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, an electric kit may be a great option, especially if you’re worried about annoying the neighbours.

Learning to play the drums involves two things: a) developing a sense of timing and b) co-ordination between feet and hands. And anyone can learn to play – it just takes a bit of time and effort. And learning those basics of co-ordination and timing can be done on an acoustic or electronic kit, either way. So let’s look at both options:

Electronic Drum Kits

These days, electronic drum kits are a mile away from those with 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 when you want to play along with others. You really don’t need to buy a £1,500 Roland to have a fantastic experience.

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 let’s look at the features…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 a double bass drum pedal, number of cymbals, size of snare drum, real hi-hat stand, ability to record tracks, ability to play along with a phone or tablet, the capability to load your own samples…the list is endless. What is most important is how you feel when you sit down at the drum kit, and that you can’t know from a list of features, important as they are.

So the best thing of course is to come into our shop and try one! 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 and only by playing it will you get a real feel. We have electronic drum kits for all budgets starting at £200 Carlsbro, up to over £600 for Alesis, and beyond.

We also provide a buyers’ guide 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, and The Mapex Tornado is far better than, say, a Gear4Music starter kit. The hardware (the stands, the pedal, the ‘throne’) are perfectly functional – lightweight but decent quality. So the cymbals, of which there are only two (hi-hat and crash/ride), are a bit thin, 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 added to or upgraded separately for, say, birthdays and Christmases. 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 – or perhaps you’re getting back into drums after a time out?

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 get better if still slightly hard sounding, depending on how much that matters to you.

So that’s where the ‘real-deal’ cymbals come in…and as I’ve mentioned, you can, if you wish, 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 Sensa Exo range, Istanbul XIST, Mehteran (cymbals exclusive to Drum Shop Glasgow which 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 – just to make sure you make the right choice.

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

If you buy separately, it’s only really 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 parts of the all-in-one kits, namely the drums and hardware, leaving behind the cymbals, 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!! And that can save you up to £400.

Tuning drums

Don’t forget, drum kits bought on the Internet are not tuned!!! They sound frankly 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 gadget I use! Please, please get someone (which might be us) 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 tend to be a bit flabby out of the box.

Lessons

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

Well, there are 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 this great resource.

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

ALL SET

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 info@drumshopglasgow.co.uk.

Or check out our great gear for beginners in one place.

Thanks for reading and look forward to seeing you soon!