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Drum Center of Portsmouth Blog

  • 10 BEST Drum Sets in 2019

    Narrowing Down Your Drum Kit Buying Decision

    Learning how to play the drums offers so many benefits that go beyond it being enjoyable. It’s not just for professionals on the road. Research has shown that drumming reduces stress, anxiety, and even boosts the immune system. Studies have also shown that playing the drums is a great workout for the brain. It releases tension and even helps control chronic pain.

    Choosing the perfect drum set for you can be a difficult process because there are so many different factors to consider. If you invest in the first set that comes your way, you’re risking getting a product that lacks quality.

    If you’re on the market for a drum set, you have come to the right place. We are here to help you narrow down this process. By the end of this guide, you’ll be matched with the set that’s best for you. Here are the top 10 drum kits currently trending the market that we love, and we’re sure you will, too:

    1. Ludwig Classic Maple 3pc Drum Set

    The sound this drum set offers is timeless. Ludwig has always been extremely advanced when it comes to making straight maple shells. This Classic Ludwig set is a perfect choice for professionals looking for tonal versatility. It offers a wide tuning range with a sharp attack for live performances.

    This set includes a 7-ply shell, bearing edge, and RFST molding. All mounting hardware will be included with this set, giving the user an easy way to start playing!

    The bearing edge was designed carefully to achieve that unique Ludwig Sound. It is hand-sanded. The smooth, flat surface makes the head seating easy. Another great feature of Ludwig USA shells is that they are all made using Radio Frequency Shell Technology (RFST). This increases stability throughout the entire drum.

    Does the Classic Maple series have any disadvantages? Not really – besides the fact that it requires cymbals to be purchased separately. This is expected. However, some drummers like purchasing a complete drum set. Other than this, the Ludwig Classic Maple is a great set to have and one that will allow drummers to rock out to amazing tunes.

    Get the Ludwig Classic Maple 3pc Drum Set Here

    Pros Cons
    Beautiful golden chrome color No cymbals are included
    RFST molding offers amazing sound


    You can make the Ludwig Maple 3pc drum set yours today by purchasing directly from our website. Still not sure if it’s the right option for you? Get in touch with us to learn more about this set. We’re here to answer any questions you may have about this remarkable item.

    2. Sonor SQ2 Heavy Maple 5pc Drum Set

    The Sonor SQ2 is often arguably the best of the best (and for good reason)! All the way from its stunning design to playing capabilities, Sonor really went the extra mile on this set.

    This brand has over 137 years of manufacturing experience, so drummers can be confident they are investing in a quality product. SQ2 has a wide variety of shell, finish, and size combinations, allowing every drummer to play it in accordance to their personal liking. You get a signature sound that’s special with this unique set.

    Buyers will receive a shell pack that includes a 22x16 bass drum, 10x9 tom, 12x10 tom, 14x14 floor tom, and 16x16 floor tom. The shells are all designed with a Black Sparkle Lacquer finish and matte black interiors. It does not include the hardware or cymbals as these are sold separately.

    Get the Sonor SQ2 Heavy Maple 5pc Drum Set Here

    Pros Cons
    Offers an almost unlimited variety of shell, size, and finish combinations Hardware and cymbals are sold separately
    Gives drummers the ability to create their own signature sound


    We really love the uniqueness of this set all the way from its design to playing capabilities. If interested, you can purchase this set directly online. Need some more information? Get in touch with one of our drum experts today!  

    3. Tama Star Walnut 4pc Drum Set - Best for Top Notch Quality

    This set may just be as good as it gets – let us tell you why!

    With this set, you will receive a 22x18 bass drum, 10x8 tom, 12x9 tom, and 16x14 floor tom. There is something to love about each one of these. For instance, with the 22” bass drum, you’ll get the amazing low-end frequency. The toms project thick tones with a nice impact when struck.

    This set also includes 12 hand-applied finishes that give it the look and feel of an actual collector’s showpiece. It really doesn’t get better than this! The hardware and cymbals are not included but can be purchased separately.

    Get the Tama Star Walnut 4pc Drum Set Here

    Pros Cons
    Includes a super resonant mounting system The snare drum, cymbals, and hardware are sold separately
    Unique blend of modern and vintage tones
    Has the look of a collector’s showpiece item


    STAR Walnut has been at the top of the drumming industry for a while now, so when this new set came out, you can believe it was at the top of many drum players wish lists. Luckily, you can make this set yours today directly from our website while supplies last!


    4. DW Collectors Cherry/Mahogany 4pc Drum Set - Best Organic Drum Sound

    The DW Collectors 4-piece set is a unique beauty that is made from more than one type of wood. We really enjoy the wide range of sonic possibilities that this set offers. It’s perfect for drummers who like that organic drum sound.

    This top-of-the-line set offers a full range of sounds that you need while playing. It’s an outstanding selection with a high-end finish and unique design. Tom sizes come in 10x7, 12x8, and 16x14 with a bass drum size of 22x16. Only the drums are included in this set – hardware and cymbals are sold separately.

    Get the DW Collectors Cherry/Mahogany 4pc Drum Set Here

    Pros Cons
    Offers a unique, “woodsy” sound Hardware and cymbals aren’t included
    Exceptional craftsmanship & professional quality Some viewers aren’t too crazy about the look


    If this sounds like the right set for you, you may purchase directly from our site. If not, keep browsing through this top 10 list until you reach the perfect option for you. Like always, DCP is here for any questions, comments, and concerns. Get in touch with one of our drum experts for more information.


    5. Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 5pc Drum Set - Best for Those on a Budget

    You cannot go wrong with Yamaha, and the Stage Custom Birch set is no exception! This drum set will give any drummer the value, quality, and look that they need to continue to improve their skills.

