What to look for when buying a used kit?

alex10167

Member
So I am new to drumming and I am looking at getting an acoustic kit to practice on. I was practicing on an cheap electric for about a month before I broke it and then bought a pad and have used that for about 5 months. I am a junior in high school, so I am pretty broke but I can shell out about $500.

I am looking to buy used, so what brands should I look for? Based on what I read Tama, Gretsch, Ludwig, Mapex seem like my target brands. Pearl I have read aren't really worth the money.

Also, what line of drums from these brands should I keep an eye out for? And, are there specific things I should check on the used kits I go look at? Like checking for cracks in the shells, etc.
Thanks
 

rstange1

Member
If you're patient and live in a large enough community, you should be able to find a decent kit at your budget. But it will take time and you will have to act fast when the kit goes up for sale.
  • The best deals are found when folks are dumping all their gear at once in a bundle (e.g., shells, hardware, cymbals all together).
  • Best deals I've seen are kits that have included Sabian AA or Zildjian A cymbals/hats.
  • Look for the name brands you have mentioned but don't discount Pearl -- they make some wonderful gear. Also add Yamaha and Taye to your list.
  • When you see kits go up for sale, do a quick bit of on-line research to make sure you're looking at a kit of reasonable quality.
  • Look for kits with good heads -- something like Remo Ambassadors or equivalent -- they don't have to be new. Cheap heads that come on entry level kits will need replacing and that can get expensive.
  • Look for kits that have not been neglected (e.g., missing parts, damaged parts, etc.) -- it really ticks me off when resonant hoops are missing or holes are hacked into bass drum heads.
  • Stick to simple/basic kits - four or five piece with a couple of cymbals.
  • Nothing wrong with mix and match hardware -- a good Yamaha drum set with Pearl pedals and Mapex stands would be great for a first kit.
  • Do you have a drum-buddy or teacher you could bounce ideas off of? A second set of eyes on a potential purchase can be very useful.
  • Do you know how to tune a drum? If you really want to get to know a drum set before you buy, tune it to your liking. If it tunes up easy, you're in good shape. If not, you really want to know why before you hand over the cash and close the deal.
That's all I can think of for now. Best of luck!
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Nothing wrong with Pearl. They get a bad rap because people don't like/can't figure out the tom mounts.

You want to check the shell for roundness. Take the hoops off. If you can measure, that's the best way. If you can't, see how easily the heads go on and off. If they go easily and you can spin them without any effort, they are within spec. If the head is stuck in the hoop, it is bent and will need replacing. The head should fall right out.

Check the bearing edges. That's the pointed part that runs the perimeter of the shell at the top and bottom. They should be smooth and not bumpy at the edge (the part the head sits on). If they aren't, it will be harder to tune the drum.

While you have the heads off and are looking at the bearing edges, check to see if any of the plys are delaminating. If they are, it's pretty obvious. The wood will be separating.

Look at the screws inside the drum. Are they all there? Have any fallen out?

Check the hardware. Makes sure it is solid, and that everything tightens well. Look for stripped or missing wingnuts. Make sure the snare throwoff operates properly, the lever should open and close smoothly. Check the pedal for side to side movement in the footboard, and smoothness in it's operation.

Make sure the stands, bass drum spurs, floor tom, and throne have their rubber feet.

Lastly, if you can, check your local Craigslist and link any kits in your budget here. We can help you weed through the crap. Happy hunting.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Nothing wrong with Pearl. And add Yamaha to your list. Since you're actually, physically "looking", that's way more hands on than buying thru eBay or Reverb.

I can shell out about $500.
OK .... so here's a kit in your range.
It was, quite literally, the first Pearl kit in your price range, on eBay. Took me all of about 1 minute to log in and find. You're gonna be looking at intermediate level, used kits. Everyone's already covered the main points on "what to look for". So ..... go look. Any kit pictures you post or ads you link to will get looked at pretty quick, here. So, get busy. Feedback will follow. Since you has an e-kit, does that mean you have a throne and bass drum pedal? If so, that's now two items you won't have to worry about.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Nothing wrong with Pearl. They get a bad rap because people don't like/can't figure out the tom mounts.
Pearl has a bad reputation because they used a plastic compression grommet in their hardware that would break and render the hardware useless, coupled with their unwillingness to supply replacement grommets and lackluster warranty support. There was a good half-decade where their hardware was literally trash.

