Good and wise musicians will always try to understand the musical instruments they are using. How can you expect to play them well if you are clueless about their details? The same thing also applies to playing the drum set. In fact, considering that a drum set has so many details and parts – which aren’t small or light – your job is getting more difficult. So, be sure that you invest time in learning the parts well and really try to understand their functions and usages.
The Basic Components of Drum Set
There are several components that are considered mandatory, as the drum set won’t function properly without these small parts. Remember that drum set is just the same as other musical instruments; they have different materials, the specifications are different from one another (depending on the drummers’ preference), and also different sizes. A drum set for beginners are likely smaller and more compact with the simplest arrangement possible, while advanced drummers use bigger set (with more addition) with more complicated arrangement. An inexpensive and more affordable drum set is likely made of synthetic materials, while the high grade and more expensive sets are made of wood and its variants.
The first component to understand is the bass drum. Also known as the kick drum as it is attached to a pedal where the drummers has to step on to produce sound, this drum is sitting on the floor. The drum won’t be able to roll on the floor because it has protruding legs for balance. It also comes with heads – the part where being beaten – located on the sides. Kick pedal and drum mallets are generally attached to this bass drum. It produces deep and resounds sound and used to balance the beat from the snare drum with upbeat signature – beat 1 and also beat 3 in 4/4 arrangement. If you want to play the drum properly, you need to have it in your arrangement.
Another important component of the drum set is the snare drum, with a resonant head. It is shallow with unique cracking signature sound because it is made with tightened wires located underneath the head. It is generally used to play the back beat – beat 2 and beat 4 in 4/4 arrangement. Playing snare drum is considered as important as the bass drum because of the complication and difficulty. Even when you buy wooden drum set, most snare drums are made of metal. If you want to buy a drum set, make sure that you can find a certain tension spring that should be available on the bottom head.
The third part to understand is the toms – some people like to call it tom-tom. Since these toms don’t come with snare wires located underneath, the sound produced is more mellow when compared to the one produced by snare drum. A standard drum set generally has three toms in the arrangement, where one is located on the floor and the two are mounted. Tom-tom comes in different sizes, and the biggest one should be placed on the floor. If you want to mount the toms with a special bracket, you can place one on the tops side of the bass or on adjustable legs. The hardware used for mounting is very versatile and easily adjusted. How high the placement is or how they are placed depends greatly on the drummers’ preference, and should go along with their arms’ length and height. The toms play very important role in Afro Cuban or Latin American drum patterns.
The last one is the cymbal. Cymbals come in different types and usages as they produce different sounds. And here are their types:
- Hi-hat cymbals. They are mostly used to provide groove – and mostly used in the 8th and 16th note patterns. By using a foot pedal, these cymbals can be opened or closed.
- Ride cymbal. It is the biggest cymbal with regular diameter around 22 inches. Although it is also used in the 8th and 16th note patterns, it produces washy and more sustained sound. In jazz drumming, this cymbal is very important.
- Splash and crash cymbals. Crash cymbal is generally smaller when compared to ride cymbal, with diameter around 15 to 18 inches. The splash cymbal is smaller and produces higher pitch. The diameter is around 6 to 14 inches. When playing them, you only need to strike the edge so you can produce piercing and loud noise; very good for the ends of drumming fill.
Sometimes people have difficulties when they have to choose the right cymbal sets. If it happens to you, you may want to purchase the pre-packaged packs where you can get a ride, hi-hats, and also crash cymbals altogether. Most major companies will offer these cymbals within a package so you won’t have to be confused about choosing the right set.
Besides the regular sets, you may have to add several sets that will improve your play and also comfort. For instance, a snare stand is required to place the snare drum. It is quite important so the snare spring – the one located underneath the drum – won’t be bothered or obstructed. Another one is hi-hat stand, which is required to place the hit-hats cymbals. The stand is special as it has adjustable lock downs for the cymbal as well as spring pedal. And you may want to have a seat where you can sit comfortable while adjusting or playing, as well as having a set or brushes or drumsticks will improve your performance. If you want to, you can also have special cases so you can place the components into them and safely carry them or transport them everywhere you go. These cases will be very crucial if you often take your set for jamming session or play out.
Also consider having electronic drum sets that are more compact and more silent. This is the alternative instrument that you can opt for in case having the regular and standard set isn’t possible. This kind of instrument can be played with headphones or with PA speakers. Keep in mind, though, that this kind of set is definitely different from the regular one.