing the drums, read on to find out our top 5 best junior drum sets.

    1) Pearl Roadshow Jr. 5-pc Drum Set w/ Hardware & Cymbals - Jet Black

    This innovative starter drum kit combines quality and style, with a bold and elegant jet black exterior. The shell is white poplar, meaning that the tone quality and pitch are on par with industry standards for drum sets. Kids will love the classic look that feels straight out of a rock band.

    The set includes 5 pieces, including two toms, one floor tom, a bass drum, and a snare. In addition to the drums, it boasts two top-tier cymbals with additional purchase.

    Without the downsize of a set designed for children, kids would never be able to reach this many individual drums within a set all at once. With this Pearl kit, your child can rehearse new skills without having to wait until they fit an adult set.

    Product Specifications:

    • Brand: Pearl
    • Series: Roadshow
    • Set Type: Full set with cymbals
    • Bass Drum: 16" x 10"
    • Floor Tom: 13" x 8"
    • Toms: 10" x 5.5" and 8" x 5"
    • Snare: 12" x 4"
    • Lifetime Labor Warranty
    • Mounting Hardware: Included

    Pros:

    • The gorgeous black shell feels sleek and simple in addition to practical. Perfect for school orchestras or recitals.
    • 5-piece junior kit for an immersive and full playing experience. There are truly no features missing from the set.

    Cons:

    • White poplar is sturdy and high-quality, but isn't the best wood to use for shells. However, using mid-grade woods makes the drum more affordable, which makes the instrument more accessible.

    The Verdict:

    Overall, this set checks off a lot of boxes for schools, parents, and kids. It has the features and professional exterior to properly suit a recital, showcase, or orchestra. It doesn't look cheap like some child versions of adult instruments and gives the children an authentic drumming experience on a full 5-pc kit. While it may not be as high-quality in terms of cutting edge materials as a regular drum set with its large drum heads etc, it is the perfect compromise for a child who wants to learn.

    The set blends high quality with affordable to create a professional sound and stylistically coherent appearance that lets your child develop their skills in the best way possible.

    Buy the Pearl Roadshow Jr. 5-pc Drum Set today from Drum Center of Portsmouth

    2) Pearl Midtown 4-pc Drum Set - Black Cherry Glitter

    This shell pack has all of the essentials with none of the fluff. Add what you need - like cymbals and stands and custom bass drum pedal - later. What you get with the high-quality Pearl Midtown shell pack are the four essential features of a drum set: the bass drum, the snare, bass drum hoops, toms, and drum heads. It is portable, convenient, and great for compact storage.

    The sizing of the instruments means they are a great fit for smaller kids without losing the tone quality of full-sized drums. The shell is 6-ply poplar with chrome hardware, making for a professional-looking aesthetic. Kids love the black cherry glitter color palette for the shell - it's a set that looks straight out of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. You'll have to prise the drum sticks out of their hands.

    Product Specifications:

    • Brand: Pearl
    • Series: Midtown
    • Set Type: Shell Pack
    • Bass Drum: 16" x 14"
    • Floor Tom: None
    • Toms: 10" x 6" and 13" x 13"
    • Snare: 13" x 5.5"
    • Lifetime Labor Warranty
    • Mounting Hardware: Mount on Drum, Arms not Included

    Pros:

    • High-quality sound and professional look.
    • This set perfectly bridges the gap between a children's drum kit and a standard adult set.
    • The black cherry glitter shell is subtle and professional, but also fun and exciting.

    Cons:

    • Unlike the full set, this shell pack doesn't include key features like cymbals, stands, or a floor tom.

    The Verdict:

    While this set lacks certain features needed for a full professional kit, it is meant for kids. While they're learning, they can get away with having fewer drums than usual. In fact, it's best to start off with a smaller set so they can master the basics. Any child would still learn serious skills from using this set, and you don't have to worry about lugging around and storing a 5-piece junior kit.

    The black cherry glitter shell gives the set a regal look that is truly timeless. It's perfect for recitals, band concerts, and just playing at home.

    Buy the Pearl Midtown 4pc Drum Set today from Drum Center of Portsmouth

    3) Gretsch Brooklyn Micro Drum Kit - Satin Gray

    This professional starter drum kit is perfect for any kid who wants to learn skills while looking and feeling like a rock star. The bass drum is slightly smaller than you'd get in a Ludwig set, but similar to the previous two we looked at (the Pearl Midtown and Roadshow). It has larger toms than the Roadshow that are similar in size to Midtown.

