ooking for sound advice and reliable, unbiased opinions when searching for gear suited to your personal taste and level of experience can be a challenge, especially considering the wide range of options brand and cost wise. Depending on the configuration, you can pay anywhere from $500 to $2,500 on average for a decent drum kit by most reputable brands (custom and vintage kits go for more), but how do you determine the value for dollar and overall integrity of the instrument you are about to purchase?
Brand alone does not guarantee overall quality experientially as some moderately priced independent ones have been known to outperform higher profile brands (who mass produce and outsource extensively) depending on materials used and craftsmanship. Considering used or vintage adds another layer of complexity to the decision, and this option depends largely on the depth of product knowledge and sourcing ability of your provider.
So how do you select the right gear with the benefit of knowledge from the most experienced industry veterans? Head straight to the specialty local music shops in your area. They are in the business as experts in their wares, staffed with active musicians in the industry; a general pre-requisite for employment.
A Local Veteran Weighs In
And still, the decision can be daunting. To help you avoid a nasty case of buyers remorse, we went straight to the source and asked a veteran of the local Edmonton music scene to weigh in.
Allan Harding has made his mark on the Edmonton music scene, collaborating on the startup of local Edmonton drum shop Acoustic Drum Shop back in 2006 (which has since come under the single banner of Acoustic Music Shop), drumming and playing gnarly bass for several local bands – most notably Black Mastiff and Passenger Action, and being an all around good guy. His most recent endeavour, Rufus Drum Shop in Vancouver, is another collaboration that has already expanded into more retail space after only a year of opening.
If he were to start a support group, it might be called ‘Drummers Helping Drummers‘ – he believes in collaborating and sharing what he knows with anyone who is interested. And if anyone knows drums, it’s Allan.
Check out his Top 5 list for choosing a drum kit:
Determine your genre.
Knowing what style of music you want to play is a good way to begin your search. This will help you figure out what sizes of drums and cymbals work best for you.
Consider the three main elements of a drum kit: shells, hardware, and cymbals.
If you’re on a budget I recommend focusing on a good kick pedal, snare drum, and cymbals. A cheaper shell package can be made to sound decent with the proper heads and tuning. A bad kick pedal is like dull skates and can take away from the enjoyment of drumming.
Try before you buy, and compare!
Any proper drum shop will let you tap around and hear the differences between the sizes and materials. If you can, BUY WITH YOUR EARS! I know aesthetics are important, but more important is the sound; trust your ears and go for what sounds good to you!
Talk to the pros.
Your local drum shop should have some experienced, knowledgable staff that have been playing and performing for years. These people are there to help you find your way. You wouldn’t go to the vet to have your teeth checked, so why talk to a guitar player about the finer details of drums? If you have a drummer friend that you trust ask them! The drumming community is vibrant and friendly, we’re always looking out for each other, and you’ll find more often than not drummers are into sharing their knowledge and experiences.
Consider buying used or second hand.
Be careful though. Do your research. If you find something cool don’t be afraid to call your local drum shop and find out what it was worth new. Better yet, head down to your local shop and see what they have used. The best drum shops have lots of used and vintage from trading and consigning with other drummers if you don’t mind a few scuffs here and there. Typically drums do not change sonically over time.
Looking for more information or have a few more questions for Allan? Hit us up with your questions in comments below and don’t forget to follow BANDWIDTH ERA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more Top 5‘s!
Local (non-chain) Edmonton Shops: