If you’ve decided to take the plunge and learn how to drum, then congratulations! You’re in good company, as many people across the U.K. practice playing a musical instrument.
Once you’ve decided to learn a new instrument, such as the drums, it can feel a bit disorientating when getting started on your musical journey. For instance, do you know what kind of kit you’d like to buy, what style of music you’d like to play, or what the basics of learning to drum are?
Thankfully, the more time you spend practising drumming and learning about the instrument, the easier it becomes to answer all these questions.
When it comes to deciding on a musical style to play, some people start out with a clear idea of the kind of music they like and would like to drum to, whether that’s rock n roll, blues, jazz, or another style entirely.
Equally, some people have little idea, and are happy to play a selection of styles – there is no right answer when it comes to deciding what type of music you’d like to play.
This article aims to shed some light on the different types of drum kits that you may encounter depending on the style of music that you’d like to play.
All That You Need To Know About Jazz Drumming!
One of the most popular styles of music out there is jazz and all its variations. Consequently, it’s not too surprising that many drummers, whether beginners or more advanced players, want to learn or improve how they play this particular style of music.
If you think that jazz drumming might be of interest to you, then it may be worthwhile buying a jazz drum kit, which is generally designed for drummers who would like to focus on a more jazz-specific playstyle.
Typically, a jazz drum kit tends to be smaller than some other types of kit. This means that they can be easier to move around, which is great if you ever find yourself on tour, or if you frequently have to move your drum kit around (for instance, if you move your kit from your home to a separate practice area relatively frequently).
In terms of what to look out for in a jazz drum kit, you may see the following configuration:
- An 18-inch bass drum and two tom-toms (10 inches and 13 inches)
- A snare drum (13 inches); and
- A hi-hat, ride and crash cymbal.
Additionally, you may want to put some thought into the kind of drumsticks that you’d like to buy when using a jazz drum kit. If possible, try and aim for drumsticks that are light and thin. Often, you might see a 7A recommended for this particular type of kit.
As with buying any type of drum kit, the main thing is to make sure that all the elements that you’re buying will suit the purpose that you want and complement your own aspirations, needs, and playstyle.
So, if you’re set on playing jazz music or something like Bossa Nova, then you’ll probably want to avoid looking at things such as electronic drums, which are more suited to different types of music.
Of course, there are no rules, especially when it comes to music and jazz! As long as you’re comfortable with the equipment and the tools that you have and you’re happy playing jazz with the kit that you have, then don’t feel pressured into changing kit for something that’s considered more suitable for a jazz playstyle.
What Is A Fusion Drum Kit?
Jazz drum kits aren’t the only type of drum kits available on the market. In fact, there are plenty of different types of kit out there, which cater to different ability levels, musical styles, and budgets.
One type of drum set that beginners, or even younger children, tend to do well with is a fusion drum kit. It’s also worth noting that this type of kit is also perfectly suitable for more experienced drummers as well, so it’s a very versatile kit that you can get a lot of value from.
However, a fusion drum kit does have its own particular speciality, and that is in its design to help drummers play styles such as:
- Jazz or rock fusion; and
Of course, it’s still worth noting that you are free to play other styles of music on a fusion drum kit!
In terms of its size, a fusion drum kit sits in the middle between the larger rock n roll drum kit and the smaller jazz drum kit. This can be a great bonus for anyone who values some extra space when buying a drum kit or wants a kit that is a little bit more portable than standard-sized sets.
Although everyone is free to customise their drum kit as they would like, as a rule of thumb a typical fusion drum kit is likely to contain the following elements:
- A 20-inch bass drum;
- Three tom-toms (10, 12, and 14 inches);
- A 14-inch snare drum; and
- A hi-hat and ride cymbal (although a splash and crash cymbal may also feature).
If you do have your heart set on a fusion drum kit, try to find a way to test out the various elements in the kit before you buy them. This is because the best way to find out if a set or its composite elements are for you is to try them out in person and see whether they would suit your budget and playstyle.
Equally, if you get stuck when it comes to deciding which elements or brands to buy, don’t hesitate to speak to a sales assistant at a music shop, who should be able to give you a hand, or at least point you in the right direction of someone who can.