    You’ll love the versatility of this set. It’s amazing for beginners as well as professional drummers.

    It comes with 5 integral pieces which include a bass drum (22x17), snare drum (14x5.5), and tom’s in the following sizes: 10x7, 12x8, 16x15. The set produces a range of warm tones.  Setting up is made easy with the included stoppers, and the claw hooks that come included work nicely to reduce noises. It really is an amazing value, especially for its low price.

    Get the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 5pc Drum Set Here

    Pros Cons
    Stunning, shiny pure white color Some customers aren’t too fond of the cymbals
    Affordable pricing
    Versatile drum set


    Make this Yamaha 5pc Drum Set yours today! If you need additional information, get in touch with one of our specialists. We look forward to working with you and getting you one step closer to your dream drum kit.


    6. British Drum Company Legend Fusion 4pc Drum Set - Favorite Palladium Look

    Looking for a drum kit with sharp, pronounced lows? Look no further! The Legend series from the British Drum Company has so much to offer all the way from its stunning Whitechapel finish to its amazing quality. You’ll receive hand cut 45-degree round overbearing edges, sophisticated palladium fittings, and a proprietary cold-pressed molding of the drum shell.

    The drum kit itself includes a bass drum, snare drum, mounting hardware, and 3 toms. Previous buyers have enjoyed playing this set on their own or with their band. It delivers an unbeatable sound quality for both loud or soft volumes. It seems to stick more with players who enjoy pop, indie, or contemporary rock.

    Get the British Drum Company Legend Fusion Drum Set Here

    Pros Cons
    Offers crisp attacks and low pronounced tones Not an ideal option for punk or rock bands
    Great for any level of playing Hardware and cymbals are not included
    Beautiful Palladium look


    For more information on this set, get in touch with one of our experts. We’re confident you’ll enjoy its versatility, low fundamental tones with sharp attacks, and controlled sustains. If you’re ready to purchase, you can do so right here from our site.

    7. Canopus RFM 5pc Drum Set Navel Oil - Great For Any Level

    This shell pack includes 3 tom’s sizes 22x15, 10x7, 12x8 with 2-floor tom’s sizes 14x13 and 16x15. We really like the satin finish of this set and the careful planning that was taken to develop the maple shell drums.

    As Canopus developed their R.F.M series, they noticed some things that were going very well like the solid sound it offered. It is also an amazing option for all genres of music, which is hard to achieve in most sets. The versatility it brings is amazing.

    The makers of this drum set also took into consideration some of the negatives of maple shell sets. It was concluded that maple did not resonate enough. There were unwanted overtones from time to time, and the mid-range didn’t sustain enough. With these in mind, they designed the RFM series to overcome all these issues for a clear, bright sound.

    Get the Canopus RFM 5pc Drum Set Navel Oil Here

    Pros Cons
    Nice navel oil satin finish Snare drum, hardware, and cymbals sold separately
    Improved R.F.M series design Some drummers still think the shell doesn’t resonate enough
    Great option for all levels


    Only the drums and mounting hardware are included – the hardware, snare drum, and cymbals are sold separately for this set. If you’re interested in purchasing this drum set, you can do so directly from our site. For additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts at DCP.

    8. Noble and Cooley CD Maple 4pc Drum Set - Best Option For Professional Drummers

    This brings us to this pro-level option great for those serious about their playing. Noble & Cooley customizes drums for clients using nothing less than quality workmanship and materials. They engineer every piece of their set to offer the best sound possible.

    This set has Noble and Cooley’s patented suspension system, ply configuration, symmetrical venting, and lug locking. All of these contribute to the amazing tonality and versatility of this kit. Noble and Cooley are not afraid to step outside the norm. Through extensive research and trial and error, they have engineered a drum set that offers exceptional quality and more.

    Going back to ply configuration, their 8 – 13” toms are 5 mm thick while their 14 – 18” toms are 6 mm thick. All their bass drums are 7 mm thick. They have found these combinations allow drummers to create the best sounds possible.

    Get the Noble and Cooley CD Maple 4pc Drum Set Here

    Pro Cons
    Unique, customized drum set Cymbals and hardware are sold separately
    Amazing design features
    Allows customers to specify their drum sizes


    We love the sleek, elegant look of this drum set. Noble & Cooley really paid attention to detail when designing this kit. It’s one that we highly recommend for aspiring drummers and seasoned players. Experience these drums for yourself and buy today!


    9. Gretsch Brooklyn 3pc Jazz Drum Set Gray Oyster - Best Vintage Option

    The Gretsch Brooklyn Series is hard to beat. With this set, you’ll receive vintage tones full of punch and warmth. Drums are designed with 6-ply North American maple shells, toms are .220” thick, and the snare and bass drums are .310” thick. This is just a bit thicker than the standard USA Custom shells.

    The Gretsch Brooklyn looks as good as it sounds! Drummers love the gray, subtle color of this kit. The sound, the shell, the hardware – it’s a tough deal to turn down! It’s also important to know that only the drums are included within this kit – hardware and cymbals are sold separately.

    Get the Gretsch Brooklyn 3pc Jazz Drum Set Gray Oyster Here

    Pros Cons
    Warm vintage sounds full of punch Hardware and cymbals are not included
    Amazing tuning range
    Affordable pricing


    You can make this set yours today by purchasing directly online. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are here to answer any concerns you may have, getting you one step closer to the ideal drum kit for you!


    10. Tama Imperialstar 5pc Complete Drum Set - Best For Beginners

    This is the best-selling drum set in its class and for a good reason! TAMA has over 40 years of experience manufacturing drums. That is why we’re confident in their ability to give drummers what they want. The Imperialstar is an award-winning line and continues to deliver remarkable sounding shells, consistency, and hardware that is ergonomic and durable.

