The standard starter kit hardware should include a bass drum pedal, a hi-hat pedal, a snare drum stand, a stool, a straight cymbal stand and probably a boom cymbal stand. With a boom cymbal stand you are able to angle the top section like the boom arm of a crane, so you can position your cymbal within easier reach.
The stands will have foldout tripod legs. These are referred to as single-braced or double-braced, depending on whether each leg is constructed using single or double lengths of strip steel. Generally the latter are stronger and more stable. Beginner and budget kits customarily had single-braced tripods while double-braced stands were reserved for professional kits. However, double-braced stands have now found their way down to the beginner level, except for the cheapest kits.
However, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with single-braced stands. It all depends on the gauge of the metal and the quality of the construction. Some single braced stands are perfectly adequate, although the type of stand used in the cheapest kits can definitely be flimsy. Assuming the stands are OK though, you may prefer them single braced, particularly if the kit stays put in your bedroom or garage.
Cheap kits are often assembled using whatever hardware the manufacturer/supplier needs to shift at the time, and so you often find a mixture of single-braced and double-braced stands. Again this can be perfectly acceptable. Many starter kits are offered with a choice of hardware packages and you simply have to examine what’s available and assess if it’s strong enough for your needs. Another thing to look out for is the quality of tilter on the top of your cymbal stands.
On the cheapest stands these can be feeble and you may feel it’s better to get better stands from the start. This is doubly true if the stands do not have nylon inserts at each telescopic height-extension joint. Like memory locks, these have become universal musts and are one of the smallest, simplest and most useful hardware innovations ever. They stop slippage and prevent over-tightening of stands leading to stripped threads.
A godsend. When it comes to snare drum stands, beginner kits are sometimes lumbered again with outdated designs you really should avoid. All good snare drum stands have tripod cradles that screw up from beneath to form and inverted eV’ shaped basket that cradles the drum. There are some old-fashioned designs which have two fixed-length flat metal strip arms and a third arm, adjustable in length, that slides through a central housing unit it grips the snare drum’s shell. In order to picture how this works, imagine that the three arms take the form of the CND badge logo.
This design has long been superseded by the basket type. It has a tendency to come loose and there is even the danger of the centre housing of the stand making contact with the underside of the drum if you play hard over a long period. This design is best consigned to history. The bass drum pedal or ekick’ pedal is probably the most vulnerable item in the kit. It gets stampe3d on furiously and has to be well made if it is to last.
Cheap pedals have thin base plate castings, which can and do crack. The tension spring can fail, the chain drive can also snap. The kick pedal is often the first item you will need to upgrade. The hi-hat is similarly vulnerable although it is not subjected to quite such violence. A welcome trend in the beginner market is the truly complete package, which at last includes a stool. A proper stool (throne, in the US) is vital. Since you’re using all four limbs you must be able to attain the right height and balance. A kitchen bar stool will probably be too high, while and ordinary chair will be too low.
In schools and youth centers, etc., I’ve often seen young drummers resorting to stacking chairs to get the right height. This is uncomfortable, unstable and, worse, will immediately lead you into bad posture. That’s no way to start your drumming career. Back problems are a major source of trouble for drummers. If your starter kit does not include a proper height-adjustable stool, you can get one for as little as $15.