If you are new to playing drums, the whole topic might be a bit overwhelming at first. You try to find your beginner's drumsticks and step by step you move forward into the mysterious world of drums and percussion. After a little while you will see that everything becomes clearer. You will finally know what a Single Paradiddle is and how a Pataflafla is being played on a drum pad.
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To help you move forward, I'll show you all drum set parts - and their names of course - which belong to a standard acoustic drum kit. This will help you understand exactly what pro-drummers are talking about, when they show their drum beats and mega drum-fills.
Are you ready?
A standard drum set consists of several components which can be divided in the following parts:
- Drum shells
- Drum heads
- Additional Equipment
1. Drum shells are the basis of your drum set. A standard modern drum kit consists of a bass drum, snare drum, hi tom-tom, mid tom-tom and a stand-tom.
2. Drum heads are needed to create a sound when hitting it with drumsticks. Therefore, it needs to get applied onto a drum shell using drum hoops and tension rods.
3. Drum hardware consists of cymbal stand, hi hat machine, bass drum pedal, drummer throne and any other "hard" item which is needed to set up a proper drum set.
4. Depending on a drummer's music style and preferences, there can be more additional equipment being applied to ones drum kit. There are cowbells, woodblocks and many other percussion instruments which can be added to create a variety of sounds.
A 5-piece drum set consists of the following instruments:
- Bass Drum
- Snare Drum
- Hi Tom-Tom
- Mid Tom-tom
- Stand -/ Low-/ Floor Tom
The 3 main parts of the drums are:
- Bass Drum
- Snare Drum
- Hi Hat Cymbals & Machine
Bass Drum, Snare Drum and Hi Hat are needed to play any important rhythm on a drum set.
A drummer hits nearly every part of a drum set with his or hers drumsticks. Most often drum heads and cymbals are hit with sticks but also drum hoops and even the drum shells can be hit with drumsticks. The latter can be damaged and drummers should know what they do before playing on the drum shells.
All Drum Set Parts and their names
Let's have a look at all drum set parts and their names you really need to know:
And here are my drum set parts labeled from a bird's eye view.
Bass Drum // Kick Drum
The bass drum (also kick drum) is the center of your whole drum kit. It needs to stand on a solid underground so that it can't slide away when hitting the bass drum pedals with your foot.
Ideally you should place the kick drum on top of a carpet or an anti-vibration mat like this one.
These mats are fairly cheap, and you can buy exactly the quantity of mats you need, so that the kick drum, hi hat stand & the drum throne can be placed on it.
If you want a premium solution, I'd recommend a high-quality drum rug like this one.
Common bass drum sizes and why diameter matters (a lot)
Bass drums are available in different sizes.
Most common sizes are 20" and 22" in diameter.
If you want to buy a new drum set for adults and children, I'd recommend a 20" bass drum size or even smaller, because the tom toms can be mounted in a lower position so that smaller drummers and grown-ups can reach them with their arms and drumsticks.
In case you are searching for even smaller instruments, then check my article about the best toddler drum sets.
Bass Drum Pedals
Without bass drum pedals, it's hard to play the kick drum properly and at the right time. Such pedals do all the same. They transform a downward movement of the drummer's foot into a horizontal movement of the bass drum beater to hit the bass drum head:
Bass Drum Pedal Setup
If you ever need to set up a bass drum pedal, which shouldn't be the case very often, here's what you should know.
On the 1st image you can see the whole bass drum pedal. As you can see, there are several screws for different purposes available.
The biggest screw, which you can see on the 2nd image helps attach and loosen the pedal claw to your bass drum hoop.
The small screw at the end of the pedal (3rd image) only fixes the so-called "toe stopper" to the bass drum pedal. The toe stopper is quite useful to avoid slipping your foot into the bass drum pedal chain.
Image 4 shows another screw right underneath the bass drum beater. This one helps to adjust the position of the beater.
The other screw on image 4 - just in front of your eyes - helps to adjust the tilt of the bass drum beater.
Snare Drum with stand
Besides the bass drum, the snare is the most important part of the drum set. This is the drum which you will probably hit the most in your whole career as a drummer.
Here you can see a pearl free floating snare drum with stand.
- Depending on your snare drum stand model you can choose between rubber or thorns to stand on.
- The second screw lets adjust the width of the stand's feet.
- The third screw is for height adjustments of the snare drum stand.
- Number 4 helps to adjust the snare drum tilt.
- Screw number 5 defines the snare drum basket's size and how tight the snare drum fits into the basket.
Hi Hat Cymbals & Hi Hat Stand
The hi hat is a pretty complex musical instrument.
It consists of the hi hat stand and the hi hat cymbals which are mounted on the hi hat rod.
Depending on the model and company which designed and built the stand, you can notice quite a few differences between them.
Hi hat stands used to have 3 feet plus the pedal itself, which took quite some space on your drum set carpet (my old Pearl hi hat stand is one of them).
Nowadays, many hi hat stands come with 2 feet whereas the pedal counts as another foot to give the stand a solid foundation.
Especially when using a double bass drum pedal for metal, rock or fusion music styles, space becomes valuable. Thinking about buying a modern 2 feet hi hat stand - like this one - should be considered!
