Parts Of A Drum set

Many people out there like to hear or watch drummers play, others would like to learn to play the drums, and some others are experienced in the instrument and have been playing for years. Regardless of the case, knowledge is never a bad thing, and always benefits the individual that is acquiring it! At a first glance on a set of drums you may think that it is the most basic instrument because there are only 6 or 7 different pieces to hit with the drum sticks; however, any experienced drummer will inform you that they are much more complex than you think. The drums can be considered the most important instrument in any song involving them because they serve as the backbone for any other instruments involved in the song; without the beat of the drums, it would be really difficult for the other instruments to play their notes at the proper times. The drummer provides the basic beat for the band, and with that beat they decide when to play their notes so that they are on cue!

Regardless of whether you are a drummer of 25 years, or just simply enjoy listening to the drums that set the beat for the song, it is always beneficial to know about how each piece of a drum set works. For instance, if you are listening to a song on the radio and hear the drum beat in the background without any of the following knowledge you might think that the beat as a whole is great sounding; however, if you knew how each piece in a drum set functioned, you would be able to break that beat down and hear how good each individual piece of the drum set sounded.

The most basic full drum set that you will hear or see consist of 8 pieces; 5 of those pieces are drums, and 3 of those pieces are cymbals. The drums all make noise in the same way; an object strikes them, and that hit creates sound within the drum cylinder. The cymbals also operate in nearly the same fashion; an object strikes them, and that hit creates a vibration, which ultimately makes the noise that we hear. Although all of the drums and cymbals make noise in the same fashion, the tonacity of each of them varies due to the size and structure of the cymbal or drum. When it comes to the drums, a deeper sound and lower note comes from a larger base; whereas with the cymbals, a larger base equates to a deeper sound with a longer vibration span.

Snare Drum

This is the drum that you will hear being hit the most times during the beat of an average song. It produces a very short and tight sound that is useful for frequent hits. It is conventionally located at the bottom left corner of a drum set.

Hanging Tom Toms

The hanging tom toms produce a much deeper sound than the snare drum and let the sound ring for a much longer period of time. They are not commonly used throughout the main beat, but are usually incorporated into varying parts of the song through drum fills. Tom tom drums can range from a small 8 inches to a gigantic 21 inches; however, the most common set up for a basic drum set is a 12 inch tom tom on the left and a 13 inch tom tom on the right. The depths of tom tom drums also vary and depend on personal preference; however, the most common depths are easily 8 and 9 inches respectively. The hanging tom toms are found on the top left and top right corners of a drum set.

Floor Tom Tom

The floor tom tom is the deepest of all the tom tom drums. It is most commonly used as the last beat in a drum fill because of its deep sounding capability. This tom tom drum is kept on the floor sitting on 3 legs, and is conventionally located on the bottom right corner of a drum set. The common size of the floor tom tom is 16 inches; using the knowledge previously stated it is easy to see how much lower the sound of this drum is considering it is 3 and 4 inches wider than the hanging tom toms.

Bass Drum

The bass drum produces the absolute lowest sound out of all of the drums in the drum set; the most common size that is used is 20 inches. This drum is struck with a stick attached to a pedal so it can be used simultaneously with the drummers two other hands. This drum is used frequently in songs and plays roughly the same role as the snare drum in maintaining the main beat. This drum is also located on the floor but is conventionally found lying horizontally rather than vertically like the floor tom tom.

Hi-Hat Cymbal

The hi-hat cymbal is actually two cymbals that are attached to a pole; furthermore, this pole is attached to a pedal which allows the two cymbals to be pressed together or set apart. When the cymbals are pressed together the hi-hat position is knows as closed; whereas, when they are set apart the position is known as open. The most common size for the hi-hat cymbal is 14 inches; this cymbal is conventionally located on the left side of the drum kit immediately beside the snare drum. This cymbal is used the most frequently in songs as it is the backbone of the cymbal trio. You can distinguish its sound from the other by listening for a tight, high sound.

Crash Cymbal

This is the cymbal that is heard the least amount of times in a song as it is used for accents. The most common size for a crash cymbals is 14 inches in diameter. It is conventionally located on the top left side of the drum kit. You can distinguish this cymbal sound from the rest of the cymbals because it produces a loud crashing sound followed by a slight vibrating tone for about 3 seconds.

Ride Cymbal

The ride cymbal allows a drummer to ride a cymbal sound for the longest time. It is used more frequently than the crash cymbal but less frequently than the hi-hat. It is most conventionally located on the top right hand side of the drum set and is commonly used to distinguish certain parts of the song. For instance, if a drummer wanted to play the chorus differently than the verses of the song he would probably incorporate the ride cymbal to distinguish the two from each other. The most common size for the ride cymbal is 20 inches in diameter. Its sound can be recognized by listening for a deep striking sound that rides on for about 7 seconds.

This knowledge can be used for recreational purposes for those who enjoy listening to drummers, or for playing purposes for those who are beginning to play the drums. This article is an excellent tool for those wanting to learn how to play because it gives you an overview of the most basic pieces of a drum set. And the next time that you hear a song on the radio and listen to the drum beat, be sure to recognize each piece and how it is played!