...drum tips                                        

Buying Your First Drum Set


Well, you are about to make a purchase that you have been waiting to make for quite a while. Buying your first drum set is quite an exciting experience. It can also be a bit unnerving if you have never done it before.

I recommend that you get a 5 piece drum set. 5 pieces means 5 drums. Those drums would be the bass drum, snare drum, two mounted tom toms and a floor tom.

You should also get a 20” ride cymbal, a 16” crash cymbal and a pair of 14” hi hat cymbals. You can get what is called a “cymbal pre pack”. All 4 of the above mentioned cymbals are included in the pack. (Be aware that some pre packs have only 3 cymbals. Get the 4 cymbal pre pack). Stay away from cymbals that are called “crash/ride” as one cymbal cannot effectively take the place of 2 cymbals. The pre packs are student line cymbals, not the top of the line professional cymbals. However, the pre packs are made by the same manufacturers as the pro cymbals. I would recommend a Zildjian, Sabian or Paiste cymbal pre pack. Camber also, makes a pre pack. The sounds of these cymbals are adequate. The durability is wonderful and that is what you need at this point. Later on you can add pro cymbals to your kit.

You will need hardware for the kit, also. Hardware refers to the stands and the pedals. YOU WILL NEED AT LEAST A MEDIUM TO PRO QUALITY BASS DRUM PEDAL. A lot of the student line kits have pedals that are not very good. If you are buying from a store that I recommended to you, please ask the salesperson about the quality of the pedal and if it is not good, ask for an upgrade. It will cost you less money to do it now, rather than having to pay for another pedal later.

You will also need the following hardware: snare drum stand, tom tom mounts (which usually come with the drums), hi hat stand, bass drum pedal, two cymbal stands and a drum throne (seat).

You have options and I will go over each of them for you. Your first option is to buy used set thru the newspapers, from the internet or from an acquaintance. Most of you do not know what to look for. It is hard to tell you if you are getting a good deal or not without having the set in my presence. If drum heads are worn, they can be easily replaced. Drum heads are reasonably priced. You don’t want any hardware that is not working or drum shells that are cracked, etc. etc. But then again, if someone is selling a set for like one or two hundred dollars, there will be things wrong with it.

Once in a while you can get a real deal. Students of mine who are upgrading their sets will sometimes let me sell their old ones. I make sure that the price is good for the seller and the buyer. So, if you get a set thru me, you will be OK, ‘cos if there is a problem I know that I will be the one taking care of it.

Please stay with recognized drum names like Pearl, DW, Ludwig, Yamaha, Tama, Slingerland, Gretsch, etc.

In your student handbook I recommend several places for you to shop. I recommend these places because of their reputation for taking care of my students. You are welcome to purchase a set from anyone you want, but I warn you that if you are not careful you can pay more money and end up with an inferior drum set. There are salesmen who have that “used car” mentality. I do not want my students getting burned by any salesman which is why I send students to specific places, and, to specific salespeople.

The first place that I recommend for new drum sets is Gelb Music in Redwood City. The Drum Manager is Don Frank, an old friend of mine. It is a bit of a drive, but every student that I have sent there has been extremely satisfied. Most of the time he will either match or beat Guitar Center’s price on drums, cymbals and accessories. Don is a professional player and a very professional, low pressure salesman. He will answer your questions.
Please tell Don that I sent you.

The second place is Guitar Center on Stevens Creek Blvd. The Drum Manager is Sid Thompson. I have also known Sid for many years. He used to manage Lemmon Percussion and Guitar Showcase before that. He is also very knowledgeable and has a large inventory of equipment. Please tell Sid that I sent you.

Oh, by the way, I do not receive any “kickback” or “compensation” from any of the stores that I recommend.

The third place for both new and used equipment is Starving Musician on El Camino Real in Santa Clara. They have the best selection of used drums and cymbals in the area. It has been a while since I have been there, but I believe the Drum Manager there is Dave. He may not be there any more, but still, the store has a good reputation.

Another option is renting a drum set. I am not personally wild about this as you will usually pay a fee based on the full retail price of the set. If you are not sure if your child will stick with it, then renting for 2 or 3 months is not a bad idea. If you rent for longer than this, you really will be wasting your money. I think that Starving Musician and Guitar Showcase (in Campbell) rent drum sets. So, please try there if you are looking to rent.

Hopefully, this has answered some of your questions. If you need more assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.


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