    This shell pack comes with a bass drum (and bass drum pedal of course), two toms, a snare, and a floor tom with legs. The shells are slightly thicker than the standard, constructed from 6-ply North American Maple/Poplar wood. With a lifetime labor warranty, it makes it easier to invest in this instrument knowing that if anything goes amiss, you won't be out of pocket. All the mounting hardware is included with the set for easy assembly by a parent - you don't need to waste time and money having it professionally put together.

    Product Specifications:

    • Brand: Gretsch
    • Series: Brooklyn
    • Set Type: Shell Pack
    • Bass Drum: 16" x 12"
    • Floor Tom: 13" x 12"
    • Toms: 10" x 7" and 13" x 12"
    • Snare Drum: 13" x 4.5"
    • Lifetime Labor Warranty
    • Hoops: 302 Hoops
    • Mounting Hardware: Included

    Pros:

    • This set has all the necessary components of a professional set, including a floor tom and snare.
    • The satin gray finish looks sleek and professional for any setting or event.

    Cons:

    • This set is a little pricier than other micro kits, especially when you're buying for a child.

    The Verdict:

    This set has everything you need for a professional sound while being smaller, which is great for children. Because it is a relatively standard set rather than a designated children's kit, it is on the pricier side. On the flip side, if you have a child who is serious about a career in music, this set is perfect for recording sessions, concerts, gigs, and recitals.

    Buy the Gretsch Brooklyn Micro Drum Kit from Drum Center of Portsmouth

    4) Ludwig Junior Drum Set - 5 Piece - Wine

    This killer 5-piece junior drum kit for kids makes it easy for any child to tap into their music potential. The set comes with a bass drum, two toms, a floor tom, a snare drum, and cymbals. It is a full 5-piece junior set, similar to the Pearl Roadshow. This means that it has all the components your child needs to play pretty much any tune. Schools looking for a starter drum set to use for band recitals could also benefit from this ideal set.

    This Ludwig kit's toms and snare are similar in size to other sets we looked at. The bass drum, on the other hand, is much larger, at about 18" x 10". This impressive size means a booming, tonally full sound. The set comes with lots of great features like a crash cymbal and hi-hat stands to add to your set, as well as a throne the perfect size for a mini drumming pro.

    Product Specifications:

    • Brand: Ludwig
    • Series: Junior
    • Set Type: Full set with cymbals
    • Bass Drum: 18" x 10"
    • Floor Tom: 13" x 10"
    • Toms: 10" x 5" and 8" x 5"
    • Snare Drum: 12" x 4"
    • Lifetime Labor Warranty
    • Mounting Hardware: Included

    Pros:

    • This full set is equipped with all the elements of a full, professional set.
      Mounting hardware and additional cymbal stands are included.

    Cons:

    • The drums are of slightly lower quality than the others we've reviewed, but that means a substantial drop in price. But, this is a perfect kit for beginner drummers who want to learn all the skills without committing to a more expensive price point, or schools looking to kit out their music room.

    The Verdict:

    This set is the ideal choice for a passionate early drummer. The set fits perfectly for a younger child and has all the features of a professional drum kit. With a beautiful wine finish on the exterior, this instrument looks great and stays in good condition.

    The Ludwig set combines quality and quantity as well as affordability. This affordable set has a great sound with five beautiful drums. While they may not have the most professional sound out there, its a great value for a low price. That means your child can start learning now rather than waiting longer to be able to afford a set.

    Buy the Ludwig Junior Drum Set - 5-pc from Drum Center of Portsmouth

    5) Pearl Roadshow 4-pc Drum Set w/ Hardware - Bronze Metallic

    This stout 4-piece drum kit is considerably larger than the four others featured on this list. With an 18" x 12" bass drum and toms larger than 14", this is a great fit for older kids who want a set that will easily allow them to transition to a standard size soon. This set doesn't come with cymbals, but it does come with a wide range of features.

    The drums included in this set include a bass drum, one standard tom, one floor tom, and a snare. It doesn't come with a second tom like some of the other sets on this list, but it does include a floor tom, which is great for versatility and variety of sound. The hardware package included makes this set easy to assemble so that your child can start playing as soon as possible.

