Advice For Someone New To Drums

TML

Junior Member
Hi folks.

I'm a guitar player who is considering switching to drums because of a medical issue in my fingers. I have purchased a cheap set of sticks and an inexpensive practice pad to mess around with to ensure that my hands can handle the basic motions used when playing drums. If they can (which seems to be the case thus far) I will purchase a drum kit and take some lessons. I am not completely new to drums as I played snare in music class back in high school, but that was a million or so years ago so I don't remember any of what I learned.

While I would prefer an acoustic kit I would need to use mutes because of my living situation and noise issues. Another option is an electronic kit. But before I think any further ahead, I wanted to ask the experienced drummers here their thoughts on these two options.

For a beginner, would you recommend an acoustic kit with mutes? What are the pros and cons of this idea? How quiet are drums and cymbals when using mutes?

Or would you recommend an electronic kit? What are the pros and cons of this idea? How quiet are electronic drums in comparison to acoustic drums and mutes?

Answers to these questions, and any other advice you could offer a new drummer, would be greatly appreciated.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
Without making actual measurements, I'd say my electronic kit (with mesh heads and no kick pad) is about 4or5 times quieter than my acoustic kit with mutes on the heads.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
aKit versus eKit is fairly analogous to ice-skates versus inline-skates.

They work 90% of the same muscle groups and coordination, but there are subtle differences. Each instrument has its own advantages, online support communities, and ecosystems. Like skating, the choice of instrument is often predetermined by your environment. Like skates, there's a bit of acclimatization when switching from one to the other.

If you're looking to get into drumming, there's no shame in getting an eKit to learn the basics. Expect a bit of difficulty when you transition to an aKit.

On a related note, cheap e-kits are trash.
 

TML

Junior Member
It seems like an electronic kit is the way to go, I am just a bit concerned about the transition to an acoustic kit. But if I have the basics under my belt that shouldn't be too big a deal.

And I wouldn't buy a cheap electronic kit. I'm not blowing the bank, but I'm not going the cheapo route. A mid range priced kit would seem smart as it would be one that I could learn on and then grow into.
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
It seems like an electronic kit is the way to go, I am just a bit concerned about the transition to an acoustic kit. But if I have the basics under my belt that shouldn't be too big a deal.

And I wouldn't buy a cheap electronic kit. I'm not blowing the bank, but I'm not going the cheapo route. A mid range priced kit would seem smart as it would be one that I could learn on and then grow into.
That makes good sense. You'll soon know whether this is something you want to continue with, and you'll soon know whether you want to stick with your e-kit, upgrade to a super-duper one, or go down the a-kit route. Decent e-kits are easy enough to sell on (and indeed to buy used). I don't think you can lose with this plan :)
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
The only realistic mutes are the Aquarian Super-Pads.

To have cybals that sound ok it would have to be the new Ziljian low volume cymbals.

I would prefer that by far myself.



However.

Digital is the easiest option. You can get it 100% quiet. It's never gonna feel quite right, especially the cymbals, but you have the option of changing those for Gen16s if you want to.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
All I can say is that drumming is an expensive hobby.

I would buy an acoustic hybrid kit that can be either or, and it has mesh heads like Remo Silent Strokes. Then you can change it out with regular heads anytime you want. I think Pearl and Ddrum make some ready made hybrid acoustic/electric kits, or you can DIY.

Another thing I can say about going this route is that you'll be building your muscle memory on a real kit, unless you like the feel of an e-kit.
 
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TML

Junior Member
Guitar can be an expensive hobby too!

With regards to mesh drum heads, how do they compare with an electronic kit for quiet or silent playing?
 

JohnW

Silver Member
The only thing I would recommend at this point is getting good quality sticks. Make sure they're:

A) Not warped; roll them on a flat surface or spin them in the air.
B) The same weight; weigh them on a postal scale or at least swing them in the same hand to see if they basically feel like the same weight.
3) The same pitch. Tap the shoulder lightly on the side of your head. Each pair shouldn't be more than a half step apart from each other- ideally a quarter step or less.

There's usually a slight compromise with weight and pitch; weight being the most important. But if you try enough pairs out, you can probably get something that meets both criteria.

And pad placement. Balanced sticks are an important part of practice. But if your pad is partly over a table leg or has spots where the glue is coming off, your sticks may sound different, regardless of how evenly you play. So just be aware of the variables you may encounter while developing your hands.

It may seem trivial and nit-picky. But you want as many factors in your favor as possible.
 

Someone's Dad

Senior Member
My twelve-year old has been playing since September and having lessons at school. He passed his Grade 2 with distinction (95% score) and is now working on his Grade 4 exam. He played for the first time this week in his school concert (a couple of Jazz numbers with the Big Band and a Grade 4 solo piece).

So he's doing really well. But I'm not just boasting - there is a point...

All his practice time has been done on an old Pearl Rhythm Traveller with mesh heads and some Zildjian L80 low volumes.

