Do beginners really need pro drum kits???

paradiddle pete

Platinum Member
Some kids are born Drummers some aren't, I used to beat the crap out of my Teddy Bear with 2 oversized sticks , now it's on a Trophy kit . I can play and it sounds good , where's the downside?
 

bud7h4

Silver Member
Do professional violinists need 1 million dollar Strats? No. I'm sure they would do just well with a much less model. But if they can afford it and want it , why not.
I think because there is so much more to a drum kit - brands, shell types, configurations, why spend big money as a beginner on something you may not even want in just a few months?

However, going too cheap can also quickly discourage a beginner. My advice to beginners is the same as to drum veterans; there's never been a better time to buy upper-mid level drums considering the quality and sound you can get for your money these days.
 

CommanderRoss

Silver Member
A good drummer will sound good on anything, a bad drummer will sound bad on anything. But if that fancy kit makes him want to play morex have at it. If not I'll gladly pick it up cheap on Craigslist when he moves out of the basement.
THE best response yet.
I bought my Gretsch mahogany Catalina Club set 10 years ago with the express intention of getting a USA Custom.

I still have the Catalinas.

They just do everything I need and their durability is phenomenal. They'll be in my house for a long time to come.
 

jansara

Junior Member
Back in the day, I had a 15 yr-old beginner student whose wealthy parents sprung for maxed out stop-sign Gretsch Rosewoods and A's. After a couple of months, he told me he had zero interest in drums. I told his mother he was wasting their money on lessons. The drums ended up hanging on the walls in their party room next to a couple of beat-up old horns and a guitar. It should have been a crime.

I cut my teeth on MIJ - Bolero, Stewart, whatever I could get my hands on. I wasn't lucky enough to have parents buy me drums - the old man was dead set against his son being a drummer. Did it in spite of that and learned how to get a great sound on inferior made drums with good heads and tuning. More than a few guys with pro sets were knocked out hearing them. When I finally could afford high end in '68, I bought Rogers. Still with me, still sound awesome.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
It's good for business, you know. I say people should buy whatever they want and can afford. This is why gear gets cheaper and gets better - because it's being consumed. I'm all for it.

But I still take a hand-me-down kit, or a kit I built up to gigs to smoke everyone anyway, so what do I know?
 
THE best response yet.
I bought my Gretsch mahogany Catalina Club set 10 years ago with the express intention of getting a USA Custom.

I still have the Catalinas.

They just do everything I need and their durability is phenomenal. They'll be in my house for a long time to come.
Same here with my Ludwig Accent CS Custom which I picked up to temporarily fill a hole in my music room. I occasionally start shopping again, then go back to playing my cheapos. Recently cut down the kick cause I prefer the look of a 22x14 and it sounds even better now. Gigged with it, recorded with it. Money is better spent on cymbals.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
If you have the money, go ahead. Pro cymbals, and pedals, do make a difference. I will say that. I can do things on my axis and demon drives I can't on budget pedals. Top tier cymbals sound better to. Now, if you are looking for a specific sound, base your kit on that.

At the end of the day, unless you need an exotic wood, or special wrap or customization 99% of people don't need pro kits. Its the custom design/sizes that make them so much.

I could order a masterworks, in the same sizes, finish, and wood as my MCX or reference and pay 3 times the price. for the SAME kit. now if I wanted crazy sizes, and an obscure wood, I could benefit from a "pro" kit.

If I had the cash, I'd own a pro kit from every company. I think a true beginner should play a beginner kit. if you stick with it for a year or two, reward yourself with an upgrade, then upgrade the cymbals, or snare, or whatever you need to motivate yourself. Drums are expensive. A new set of hardware is enough to get me excited when I'm in a slump.
 

trickg

Silver Member
tend to disagree with the whole "better gear is encouraging/worse gear is discouraging" argument as it tends to be weighted towards pro gear around here. I see it all the time in "what cymbals should I buy for junior" threads. "You shouldn't buy Sabian B8s, your kid will lose interest cause they're junk. Get some Ks." I played B8s for years until I could afford better cymbals. Leave them some room to improve their gear as they improve the skill and interest level.
I know that in my experience, I played a crappy, beat-up King cornet that was handed down from a cousin to my sister, and then to me, from 5th grade until well into my 8th grade year. I was fighting for 1st chair with another kid who had a Bach Stradivarius (professional) trumpet. My parents got my older sister a Bach Strad, and I got the silver plated Yamaha trumpet she'd been playing, which was also a pro-level trumpet.

Not only did playing become easier, but all of a sudden I switched from an intrument I was no longer embarrased to have - I played and practiced all the time. By the end of my 9th grade year, not only had I completely outpaced the kid who was my chief competition in 8th grade, but I was 2nd chair in the whole high school band, ahead of everyone except my sister, who was a senior that year.

With that said, there's also something to be said about a good musician sounding good regardless of equipment. Yesterday was an example of that. My National Guard Band has a rock/jazz group, and we played at a local crafts fair yesterday. The band that preceded us provided both the sound system, and thet drum kit - our drummer only brought sticks and a snare. (I was just singing on this gig)

The guys that played before us were pretty mediocre - not terrible, but not great. They were typical basement band for guys who love to play, even if they may not be great. Suffice it to say, we ended up sounding markedly better, simply because we're all pro-level players. The kit was an entry/mid level Premier sporting beat up dented heads and a collection of mid-level cymbals. I think the hats were Paiste 302s, and the other cymbals were Sabian B8 Pros. (the best part of the kit was a DW 5000 kick pedal) That kit sounded fine from up front when our drummer was playing it.

