If you’ve decided on playing a drumset, the hardest part of choosing is behind you. A drumset is a drumset, at least in its basic sound and how you use it. You basically need some drums, cymbals, stands, and if you plan on hauling your drums around, you need some cases. (Cases are a tough thing to fork over money for. I mean, guitars come with cases, so why not drums?)
In order to determine what kind of set to buy, you don’t really need to know what kind of music you intend to play. But, you do need to know what your goals are. If you’re not sure how much you really want to play the drums or how long you’re likely to stick with it, you’re best not buying a professional kit, but rather opting for a less expensive student or semi-professional model. You can always trade up if you find yourself seriously bitten by the drumming bug. In this section, I try to lay out the different options so that you can make an informed choice for both your first kit and a professional one, if you get around to it.
If you’re like most people, your final choice of drumsets largely depends on how much money you have to spend. A complete professional drumset setup can cost almost as much as a decent car, so unless you want to forego driving, you’ll probably need to make some tough choices. The good news is that you can find some great-sounding drumsets that won’t cost you every penny you’ll ever earn. If you do your homework, even a budget-minded person can end up with a drumset that sounds great and is a pleasure to play.
So how much do you need to spend to get a decent drumset? Well, that depends, but plan on at least $500 to $1,000 for a compete beginner set with hardware and cymbals (without the cases). Keep in mind: You always get what you pay for. A more expensive kit has more options and sounds better than a less expensive set. On the other hand, unless you really know what you’re doing, playing on a better set won’t necessarily make you sound better.
In middle price-range kits, how you tune the drums has more impact on how good they sound than what kind of wood they’re made out of or what kind of mounting hardware they have.
Unless you’re on a really tight budget, I recommend buying a set made by a major manufacturer. This way, if anything ever happens to the drums, you can get them repaired. You’ll also find that selling themoif and when the time comesois easier. If even the least expensive set from one of the major manufacturers is still too much for you, I suggest considering a used kit. If you shop around and educate yourself, you can end up with a top quality set of used drums for about the same price as a piece of junk new kit.