Can't say this is the only way to learn, but it's definitely effective and has enabled him to learn technique, control and dynamics that I just don't think you can get from an electronic kit. I think his school lesson time on a real (full-volume) kit is invaluable, but this is a fraction of the time that he plays for.

Mesh heads and low volume cymbals are not quite as quiet as you think - you can still hear him practicing from most rooms, but we live in a small modern house (and the drums are set up in the loft - the least solid and least insulated room we have). Having said that, my youngest son is autistic and has real issues with audio sensitivity, but is able to cope with his brother's practice volumes. We also get no complaints from our neighbours.

It's not a cheap option, but an acoustic kit with mesh heads and L80s would have decent re-sell value if you gave up.
 

linuxdrummer

Junior Member
I'm a guitar player who is considering switching to drums because of a medical issue in my fingers.
Small world! I was a guitar player until this tendon issue surfaced, and now my guitars have been dusty and sad for months. I can't fret a guitar, but I am getting along fine holding a stick, because it requires less range of motion.

While I would prefer an acoustic kit I would need to use mutes because of my living situation and noise issues. Another option is an electronic kit. But before I think any further ahead, I wanted to ask the experienced drummers here their thoughts on these two options.
I am only a little ahead of you on the curve, and do not qualify as an experienced drummer. I can't resist sharing my experiences with another disabled guitarist, however.

I started with a cheap electronic kit and moved to an Alesis DM10X Mesh, which was their top of the line flagship at the time. Before long, I ended up going with an acoustic kit.

I don't need to mute my drums, and I find an acoustic kit vastly more satisfying and expressive. Electronic drums are limiting, and they allow you to get away with things that don't work on acoustic drums at all.

I think the way you should aim really depends on your final destination. Are you aiming to become a good acoustic drummer? You have to play the real thing to master all the techniques and nuances that are only possible on the real thing. Do you just want to have quiet fun at home while listening to great drums sounds on headphones? Electronic drums are viable, and might be preferable to the sound of muted acoustics.
 

TML

Junior Member
Small world! I was a guitar player until this tendon issue surfaced, and now my guitars have been dusty and sad for months. I can't fret a guitar, but I am getting along fine holding a stick, because it requires less range of motion.



I am only a little ahead of you on the curve, and do not qualify as an experienced drummer. I can't resist sharing my experiences with another disabled guitarist, however.

I started with a cheap electronic kit and moved to an Alesis DM10X Mesh, which was their top of the line flagship at the time. Before long, I ended up going with an acoustic kit.

I don't need to mute my drums, and I find an acoustic kit vastly more satisfying and expressive. Electronic drums are limiting, and they allow you to get away with things that don't work on acoustic drums at all.

I think the way you should aim really depends on your final destination. Are you aiming to become a good acoustic drummer? You have to play the real thing to master all the techniques and nuances that are only possible on the real thing. Do you just want to have quiet fun at home while listening to great drums sounds on headphones? Electronic drums are viable, and might be preferable to the sound of muted acoustics.


Yes, if I take up drums I will want to become a good acoustic drummer. I have no desire to ever play out, music is just a hobby for me, but if I am going to spend the money on gear and lessons I will want to become good at it.

I would far prefer an acoustic kit and if noise wasn't an issue there would be no debate about which I would buy. I was in the music store tonight and was talking with a friend who works there who was saying that the mesh heads can be damned quiet. We wandered to their drum area and I started talking to one of the other guys who works exclusively in that department. He was saying that mesh heads on an acoustic kit could be quieter than the practice pad that I bought from them. I have no idea if he was exaggerating, but he did say that when I was ready I should just come see them and they would get me all hooked up. He also said that the silent, or near silent, cymbals were great but outrageously expensive and that a set of cymbal mutes would do the trick for me.

I have been bashing about on the practice pad and my hands seem fine. There has been some strain, and resulting pain, but that is due to a bit of a death grip on the sticks. Better technique, and the lessons which teach that, would go a long way to resolving that issue.

I have noticed though that my right hand is way better than my left, even to the point of the stick feeling more comfortable in my right hand than in my left. I guess that makes sense since I am right handed and do virtually everything with that hand. The only things that I do with my left hand are catch and drive.
 

bgood

Member
I've learned a bit about this over the year and a half that I've been learning drums. I'm a guitarist of 30 years.

In a sound challenged environment you need an electronic kit and acoustic IMO. Otherwise you'll never have a way to put in the hours you need.

Mesh heads, practice pads or electronic kits like Yamaha silicon higher end kits are all good for rudiments and stick control exercises. Electronic kits are also good for coordination and learning grooves when you need quiet. Definitely better than mutes on an acoustic kit for me. Electronic kits sometimes offer training programs too. I'm very positive on my Yamaha DTX562

There is no substitute for the real thing.