I think that a balance can be had - I'm not even close to being a pro level drummer, so I'll likely never buy anything better than a basic entry-level pro set of drums - there's just no need. I'll probably always have good cymbals though.
 

VandelayNJ

Junior Member
You could just as easily ask "do professional drummers need pro kits"? I'd say no. Good heads, tuning, and a competent drummer will make many cheaper drums sound great. I'm guessing if Steve Gadd wasn't getting his Recording Customs for free, he might use something cheaper if he had to spend the money. The drum companies make them and give them away to endorsers so that "regular" people with the funds will buy them. So let them buy the expensive kits so that Yamaha can keep churning out Stage Customs at amazing prices.

Now cymbals on the other hand...
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
No one needs a pro kit the same no one needs a lambo or $100,000 car... Give me the opportunity I'd own one if I had a ton of cash, and it won't hurt. You can learn to drive on a crappy car too. A beginner doesn't NEED a pro kit, but if they have the cash why not. I think we are all just jealous we started on cheap gear or cant afford it and want them to suffer the same way. There are no BENEFITS to playing on cheaper gear.
 

trickg

Silver Member
You could just as easily ask "do professional drummers need pro kits"? I'd say no. Good heads, tuning, and a competent drummer will make many cheaper drums sound great. I'm guessing if Steve Gadd wasn't getting his Recording Customs for free, he might use something cheaper if he had to spend the money. The drum companies make them and give them away to endorsers so that "regular" people with the funds will buy them.
For me it's about justification. I gig and make money on both trumpet and drums, but since trumpet is my main thing, and I'm a better trumpet player than a drummer, I see it as a justified expense to have something good, and I play on a professional level trumpet because I bring home several thousand dollars a year with it.

I'd imagine that even if Steve Gadd wasn't endorsed and getting his drums for free (do we know for a fact that Steve Gadd gets his drums for free, and not just discounted?) he'd probably still have a top-end kit due to his livlihood as a professional drummer.
 

moldmaker

Member
I started drums in 2003 at age 20. Knowing nothing about drum quality, construction, tuning, heads or anything, I cheaped out. For $250, I bought a CB Maxx kit that came with ZBTs and some of the worst hardware I've ever seen (all discovered over the years as I gained knowledge). The hardware all gradually stripped out. Tuning was approximate with 6 lugs on the snare and kick, and 5 on the toms. I should have done my homework ahead of time and spent a little more money upfront. It would have made those early years a lot more pleasant.
 

VandelayNJ

Junior Member
For me it's about justification. I gig and make money on both trumpet and drums, but since trumpet is my main thing, and I'm a better trumpet player than a drummer, I see it as a justified expense to have something good, and I play on a professional level trumpet because I bring home several thousand dollars a year with it.

I'd imagine that even if Steve Gadd wasn't endorsed and getting his drums for free (do we know for a fact that Steve Gadd gets his drums for free, and not just discounted?) he'd probably still have a top-end kit due to his livlihood as a professional drummer.
I guess what I really meant was he'd get what he can afford and what sounds good to him - might not be what a brand markets as its top-end. A lot of drummers, when the camera isn't on them, are using old kits and gear - not necessarily the stuff they're posing with in the ads in Modern Drummer. On the other hand, many drummers do use the stuff they pose with in ads and that the manufacturers market as "pro". Are the older, cheaper drums that are still being used any less "pro" than a Recording Custom kit? If Gadd could get an old Ludwig Rocker snare drum to sound the way he likes, he'd use it - and then it would be a professional snare drum (God help us). So, if you have the money, go buy a "pro" kit. I find intermediate kits can sound amazing and manufacturers can sell them even more cheaply if people are buying up their "pro" kits which helps the rest of out a lot so I don't begrudge anyone buying the most expensive stuff - someone has to.

Cymbals are another matter entirely.
 

MrPockets

Gold Member
I know a kid starting out that got a beat up set for free. He said he doesn't like the sound so he doesn't use it as much.
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..(do we know for a fact that Steve Gadd gets his drums for free, and not just discounted?)..

No, since i guess no one here has ever seen the contracts that Gadd has..

But i think is safe to say that if Gadd is not getting his drums for free, no one in the world will get drums for free..

Or you think that he needs to take the bus each monday to go buy his own signature sticks with a discount too..?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
If you are a total beginner, and start out at the top gear-wise, there's nowhere to go gear-wise.

All sides have good points though. Good gear is inspiring.

These days I'd "compromise" on one of the really fine mid tier sets, but still get a nice snare and great bronze right off the bat.

In reality, the mid tier sets sound pretty much as good as the really expensive sets.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Looking back, I'm glad I had beat up and cheap equipment when I started. I think I would have fried my ears, if I had top level gear in the beginning, especially cymbals and snares.

The only thing I wish the entry level kits had were fine tuning lugs, other than that.
 

Weave2112

Member
I worked my way up from a toy kit, to a MIJ stencil kit, and then when I was in high school my father and I spent an entire summer shopping for the perfect Pearl Export set in piano black. I sold my MIJ kit, mowed lawns, did odd jobs and save my money. Each week I would give whatever I made to my Dad, and one Saturday morning as I handed him the cash, he said, "OK...let's go get some drums." I'm in my 50s now, and Dad has been gone 35 years now. I have high level drums now, but what I wouldn't give to have those old Exports back right now. I'm glad I wasn't just handed the top level gear right away (although to me, they WERE the best). The memory of the hunt for those drums is what I will forever cherish.
 
Top