    The Imperialstar 5pc is an all-inclusive set, giving beginners the ultimate playing experience. It comes with all the hardware and cymbals, a bass drum, 3 toms, and snare drum. Sitting at an amazing price, you can’t turn down this quality 5pc drum set.

    Get the Tama Imperialstar 5pc Complete Drum Set Here

    Pros Cons
    All-inclusive drum set Not an ideal option for professional drummers
    Great option for beginners
    Low price


    For more information about the best drum sets, get in touch with one of our DCP drum experts. We’ll get you one step closer to the best option for you.

    Read more: The best drum kits under 800$

  • Drum Sets—Do Looks Matter?

    One question many drummers wonder about from time to time is whether or not the appearance of their drum set really makes a difference. This is a difficult question to answer because in certain situations it does matter. In others, it really makes no difference.

    For the most part, this is a matter of personal preference. But the way your drum set looks can shape the way that people might look at you, your band, and your ability to play the drums. These are some things you may want to consider about the way your drums look.

    The Material the Drums Are Made of

    There is a big difference in the way different drums look because of what they are made of. A snare drum made of metal is going to look quite different than a wooden one. In the same vein, wooden drums that are simply lacquered will look different than drums that may be painted or have a coating put around the drums.

    Metal drums can be polished to a high shine so that the lights will sparkle when it hits them. Wooden drums, on the other hand, can be lacquered with different types of polish or they can be wrapped in a synthetic coating. This allows any kind of graphic to be printed on it, or they can be one uniform color.

    But the material of the drums is the looks and more. In the end, the look of your drums also depends on what you feel sounds the best. Wooden vs metal drums produce different timbres and tones.

    The look of the drums also speaks volumes about the condition you keep them in. The condition you keep your drums in can affect the way that people think of you. If you have bits of tape stuck to the shells, people may think less of your talent simply because your drums look to be in bad shape. If your set looks clean, people may think you are a better player. It isn’t exactly fair but it the way people think at times.

    Big Sets vs Small Sets

    This is a never-ending question among drummers. In truth, there is no one size to a drum kit that is perfect for everyone. But the size of your set can make a difference.

    There is the popular story of the drummer who goes to an audition for an up-and-coming rock band that cares about their looks. The drummer is great but only plays a small five-piece kit with a couple of cymbals. When the audition is done, the band tells him he is an excellent drummer. However, they want someone who plays a massive set with two bass drums and a bunch of toms and cymbals attached to a giant drum rack. Then the band goes with a drummer who isn’t as good but who plays a huge drum set that fits the image they are trying to create.

    Conversely, there are tales of guys who want to play in a jazz combo but show up with a set complete with double bass, 5 or 6 toms, a dozen cymbals and a variety of ethnic drums surrounding his kit. Despite looking like he can play really complex rhythms, he is terrible at keeping a beat.

    All this is to say that your drum kit only needs to be as big as what you need to achieve the sound you desire. Unfortunately, sometimes bands may want you to have a kit that fits into the image they desire.

    Graphics on Your Bass Drum Head

    This is a matter that is up to you as it makes no difference in the way you will sound. Many drummers will get a bass drum head with the logo of their band on it. This is a great way to get your band’s name remembered by members of the audience. Just know that it is expensive to get a custom design printed on a drum head.

    When you are on tour, it is easy to puncture one of these drum heads. They can be difficult to replace if you aren’t carrying extras with you. For this reason, many drummers won’t bother with putting a logo on their bass drum. Instead, they opt for the best heads they can afford to ensure they have a great sound.

    Graphics on Your Shells

    Again, this is a matter of personal preference. It doesn’t affect the sound in a way most people can hear. One thing that is really cool about playing drums is that drum manufacturers have countless designs that they can place on their drums. It can be cool to have graphics of lightning or flames if you play in a metal band. Alternatively, you might have some sort of western design on your drums if you play in a country western band.

    If you aren’t into being flashy, then you can opt for a natural wood finish accented with a lacquer or a uniform color. This can make it easier to add drums to your set whenever you want. All you would need to do is find a drum you wish to add that has the same color as the rest of your set.

    Cleaning Your Drums

    One thing you should do regularly is clean your drums. If your drum kit looks dirty, it’s time for some TLC. This will keep them from looking too shabby and keep them sounding their best.

    The safest way to clean your drums is to take a soft cloth and some warm water. Wipe your drums down when they start to accumulate dirt. You don’t need to clean the drum heads though. The water could potentially cause problems with them. You will also want to do the same thing with all of your stands.

    Once you have wiped them with a damp cloth, take a dry cloth to wipe away any excess moisture. Another thing you can do is to use metal polish on your cymbals, so they will shine brightly under the lights.

    The way you let your drums look is up to you. You can get them to look however you want for the most part, but remember that some people will judge you and your abilities on the way your set looks. You should always be aware of what your audience and fellow band members are expecting your kit to look like. But no matter the way they appear, you want to make sure that they sound good. This is why it can be wise to keep your drums looking clean since that will help keep your drums sounding their best.

  • What Drummers Can Expect From Life In A Band

    Drummers who play in bands typically fall into playing in two very different ways.  The first is playing with marching bands, drum corps, orchestras and symphonies or with a pipes and drums band.  Some, for lack of a better term, consider these to be traditional musical ensembles. The other style of drumming is playing a drum set in a band.  

    These are both very distinct ways of drumming with cultures all their own.  What most people can’t grasp until they experience it for themselves though is what their life will be like playing in these types of musical groups.  The following are some of the things that drummers should expect to experience when playing in both types of bands.

    Traditional Musical Ensembles

    Playing in a traditional type of musical ensemble requires excellent technique, music reading ability, and chops for days.  These are all qualities you can strengthen by practicing on your own. However, the following are some of the other things you will have to deal with.

