First kit advice thread for today.

549

Member
This may have been asked once or twice before:), but need advice regarding first kit. As I said in my introduction thread, I’m an older guy who’s gotten a burr you know where and wants to learn to play the drums. I’m already taking lessons, but will soon need to be able to practice and play somewhere besides the music shop.

I’m totally new at this, have no aspirations to play in a band, and my venue will be the spare bedroom. I’ll mainly be playing rock/pop music and doing it for my own enjoyment. My goal is to become competent enough to play drum covers of my favorite songs.

If I buy new, I’ve kind of narrowed the field to the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch, Tama Silverstar, or maybe the new Mapex Armory series. Everything I’ve gleaned from reading is that the first two are generally regarded as being gtg, with the new Mapex’s having less input due to being fairly new.

So I guess my first question is, are there any real +’s or –‘s between these, or is it pretty much a six of one, half dozen of another sort of thing? I’ve messed with the Tama and Yamaha sets, but haven’t seen the Mapex. Admittedly the Mapex interests me due to the looks of the virgin bass.

Also, I’ve seen a few Mapex Meridian Maple sets on Ebay for the same or less than the Armory kits. How does this rank in comparison to all the others? Are there other new kits I should also be considering?

FWIW, I’d like to be all in for $1k max, but less is definitely better. $750 would be a lot better. I know I’d be pushing it with any of the above by the time I add hardware and cymbals, so used is also an option.

A couple used kits locally to me: https://dayton.craigslist.org/msg/5185560767.html and http://www.ebay.com/itm/Pearl-Export-9-Piece-Drumset-complete-with-Hardware-and-seat-/201418470006?hash=item2ee579f276 .

The latter has more than I need, but I figure I could sell off the extra snare and large floor tom to recoup some costs. I think the asking price is high, but it’s been sitting a local shop for awhile so some negotiation may be possible. I do know they’ll add in some ZBT crash, ride and HH cymbals for the 1k though.

I don’t need the best of the best, but I don’t want something I’ll want to upgrade in the near future either. I'm sure I can be happy with a quality used kit.

All advice appreciated!!
 

STXBob

Gold Member
So I guess my first question is, are there any real +’s or –‘s between these, or is it pretty much a six of one, half dozen of another sort of thing?
Definitely six o' one. They're all on a certain par. Sound, looks, build quality, you name it.

Also, I’ve seen a few Mapex Meridian Maple sets on Ebay for the same or less than the Armory kits. How does this rank in comparison to all the others? Are there other new kits I should also be considering?
You can certainly save a nickel or two. I did. I actually walked in to my friendly local music store intending to order an Armory (they didn't have any, but they're a Mapex dealer and price-match anyone) when I saw a NOS Meridian Maple on the floor. After playing them a little, I was sold. For less than half the price of an Armory I walked out with the Meridians. I think they're great.

Though you'll have to hunt around for a deal like I got, you can still save. A new Armory 5-pc goes for around $850, and you can get a Meridian Maple for ~$600. Still new.

FWIW, I’d like to be all in for $1k max, but less is definitely better. $750 would be a lot better. I know I’d be pushing it with any of the above by the time I add hardware and cymbals, so used is also an option.
Let me be one of if not the first to tell you to buy pro-level gear used. You'll be a lot happier.

ESPECIALLY CYMBALS. In fact, if I were you I'd invert your purchasing priorities. Here's the smart way, step by step:

1. Go find some good pro-level cymbals the sound of which you like. Keywords: Zildjian A, Sabian AA, Istanbul Agop Xist, Paiste 2002, Meinl Classic Custom - those will get you started on eBay.

2. Get a good throne. You're going to have your ass on it for HOURS. Cheap out on your seat and you won't practice. Which means it doesn't matter how much you spend on drums or what you buy, because you'll quit. There are many; go to the local music store and sit on some. Sit on one for more than a few minutes. Sit there for 15-20 minutes. Have a conversation. Read a book. Noodle on drums. Whatever. The point is you're dropping serious coin on a seat you'll use for years to come. You need to put as much work into that as you do a pair of shoes. After all, they serve the same purpose - to connect you with the earth. And in both cases, a poor choice is at best uncomfortable and at worst injurious.