    Product Specifications:

    • Brand: Pearl
    • Series: Roadshow
    • Set Type: Full set with cymbals
    • Bass Drum: 18" x 12"
    • Floor Tom: 14" x 10"
    • Toms: 10" x 7"
    • Snare Drum: 13" x 5"
    • Lifetime Labor Warranty
    • Hoops: Triple Flanged
    • Mounting Hardware: Included

    Pros:

    • This set includes four crucial pieces of a drum kit, making it a full set with the addition of cymbals, which are sold separately.
    • The large drums are closer to the standard size, making it perfect for older kids who are almost finished with their growth spurt and ready for a full-size set.

    Cons:

    • The set doesn't include a second regular tom in addition to the floor tom and regular tom.

    The Verdict:

    With a gorgeous bronze metallic exterior, this set is clean, tonally high-quality, and full. It is one step closer to a professional set than most of what you'd find in terms of children's drum sets. When your child wants to start learning an instrument but isn't old enough to know if they'll stick with it, this is the perfect set.

    It has a higher quality than some of the other kid's sets and therefore costs a slightly higher price point. That means though that your child can truly experience and learn on a high-quality drum kit, which makes a huge difference in their progress.

    Buy the Pearl Roadshow 4-pc Drum Set with Hardware from Drum Center of Portsmouth

    What To Look For When Choosing the Best Drum Set For Kids

    Usually, shopping for your kid can be a breeze. Either you know what they want because they can't stop talking about it, or you're a friend of the family who can easily ask the parent what to get. The nitty-gritty of deciding between brands and types doesn't usually matter. For musical instruments, though, those types of details can make or break the product for the child. How do you pick the best junior drum sets for you children?

    There are several brands to choose between, including:

    • Pearl
    • Ludwig
    • Gretsch

    Within these brands are series like the Roadshow series and the Midtown series, which are offered by the company Pearl. Reading a company's mission can tell you a lot about the type of instrument they are trying to make, and what features they find the most important.

    It's important to know a little bit about drum sets for kids. This is so that you can make an educated selection for your child. If you end up buying a set that is too big, too small, not the right brand, or under-researched, you might end up with something that isn't quite what you expected and doesn't work for your kid. Use these expert tips to help you find what you need for your child to start drumming today.

    How Many Types of Drums Come In a Set?

    Every set is different. For different styles of music or different preferences, drum sets can come with any combination of percussive instruments. Most sets come with a few key drums.

    The most common drums to find in a standard set are the bass drum, the floor tom, and regular toms. Also, there's the snare drum, and cymbals (ride, crash cymbal, and hi-hat). Together, these drums make up a 5-piece drum setup with cymbals.

    The two primary groups to classify the instruments on the set by are the instruments that have a shell, and those that don't. The shell is made of several layers of wood bent into the shape of a circle. It makes up the exterior of the drum.

    Which Materials are Best?

    Different types of wood used in the shell of the drum can impact the tone of the instrument, among other things. Common shell materials include:

    • Maple, which is commonly used in snare shells
    • Beech, which is great for low-end frequencies
    • Birch, which is dense and durable
    • Basswood, which is often used in middle layers between more expensive woods
    • Poplar, found in many of the above sets, is great for sound and strength
    • Oak, which is great for a strong, loud sound
    • Mahogany, commonly found in vintage drums
    • Steel, which offers a bright, penetrating sound for rim shots and loud snares
    • Copper, which is perfect for an orchestral sound
    • Brass, which is warm, clear, and crisp, perfect for rim shots and loud sound
    • Aluminum, which is also crisp, but drier than brass for snare rim shots
    • Bronze, which is mostly used for snare drums

    These woods can be used alone or together to create different combinations of strength, tone, appearance, and pitch. Often, a less expensive wood will be lodged as a layer in between two more expensive kinds of wood. That way, the internal and external of the shell is expensive for a high-quality tone and appearance. The middle is then substantiated with a cheaper wood to cut down on costs and make a set more affordable.

    Cymbals, unlike drums, don't have a shell. They are, however, a vital element of the drum kit in creating the perfect sound.

    What Age Groups are Junior Drum Sets for?

    The beauty of buying your child a beginner set is that it takes away a lot of the danger, volume, and risk of destruction that a more adult drum kit might pose. On a junior set, a child between the ages of 3 and 12 can thrive and challenge themselves to build skills without the pressure of using an expensive and intimidating adult drum set.