    Practicing for Days

    One thing all these musical ensembles have in common is that they practice all the time.  Orchestral and symphonic groups sometimes practice every day for several hours when learning to play a new piece of music.  

    Marching bands and drum corps practice even more.  There are practices with the entire group where you work on the show you will perform together while running through all the set pieces. On top of that, there will also be regular practices with just your fellow members of the percussion section.  

    It is common to practice so long that you will develop bad blisters.  If you don’t enjoy practicing, then don’t join these types of groups.

    Wearing Uniforms

    These types of musical groups will either wear a uniform of some sort or a tuxedo for orchestras and symphonies.  They are not the most comfortable outfits to wear.

    Most marching bands perform in polyester uniforms that will have you sweating profusely in the summer and freezing during the winter.  These aren’t always outfits that are conducive to playing difficult music at times.

    Being the Butt of Jokes

    People love to make jokes about people in marching bands.  Blame it on the film American Pie and the whole “one time at band camp” joke. You should be prepared to hear it over and over. But this doesn’t have to be as awful as it sounds. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you won’t even pay attention to the jokes.  

    You also might get a bit of teasing from people who play in bands that perform more popular music like rock bands or jazz combos.  This joking is good-hearted though. Drummers are part of a rare community. No matter what music they play, other drummers will respect your talents even while giving you a hard time.

    Playing A Drum Set in A Band

    Drummers who play the drum set in rock bands, jazz combos or country music bands have different things they have to deal with.  Some are annoying, and some are just part of playing music. They are all part of life as a drummer.

    Lots of Travel

    The main way you make money playing in these types of bands is from playing live.  If you play in a band that only plays locally, you won’t have to deal with this. However, if you tour at all, be prepared for a LOT of travel.  

    It is common to play a show in one town until 2 in the morning and then have to make a 6-hour drive to the city where the next venue is.  This can be exhausting and when you add in being packed into a van or tour bus.

    However, all this travel can help you bond with your fellow band members. Sharing times on the road together, you will learn the most intimate details of their life.

    No Respect

    There is a history of drummers getting little respect. For some reason in the hierarchy of instruments in the band, the singer and guitarist are at the top. The bass and keyboard players come after, followed closely by the drummers.  

    Unless you are a drummer with talents like a Neil Peart, Keith Moon or Stewart Copeland be prepared to not get the attention you deserve. Your bandmates might demand that you only play generic rhythms when you want to go off the charts. To make sure you get the respect you deserve, be open about what style you want to play. That way, you get your moment to shine on stage, just like the guitarist.

    Having to Play the Venue’s Drum Set

    This is something you don’t hear much about, and it can be really frustrating.  Sometimes when you play on a bill with multiple bands, the venue will have a house drum set. They will demand that all the drummers play on the house set.  

    This can make playing your set very difficult if you use a large kit or have special drums you use.  Even worse is that many times, these house sets are not all that great. In fact, they can sound terrible.  It is just one of those things you have to deal with from time to time.


    Everyone has heard about how girls love guys in bands.  It is a fact of life that certain women have a thing for musicians.  When you play live shows, it is inevitable that you will be approached by women with all sorts of interesting propositions at times.  

    One joke you will hear over and over is whether or not it is true that “drummers do it with rhythm”.  It helps to come up with a witty response to this question since it can be a great ice breaker. It may not be the most politically correct way to act but let’s face it, rock music is meant to offend on some level.  

    Playing in a band can be a lot of fun.  Whether you are playing in a traditional musical ensemble or a rock band, playing with a group is what most people want to do when they pick up the drums.  Just be prepared to experience some of things mentioned here as well as any number of other things you may never expect to occur. One thing is for sure. Playing in any type of band will leave you with all kinds of interesting stories to tell friends and family.


  • So You Got The Drum Set - What Next?

    Perhaps you recently purchased your first drum set, but you now have no idea what you should do next. Clearly, the first thing you will try to do is take a pair of drum sticks and attempt to start playing the set. If you have a natural talent for playing the drums, then you might sit down at a kit and have no trouble playing some killer rhythms.

    However, if you are like most people, you will probably not be all that good the first time you try to play your new set. The following are some of the things you should do once you have bought your first drum set.

    What Grip to Use

    The first thing you will need to figure out is the way you will hold your drumsticks. The majority of drummers play with a match grip where the drum stick is held firmly between the index finger and thumb. This allows the drumstick to pivot and be moved by the other three fingers on the hand.

    The other option is to use a traditional grip. This has your dominant hand that hits the snare holding the drum stick with a match grip. The weaker hand that you play the hi hat with will hold the drum stick between the thumb and index finger. In this grip, keep the wrist rotated so that the palm is facing upwards. The drum stick will rest against the ring finger.

    Drummers who play in the percussion section of marching bands and jazz drummers mostly use the traditional grip. Most drummers in other genres of music use the match grip because it is easier to master.

    Learn Your Rudiments

    Once you determine the grip, you will need to learn the rudiments. There are 31 essential rudiments you will want to learn. They have names like flams, paradiddles, flamadiddles, ratamacues and double stroke rolls. There are numerous books that cover the basic rudiments. These come with practice exercises that will help you master these basic building blocks of drum rhythms.

    You will want to start off by playing these rudiments slowly. Then, you can gradually increase the speed at which you play them until you are playing them as fast as you can. But it’s not all about speed. You’ll want to go from fast playing to gradually slowing down the speed until you are playing as slowly as possible. Doing this daily will build up your stamina as well as your ability to play the basic rudiments.

    Learn About Drums, Drummers and The History Of Drumming

    While you are learning and practicing your rudiments, you should also learn as much as you can about your instrument. For some people, it is good enough to get a subscription to a drumming magazine like Modern Drummer or Drum! Other drummers may want a more in-depth education about drumming.

