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What do we mean by 'best kit'?
Posted On 12/13/2007 12:30:57 by Waywood
One of the joys of running a drum and percussion information web site is that you get asked lots of questions, about all sorts of subjects. One repeating question (in many different guises is something like, "How do I find the best kit?").

My first question is "Best for what?" In order to know what to look for we must know what we want it to do.

My second question is usually, "What do you mean by best?" This might sound a bit like the first question but let me explain ...

Do we mean the most expensive, the loudest, the most mellow, the most aggressive or what? I always recommend that people relax as one does not necessarily need to go for 'high-end' gear to get the 'best' kit. A friend of mine who is a professional drum maker swears blind that the best sounding kits from one manufacturer are at the lower end of their range. Subjective I know, but that is where we arrive as soon as we start talking about 'better' or 'worse' kits (within reason of course).

So, if we don't have the wedge to afford the high-end gear, does that mean we can't have a 'good' or 'better' kit? I think not.

The choice of a 'good kit' or 'better kit' is VERY SUBJECTIVE. One man's meat is another man's poison as they say. I think that providing you are buying a reputable make, you are pretty much assured of a 'good kit'. However, what makes it a good kit to an individual is not just the looks, build quality etc but the SOUND, and that can only be determined by playing it and then asking some basic questions e.g., "Do I like it?" "Does the sound of the kit suit my style of playing, or the music that I play? If not, can I get the sound I want by changing the heads?" ... and crucially, "Can I tune the kit to get the sound I want?"

It is worth remembering that drums of different sizes within the same range can sound very different, and drums of one particular size e.g., 12-inch by 9-inch tom, may also vary from drum to drum within the same range by a single manufacturer.

Perhaps the best way to obtain the 'best' kit for you is to listen to it, for which I believe there is no substitute.

So, listen to the kit you are thinking of buying. And remember ... always get someone else to play the kit whilst you stand behind it (where the drummer is) and then in front of it (preferably some distance away) so that you can hear what the audience will hear. If the sound suits you, your playing (and hopefully your budget) you've answered your own question. Then providing nothing is loose, falling off or missing (i.e., you can trust the manufacturer) you have just bought the 'best' kit for you ... just be aware that your taste may change, in which case so will your own definition of best.

So if we use subjective words like 'better' we need to understand the full breadth of what the term really means.

To sum it up ... read up, take help and advice and then use your ears to do the final choosing. As an example, I was listening to a couple of friends playing in bands in an acoustic setting on different occasions (a good leveller for comparison) and a kit costing little over £600 blew away the one costing over £2000. Why? I don't know. Perhaps it was the tuning, choice of heads, style of playing, acoustics of the venue ... or perhaps it was just a case that my judgement was based on different criteria to their own ... and to them, their own kit sounded the 'best'.

My website dedicated to helping drummers choose the right kit & equipment, do their own repairs, offer a few playing tips and hints on warm-ups and warm-downs etc can be found at Waywood Music Web Site if you're interested.


Viewing 1 - 2 out of 2 Comments

From: Waywood
12/13/2007 16:52:40
Ken, the points you make are great and very important ... thanks.

From: KenSanders
12/13/2007 13:27:45
would add two points that might have significant bearing for some people.

1. Some manufacturers have better warranties, and some have better reputations for quick shipment of repair parts. These "after sales" factors that might affect your final choice.

2. If you don't intend to keep the kit "forever" you might consider what brands hold their value better over others. This factor is much like selling or trading- in an automobile that has been kept in good repair

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