Drum sets are usually categorized based on the number of drums they come with. The cymbals are not counted when considering the number of drums. All that you count is the snare, toms, and bass drum. These three are the major parts. Other parts include drums like octobans, and they may not be counted.
There are several sizes of drum sets, and we are going to go through a lot of them.
2 PIECE DRUM SET:
2 piece drum sets are not quite rare as people would expect them to be. A lot of night clubs, coffee shops, bars, and every other place where small gig happen but with little room on stage, use this set up to add a bit of drum to their music. This type of drums consists majorly of a single snare drum and a bass drum. There can be a lot of other things attached to the drums like cymbals, triggers, sample pads, and lots more. But there can only be two drums. One other arrangement of this 2 piece drum set is by omitting the bass drum and replacing it with an electronic bass drum pad. The other part of the drums is the rack tom which would be held in place with a stand. No matter how you want to go about the 2 piece drum set, whatever you come up with is a “cocktail” kit. The funny thing about this kit is that it is also favored in some music genres like rockabilly, traditional jazz, and jump blues. Rockabilly for one has drum sets that omit the hi-hat stand completely. They are to enable the drummer to play the drums while standing rather than being seated.
We can say that 2 piece drum sets are “small sized” drum sets. Although they might not be small in terms of size. They are small in terms of the number of drums present. You might not notice but a few people can decide to use 2 large drums for this kit, and some others can decide to use small ones instead. There are kits with small drums that are in both larger and smaller configurations, and they are produced for special purposes. They are known as boutique kits, and they are known to reduce their visual impact similar to what a large drum set would cause. This is usually due to the small space constraints in small bars and coffee houses. Some other reasons are for travel and drummer age. The truth is that small drums are quieter and save space. Some of these small drum sets come with extra muffling to make it quieter or silence it completely. All you just have to do is make sure you know the environment you are going to use them in, and you’re good to go.
3 PIECE DRUM SET:
A 3 piece drum set is a drum set made for younger aged drummers. It is the most basic form of a drum set, and it consists of a snare drum, a tom, and a bass drum. The snare drum is usually 14 inches in diameter. There are also cymbals in this kit, but they are not usually counted as part of the kit. These cymbals are usually attached to the body of the drums as they do not come with a stand of their own. The hi-hats for one are usually 12 to 14 inches, and they are usually on a stand of their own – only if the drum set comes with a pair of hi-hats included. Most 3 piece drum sets do not come with a hi-hat.
We should not forget the single rack tom that can vary in size. It can be 8, 10 or even 12 inches depending on the age range of the child it is created for. The bass drum is usually 16 inches, and it might not come with a kick pedal. It is funny how this drum set was used in the 1950s and 60s as a major drum kit. Today, it is used by little children who show interest in playing drums.
Now, let us take a look at an example of a three piece drum set to give you an idea of what we are talking about.
THE MENDINI BY CECILIO 3 PIECE JUNIOR DRUM SET
This is a popular member of the Mendini products, and we can proudly say that it is one of the best junior drum sets in the market. This drum set has a 16 inches bass drum with a nice cymbal attached to it. A lot of junior drum sets look a bit childish, but this one looks more like a standard sized drum set. The only difference between this drum set and the standard sized ones is its small size. Its tom is mounted with brackets just like a standard sized set. The snare is placed on its own separate stand. The bass drum looks more like a floor tom, and this would do either way – a floor tom has a strong level of bass to it, and adding an extra layer of padding would give enough bass that this bass drum needs. We should fail to mention that the bass drum on this set is one powerful bass drum that also carries the cymbal. It’s either the bass drum is one strong bass drum or the cymbal and its stand are light. Either way, the cymbal should be around 9 inches. We never also mentioned that the snare drum stand is adjustable. Well, now you know. This 10 by 6-inch snare drum has a pure tone as it is held by a stand of its own and not a tom arm attached to the bass drum or mount. This drum set is for any child between the ages of 5 to 10. Children younger than 5 are at risk of choking hazards while children older are just too big for this drum set. Either way, your child would have a great time with this drum set. It even comes with a number of great accessories that would save you a lot of money.
4 PIECE DRUM SET:
A 4 piece drum set is something you would find with a handful of professionals. This type of drum set is used in a lot of ways and for different purposes. One of the common ways it is used is as a small sized children’s drum set. This drum set comes in different arrangements, but we would talk about that later. This drum set beats the 3 piece drum set with just a piece – which is usually a tom. This tom can either be a small mounted tom or the floor tom. It all depends on what the drummer is looking for. This arrangement can affect the positioning of the cymbals. Since there are standard positions of cymbals on a drum set, and the drummer is less likely to alter these positions, the only explainable reason is that the cymbal is placed where the tom is supposed to be. A standard drum set should have a crash cymbal, ride cymbal, and a pair of hi-hats. The crash is usually on the left side of the bass drum. The hi-hats are always beside the snare, and the ride cymbal is mostly on the right side of the bass drum. However, the ride cymbal can overlap on the bass drum if there is no mid tom. This is why we have to consider that there are two arrangements for a 4 piece drum set.