    The first accommodation a junior drum set will make for younger kids is the size. This makes it easier for your child to play in the same way an adult would play a normal size set, and their feet will be able to reach the bass drum pedal (or kick pedal). They will also have a full range of the set and be able to reach all the further drums from the stool, which they wouldn't be able to do with an adult kit.

    Elementary school-age kids are the perfect users of these smaller, more easily used drum sets. The other way that these sets are accommodating of young kids is that it is not as huge of an investment as a standard drum set. Junior sets still maintain the high quality of a professional drum set, but they go for cheaper than what you'd see a professional band playing at a gig. This means that any damage done to the set won't be devastating since we all know that kids aren't always the most careful when handling their stuff!

    Acquiring new skills is best begun as a child. Children are more likely to cement their newly learned skills and keep honing them into adulthood if they start early. Junior drum sets are perfectly designed to let kids begin to learn the process of playing an instrument, without needing to learn one drum at a time. Because the sets are scaled-down in size and difficulty, kids can easily reach all the drums on the set and learn to play like a pro before they even become a teenager.

    How Big Are Junior Drum Sets For Kids?

    A lot of the appeal of a junior drum set is that it is small enough for a child to reach all the parts. And, because they're smaller, they don't produce as loud a sound as the standard adult drum kit - which parents will be pleased to hear!

    A standard (adult) set would include a bass drum, floor tom, and mounted toms. Here's how the sizing breaks down:

    • Bass Drum: 22"
    • Floor Tom: 16"
    • Mounted Toms: 12" and 13"

    The amount of floor space that the drum takes up averages out to approximately 60" x 48". It is important to remember that this refers to a full-size drum kit. An expanded drum might be closer to 88" x 48", and a compact drum kit would be more like 33" x 28".

    Compared to the average full-size adult drum set, a junior set is much smaller. The junior set is approximately 38" x 35". This is roughly similar to the size of a compact set, but with more instruments. The junior sets drum sizes are:

    • Bass Drum: 16"
    • Floor Tom: 13"
    • Toms: 10" x 5" and 8"

    This down-sizing makes these sets perfect for young kids who aren't tall enough for a regular kit yet. If you have an inkling that your kid might be due for a growth spurt, be sure you buy on the larger end of junior drum set sizes. If you're unsure of sizing, it's best to visit a drum store in person to check which sized kit your kid feels most comfortable sat at. Come down to Drum Center of Portsmouth and talk to one of our pros - we love seeing families come in to kit out the next generation of drummers!

    Conclusion

    No matter how old your child is, or where they are in terms of drumming experience, the right set for their skill level is out there. Typical junior sets are designed for ages 3-12 or 3-10, meaning any child or pre-teen can find a fit for their needs.

    Junior kits are perfect for elementary school-age kids who want to start developing their skills as a drummer, without the commitment of buying an expensive standard set. Use this handy guide to help you find what works and what doesn't. With junior drum sets, your kid gets to feel like a real rock star with a professional-looking set that has all the components of a standard drum set.

    Choose your set based on color, size, pieces included, ease of setup, cost, and more. Our reviews have every bit of information that you need to make your choice. Your child is sure to be happy with whatever you get them, but using these reviews can help you find exactly the right fit for their needs. Maybe your older child needs a set that will fit them even after a growth spurt, or perhaps you need something that you won't be devastated about if it ends up broken by a child with a lot of enthusiasm. Every option is right here in our guide to the five best junior drum sets for 2020.

    For more help, contact us today or come down to the store!

  • The 10 Best Drum Brands of 2020: The Only Guide and Reviews That You Need 

    Deciding which drum set is the right one for you can be difficult - there are enough options out there to drive you crazy! This is because each brand has different tiers, features, benefits, drawbacks, and more.

    When it comes down to the best drum brand, it's impossible to choose just one. For this reason, we've compiled a list of the ten best drum brands of 2020. From this list, we hope that aspiring drummers and musicians can look through and learn more about each one, consequently decide which brand is best suited for them.

    In this guide, we'll focus on ten brands that we feel have made a name for themselves in the drumming industry. We'll also recommend one kit or set for each brand to give you a feel for what the brand has to offer. However, feel free to browse the DCP website and call to ask questions about any specific kits or drums you find while browsing. We want you to find your perfect drum set and are happy to give you our recommendation.

    Read on to learn about the ten best drum brands of 2020.