3. Get solid hardware. You need something to hold up your wonderful cymbals. You don't want it to wobble. Eventually you will end up playing out. If you cheap out now, you'll just end up buying road-worthy hardware anyway. It makes no sense to spend more money later when you can spend the right amount of money now.

You're probably sitting there, brow furrowed, thinking, "Didn't I specifically say I have no intention of playing out?" Yes, you did, and I'm ignoring you. Why? First, you're new. You have no idea where you'll be in six weeks, much less six months, much less six years. You have no business drawing lines in the sand now. Second, it's because music is like sex, which is like pizza: Making music with people is awesome. Yeah, it can be satisfactory doing it with yourself. But doing it with someone else is OOooooo fine. And like pizza, even when it's not so good it's still pretty awesome.

So yeah, you'll need road-worthy hardware.

4. After that, get a nice snare. You can get a used Ludwig Acrolite for ~$125 and have all the snare you'll ever need. The sounds you make most often, in order, are cymbals, then snare, then bass. Your snare sound is important. An Acrolite is a wonderful all-around performer. Your bass, not so much, because Reasons, some of which are...

5. THEN, and ONLY then, consider your bass and toms. See, you can make those drums sound acceptable pretty much no matter what they are. Put good heads on a cheap no-brand beginner's kit - and tune those heads well - and you'll have satisfactory drum tone. For years I gigged an entry-level kit I bought used for peanuts. Good sound is all in the head selection and tuning skill. Put crappy heads on a brand-new Armory - or put good heads on it and tune them poorly - and the kit will sound like sh!t.

You may opine that all the cheap-o entry-level kits you can find on Craigslist are ugly. So what? You're only spending $100. Strip the wrap off them and go buy a can of Krylon. There are all manner of threads on here about refinishing drums. Make 'em your own. That used kit I used to gig? I stripped off the awful, cracked wrap, stained the wood and finished with a satin polyurethane. Looked better than new and got compliments from lots of people.

That's my advice, anyway. Take it with however many grains of salt you wish.
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Bob doesn't have it backwaards, that's the right way to do it.

Most every new drummer does it backwards.

Drums are the easiest thing to buy, cymbals are the hardest. Hardware is easy.

Just buy quality stuff the first to get the best value.

In order of buying difficulty, starting with the most difficult to buy:

Hi hat cymbals
Ride cymbal
Crash cymbal(s)

(Getting together a great cymbal set is 10x harder than getting together a drum set)

Snare
Bass and toms
Hardware and miscellaneous stuff.

You could get your drums first for sure then buy cymbals, just know that cymbals are where you need to spend the most time and money. I suppose you could get a prepackaged cymbal pack and save some hassle. I never recommend that though, even though it's a valid route. I prefer to pick mine out individually. Cymbals are very personal.
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
Bob doesn't have it backwaards, that's the right way to do it.

Most every new drummer does it backwards.

Drums are the easiest thing to buy, cymbals are the hardest. Hardware is easy.

Just buy quality stuff the first to get the best value.

In order of buying difficulty, starting with the most difficult to buy:

Hi hat cymbals
Ride cymbal
Crash cymbal(s)

(Getting together a great cymbal set is 10x harder than getting together a drum set)

Snare
Bass and toms
Hardware and miscellaneous stuff.

You could get your drums first for sure then buy cymbals, just know that cymbals are where you need to spend the most time and money. I suppose you could get a prepackaged cymbal pack and save some hassle. I never recommend that though, even though it's a valid route. I prefer to pick mine out individually. Cymbals are very personal.
Well, that A Zildjian Sweet ride pack is actually a really good value. It has all the good cymbals you'll ever need, and it's already in a box. You just have to grab it and put it in the basket and away you go ;)

But the OP was talking about not spending more than $1000, and the Sweet Pack is already in the high 7's just for those.