- The 4 piece drum set with a floor tom: this is the most common form of 4 piece drum sets you would see anywhere. One of the places it is most popular is rock music – the standard 4 piece rock kit usually comes with a snare drum, a tom, a floor tom, and a bass drum. Other forms of rock drums are also in 5 piece and 6 piece variants, but it all depends on what the drummer wants. The 4 piece drum set is also used in jazz music, and it was made popular by musicians like Ringo Starr in the Beatles, The Turtle’s John Barbatain, and Mitch Mitchell in Jimi Hendrix. This arrangement of drums favors jazz drummers because they can place the ride cymbal above the bass drum so that they can easily use it. We all know how much jazz drumming emphasizes on the usage of the ride cymbal. The last piece of the kit would be the floor tom.
- The 4 piece drum set with two hanging toms: this is a rare form of arrangement, and it involves using a second tom of 10 inches in diameter. This 10 inch tom is usually 8 inches deep if it is a fusion kit. The tom can also be a 13 inch tom if the first tom is 12 inches in diameter. Otherwise, you can make the second tom a 14 inch tom if the first tom is 13 inches. No matter the size of the toms, the smaller one is usually placed closest to the hi-hats. This kind of drum set is ideal for small venues.
5 PIECE DRUM SET:
This is the most common type of drum set today. It is all over the place, and it is believed to be the standard form of a drum set. However, most drummers don’t know that this type of drum set is the full entry-level drum set. This is the best kit a beginner can start with because it has the major sound variations a beginner drummer needs to grasp the instrument fully. It has a snare drum, bass drum, two rack toms, and a floor tom. The sizes of the drums depend on the genre of music the drum set is designed for and what the drummer prefers. Fusion kits usually come with a 10 and 12 inch rack tom, and a 14 inch floor tom. This enables the drummer to have a high, middle, and low pitched tom to provide more options for fills and solos.
There are many other types of drums with different sizes. One, in particular, comes with a 12 and 13 inch set of rack toms and a 14 inch floor tom. Some come with a 16 inch floor tom, but this is based on the interest of the drummer. The most popular type of drums in 2010 was the ones with 10 and 12 inch rack toms and a 16 inch floor tom. This configuration is known as the hybrid setup. The bass drum is 22 inches, although there are some rock kits that use a 24 inch bass drum. Some fusion drums use a 20 inch bass drum while some jazz drums use an 18 inch bass drum. It all depends on you and the genre of music you love playing. One thing common to drummers on this type of kit is the addition of an extra crash cymbal. This cymbal is usually larger or smaller than the 16 inch standard crash cymbal.
We have been speaking of entry level drums all day, and have failed to mention that a ton of celebrity drummers use 5 piece drum sets too. The only difference between a beginner and professional 5 piece drum set is the number of cymbals – that is if we ignore the drum brand and the quality of the hardware and drum heads. This kind of drum set would require more stands to accommodate the extra cymbals, and it is not rare for the drummer to use a rack to accommodate more parts. Getting extra stands or a rack with extra mounts would cost you a lot. This is the reason most professional drum sets are sold without hardware. They believe that the drummer knows what he wants and wouldn’t mind to purchase every other thing required to make the drum set suitable for use. This is why a lot of drum thrones, kick pedals, cymbal stands, cymbals, sticks, and lots more are sold separately. Come to think of it; you would notice that most of the beginner drums out there come with all the accessories we mentioned above. Now you see that the drums and whatever it comes with depends on you – and this goes for the size of the drums too.
6 PIECE DRUM SET:
There is no doubt that drummers like to experiment with large drum kits. We have seen the kind of remarkable things drummers can do with a 2 piece, 3 piece, 4 piece, and 5 piece drum set. Now we are going to focus on the arrangement of a 6 piece drum set to give you ideas on what you can do with your Kit. A six piece drum set comes in different forms, and we would discuss the common variations below.
- The 6 piece drum set with two floor toms: this is one of the common variations of 6 piece drum sets. A lot of drummers love to add an extra floor tom to their kit. This floor tom is usually a 14 inch drum added to the 16 inch drum. The size of the floor tom depends on the drummer though. A lot of drummers like having floor toms of several sizes. This helps to produce some deep tones for strong music. However, a number of drummers might not be fascinated by the number of floor toms, and would rather opt in for the one we would mention next.
- The 6 piece drum set with three rack toms: there are lots of drummers today, and a lot of them would set up their drums in a funny way that would leave you in awe. However, a number of drummers with a 6 piece drum set would prefer a more realistic approach. Having three toms on the rack and a floor tom makes their drums perfect for their method of play. These drummers usually opt-in for a 6, 8 and 10 inch set of toms, especially drummers that are into more of fusion than other ensembles. Rock drummers would rather opt in for a 10, 12 and 13 inch set of rack toms, and it would still make a lot of sense to them. This is because they need larger drums to communicate what their music is all about. Drummers can use any arrangement of toms in this case, and all that matters is that there are 3 toms on the rack and a single floor tom.