I believe they have now addressed the problem, but we need not blame the drummers for a damaged reputation that they brought on entirely by themselves.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Pearl has a bad reputation because they used a plastic compression grommet in their hardware that would break and render the hardware useless, coupled with their unwillingness to supply replacement grommets and lackluster warranty support. There was a good half-decade where their hardware was literally trash.

I believe they have now addressed the problem, but we need not blame the drummers for a damaged reputation that they brought on entirely by themselves.
Yep this was the time I was younger more impressionable years, power toms and those god awful mounts that used to strip and break if you looked at them in the wrong way! Avoid late 80s/90s exports for the above quoted reason.

I owned a midtown for a year and you'll be happy to know the hardware on that is rock solid and stood up to me gigging on it week in week no problems and that's their little travel kit.

Don't worry so much about the name on the front head, as long as they're in good condition, sound good and have been looked after. You'll know if they haven't.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Pearl has a bad reputation because they used a plastic compression grommet in their hardware that would break and render the hardware useless, coupled with their unwillingness to supply replacement grommets and lackluster warranty support.
I guess I was lucky then. Ive been playing Pearl since 93 and never experienced this. And I had an 80s model Export for the better part of 15 years.

How many times do we hear "I hate the tom mounts" on this forum? I'm not blaming or picking on anyone, but it's true that people don't like Pearl because of the tom mounts.
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
How many times do we hear "I hate the tom mounts" on this forum? I'm not blaming or picking on anyone, but it's true that people don't like Pearl because of the tom mounts.
This^^^^^^^ and this only! You nailed it, sir.

And to the OP - as you can see from HarryConway's post, above, you can easily plop yourself behind a decent acoustic drum kit for less than $500. You should jump on that Pearl kit like hot on snot. Hope you grab it before it's gone.

***And, nope - I'm not a Pearl owner.***

GeeDeeEmm
 

Frosticles

Silver Member
Pearl has a bad reputation because they used a plastic compression grommet in their hardware that would break and render the hardware useless, coupled with their unwillingness to supply replacement grommets and lackluster warranty support. There was a good half-decade where their hardware was literally trash.

I believe they have now addressed the problem, but we need not blame the drummers for a damaged reputation that they brought on entirely by themselves.
Never broken one in 30 years of constant use. Have always used Pearl Hardware & still swear by it.
 

Frosticles

Silver Member
Yep this was the time I was younger more impressionable years, power toms and those god awful mounts that used to strip and break if you looked at them in the wrong way! Avoid late 80s/90s exports for the above quoted reason.
Again, I thrashed an Export around the World for 25 years. Never had one single problem with anything breaking & this was thrown off stage, in & out of 1000's of vans, thrown down stairs & lots more. To break an Export, you need to be a complete thug ;)
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Again, I thrashed an Export around the World for 25 years. Never had one single problem with anything breaking & this was thrown off stage, in & out of 1000's of vans, thrown down stairs & lots more. To break an Export, you need to be a complete thug ;)
.........well you can take the lad out of Tipton :)

Everywhere you went in the 90s and early 00s had battered up Exports where nothing stayed where you put it! Plastic grommet knackered and the memory lock had long since departed.

As I said I have no problem with them now after using something cheaper than an export and it was such a fun kit.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Never broken one in 30 years of constant use. Have always used Pearl Hardware & still swear by it.
I have no reason to doubt that.

Take a peek at your hardware. It is more than likely that your hardware does not use the defective design. In the pic below, you will see an example of the break.

While I can personally validate that the currently sold 800 series hardware doesn't have this defect, please understand that this affected two of our house kits, and was the cause of a number of highly inconvenient moments for our businesses in the 2000's.


025EBF56-51F3-4FEC-BB78-9A2D1B17940D_1_105_c.jpeg
 

rustyfingers

Senior Member
Keep an eye on Craigslist, FaceBook Marketplace, Ebay and GuitarCenter Used. GC will usually deliver for around $35 so don't count out a deal because the price is higher than Ebay. Sometimes you can get deals on kits that just need some TLC so don't count out a kit because it doesn't look new. I got this PDP kit for $100 on Craigslist but it needed a bit of cleaning up and work. Deals are there, you just have to be patient and have the money ready.

1574185315401.png
 

Frosticles

Silver Member
.........well you can take the lad out of Tipton :)

Everywhere you went in the 90s and early 00s had battered up Exports where nothing stayed where you put it! Plastic grommet knackered and the memory lock had long since departed.

As I said I have no problem with them now after using something cheaper than an export and it was such a fun kit.
The piles of crap in rehearsal rooms though were another matter entirely ;)
 
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