Get both, and manage your time between them as needed. For example, I did an hour of rudiments on my practice pad today, then hit my Yamaha for playing to some drumless tracks with a click. Later when I had the house to myself I worked on my snare with the Stick Control book and some grooves I'm learning on my Sonor kit. Mix and match works for me.
 

TML

Junior Member
I've learned a bit about this over the year and a half that I've been learning drums. I'm a guitarist of 30 years.

In a sound challenged environment you need an electronic kit and acoustic IMO. Otherwise you'll never have a way to put in the hours you need.

Mesh heads, practice pads or electronic kits like Yamaha silicon higher end kits are all good for rudiments and stick control exercises. Electronic kits are also good for coordination and learning grooves when you need quiet. Definitely better than mutes on an acoustic kit for me. Electronic kits sometimes offer training programs too. I'm very positive on my Yamaha DTX562

There is no substitute for the real thing.

Get both, and manage your time between them as needed. For example, I did an hour of rudiments on my practice pad today, then hit my Yamaha for playing to some drumless tracks with a click. Later when I had the house to myself I worked on my snare with the Stick Control book and some grooves I'm learning on my Sonor kit. Mix and match works for me.

Getting both would necessitate selling off my guitars to cover the costs. I had planned to get rid of one since I wouldn't be using it but had planned to hang on to my Gibson Les Paul just because I didn't want to let it go.

But I suppose I could consider that and just buy an inexpensive guitar (acoustic maybe) to have around for those times when I had the itch and my hands were feeling good enough to play.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Yes, if I take up drums I will want to become a good acoustic drummer. I have no desire to ever play out, music is just a hobby for me, but if I am going to spend the money on gear and lessons I will want to become good at it.

I would far prefer an acoustic kit and if noise wasn't an issue there would be no debate about which I would buy. I was in the music store tonight and was talking with a friend who works there who was saying that the mesh heads can be damned quiet. We wandered to their drum area and I started talking to one of the other guys who works exclusively in that department. He was saying that mesh heads on an acoustic kit could be quieter than the practice pad that I bought from them. I have no idea if he was exaggerating, but he did say that when I was ready I should just come see them and they would get me all hooked up. He also said that the silent, or near silent, cymbals were great but outrageously expensive and that a set of cymbal mutes would do the trick for me.

I have been bashing about on the practice pad and my hands seem fine. There has been some strain, and resulting pain, but that is due to a bit of a death grip on the sticks. Better technique, and the lessons which teach that, would go a long way to resolving that issue.

I have noticed though that my right hand is way better than my left, even to the point of the stick feeling more comfortable in my right hand than in my left. I guess that makes sense since I am right handed and do virtually everything with that hand. The only things that I do with my left hand are catch and drive.
No death grip. You want your hands to be able to hold the sticks good, but as loose as you can hold them without letting them fly out of your hands.
 
S

savage8190

Guest
Yes, if I take up drums I will want to become a good acoustic drummer. I have no desire to ever play out, music is just a hobby for me, but if I am going to spend the money on gear and lessons I will want to become good at it.

I would far prefer an acoustic kit and if noise wasn't an issue there would be no debate about which I would buy. I was in the music store tonight and was talking with a friend who works there who was saying that the mesh heads can be damned quiet. We wandered to their drum area and I started talking to one of the other guys who works exclusively in that department. He was saying that mesh heads on an acoustic kit could be quieter than the practice pad that I bought from them. I have no idea if he was exaggerating, but he did say that when I was ready I should just come see them and they would get me all hooked up. He also said that the silent, or near silent, cymbals were great but outrageously expensive and that a set of cymbal mutes would do the trick for me.

I have been bashing about on the practice pad and my hands seem fine. There has been some strain, and resulting pain, but that is due to a bit of a death grip on the sticks. Better technique, and the lessons which teach that, would go a long way to resolving that issue.

I have noticed though that my right hand is way better than my left, even to the point of the stick feeling more comfortable in my right hand than in my left. I guess that makes sense since I am right handed and do virtually everything with that hand. The only things that I do with my left hand are catch and drive.
I'll chime in as yet another former guitar player, but with gimpy wrists, who has recently switched to drums. I too started with an electric, however briefly, before going acoustic...I just hated the sound and feel of electric and still do. I went with mutes to start with and I gotta say, they were not bad on the drums, but they COMPLETELY kill the sound and feel of the cymbals. Get the low volume cymbals if you can swing it...you wont regret it. I have them (Zildjians) and they're great (though I haven't played with them or mutes in a month and my wife hasn't complained so I'm sticking with that ;). I imagine I'll be back to mutes and low volume cymbals more often when baby #4 gets here.

Keep working on the relaxed grip...find what's comfortable for you...I have zero pain drumming now. And don't worry, your left hand will get better, but it's a very slow process.

Oh and BTW if you go with mutes on the drums I find them nearly as quiet as an ekit and you can pop them off when you get the chance. Use 2 on the snare if you need to as its still fairly loud.
 
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