Learn To Play Rock Style Drums
Drums are a crucial part of any band or group. One of the most popular styles of music that drummers like to learn is rock n roll, which is understandable, given how many famous drummers have played this style of music, from Dave Grohl to John Bonham, Travis Barker and beyond.
If you’d like to rock out on your drum set, then you might consider buying a rock n roll drum kit. Essentially, this type of drum kit tends to be similar to a standard-size drum kit, although its configuration is slightly different.
An example of what you might find in a rock n roll drum kit is:
- A bass drum (22 inches);
- Three tom-toms (12, 13 and 16 inches); and
- A snare drum (14 inches).
You may also encounter a hi-hat and ride and crash cymbals in some rock n roll drum kits.
One of the most important parts of a rock n roll drum kit is the bass drum, so if you are looking to learn how to play rock music, learning how to master the bass drum should be one of your main goals. Of course, you don’t have to learn how to play on a 26-inch drum like John Bonham was famous for, a more standard-sized drum would also suit!
If you feel like you need help with your drumming technique once you have a kit set up, then you may also find it useful to enlist the help of a drum teacher. Online tutoring websites, such as Superprof, offer a selection of drumming tutors that are happy to help all levels of experience, whether you are a beginner drummer or you have intermediate or advanced skills.
So if you'd like to learn how to play the drums, for example, to improve your fundamental skill in drumming, or to improve your overall rhythm, then having drum lessons, even online drum lessons, can be very beneficial for some people.
How To Play The Drums Without A Drum Kit
While having your own drum kit would be ideal when it comes to learning how to drum, sometimes it’s just not practical to have a standard-sized drum kit in your home.
For example, if you:
- Have a small flat or home;
- Don’t have enough money for a standard-sized drum kit; or
- Don’t want to disturb your neighbours with the noise you might make,
Then you might not feel able to purchase a drum kit.
However, if you are committed to learning how to drum, the key is not to despair, as there are ways you can learn to drum without a drum kit, or even if you don’t have access to a typical drum kit or a kit such as those highlighted above.
Option 1 – Buy A Small Drum Kit
Although a standard-sized drum kit might be out of the question, that’s not to say that you couldn’t learn to drum with a more compact kit.
There are lots of advantages to having a small or compact drum kit. For instance, if you plan on regularly playing at gigs, then you might appreciate having a smaller drum kit, as your set up and dismantling times can greatly reduce when compared to setting up a larger drum at a venue.
What’s more, if you’re tight on space where you live, a compact drum kit can provide the answer to those issues.
The other bonus when it comes to small drum kits is that they are generally cheaper to buy than their standard-sized counterparts, which makes them brilliant for anyone on a budget.
Option 2 – Try Virtual Drumming
If you’re looking for a way to practice drumming but don’t have a drum set to hand, then you can also turn to technology for a solution.
There is technology out there, such as Freedrum, which can let you play a virtual drum set without having to actually have a physical kit in front of you. By attaching devices onto a set of drumsticks and linking in with your phone, Freedrum lets you play the drums and listen to how you’re doing.
So if you’d like to practice when you’re out and about, on a train, or at home, then you have that freedom!
Option 3 – Make Your Own Drum
Music is all about self-expression and creativity. So, if you don’t have a drum set to hand, why not make your own?
There are plenty of groups and performance artists in the world that have repurposed everyday objects and have turned them into musical instruments, and if you want to practice the art of drumming there’s nothing to stop you using such objects as well.
At a pinch, you could learn some of the basics of drumming by tapping on a flat surface, or by making use of a few pots and pans – let your creativity guide you!
The great thing about making your own drum kit is that you could also save some money when it comes to paying for a drum kit. So, if your budget is particularly stretched, making your own drumming or percussion instruments can be a good solution!
However, you don't have to make your own instruments purely for monetary reasons - it can also be fun to experiment and try out new materials and objects to see how they would work as drumming instruments.
Regardless of which type of drum kit you decide to use, it’s worth remembering that if you do at any point need help with your drumming skills, or want to find time to have further practice, then you could always reach out to a drumming tutor for some structured assistance.
Superprof has a number of drumming tutors who would be more than happy to help you improve your level of proficiency.