San Diego Drum Lessons is based at Studio West in Rancho Bernardo, San Diego. At the helm, is Simon DasGupta – a first call session musician and drum teacher in the San Diego area. The series “A Guide To Buying Your First Drum Set” is derived from Simon’s 10 years of retail drum store experience, where he was the General Manager for the UK’s top drum shop “DrumWright”, before relocating to the USA in 2007.
Welcome to the blog series “A Guide to Buying Your First Drum Set”. This series will be presented in multiple parts over the next couple of weeks, and is designed to take you through the somewhat complex process of buying your first drum set. In this series, we aim to cover everything from when is the right time to make the investment, to what to buy, where to buy, and how to buy. If you are researching buying drums for the first time, there is no doubt that it can be a mine field. I hope to help you through the process in this series of articles. Please also remember that should you require tailor-made advice in the decision making process, San Diego Drum Lessons offers an advisory service for a small fee to non students, and free to all enrolled students.
The first commonly asked question is: When should I buy my first drum set? Well, there are certainly the impulse buyers among us (of which I have been myself with piano) who go out and spend hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on drum equipment before even sitting behind a drum set and having a go. Well; if you have the money – then you can afford to take that step, although I would suggest that it’s probably not the best approach. The first thing to remember is that learning drums effectively is enhanced greatly with trained drum instruction. You could purchase the best equipment in the world – but without being pointed in the right direction, you will soon hit a plateau, and this is the point where most aspiring drummers give up – falling at the first hurdle. I recognize it not only because I have seen it as a professional drum teacher, but also because I did it myself with piano. Younger students are more impulsive and tend to want their drums straight away. My experience with parents is that they want to see their child commit to the instrument before making an investment, and I personally think this is a sensible approach. It certainly worked with me. I had been playing on electric pads attached to a cheap Casio keyboard for years before my dad took me to a music store and bought me a drum set on the way back from a soccer match. It’s still one of the most memorable days of my life. My mother was less enthusiastic, but that was before the days of noise control and silencing pads!
So my advice here is simple. Before you invest money in a drum set for either yourself or on someone else’s behalf (spouse, children, friends etc), why not take a couple of trial lessons first? You will find out very quickly whether this is something you really want to get involved with. Make no mistake, learning drums is a commitment, just like learning any other musical instrument. It requires time, energy and practice – and you will certainly have your ups and downs on the way. But like all other challenges in life, it is extremely rewarding and a huge amount of fun once you get a few lesson hours under your belt. The satisfaction and pure adrenaline buzz you get from playing an acoustic drum set is rivaled by few other experiences, in my opinion. The rewards are astounding, provided the commitment to learn and practice is there. As with most things in life; you get out what you put in.
Remember, it is possible to move on productively in drum lessons without actually owning a drum set – at least for the first few months. Most of the exercises that we cover in the early days of drum tuition can be done with a pair of drum sticks and a practice pad – which is an inexpensive rubber pad. If you read the interviews of many accomplished drummers, you will no doubt hear stories of drumming on home made drum sets, on pots and pans – air drumming; playing drums on the desk at work or school with pencils. Since the early drum lessons are about building co-ordination, and thus developing the mental side of playing an instrument, you really do not need a drum set straight away. With that said, it is certainly more fun to have the real thing to practice on, and just have fun with. While the first few months can be productive without a drum set, most students fall by the wayside eventually, as they are not putting their newly honed skills to work in a truly creative outlet – in other words; bashing on their drums, making beats, and having a great time in the process.
There is definitely a financial aspect to “when” to buy your first drum set. One very important piece of advice I can give you is buy when you can afford to buy a whole set. Buying drums piece by piece over time really is false economy, and you will mostly end up with mismatched equipment, and paying much more then you would had you just invested in a complete set to start with.
There is also a practical element to the purchase too. Do you have the conditions to house and play a drum set? Space is definitely a consideration, as most drum sets take at least eight foot square to set up comfortably. This goes for electric and acoustic models. Do you have family or neighbors that may object to the volume output? I am always amazed how many people expect to play acoustic drums in apartment complexes. There are ways around this, but it is still a consideration even with sound reducing options. Sound reduction will be covered in detail in this series, and this should not deter you from learning drums as it can be managed effectively.
With regard to whether to buy acoustic (traditional wood shell drums with metal cymbals) or electronic drums, which models, sizes, which cymbal sets and a host of other important topics will be covered in the upcoming parts of this series, so please check back regularly.
About the author. Simon DasGupta is the founder of San Diego Drum Lessons, based at Studio West in Rancho Bernardo, San Diego. His experience is based upon being a drum teacher and educator since 1997, as well as his retail business management experience in running the UK’s top drum shop: DrumWright between 1998 and 2006. A graduate of Tourism and Business Management from the University of Birmingham in England, Simon has been running San Diego Drum Lessons since 2007, and continues to build his business by offering one to one drum lessons, and promoting drum community events – all of which can be seen on the News and Views pages of this website.