Drummers can sometimes be the least loved members of a band, and the unfair target of many jokes. But every drummer knows, deep down, the truth: they are the heart and soul of most bands.
If you got rhythm and love a good beat, playing drums can be one of the most enjoyable experiences in your life! Here's our guide to what you need to know, before you get started...
Drummers sometimes get a bad rap, as the unreliable, weakest-link of a band. As the "talentless" one. As the butt of endless jokes. But this cliché is unfair. Sure, a lot of people think of Ringo as the least talented of The Beatles. But try and imagine the Fab Four without him. Or The Police without Stewart Copeland. Or Metallica without Lars Ulrich. Or Rush without Neil Peart. Yeah, you get the idea...
Keith Richards wrote, in his autobiography, about an incident involving the Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie Watts, and Mick Jagger: Jagger called Watts "My Drummer", and Charlie promptly punched him in the face and said: "Never call me your drummer again. You're my singer". Whether that's true or not, the fact is: good drummers know how important they are, and how hard it is for a band to find a great one!
It's a truism that bands are only as good as their drummers, and talented drummers - more than guitarists, singers, keyboard players or bassists - will always be able to find a band to fit in, if they want.
Playing Drums Is Good For Your Health!
A few years ago, a research found out that playing drums for a band requires the stamina of a footballer. The study by Chichester University, in 2008, found out that playing for one hour at a gig could burn up to 600 calories. Blondie's drummer Clem Burke took part in the project, which showed that playing drums can be a great exercise and even help overweight people.
"It is clear that their fitness levels need to be outstanding - through monitoring Clem's performance in controlled conditions, we have been able to map the extraordinary stamina required by professional drummers" said one of the doctors leading the experiment. Watch the video:
Drums Are Great for Children!
It's no wonder that the starter drum kits for children are very popular. For a few years now, it's been known that drumming is great for kids, for several reasons, including:
- Drumming can help students grow academically; it can improve students' ability to concentrate and compliment their studies in the arts, math, science, language arts, history & physical fitness.
- According to scientific research, playing music, and hence drumming and playing percussion, increases the development of various regions of the brain, including the corpus callosum, motor and auditory cortexes.
- Playing drums and rhythms can be an optimal experience and encourages participants of all ages to achieve flow.
- Drumming is a healing art and therefore it can give participants of any age a better sense of well being.
- Drumming increases body awareness & kinesthetic development; drumming helps students develop graceful coordination and self-control.
- Playing rhythms improves listening skills and increases children and teens' ability to focus for extended periods of time.
- In general, the increasing of rhythmic skills increases students' confidence.
Other research has shown that children with special needs can benefit from the positive effect of drumming experiences in many ways: social behaviour, grief, self-expression, self-esteem, group cohesion, depression, behavioral issues, bi-manual coordination, and more!
Stagg Drumkits are great, with prices starting at just £169 (price correct as of October 2015, subject to change) making their kits the most affordable starter kits we sell. If you're on a budget then other musical instruments may offer a fun alternative for children to experiment with rhythm: Our selection of Percussion Instruments includes shakers, Tambourines and Cajons.
Acoustic vs. Electronic Drums: Which One To Choose?
Both types of drums are great, and today's electronic drum kits can sound very realistic. There are different, distinct advantages to either, so the important thing is that you know how the kit will be used. Ask yourself these questions:
- Will the other people at home be annoyed by the noise caused by the drums? Are the neighbours likely to complain? If you answer YES, then you need an electronic drum kit.
- Do you have enough space for a drum kit? If YES, then an acoustic drum kit, but if you think you're short of space, then buying an electronic drum kit will be more convenient.
- Is the drum kit likely to be used for performing / gigs? If the answer is YES, then an acoustic drum kit is the best choice.
In general, we can say that acoustic drums are the best choice for pros and those who perform live, whereas electronic drums are the best choice for beginners and the more casual drummers who only play at home. However, the more high-end electronic drums by brands such as Roland are made for live use too, and many professionals use them. Also, these two types of drums are not mutually exclusive, and mixing acoustic with electronic drums is becoming increasingly popular, as we'll expand on the next point.
Drummers are moving on with times, and a trend that's been getting more widespread now is to mix acoustic drum kits with electronic drums - creating the so-called Hybrid Drum-Kits. So, what's that all about?
Basically, your main drum-kit will still be the acoustic drums, but you then add extra electronic elements, such as Electronic Drum Pads, to have access to a wider palette of sounds, trigger samples etc! You can have a real drummer sounding like a TR-808, even! The possibilities are endless, and that's why a lot of pros are starting to go this route: from Coldplay to Reverend And The Makers, all the way to he who is perhaps the greatest drummer alive, Neil Peart from Rush. His hybrid drum kit, dubbed "The Time Machine", is a true work of art:
If you already own an acoustic drum kit, adding some digital technology is definitely a very interesting option.
The Best Acoustic Drum Kits
Beginners are well served with a good range of sub-£300 5-piece drum-kits. Drum kits under £200 are usually junior models meant for kids, with smaller bass drums, which can be as small as 16".
FOR INTERMEDIATE PLAYERS
If you can spend more, things get more interesting! There are quite a few Jazz-style drum-kits which are compact and cheaper, but can of course be used for rock'n'roll... after all, all of the early rock drummers (including the Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts and Cream's Ginger Baker) were originally Jazz drummers! Jazz kits are really not powerful or big enough for loud, heavy rock, but can be good for indie bands - at a quite affordable price!
FOR EXPERIENCED DRUMMERS
As is usually the case when you're talking about musical instruments, you get what you pay for - and when you buy a proper, expensive drum-kit, by brands such as Drum Workshop, you can be sure it's a pro-quality kit made to withstand regular gigging. Unless, that is, you are a "Keith Moon"!
Best Electronic Drum-Kits
There are great reasons why to choose an electronic drum kit: they're lighter and more portable; they provide you with many different drum kit sounds; they can be played silently, by using headphones; and many models include metronomes and teaching features.
Due to the ease of transportation, this type of drums are also a good option for session musicians. Today, the sound and feel of electronic drums are unbelievably realistic... they are a different kind of drum kit, not a "lesser" one. Here's some of the best. Prices correct as of October 2015, but they serve as a guide to see what you get for each price range*:
Alesis DM Lite Electronic Drum Kit - £219
The ultimate entry-level Electronic Drum Kit with a great range of sounds, LED feedback, built-in trainer. Free drum sticks included!
Yamaha DTX400K Electronic Drum Kit - £383
The DTX400K features 10 legendary drum kits and training functions plus newly developed drum pads, large cymbals and new silent kick unit.
Yamaha DTX522K Electronic Drum Kit - £852
Expanded sound sets and greater functionality. Get natural drum rolls, cymbal swells and variable cymbal tones with laser technology detecting precise movements and sounds.
Roland Electronic Drum Kits - from £369 - £6599
Roland is arguably the biggest and best manufacturer of electronic drum kits, and you can find several different models here at PMT, to fit all budgets!
*prices correct as of October 2016. Subject to change.
Watch this video, which shows how realistic Roland electronic drums sound, and also how suitable electronic drums are for kids:
Essential Drum Accessories
Here's a quick list of Drum Accessories you may need.
- For Acoustic Drums: bass drum pedal, cymbal set, drum key
- For Electronic Drums: drum amplifier, drum module (for extra sounds), drum trigger
- For Both: Drum throne, drum sticks