    The best solution is to go to your local music store and buy some books about drumming. You will want to learn about all the different types of drums, their different uses, and the history of drumming. This will help you to understand the ways that drumming has changed over the years and gotten to where it is today.

    You will also want to learn about and listen to some of the legendary drummers. There are the early jazz stars like Buddy Rich or Gene Krupa, or more modern masters like Neil Peart of the band Rush or Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham.

    Learn to Read Music

    You won’t really need to learn the different notes of a scale unless you intend to also play a xylophone or glockenspiel. However, ou will need to learn the different types of notes like 1/4 notes, 1/8th notes, 16th notes and sixes.

    Most sheet music of drum patterns just have these notes on the staff. However, drum patterns for a drum set or for marching band drums like quads, quints and bass drums will have a different drum matching up with a different line or space in the measure of printed music.

    This may sound a bit confusing to new drummers. However, it is fairly easy to pick up and understand if you get a good primer on music theory. This can also help you understand the different ways that you can mix time signatures or musical scales. Knowing the musical theory can improve your improvisational drumming skills.

    Take Lessons

    The best and easiest way to improve your drumming skills is by getting lessons. Even the best drummers in the world take lessons from time to time. Lessons help to hone their abilities that they may not be as good at or to learn a new approach. Never think you are too good to take lessons.

    The best way to go about finding a good drum instructor is to visit your local music store. Most music stores will have instructors for a variety of instruments who work there. If they don’t, they can easily put you in touch with a good instructor. Another way to find a teacher is if you are friends with a drummer in a band. Many performing musicians take on students to supplement their income.

    A good instructor will work with you on mastering the rudiments. At the same time, they will also educate you on the history of drumming while helping you learn to drum in the style you wish to learn.

    Purchasing a drum set is the first of many steps you will take to becoming a proficient drummer. Like most things you learn, you will need to build a foundation based upon the elements of drumming. Once you master these basics, you will be ready to move on to more advanced areas of drumming. With continued practice and dedication, you will eventually become a great drummer.


  • Canopus Snare Drum Showcase

    Our #1 Selling Snare Drum Brand

    When a customer visits Drum Center of Portsmouth and is searching for the best sounding snare drum, we invite them to try out all the major manufacturers. Eventually, we'll invite them to take a Canopus Snare drum for a spin.  7/10 times, they will walk out of our shop with a Canopus.  So, what exactly is it about Canopus snare drums that make them sound so good?

    Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

    Canopus snare drums are made by a small group of master craftsman in Japan.  Every component on their drums has been R&D'd with the sole purpose of creating the best possible sound.

    Canopus Snare Drums feature SOLID brass lugs

    Their single point solid brass lugs are designed to sympathetically resonate with the shell, unlike Zinc lugs.  The tuning rods are held firmly in place with their "Bolt Tight" washers.  Canopus Bolt Tight Washers are made from premium leather, and reduce unwanted overtones due to loose rods.  Canopus typically favors 8 lugs as opposed to 10 on their snare drums to promote a more open tone.

    Canopus Bolt Tight Washers

    Canopus snare wires are also the best wires in the business, as far as we're concerned.  They manufacture a variety of snare wires from dry vintage to fat backbeat.  Each model provides incredible sensitivity and excellent dynamic range.  Add all of these components together and you end up with the premium sound that is unmistakably Canopus.

    Canopus Snare Wires - 30 Strand

    The Shells

    Canopus shells are designed and handcrafted in-house.  The variety of materials and composition are seemingly endless.  Each shell provides a unique sound that offers something for every style of drummer.

    Canopus Bubinga Ply Shell

    Canopus is perhaps most well-known for their Zelkova snare drum, which is made from a hollowed out tree-trunk.  While this is an extreme example of their creativity, they also make what we consider to be the industry standard maple snare, simply named "The Maple."  Canopus also offers everything between these 2 extremes, including carbon fiber, stave bubinga, birch, steel, brass and much more!

    Canopus Custom NAMM Showcase Snare Drums

    For our latest video, we are featuring ten 1 of a kind snare drums featured at the 2019 NAMM show.  These magnificent instruments showcase a variety of exotic materials including beech, bubinga, chestnut, Birdseye maple, Olive Ash and more!

    Canopus One Of A Kind Beech Snare Drum 14x6 Gloss Walnut Burl

    Each one of these unique Canopus snare drums sounds absolutely KILLER, and would make an excellent workhorse (and conversation piece) for some lucky drummer!

    DCP Knows Canopus Drums

    We carry more Canopus drums than anyone else, and our staff can help you find the perfect Canopus snare or to inspire your creativity. Give a call or send us an email to get started on your Canopus journey today!

  • Yamaha Live Custom Hybrid Oak Drum Set Review

    The Ideal Live Sound

    Yamaha Drums is constantly evolving.  What were the Oak Customs had changed to the Live Customs, and now we have the Live Custom Hybrid Oak line. This latest iteration of their Oak series of drums is a re imagining of the ideal live drum sound.

    The Shells

    At the heart of the new Yamaha Live Custom Oak Drum Set is the Hybrid shell design. Yamaha’s Hybrid series shells are based off the wildly successful PHX line, which feature a dense center ply of Jatoba. The Absolute Hybrids feature a center ply of Wenge, and Live Custom Hybrids now sport a center ply of Phenolic.  The Phenolic is a super-dense synthetic resin that, when combined with Oak, allows for unparalleled projection - perfect for live performance situation.

    Even more innovative than the addition of Phenolic are the weights inside of the bass drum.  We’re not sure how Yamaha stumbled across this idea, but it absolutely has a tangible effect on the low end! The 22” kick has the focus of a 20, with the deep rumble of a 24 or 26. When we first laid into the Yamaha Live Custom Hybrid Oak bass drum, we all agreed this was perhaps the best sounding thump we’ve ever experienced.  It’s THAT good!