How to play the hi hat (cymbals)
The hi hat cymbals can be played by hands and the hi hat pedal allows the drummer to also play it by left or right foot.
The hi hat offers an enormous range of sounds and dynamics which makes it really special. The hi hat sounds depend on how loose you step onto the hi hat pedal. The more weight you put onto the hi hat pedal the quieter you can play the cymbals. The more you let the cymbals open the louder they can become when hitting them.
How to set up hi hat cymbals?
If you have never installed hi hat cymbals before, this can become quite a challenge. If you have done it once, it's ridiculously easy.
This is, how easy it is:
Let's have a look a closer look at the crucial hi hat parts.
When you set up your hi hat stand, it looks like this without the cymbals.
It should look like this:
You have to attach the lower part of the hi hat clutch inside the top hi hat cymbal. Don't forget to use the littler rubber protector between the screw and the cymbal to avoid scratching the surface.
When you turn the top cymbal around, it should look like this:
Now you can attach the rest of the hi hat clutch on top of it. When finished, it should look like this:
Now you can put the top hi hat cymbal including the clutch onto the hi hat rod.
When done correctly, it looks like this:
Now you can adjust the height of the top hi hat cymbal by loosening and tightening the clutch screw.
Cheap hi hat cymbals
There are a lot of cheap hi hat cymbals available in stores. But cheap doesn't mean, that the sound and quality should be "cheap" too. Don't forget that we are talking about musical instruments here and what we don't need at all is a cheap sounding drum set or hi hat cymbals.
Here are my personal recommendations for drummers who want to buy cheap but good sounding hi hat cymbals.
If you have a chance to buy the Istanbul Mehmet Samatya cymbal set, I'd recommend it immediately. It's one of the best cymbal packs I have ever played. They set costs between 320,- and 500,- $ and it looks like this.
Best hi hat cymbals for rock
Some students ask me:
What are the best hi hat cymbals for rock?
My answer is usually:
Which cymbals a rock drummer chooses does not only depend on the music style itself, but the sound the pair of hi hat cymbals offers.
If you prefer a dark hi hat sound for rock music, you should listen to thicker and bigger hi hat cymbals starting at 14".
Meinl Byzance cymbals are an example for this kind of dark sounding cymbals. Of course they are not the only ones. Keep your eyes and ears open and also consider used cymbals to add them to your drum set parts to gain the sound you are looking for.
If you prefer a brighter hi hat sound for rock music, you should look for thinner cymbals in 14" or 13".
Also, you have to keep in mind that cymbals have to fit your band sound. Because you mainly play rock music doesn't mean that there's one pair of hi hat cymbals only, you should play on. Choose your cymbals - no matter which ones - on how they fit into your band's sound. If your band is loud, pick louder cymbals.
Ride- & Crash Cymbals
Without the cymbals, playing drums isn't as much fun as it can be.
Any drum set needs at least one crash cymbal and a ride to being able to practice everything you can find in most drum books and your favorite drumming channel on YouTube.
Without drum hardware parts (click here) like cymbal stands, hi-hat machine, a drum throne to sit on, pedals etc. playing drums isn't really possible.
When you buy your first drum kit, all necessary drum hardware should be included to start drumming.
COMMON DRUM SETS & SIZES
We are getting closer to the end of this blog post. Still there's a lot to write about the tom toms and the stand tom (also floor tom, low tom).
The image I showed you at the beginning of this article shows a standard drum set parts including 2 tom toms and 1 stand tom. Sometimes drum sets come with more or less tom toms and / or floor toms depending on the music style and the sounds the drummer needs to have at his / hers hands.
Common drum sets consist of the following drum sizes:
- 20" Bass Drum / 10" Tom Tom / 12" Tom Tom / 14" Stand Tom
- 22" Bass Drum / 12" Tom Tom / 13" Tom Tom / 16" Stand Tom
1. Studio Drum Set
Drum sets like number 1 are usually called "fusion" or "studio" version. Here you can see an example in the very sizes I mentioned above. 20" / 10" / 12" / 14" is a great choice for the youngest drummers starting at age 5-6 and for adults too. If you think about buying a drum set for yourself and for your kid, then get something like this.
2. Rock Drum Set
A "rock" drum set consists of bigger tom toms and a 22" bass drum.
Please remember that the drum size only doesn't stand for a particular music style. There are jazz drummers who prefer bigger drums and rock drummers who prefer playing on smaller sizes.
Did I mention drum heads as one of the most important parts of any drum kit?
Okay, then here are some sentences including basic information about drum heads and types.
No drum heads, no drum sound!
So any drum head is better than none to make a drum sound. But of course there are many differences between drum heads.
When you are looking for drum heads you will notice a few very popular manufacturers:
These companies aren't the only ones on the drum head market, but they will appear again and again - no matter where you search for the best drum heads.
My Final thoughts
I think that the main parts of a standard drum set are well explained by now. Depending on the drum set size and amount of items attached to it, there can be a lot more to explain - of course.
If there are any questions concerning drums, please let me know in the comments. I am happy to answer and help!
Talk soon and see you later!