    1 Tama

    Like other great drum brands on this list, Tama is headquartered in Japan but has offices around the world. This makes them not only well-known but versatile as a brand. The founder, Hoshino Gakki, started manufacturing drums in 1965. They produce everything from beginner to professional kits, individual drums, and drum hardware.

    Tama is a great brand because many professional drummers use it, and their products reflect that fact. Famous drummers such as Dave Lombardo of Slayer and Lars Ulrich of Metallica have used Tama drums, making it a favorite for experienced drummers and amateurs alike. They sell kits that appeal to all drumming levels and offer users an amazing value for their money.

    One of their best-selling kits is the Tama Imperial Star 6-Piece Kit. It features two-floor toms, two bass drums, a snare, a set of hi-hats, crash cymbals, and a ride cymbal all for an amazingly low price. It's a great price for a kit that can be used for beginners and professionals and has fantastic reviews online. Alongside this there are other high end sets from the Star Series including Starclassic drums in walnut and birch.

    2 DW

    Drum Workshop, also known as DW or DW Drums, is an American drum and drum hardware manufacturing company based out of Oxnard, California. DW is known as one of the classic American-made drum brands. It was founded in 1972, initially to be a teaching studio, but evolved into a primary drum hardware company shortly after. They are endorsed by many artists and bands such as The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and Bon Jovi. Most of DW's drums are custom, but they also sell stock kits and hardware, making them extremely versatile as a brand.

    One of their best affordable drum kits is the Performance Series Drum Kit, which features HVX maple shells and North American maple toms and bass drums. It comes in five lacquer finishes, including red and black transparent lacquers, to show off the wood grain. The hardware is double-braced and not too heavy, making it professional and durable but not impossible to carry around.

    Overall, this kit and others from DW are a little pricey but well worth the money; DW are true professionals in the drum business, and we couldn't recommend them more.

    3 Yamaha

    Although known for more than just instruments, with their brand reaching out to industries such as furniture and motorcycles, Yamaha is a very popular name in the percussion industry.

    In terms of percussion, Yamaha produces everything from drums to pianos and chimes. Based out of Japan, it was established in 1887 by Torakusu Yamaha as a piano and reed organ manufacturer. It has expanded today into the world's largest musical instrument manufacturer and has three main factories located in Japan. The instruments themselves are shipped and used worldwide by millions of musicians.

    DCP has reviewed Yamaha drums before, and since we're the #1 Yamaha drums dealer in the United States, it comes as no surprise that it's so high up on our list. Although the Yamaha stage custom birch 5-piece shell pack is a popular choice and we do recommend it, we're going to talk about the drums from the Absolute Hybrid Maple Set. These have amazing high-quality aluminum die-cast hoops and a hybrid shell design that makes these drums sound aggressive and resonant. Yamaha drums also come standard with a bearing edge shape; this bearing edge optimizes tonal balance and enhances the sound. They're a beautiful choice from Yamaha, and we couldn't recommend this brand more.

    4 Sonor

    Founded in 1875 and headquartered in Bad Berleburg, Germany, Sonor is one of the oldest percussion companies in the world. It is not surprising that their products reflect this experience. Sonor manufactures and sells drums kits and hardware, as well as other forms of percussion such as congas and cymbals. Their drums were known in the past to be extremely heavy, earning them the tagline of "The Rolls of Drums," but as time went on, their drums became more light and slim. Today, they're known as a company that innovates and evolves with the times.

    The German-made Sonor SQ1 Series Drums are all-birch and meticulously built with forward-thinking hardware. It's more affordable than the well-known SQ2, being that it's not custom. However, it's made with Sonos cross lamination tension-free process and comes with their famous TuneSafe system, which prevents tension rods from loosening and offers maximum tuning capability. This set is solid but not heavy, and the hardware is easy to transport. Sonor is known for offering high-end kits at affordable prices, which makes them an excellent brand to check out if you're in the market for a kit.

    5 Pearl

    Pearl is one of the most known names in the percussion instrument and drum industry. Headquartered in Japan, the company is formally known as "Pearl Musical Instrument Company," but since their drums are so widely known and used, they are simply referred to as "Pearl Drums." This nickname is for a good reason: Their drums are one of the most popular used in the United States that it's not usually known that they're headquartered internationally, but they do have facilities in Nashville, Tennessee.