    The Hardware

    It’s no secret that Yamaha hardware is a favorite at Drum Center of Portsmouth.  The shells feature absolute single-post lugs, which maximize shell integrity and promote maximum resonance and open tone. 2.3mm Dynahoops on the toms also allow the shells to speak at maximum volume.  Finally, the revamped YESS III tom mounts provide optimal stability along with superior sustain.

    The Finish

    Yamaha Live Custom Oak Drum Sets boast five stunning traditional Japanese uzukuri finishes. This proprietary formula for applying the lacquer gives the drums a textured, three-dimensional look that resembles fine furniture.

    The Price


    At nearly double the price of the previous iterations, many eyebrows have been raised at the hefty price tag, including our own.  Once you get your hands on the new Yamaha Live Custom Oak Drum Set, you begin to understand the amount of R&D that has gone into this line.  Every new detail on these drums, from the Phenolic center ply, to the single point lugs, to the bass-enhancing weights contributes to a truly unique sound.  These drums might be the PERFECT live rig - and isn’t that what the “Live Customs” should be?

    Your Home for All Things Yamaha

    We are champions of Yamaha Drums at Drum Center of Portsmouth. We’re all gigging drummers, and can appreciate the quality and reliability of Yamaha drums and hardware.  From the Stage Custom to the PHX, we have the perfect Yamaha kit for your individual needs.  Hit us up with any questions, we love talking drums!

  • Tama Starclassic Performer Walnut/Birch Drum Set Review

    Revamping the Performer Line

    There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Tama’s new Tama Starclassic Performer Walnut/Birch Drum Set. Tama was forced to move away from their popular Birch/Bubinga Performer line due to recent restrictions on harvesting Bubinga. While this initially seemed like bad news for Bubinga drum lovers, the new Walnut/Birch configuration offers a slightly different flavor of Performer that we think you’ll love!

    Top-Notch Star Hardware

    The new Tama Starclassic Performer Walnut/Birch Drum Set retains all of the high-end hardware features from the B/B Performer line that you’ve come to love. The Zinc die-cast hoops, quick lock mounts and the Air Cushioned floor tom feet. The Bass drum mount is also one of the most versatile on the market, giving you tremendous freedom regarding tom placement.

    The Walnut/Birch shell for toms and floor toms is 6mm thick and constructed using 4-ply European Birch for the outer plies with 2-ply American Black Walnut interior plies. The bass drum shell specification is 8mm, 5-ply European Birch outer plies with 2-ply American Black Walnut interiors. The interior walnut shell ply includes a lacquer coating treatment, which adds an element of liveliness to the overall tone.

    Tama Starclassic Performer Walnut/Birch vs. Birch/Bubinga

    How does the sound of the new Tama Starclassic Performer Walnut Birch Drum Set compare to the old Birch/Bubinga line? To put it succinctly, the Walnut/Birch give you a full sound, while the Birch/Bubinga’s produce a more focused or quick sound. They both share an equal amount of attack, but we feel the Walnut/Birch Performer’s give you better low end and sustain. The sound would be improved vastly by swapping out the stock heads for some coated Remo Ambassadors over Clear Ambassadors.


    Overall, the new Tama Starclassic Performer Walnut/Birch Drum Set retains the best qualities of the B/B line, and adds a little more depth and character. The differences aren’t dramatic enough for us to recommend existing B/B owners to make the immediate switch. If you have been thinking about upgrading your current rig to the Tama Starclassic Performer line however, there has never been a better time!

    At Drum Center of Portsmouth, we know Tama. If you have any questions regarding The Strongest Name in Drums, give one of our drummers a call. We’ll set you up with the perfect Tama kit tailored to YOUR individual needs!

  • How Drummers Can Prepare For Touring

    There is nothing more eye-opening for a musician than embarking on that first tour. But the flip side of this is that preparing for a tour can be daunting as well. It might only be two weeks hitting regional college bars, but there are many preparations you’ll need to make. Proper preparation ensures the tour goes as smoothly as possible.

    It goes without saying that a band just starting off will have a very different experience than a band on a major label. There will be differences in terms of what you will have to handle personally instead of management and the label. Regardless of who does the job, however, there are a few things every drummer should have.

    From equipment needs and preparations, to legal issues and personal needs, here’s everything you need to prepare before going on tour.

    Equipment Checklist

    Obviously, you’ll need plenty of drumsticks and spare heads. However, it is the other equipment that drummers often forget about.

    One of the main things you’ll want is protection for your equipment. Hard cases for your drums, preferably ones with wheels, work best. Sure, it costs more money, but it will protect your equipment better than soft cases will. Your drums can take some damage from all the loading and unloading, so you want to keep your equipment intact and ding-free.

    Other materials you’ll want to consider are good for replacements or back-up. These can include:

    • Double bass pedal
    • Replacement clutch for your hi-hat stand.
    • Tape for your drumsticks
    • Strings to hold your snare in place
    • An extra set of in-ear monitors

    The main thing is to try and balance your load. You want a replacement for everything you use one stage while also adding as little extra weight as possible. This will require you to make an educated guess about the condition and longevity of your equipment.

    Legal Preparation

    Most bands will have a manager whose job it is to deal with the legal side of touring. However, there are some areas you may want to double-check on your own.

    Contracts: The first thing is to make sure you have confirmation for the gigs. You’ll want to make sure you’ve signed all contracts. In addition, you should receive a minimum of 50% of the deposit before the band goes on stage. This way you are at least assured of getting paid.

