Acoustic Drums Buying Guide
How to Choose an Acoustic Drum KitChoosing an appropriate acoustic drum kit for a studio, school, or church can lead to a number of questions. This guide will help you understand the fundamental characteristics of drums so that you can make an informed choice. As always, your BAJAAO Sales Engineer has loads of information about drum-related issues.
Components of a Drum KitAlthough there can be dozens of different drum kit configurations, most begin with these components:
- Kick drum (bass drum) – The lowest-pitched drum in the kit. Generally used to provide the rhythmic foundation of the piece of music.
- Snare drum – The distinctly snappy counterpoint to the kick drum. The snare drum assists in outlining the rhythmic framework, and it also serves to highlight accents in the music.
- Tom(s) – Ranging in pitch from high to low, toms provide tonal color and are often used to play “fills” that bridge two sections of a song. A drum kit may contain one, two, three, or more toms.
- Cymbals – The metallic “soprano” voices of the drum kit. A basic set includes ride, crash, and hi-hat.
- Hardware – The essential gear that makes a drum kit playable. Includes a kick (bass) pedal, snare stand, cymbal stands (including a hi-hat stand), tom holders and legs, and other items as needed.
Are Two Toms Enough? Are Four Toms Too Many?You may have seen drummers in concert or on the screen whose kits included a multitude of toms. The reality is that the bass drum and the snare drum are the primary components of a drum kit. Toms are most often used for “fills” — rhythmic phrases that provide a transition from one part of a song to the next. The number of toms used is largely a matter of a drummer’s personal preference, but a basic kit should include at least one small tom (usually mounted on the bass drum) and one large tom (often called a floor tom).
Drum Shell WoodsMost drum shells are constructed of several thin plies of wood that are glued together and bent into shape, often with the assistance of steam. Much like the tonewoods used in making guitars, the types of wood that a shell can be made of produce different characteristics of attack and tone. Here are some of the most common shell woods:
- Mahogany – One of the softest woods, mahogany has a softness that gives it a low fundamental tone, for good bottom-end punch.
- Maple – Maple falls in the middle when it comes to both hardness and tone. Its pitch is higher than mahogany’s, yet it is considered “warm” when compared to harder woods. Maple has been among the most popular of shell woods for years.
- Birch – Among the hardest shell woods, birch has a bright sound and a sharp transient attack. The volume possible with birch makes it a pick for drummers in loud live settings.
- Bubinga – Sometimes called “African rosewood,” bubinga is a hard wood that is gaining popularity. It’s sometimes used as the inner ply of a shell (for attack), while other woods are used for the outer plies.
What to Look For…
- Establish a budget. If money is tight, then remember that most manufacturers offer several different grades of drums, at different price points. The value-priced kits are still excellent-quality instruments; they often incorporate many of the features of the more expensive kits.
- Define your acoustic space. Where will the drums be played? If they’re likely to stay in one location, then you can choose sizes and shell material that “fit” the space. If the drums are likely to travel a lot, then choose a kit that’s easy to transport, perhaps one with maple shells — the most versatile wood.
- Choose a musically appropriate combination. Here’s where you decide how many toms and cymbals are necessary to realize your musical goals.
- Choose a finish. Drums today come in a wide array of finishes, from natural wood to plastic wraps. Assess the environment the drums will occupy. If they’re set up in a school, then a durable plastic wrap that’s immune to bumps and scrapes may be the choice. A house of worship might call for a more aesthetic appearance, so stained wood may be the answer.