Affordable Drum Kit Buying Guide

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Affordable Drum Kit Buying Guide

Drum kits come in various types and styles, in both acoustic and electronic versions. Review the different types available and browse listings to find the best products.

About Drum Kits

Drum kits generally consist of five drums plus cymbals, hi-hat stand and other associated stands, pedals and accessories. These are known as five-piece sets. They usually contain a bass drum, a snare drum, two suspended tom-toms and a floor tom, though some kits contain one suspended tom and two floor toms. Drum sizes can vary depending on the genre of music that the kit is aimed at.
The traditional type of drum kit is an acoustic drum kit, but there are now also many different types of electronic drum kit available. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, and it is worth giving some consideration to these before making a purchase.
There are several very reasonably priced drum kits available. Kits aimed at children will often be available at a cheap price. If this is too expensive, there is the option to buy a pre-owned kit. In many cases, this is an excellent way to obtain a good-quality product at a far lower price than would normally be paid. Of course, there are always extra considerations when buying an item used, including the age and condition of the item and seller reputation.

Choosing an Affordable Drum Kit

Choosing a drum kit involves several decisions. These include whether to buy an acoustic or electronic drum kit, as well as deciding upon drum size, brand and a price range.

Acoustic or Electronic

Acoustic and electronic drum kits have their own advantages and drawbacks. Two of the most important considerations are noise and space. Acoustic drums can be noisy, though it is possible to buy silencers which can lessen the noise. They also take up more space than electronic drum kits, which can be quite compact.

Acoustic Drum Kits

Acoustic drum kits are the traditional choice, and are generally able to offer excellent-quality sound at a lower price than electronic drum kits. If there is space and noise is not an issue, perhaps due to access to a garage or soundproofed area, they can be the best option.
Acoustic drum kits generally have the five-piece configuration outlined above. The bass drum is the largest drum and produces a low pitched noise. A foot pedal is used to hit the drum with a beater. The diameter of bass drums can vary, with standard basses being 22 inches. Those used for rock music are typically slightly larger and those used for jazz music slightly smaller. The depth can also vary.
The snare drum is double headed and has a set of wires known as snares stretched across the bottom head. When the top head is hit these vibrate and cause the drum to make a cracking sound.
Tom-toms are cylindrical drums which are suspended above the bass drum. They do not have a snare. The standard configuration is one 12-inch tom and one 13-inch tom, and these produce higher and lower pitches. Smaller drum kits may only have a 12-inch tom. Floor toms either stand on the floor on legs or are suspended above a cymbal stand. They are typically 16 inches in diameter.

Electronic Drum Kits

Electronic drum kits are a good option where space is limited, noise levels need to be kept low and/or the drum kit is mainly to be used for individual practicing. Instead of drum shells, they have a set of pads which transmit electrical signals to produce sound.
Electronic drum kits are compact, lightweight and can be easily moved around and packed away for storage. They make little actual noise, so headphones are used. Other advantages include the addition of play-along songs in some kits and options to alter and edit the sound of the drums, as well as record tracks. Actual sound can be produced when the kit is connected to an amplifier.
They do, however, feel different to acoustic drum kits. Cheaper kits may not simulate the tone of acoustic drum kits as well as more expensive models, and the range of sounds can be more limited. They can also be more difficult to maintain in top condition. However, these issues should not be a deterrent if buying an electronic kit is the sensible option.

Acoustic Drum Kits

Acoustic drums kits consist of drums, as well as cymbals, stands and accessories.

Drum Shells and Heads

Buying an acoustic drum kit involves a number of considerations about quality and construction. Drums have a shell, the solid structure; and a head, the membrane which is stretched over the shell. Drum shells are made of various types of wood, which make different sounds and vary in quality and price. The types of solid wood include birch, maple and oak, and these solid-wood drums are generally more expensive than drums made of plywood. Some drums are made with plastic or steel shells. Drums may be lacquered or finished with other materials.
If buying a pre-owned kit, the drum shells may have some cosmetic damage which may be rectified with the addition of plastic wraps. However, drum shells can also wear out with age, and this applies especially to snare drums.

Cymbals, Stands and Accessories

Drum kits will also typically contain a hi-hat, or pedal cymbals, as well as other cymbal stands, the mounts and legs required for drums and tom toms, a bass-drum pedal, and a drum stool. These are not always included, so always check the full contents of the kit before purchasing. Items can be purchased later or separately but it’s always good to have an idea of any required further expenditure beforehand.
With pre-owned drum kits, the various mounts, legs and stands may be in better or worse condition. This should always be stated in the product description. It’s quite possible to buy new mounts and stands to replace worn out items if buying from a well-known brand. These should last longer than components from cheaper brands anyway, but it’s worth bearing in mind that spares from lesser known brands will be harder to obtain.

New or Used

Many of the considerations when buying used items have already been raised. If on a limited budget, it does often come down to a decision to buy a cheaper kit new or a more expensive kit that has been pre owned. Budget kits will generally be made of cheaper materials and be less durable, but they are still often an excellent choice for beginners and are increasingly consisting of better-quality components. New drum kits should be in perfect condition and sellers will generally offer a warranty on new items. This gives peace of mind should anything go wrong. Budget kits may not contain all the necessary components, so check the product description.
Used kits may show signs of wear and tear, but generally if it has been well maintained and stored, the kit should be in reasonable condition. The drum heads are the area most likely to show wear, and these can always be replaced. Pre-owned kits may also have upgraded or extra components. Look out for thorough, precise product descriptions with several clear photographs and check seller feedback. Check out product reviews online. When buying a used kit, it’s likely that it will need to be collected in person.

Brands

Leading brands of acoustic drum kits include Pearl, Mapex, Tama, Yamaha, Premier, Ludwig, Gretsch and Drum Workshop (DW). Yamaha also make excellent electronic drum kits, and Roland and Alesis are other decent electronic drum kit manufacturers.

Find an Affordable Drum Kit on eBay

To find an affordable drum kit on eBay, go to the eBay home page and select All Categories from the options to the left of the screen. Then select Musical Instruments. From this page, select Percussion followed by Drums & Drum Kits. Under Sub-Type select either Acoustic Drum Kits or Electronic Drum Kits, as required. There are further options to select brand, size, condition and price.

Conclusion

There are a range of options when it comes to purchasing an affordable drum kit. One of the first considerations is whether to buy an acoustic or electronic kit. Acoustic kits generally offer better quality of sound but electronic kits offer practical advantages, such as silent playing, sound-editing options and compact size. Another consideration is whether to buy new or second hand. New kits give an element of peace of mind, as they generally come with a warranty and can be returned in case of damage. However, buying a used kit brings the opportunity to purchase a better-quality product at a lower cost. When it comes to drum kits the quality of components varies, with better quality kits containing more solid drum shells, better quality cymbals and more durable stands, mounts and fixtures. Acoustic drum kits usually come as a five piece, but always check the product description to see what is included.

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