    Cancellation Agreement: It also helps to know what will happen if there is a forced cancelation of the show. At least one band member should be in contact with a person at the venue. This ensures you receive the payment you are supposed to. Unfortunately, you can never be too careful in the music industry.

    Travel Paperwork: The other area that you should make sure you are prepared for involves the route you will be traveling and any border crossing you may have to make. Having the incorrect paperwork can scupper a tour before it begins.

    Tech and Hospitality Riders: Other areas you might not think about looking into involve making sure the venues have a tech rider for your band. A tech rider will know what equipment you may need. They can apprise you of what they have on hand.

    You might also look into if the venue has a hospitality rider. Smart bands use these riders to make sure the venue is taking your well-being seriously. Like Van Halen infamously requesting no brown M&M’s backstage, it was a test to see if the promoters actually paid attention to details.

    Merch and Money: Also check if the venue plans to take a portion of the profits from any merchandise you sell. It is becoming standard for venues to now charge between 10-20% of any profit made by band selling merchandise.

    Likeness Rights: Lastly, it is always important to find out if the promoter intends to keep likeness rights and whether they can record and profit off the performance. If a venue or promoter insist on keeping all the rights, then there is usually very little recourse for a band. It is best to find out about this sort of agreement before you leave for the road.

    Personal Planning

    This deals with all the other areas related to touring. They don’t so much affect the band as much as they can affect your time and experience.

    Earplugs: The tour bus or van can be truly loud at times. As such, you want to remember to bring a dozen or so pairs of earplugs. This way, you can keep your hearing protected for years to come. In addition, earplugs are a great way to get a little peace and quiet while on tour.

    Minimal Packing: The main thing to make sure of before you leave on tour is that you aren’t overpacked. The last thing you want is to be cramped more than necessary when trying to sleep.

    Charging Devices and Cell Service: It is also important to make sure that you have plenty of charging tools for all of the band members’ smartphones, laptops, and other electronic devices. Also, if you are touring abroad, make sure to contact your cell provider. Your cell service might not be available when you enter a new country.

    Tools: It also will come in handy to keep a spare set of tools on hand in case of an emergency. If you’re on a tour van, make sure to have tools for roadside maintenance.

    Stashed Cash: It is also important to always carry some cash to take care of unexpected events. You want to keep this cash stashed away for emergency funds.

    The Longer the Tour, The More You Should Prepare

    Going on a tour can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of being in a band, but at other times, it can be a bit tedious. However, with ample preparation, you will be ready for a successful tour.

  • What You Need to Know About Being a Session Drummer

    There are several ways to earn a living as a drummer. Only one position gives you the ability to play something different every day with a variety of great musicians: the session drummer.

    Not all musicians are cut out to be session musicians. It requires dedication and constant hard work. It is a job where you put your ego aside. You probably won’t get a chance to play the amazing solo you have worked on for years.

    Being a session musician may have you playing in a band setting. However, it is a far cry from being in a touring band. Touring bands rehearse and perform with the same people playing the same songs. Session drummers get to play with different instrumentalists on a daily basis. They can play music in any style or genre, and this can vary from day to day. These are just some of the reasons that draw people to becoming session drummers.

    Session drummers must be highly skilled with their instruments. In addition, there are many different skills and fields areas of knowledge that successful studio musicians need to have to stand out.

    Think this might be for you? Here are some of the most useful things to know when embarking on a career as a session musician.

    Know Your Instrument and Many Different Styles

    Just because you can play the Rhythm Method from memory doesn’t mean you will get jobs as a session musician. Raw talent only can get you so far. The best session drummers are creative and flexible in what they play. They know that drums work different ways in different styles of music. They know that their ability to adapt will help them get a gig.

    It will pay you back in spades to learn all the different styles of drumming. In doing so, you want to invest in equipment that can help you attain certain sounds. The more styles you can create at a recording session, the more jobs you will most likely get. If producers start to feel that you only can play one style and one sound, they may look elsewhere.

    Get in Tune

    You should know how to tune your instrument. This might seem basic, but it’s an overlooked skill. It’s invaluable to tune quickly in certain studio settings. Many modern studies can’t afford to have a drum technician present. As such, you want to be able to tune your own instrument, so you won’t need a technician.

    Learn which genres of music require which tunings. You don’t have to know every style. However, it is important to know multiple styles and tunings that play to your strengths.

    Match Your Skills with the Genre and Medium

    Different media require different skills. Whether you want to drum for TV tunes or a band, you’ll need to know the expectations for the medium and the genre.

    Some session drummers set their sights on jingles, film, and television scores. To get to this level, you have to make sure their sight-reading abilities are excellent. This is because the majority of these types of sessions require you to play a tune for the first time on the spot.

    If you are working on a session for song or album, then you will need to polish off your ability to transcribe lead sheets. That way, you can follow along with the band. Sometimes you will have the chance to practice your parts before recording. But sometimes, you won’t.

    Always prepare for both scenarios. If given a chance to practice, make sure to take advantage of that time and study up. There is a reason why they gave you the music early. They want you to be ready. Improvisational skills can come in very handy in these situations.

    Come Prepared

    You shouldn’t expect a studio to have a kit that will sound right for the required style of music. This is why you need to bring extra snares, cymbals and sticks. Do your homework and find out what is available at the studio where you will be recording. This will make you look more professional. You can rest assured of having the proper tools on hand to complete the job.

    Communication Skills

    You might be the best musician in the world. However, if you have a poor attitude or can’t communicate a musical idea, you won’t find yourself getting hired.

    As with most careers, networking is important, and being a session musician is no different. Keep up with your business connections and make sure that you work well together. This will keep the jobs coming.

    It is important to remember that a studio musician’s job is to bring someone else’s vision to life. This doesn’t mean creativity isn’t important. However, there is a limit to your creative output.

    After all, it is the producer who always has the final word on the recording. This means you should expect criticism at times. This is one area where the truly professional session musician stands out because they can handle criticism like a pro.

    You have to remind yourself that this criticism isn’t personal. The producer has something specific in mind they are trying to create.

    No matter what is said, it is important to have thick skin and keep your cool. Musicians who can’t set aside their ego damage their chances at success. Instead, take any criticism constructively and try something new. This not only shows the producer you can co-create, but it increases your chances of landing future gigs.

    Learn the Industry

    It can take more than being a good musician to succeed as a session player. Just because you are a performer doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t learn about the record-making process and the business side of the music industry. Having a working knowledge of production terms enables you to communicate better with the engineers. Knowing how to talk with the guys on the technical side will help you stand out as a player.

    Also, if you understand the business of the music industry, you will usually be treated like the professional you are trying to be. Always get a contract signed before starting on any project. This will enable you to keep your rights and legally entitles you to any profits made from the recording session. Unless you agree to something different, always have an agreement in place for royalties before recording your part.

    Thinking About Becoming a Session Drummer?

    Being a session drummer can be a highly lucrative and fun way to make music for a living. You will often be changing styles and genres, sometimes even in the middle of a session. With a little hard work and a great attitude, it is possible to have a fulfilling career in music.

  • The Ultimate Guide to Snare Drums

    There are many ways to set up your snare drum. You can have a warm wooden sound as a result of using birch to build a set. Alternatively, you can attain a higher pitch and metallic timbre from an all-metal snare drum. There are the sharp, staccato bursts that come from a piccolo snare. Then, there is the machine gun explosion of a rim shot performed on a Yamaha Free Floating marching snare.

    No matter the type of sound you are seeking, you will find it at Drum Center of Portsmouth. The following are the three different snare drum types and their sounds in the DCP collection. This guide will break down each type to help you choose a snare for your set.

    Marching Snare

    This is the type of snare drum that marching bands use. These drums can endure higher tensions and produce a deeper sound than orchestral or kit snares. The newest models feature free-floating devices. These allow you to attach the rim to the opposite rim. The result is a drum tightened to the highest possible level.

    This is important due to most snare heads being made of Kevlar now. These will endure no matter how heavy you play. They will last through changes in temperature and humidity. The marching snare is the biggest of the snare drums available.

    There are also similar drums like a pipe band snare or a field drum. A pipe band is similar to a traditional marching band snare. However, it has an extra snare added to the head. This gives it a crisper sound. Mostly these drums are useful for marching bands. On occasion, set drummers will use one to create a sound effect like a gunshot going off.

    Kit Snare

    Most musicians grew up with a traditional wooden shell drum. This probably had a head over one end with a snare held tight. The sound produced would have been a high-pitched rasping sound. This is the distinct drum sound we all grew up hearing in most traditional music.

    There are many different types of wood that make the drum heads.

    • Maple - The most common is maple. Maple produces the typical kit snare sound. Birch presents a much brighter sound.
    • Mahogany - This is the most vintage wood used for making kits. Beech and poplar are both softer woods. These give a warmer sound. They are similar to birch but not quite as powerful.
    • Oak - Lastly, there is oak. Oak is the loudest of drum materials. It can last on the negative register the longest. This means it takes a bit longer for those deep bass sounds to wear away.

    There are many ways to change up the sound. However, the biggest difference comes from the metal on the body. Metals such as aluminum, brass, copper, steel, and bronze offer different sounds.

    Aluminum is the closest to the traditional wooden snare sound.

    Brass creates a bright cracking sound with mellow overtones in the follow-up tones.

    Copper bodies offer a warmer but darker tone. It also is cleaner than copper sounding snares.

    Finally, there is steel. This is the material of choice for drummers in rock bands. Some say steel produces the ugliest of all the snare sounds. However, that’s what makes it perfect for rock and heavy metal music.

    Piccolo and Popcorn/Soprano Snares

    Piccolo snares are smaller than a traditional snare due to their shell being much shallower. Most piccolo snares act as an accessory for kit applications. The depth of most piccolo snares isn’t much deeper than 4” to 4.5”. The small shell size tends to bring about a higher pitch and a faster response than a traditional 5” drum. This leads to a sound with less body and bass.

    Soprano/popcorn snares are similar than the piccolo snare. They feature non-standard shell dimensions. The typical soprano snare runs between 5” to 7” deep with a diameter of around 10” to 12”. These drums generally have a high pitched sound with slightly more body to the sound than what a piccolo could make. Usually, the snares come in the shallowest sizes.

    Different Snares for Different Needs

    Ultimately the snares that you choose to purchase will depend on the specific sound that you desire out of your kit. You might also just need it to replace a drum you already use. There isn’t one drum sound that will work for every application. That’s why it is important to look at all drum types before settling on the one you think will best suit your needs.

    Rock drummers may be looking for a steel snare to provide a dirty muddled thunderclap sound. Jazz drummers may want the bright warmth of a wooden drum or a piccolo snare. This is why it is so important to try out the drums you have an interest in. Even one drum sound can change the way you sound as a whole.

    Style Impacts Sound

    It also helps to know the style of drumming you wish to play. This will help you decide upon the type of drum set to settle on. Gretsch and Slingerland are historically great drums for a jazz setting. Premier and Pearl make excellent marching band drums. The options available are truly staggering. It is easy to see why so many different drums need looking after.

    Which to Choose?

    Deciding upon a snare drum is a task that can be extremely difficult. There are many different ways to convey the same style of note. The entire process can make it hard to differentiate between the top picks.

    However, it is safe to say you know a good sound when you hear it. The previous sounds described are among the many available to choose from. Picking a sound and making it into a signature sound is one of the ways that the team at DCP can help you out when looking at new snare drums.

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