    One of the best-known kits from Pearl is the Export Series. It comes in two versions, the EXX72S, and the EXX725S. Both come with 22" bass drums, but the former comes with 12-, 13-, and 16-inch toms while the latter comes with 10-, 12-, and 16-inch toms. Both include a snare, bass drum pedal, and three cymbals. Both have excellent, sturdy hardware and look professional for a relatively affordable price. Pearl's drums usually come with their Superior Shell Technology, which makes the shells airtight and resonates well, so purchasing from Pearl is a great choice for high-end drum lovers.

    6 Ludwig

    Anyone who knows drums knows the Ludwig brand. Established in 1909, the company produces instruments of all kinds but most notably provides drums and other percussion instruments. Famous drummers from bands such as Aerosmith, The Grateful Dead, and Fleetwood Mac all currently play or have previously played Ludwig drums, making it a favorite of professional drummers. The company was popularized in the United States in the '60s due to an endorsement from the one and only Ringo Starr of The Beatles.

    Ludwig's NeuSonic Series Drum Kit is a brilliant example of this brand's manufacturing. It's lightweight, portable, and perfect for part-timers and touring professionals. It's made of American maple, and its shells are produced from the same molds that are used on their Legacy Classic and Classic Maple series. The shells are also ultra-thin and lightweight but resonate fully. Overall, Ludwig truly shows their high-quality best through this drum kit, and we recommend this drum set (and the Ludwig brand as a whole) very highly.

    7 Gretsch

    Gretsch Drums has been in business since 1883 and was founded by Friedrich Gretsch in Brooklyn, New York. He began by making drums by hand and continued to manufacture them until his son took over the business in 1916. From there, the company grew to become one of the most prominent American musical instrument manufacturers. They make other instruments in addition to drums, such as guitars, basses, and ukuleles.

    Looking for some top-quality Gretsch drums? Our recommendations are the Catalina Maple set or any kit from the Brooklyn series. These kits are high end and beautifully manufactured. From a visual standpoint, the Brooklyn kits come in a variety of colors and finishes, while the Catalina features a walnut glaze, which is warm and looks far more expensive than it is. These drums are reliable, durable, and functional - and that's what's so great about Gretsch drums. The classic company offers a vast range of top-notch kits that provide that unmistakable rich Gretsch sound.

    8 Canopus

    Canopus is a Japan-based company that sells hand-made drums and drum kits, wire, hardware, and other products. Canopus was founded in 1977 by Shinichi Usada and offers drum shells made from unique and the best sounding materials like wood, acrylic, and carbon fiber. Canopus is unique in that it innovated and manufactured the world-famous Zelkova solid shell snare, which is created from a hollowed-out tree trunk.

    We recommend Canopus drums for beginners because many of their kits come with lots of equipment, giving beginners options for customizing their perfect drum set. One of their best drum sets is the Canopus Ash Standard Drumset. It's the house kit usually supplied by many New York City jazz clubs but has superior quality and construction along with brilliant sound and appearance. It comes with a. bass, two toms, a floor toms, and a snare which all feature ash/poplar shells and a black satin finish. These are deep and resonant, and they're perfect for all levels of drummers. Canopus is an amazing brand, and we couldn't recommend them more highly.

    9 Noble & Cooley

    Noble & Cooley was established in 1854 and is based out of Granville, Massachusetts. They carry the title of one of the oldest (and one of the best) drum companies in the United States and are among the oldest drum companies in the world. Noble & Cooley is unique in that they started manufacturing toy drums but soon made their way into the professional drum market. They specialize in snare drums, but they also make whole drum kits as well.

    Noble & Cooley offers a shell pack drum set called the Walnut Classic Series that has a unique shiny wood finish, and we feel that this is truly one of their best drum sets. It comes with bass, four toms, and a matching snare that all have a high-gloss lacquer finish. It's ambient and has great "wow-factor" due to its outward appeal. It has a vintage tone, and the walnut offers a unique, balanced tone with enhanced lows. It can be ordered with several configurations, making it perfectly customizable and great for professionals or amateur drummers. Noble & Cooley is a classic brand, and they know what they're doing, so drums from this brand are bound to be of top-notch quality.

    10 British Drum Company

    As the name suggests, all drums from the British Drum Company are made in Britain., making it one of the best drum brands in the world today. The company was started in 2015 by several award-winning master drum-makers and musicians, including Keith Keough and Ian Matthews of Kasabian. They pride themselves on producing unique British-made drums made of innovative and tonal materials.

