How To Build The Perfect Drum Kit
What if you could talk to your younger drummer self? What would you say? I know there are a few things I would have loved to know when investing more money into the sound I was trying to achieve. The first question I would ask my younger drummer self, “do you really believe that there is a perfect drum kit for you?”
In the past years, there have been dynamic drum kits that have been released, but there have also been amazing customized drums that have taken the drummer’s sound to the next level. In order to decide on what would work for you, a choice needs to be made on the most important factor for a musician…YOUR SOUND!
WHAT HAVE YOU CONSIDERED?
Whether you are an advanced drummer or a novice building your chops, every drummer needs a drum to fulfill their musical ambitions.
One of the most emphasized and important drums that are unique to a drummer’s sound is the snare drum. Typically, a drum kit or a shell pack will not include a snare drum because snare drums are more unique to a drummer’s preference. Pieces like the stiff snare wires and the snare head can change the style of your sound.
There are endless modifications that can take your snare from average to drum virtuoso.
THE KICK DRUM
When you are looking for the right low end for your drum arsenal, what are you factoring in your decision? A great way to explore the best kick drum is by knowing what style of music you are playing.
Naturally, bigger kick drums will produce a larger sound because the air flux is more severe. If you choose to loosen the drum heads, your drum will produce a deeper sound. Smaller kick drums will be punchier with less of an elongated tone, which gives a crisper sound.
HOW DOES THAT FIT FOR MY STYLE OF PLAY?
By standard, a kick drum is 22 inches. Jazz drummers tend to have a smaller kick drum ranging from 18 to 20 inches (for a less deep sound) and rock drummers lean more towards kick drums that are 22 to 24 inches (for a larger sound).
Elvin Jones commanded a heavy, sleek sound for most of his jazz career. What made his sound stand out was his use of an 18-inch kick drum. Unlike Jones, John Bonham used a 26-inch kick drum that directed Led Zeppelin’s sound. For drummers looking for a sound resembling heavy metal, a double bass drum kit could lead you in the right direction. Though it may take a little time to perfect double-bass rhythms, having the force of two kick drums behind your sound would be a bonus. (Versatility points!)
DIG DEEPER FOR THE SPECIFIC SOUND YOU WANT: CUSTOMIZE
Complete drum kits are sometimes considered by advanced drummers to have minimal value. The shell construction in a drum kit is made to fit a wide variety of users – not to any specification. Over time, the maturation of your music requires an upgrade.
If you decide to buy custom drums, be careful in getting carried away like Neil Peart and use a 30+ piece kit (Unless your drumsticks can rapidly hit as quick as his per measure, then…give it a shot!). Your focus should be on the heart of your sound first: bass drums, toms, and the snare. It’s about quality, not quantity. Less is more.
Hardware, extensions, and breakables can be customized also.
WHAT TO CONSIDER:
- The Build Procedure
- Techniques on how the wood is shaped which focuses on the durability of the drum.
- How thick do you want your shells to be? The thinner the shell, the softer and warmer the pitch will be. The thicker the shell, the larger and more luminous the pitch will be.
- Type of Wood
- For a brighter tone: Mahogany and Poplar
- For a well-balanced tone: Maple
- For short notes: Birch
- Bearing Edge
- Mostly pertains to the durability of the drum and how it contacts the drumhead which influences the tone.
- Example: the baseball bat and round over cuts gives a well-established, warm tone with minimal overtones.
- Resonant (reactive to moving air when struck): thicker - deeper tone; thinner – brighter tone
- Single Ply (lighter playing style preferred): thinner – more high-end ring, but sound endures less than other drumheads
- Double Ply (deeper controlled sound): thicker punch with fewer overtones
- Pre-Muffed (built-in muffling): to dampen nonessential overtones
- Coated (in addition to drumhead): more mass – lowers vibration for a warmer controlled tone
…oh, and when you are having a custom drum kit built, you get to pick the perfect wrap to make your drum look pristine.
FINALLY… A DRUM!
Now that you have brushed up on what to look for in your drums, help guide your younger drummer self in finding the perfect kit.