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Want to be a drummer? Where to start?

by Philip Woodrow, owner Drum Shop Glasgow

Whether you’re 5, 25, or 55, you’ve got that rhythm itch?

Your plan is:

a) buy drum kit
b) get lessons (maybe?)
c) form band
d) instant stardom!!

So let’s focus on a) buying that first drumkit. Where do you start?

Firstly acoustic or electric? Ultimately, if you want to go gigging, you’ll need an acoustic kit, but when you’re starting out and electric kit may be a great option, especially if you’re worried about annoying the neighbours. Let’s look at both options:

Electronic Drum Kits

These days, electronic drum kits are a great option and a mile away from the cheap plastic head and tinny sounds of the early 2000s. Mesh heads make for a really good response and you can listen through headphones or through an external amp for playing along with others. You really don’t need to buy a £1,500 Roland to have a fantastic experience.

So let’s look at the features…all electronic drum kits these days allow you to plug your phone or tablet in so you can play along with lessons on Youtube or your favourite tracks.

Want to take exams with an electronic drum kit – no problem! Trinity Rock and Pop exams allow use of electronic kits up to Grade 6, provided they meet certain criteria including a real bass drum pedal.

So what else do you need to think about when choosing an electronic drum kit? Robustness of frame, size and response of heads, range of pre-recorded kits, quality of sound of drum kits, ability to load your own samples, zones for the ride cymbal, training mode, ability to add double bass drum pedal, extensibility…the list is endless.

The best thing of course is to come into our shop and try them! Yes all in-stock drum kits are set up in our Otago Street store for you try and there really is no substitute for this…an electronic drum kit is a musical instrument like any other.

We also provide a buyers guide at where we compare our in-store drum kits.

Acoustic Drum Kits

So electronic doesn’t do it for you, you want that real sound, real response – only acoustic will do. No problem.

For a beginner, particularly children, where you are on a budget, you can’t beat the Mapex Tornado starter kit where you get the whole kit, snare drum, two cymbals, and stool (or ‘throne’ as it’s called in the trade…very much elevating the drummer to the true king or queen!) and sticks… all for around £349!! That’s less than a pair of Zildjian Hi-Hats! How do they do it? – there must be a compromise. Well yes and no… the drums (or ‘shell pack’) are fine – nothing fancy, but properly tuned and dampened they sound good and with Remo heads it is far better than say a Gear4Music starter kit. The hardware (the stands, the pedal, the ‘throne’) are fine – lightweight but decent quality. So the cymbals, of which there are only two, are a bit thin and tinny, but I’ve set these kits up and when all together the overall impression is amazingly good for the money. And the great thing is that the cymbals can be upgraded separately for, say, birthdays and Christmas. My son had his Tornado kit for over 10 years before we decided an upgrade was in order!

So you’ve got a slightly bigger budget? You think it’s worth spending a bit more.

The way it works is that as you spend more on an all-in-one drum set including hardware and cymbals such as the Pearl Roadshow (for around £500), Yamaha Rydeen (£500-600) or (the biggest selling) Pearl Export (£700+), everything gets a bit better – the drums are finished a bit nicer, the hardware is more heavyweight and the cymbals are a touch better sounding. These kits are all great value. And the cymbals are ‘fine’ if slightly hard sounding.

So that’s where teh real-deal cymbals come in…and as I’ve mentioned you can spend as much on a Zildjian or Sabian hi-hat as on a whole drum kit. But there are some great intermediate value cymbals which sound easily as good as the high end cymbals. These include the Stagg Exo range, Istanbul XIST, Mehteran (cymbals we have hand made in Turkey) amongst others. And buying a whole set will always get you a good deal. And we are always pleased to set people up with a drum kit and try out cymbals in store to your heart’s content!

So what happens if you buy separately? How does that work out? Remember there are three parts to a drumkit…1 – the drums (or ‘shell pack’), 2 – the hardware (+ throne) and 3 – the cymbals.

If you buy separately, it’s only worth doing that if you spend £600+ on the shell pack, add the hardware for £300 and £600 for a cymbal set. That comes to £1,500 before you know it!

So Drum Shop Glasgow can help here. We can give you the best of both worlds. We will let you buy the best bits of the all-in-one kits, namely the drums and hardware, and we will reduce the price accordingly. e.g. for the Pearl Export without the cymbals would cost about £600, and spending £500-600 on a hi-hat, crash and ride cymbal would total between £1,100 to £1,200 and you’ve got an great drum kit – I mean really good!!

Tuning drums

Don’t forget, drum kits bought on the Internet are not tuned!!! They sound rubbish out-of-the-box. It will affect your whole experience. I tune lots of drums and there is a bit of an art to it, but it is made a lot easier by the professional drum tuner I use! Please, please get someone to tune your drums properly, or check out the videos and try it yourself.

And that’s true of electronic drums as well, modern mesh heads need tightening up… they are very flabby out of the box.


So you’ve got your drum kit… it’s tuned…now you need get going with maybe lessons?

Well, there lots of options – The Internet has plenty plenty. Just go into Youtube and search for “Drum Lessons” and you’ll see that loads of videos come up. Both free and paid. Check out as well That’s a good resource.

In the shop we also know lots of drum tutors and can help if you want a 1-to-1 teacher…no problem.


So now you’ve got your kit, learnt how to play, found your band…and got your first gig lined up…GOOD LUCK!!

Want to know more… Call us on 0141 339 4497 or email

Thanks for reading and look forward to seeing you soon!