- The 6 piece drum set with two bass drums: this arrangement of a six piece drum set is more popular in rock music and heavy metal. The drummer would place the snare drum and the hi-hats in between the two bass drums as they are played with both feet. The two bass drums can be of the same size or different sizes. Either way, the toms are placed at any point that is comfortable for the drummer. \
- The 6 piece drum with two snare drums: this is something you might have seen on a lot of drum kits. Many drummers enjoy using two snare drums. This arrangement involves making the center snare drum sound like a standard snare drum, and the auxiliary snare drum sounding like a fat snare or piccolo snare. This method of arranging a drum set is not different from the five piece arrangement. The only difference is that there are two snare drums.
7 PIECE DRUM SET:
There are tons of drum sets in the market these days, and it seems like drummers just can’t get enough drums on their drum set. This brings our attention to the 7 piece drum set. it is a massive arrangement of a drum set, and there are many drum brands that have a line of such drums in their warehouse. The 7 piece drum set comes in different variants, and we would go through a number of them right away.
- The 7 piece drum set with an extra rack tom and floor tom: This is a favorite of most drummers out there. This drum arrangement includes three rack toms and two floor toms along with the snare drum and bass drum. Drummers love this arrangement of drums because of the versatility it offers them in soloing and performing fills. They usually come with 8 inch, 10 inch, and 12 inch toms, with a 14 and 16 inch floor tom. Drummers can also choose the 6 inches, 8 inches, and 10 inch set of rack toms to add a little more of a high pitch to their play. Either way, this arrangement of drum set is becoming very popular with time.
- The 7 piece drum set with an extra tom and snare: If you are conversant with watching drum videos online, you will notice that a lot of drummers use this arrangement. It is clear that many drummers love using a seven piece drum set. It gives a wider range of tones, and it enables the drummer to perform many genres of songs easily. Drummers that have seen the music video of snarky puppy “Shofukan” would notice the creativeness of Lernell Louis as he used a trash splash cymbal on the fat snare. You can do anything you want with a 7 piece drum kit. It is no surprise that the drums used in the Snarky Puppy video was a 7 piece drum set. This now brings us to…
- The 7 piece drum set with two extra snare drums: this is n surprising as we have mentioned above that it is used by a popular music band. The drummer of the Snarky Puppy band uses an extra snare drum on the left side of the hi-hats, and another snare drum on the right side of the drum; where the floor tom of the drum is supposed to be. The floor tom is now placed after this snare drum on the right, and this makes it look more like a second floor tom. However, only those that listen carefully to the drummer and watch as he plays would be able to tell that there is a snare drum in the place of the floor tom and a floor tom in the place of a second floor tom.
- The 7 piece drum set with an extra snare and floor tom: this drum is also common in the world of drummers. The extra snare drum acts as a fat snare. Although, a lot of drummers tune it higher than the center snare drum to serve whatever purpose they need it for. The extra floor tom is usually a 16 inch floor tom loosened to the limit to serve as a dead floor tom. A lot of drummers use this floor tom to support the main floor tom and give it an extra oomph when hit together. Either way, the two added drums make several music genres easy to play.
8 PIECE DRUM SET:
This is one large drum set that you don’t get to see every day. A lot of drummers play this kind of kit, although they might not have one as their personal drum set. In a lot of cases, this type of drum sets are made for special purposes, and they are only available for those who need it. The funny thing though is that a lot of young drummers these days tend to make their drum sets larger than it originally is. For example, the green kit used by Tony Taylor to play covers to some songs is an 8 piece drum set. Even though the kit is a mixture of a number of extras.
This is to bring to the consciousness of a drummer that the number of drums you want on your kit is based on the type of drums you like to play. Drummers are now given the option to choose the type and arrangement of drums they want even before placing the order. For example, a 7 piece drum set that we described above comes in 4 different forms. This means that a drummer can make a choice based genre specialty and preference. Why opt in for a drum set that favors a rock drummer when you can easily request for one that suits your pattern of play.
There are some drums like the new Tama hyperdrive that comes with an extra 14 inch floor tom that can be converted to a snare drum at will. This comes in handy to a lot of drummers. How? They can easily play the 6 piece drum set as a set of a snare drum, a high tom, mid tom, bass drum, and two floor toms. Or you can just decide to make it a set of a snare drum, bass drum, high tom, mid tom, floor tom, and an extra snare drum. These two variations are very common, and drummers use them based on what is required by the song. So as a drummer, work on the song you want to play and do not focus on getting the biggest drums this world has to offer. This way you would be more professional, and you would appreciate your instrument a lot more.