    One of our favorite kits from BDC is the Skye Blue 4-Piece Drum Kit, which features an undrilled bass drum, two rack toms, and a floor tom constructed from Scandinavian birch wood. They're all hand-cut and cold-pressed, making the sound amazingly deep. The rest of the drums in their repertoire feature unique materials and hardware seldom seen in other drums on the market, making BDC a truly distinctive drum brand among their competitors and a candidate in the running for best drum brands.

    What To Look For When Choosing A Drum Brand

    There are so many options for drum brands and drum sets that one can get lost in a sea of brand names. Some brands will specialize in hardware while others may specialize in snares. Some drum brands are old and well-known, but that doesn't mean they're the best brand; others may be new, but it doesn't mean they're not experienced. It can be hard to know what to look for when choosing which brand you'll want to use for most of your drum kit, and Drum Center of Portsmouth is here to help.

    Read on to find out what you should be looking for when choosing a drum brand!

    Hardware

    A drum kit is made out of several moving parts, but it can be most generally separated into two components: hardware and instruments. Instruments are the drums, cymbals, and hi-hats, while the hardware is everything that supports or positions them. This includes drum stands, hi-hat stands, tension rods, cymbal stands, rims, mounts, and other parts. It is pretty typical of drum companies to sell hardware included with the instruments themselves, but some companies sell shell packs that do not include hardware.

    When selecting a drum brand, it's important to note if they sell hardware or not. If purchasing a shell pack (drums only), it comes with the assumption that you already have hardware or that you plan on purchasing it elsewhere. Make sure when selecting a drum brand that it specifies whether the drum kits come with hardware and if the company itself sells hardware to go along with their merchandise. If it's not that important to you to get hardware and drums all from the same brand, this may not matter. If you need to stick to one brand, make sure to check!

    Established Year

    As said before, some drum companies are from the mid- to late-1800's while some others were established more recently. Generally, the most experienced drum brands will be the oldest. These companies have seen trends come and go and have manufactured millions of drums as time has gone on. Brands such as Noble & Cooley and Gretsch were started long ago and have manufactured every kind of drum from almost every kind of material possible, so they know what they're doing.

    That isn't to say, however, that the newer drum brands will be inferior. These new drum brands, such as British Drum Company, are started by younger people with no official ties to any traditions to uphold. These companies are often innovative and willing to experiment with materials, setups, and sound. So, in a nutshell, if you prefer a brand that's established and has been doing things the same way for a long time, go for an older brand. If you want a brand that is more likely to innovate and change, go for a younger brand.

    Location

    In terms of location, some brands are based out of a foreign country but distribute from another country. Brands such as the British Drum Company manufacture and make their drums in a foreign country but utilize the benefits of distribution in the U.S.

    However, you don’t need to worry about this when purchasing kits through Drum Center of Portsmouth - we stock brands from all over the world and can deliver all across the U.S. We also offer international shipping. Contact us for more information about delivery if you’re thinking of making a purchase.

    Specialty

    Some brands will specialize in drums themselves. Others will specialize in hardware or something else relating to drums. It's important to purchase from a brand that specializes in what you're looking for. For example, if you're looking for a good drum, perhaps snare drums, in particular, it may be best to look at Noble & Cooley drums since they specialize in snare drums. If you're looking for drum hardware, however, you may look more into DW because they specialize in drum hardware.

    What's Included

    The last thing you should consider when choosing a drum brand is what's typically included in their drum sets. A standard drum set should come with a snare drum, bass drum, and two toms. Some other drum sets will include cymbals or hi-hats, but these don't come standard and are often sold separately. Look for brands that include the cymbals and hi-hats in their kits so that you don't need to look elsewhere for them. In addition (and this goes hand-in-hand with hardware), make sure that if you're looking for drums only, purchase a shell pack. If you're looking for everything included, avoid shell packs and look for a full kit.

    Conclusion

    To conclude, there are tons of factors to consider when looking at different drum brands. You may think that the oldest and most well-known brand is your best bet, but it may seem that the newest and most innovative brand suits your fancy. It may even be that a brand that is relatively old but still evolves with the times ends up being your pick, and you end up only choosing drums and hardware from this company.

    Anyway you swing it, choosing a drum brand to represent you is a difficult choice and shouldn't be taken lightly. We at Drum Center of Portland hope that you've found what you needed from this guide and that you know which drum brand is the best for you. Feel free to send us any questions or comments you may have from this article or anything else from our site!

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