I'd say budget 2K. Bob is right on the order, and definitely don't be drawing any lines in the sand. You can't possibly know what you'll be doing in the future.
 
While the buy the best stuff first crowd I agree with, my only warning is make sure you are going to follow through. Otherwise you are just tossing money into a kit that will collect dust in a year.

As for drums, I finally got the set I want and they are Tama Superstar Hyper-drives. They are a great set for me. That said, go to a music store and scope stuff out! That's half the fun! You may notice something in person about a kit you love/hate. Go have fun with looking around checking out the gear. You can learn a lot by just looking and holding things too.

What ever you do have fun! Drumming is a great release.
 

STXBob

Gold Member
If we're going for cymbal packs, there's this and this. I don't hear enough of a difference between new Zildjian As and those to justify the price difference. If I was after an A Custom kind of sound, I'd deffo launch on the Meinl pack. I have Xists, so I'm biased there; I think they sound so similar to A/AAs that I can't tell the difference.

That's just me, though.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I like STXBob's advice: Buying pro gear used will be a much better deal than buying cheaper gear new. Buy something that's good enough that you will want to go and play it. If you sound something that sounds bad, you won't want to play it after the first few minutes.

You can always change the sound of a drum; you can't change the sound of a cymbal. Buy a decent kit with good cymbals, hopefully used.
 

549

Member
Wow! Thanks for all the input everone! Thanks, Bob for the detailed reply.

Cymbals are something I do want to select carefully. I won't down some basic ones in a used kit that has a great price and use them for the time being, but I don't want to pay extra for something I won't keep either.

I know some of the Agop Xist and Zildjian K Dark series interest me.

Can anyone offer input on the two links I provided just so I'll know if those prices are reasonable? I just missed on a Tour Custom shell pack for $150, though the lower heads were missing.

Thanks again.
 

STXBob

Gold Member
Thanks, Bob for the detailed reply.
No worries. As you clearly know, we get that a lot around here. ;-)

Can anyone offer input on the two links I provided just so I'll know if those prices are reasonable?
For the Catalina, yeah, that's reasonable provided everything is in good condition. You'll need to add at least one crash cymbal to give you the basic complement of voices, which means a stand, too. But that's not insurmountable and will keep you under your $1k goal.

The Export, wow, too much. This is a decent Export. The pies aren't the best, but they're okay enough to hit until you can start thinking about the cymbal voices you like.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
Bob's advice is good, so what follows is an 'as well' not an instead.

Find a cheap, no-name starter kit. While you're getting to grips with the basics it will be fine. When you can hear that it sounds like crap, sell it for what you paid for it. Buy something that is in OK condition so that you don't need to spend money on it. Avoid the advice to replace the heads because a cheap crappy kit will always be worth peanuts. I've only been playing around 3 years, so I have some recentish experience at this stuff. And I'm old enough to know better!

This kit is really to tide you over while you work out what you like. It's easy to recoup your spend on a crappy kit. The higher up the food chain you go, the harder it gets. Play the starter kit while you familiarise yourself with all the arcana of what goes to make up your drum kit.

Have fun...and get a band started. It's the best way to learn and stay on the learning curve. Want to play this song? Then you'll need to learn that technique!

Oh, and you will need a cowbell and chimes!
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
Can anyone offer input on the two links I provided just so I'll know if those prices are reasonable?

Thanks again.
You will be ahead of the game by purchasing the used Catalina kit you linked. The price is reasonable, the drums are good, and those are good cymbals to start with - maybe even keep a lifetime if you like them. If you purchase the Catalina kit, and add a good throne, you're in business. Just do it.

GeeDeeEmm
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
$399 Ludwig Element Icon Birch from American Musical Supply. 7 ply all birch shells.
$200 one snare stand + 2 cymbal stands
$250 Dream Bliss ride
$150 Dream Bliss crash
$200 Dream Bliss hi-hats
$1,200 total. A bit over $1k but a great set for blues/jazz and very suitable for gigs and performances. You can't beat that Ludwig kit for the price.
 
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