All The Major and Essential Parts That Make Up The Drum Set!
The major parts of a drum set are divided into four: breakables, extensions, shells, and hardware. The breakables are the sticks, cymbals, drum throne, snare drum, etc. The shells are the toms and bass drum. The extensions are the tambourine, chimes, cowbell, and other instruments that are not members of the standard kit. The hardware includes all the stands and pedals.
Now a lot of drummers might want to think they know what breakables mean – breakables are parts of a drum that you can easily replace on any other drum in a live concert or any other event. This doesn’t mean they aren’t breakable, because they are. Since you carry them around and play them more than any other part of the drums, they tend to break faster. We would consider the snare drum and cymbals to be the highest breakables. Why?
- They vary from drummer to drummer
- They are played more than any other parts
- Poor techniques break thin cymbals
- They are used based on the genre of the song
Now let’s talk about the drums
- BASS DRUM: this is the biggest part of the drum set, and it is used to provide the basic beat of the song. It can be played straight or with different variations. Some drummers even prefer playing it with both feet. This is done by using two bass drums or by incorporating a double bass drum pedal to a single bass drum.
- SNARE DRUM: this is one of the most important parts of the drum set, especially for rock music. It is a very versatile instrument popularly known for providing the backbeat in the song. It can be played with either hands or both hands because it is the backbone of many fills – meaning that it would be played a lot more times than any other part of the drum set. One thing we can attribute to its distinct sound is the bed of wires located at its bottom head. This is called a rattle, and it can be adjusted to give a wide variety of sounds on the snare drum.
- TOMS: these are small drums without snare wires. They are also played with sticks and are usually the most numerous on the drum kit. They come in different sizes, and hence, contribute the bulk of most drum solos and fills.
Next, are the cymbals. There are different types of cymbals, and they all serve different purposes. The cymbals are as important as the drums on any drum kit. One fact most people don’t know is that cymbals are associated with Turkey and Turkish craftsmanship. This is where Zildjian; meaning cymbal smith, cymbals was born in. Precisely 1623!
Cymbals for beginners are usually made in packs: a pair of hi-hats, a crash, and a ride. There are other variants, but the pack of four cymbals is the most common. There are even effect cymbals that you can purchase separately to augment to set of cymbals.
- RIDE CYMBALS: this is used to keep a constant rhythm when played. They can be played with other variations, but the rhythm variation is credited to Baby Dodds. The most common use of ride is by having a single one on the right. It is placed at an easy place to reach, and it is usually the biggest cymbal in the set. The most common size is the 20” but there are other smaller and larger types depending on the interest of the drummer.
- HI-HAT CYMBALS: this is a pair of two cymbals placed on each other with the same sides facing each other. They are supported by a pole on the stand, which also allows the cymbals to move away from and close to each other. This pole is controlled by the foot pedal, and it controls the top cymbal only. The bottom cymbal stays in place as the top is controlled by the foot pedal.
- CRASH CYMBALS: this is cymbals are mainly used to mark accents in the song. They are also used to mark crescendos, climaxes, changes, vocal entries, and mood/swell effects. It is usually accompanied by a kick drum to add a musical effect and support the stroke.
- EFFECT CYMBALS: any cymbal other than a crash, ride, or hi-hat is an effect cymbal. A lot of drummers use them today, and they include splash cymbals, china cymbals, and trash
- ACCENT CYMBALS: these cymbals have only one purpose: providing accents to songs. Now, any cymbals can be used to provide accents. However, these cymbals have the unique ability to do it better than any other cymbal. They include chime cymbals, bell cymbals, splash cymbals and come china cymbals.
There are other acoustic instruments that drummers add to their drums for a bit of versatility.
- WOOD BLOCK/COWBELL: these are used in classic rock and other cultural forms of music.
- TIMBALES: they are used to extend the range of the toms. They are tuned higher than a tom with the same diameter to provide a higher range of sound.
- TAMBOURINE: this is usually mounted on the hi-hat stand or on a special stand.
- GONG: this is usually attached to the bass drum, but there are variations of attaching it to the hi-hat stand or cymbal stand.
- CHIMES: these are attached to a special stand either beside the hi-hat or floor tom.
- ELECTRONIC DRUM PADS/TRIGGERS/SAMPLERS: these are usually placed on a special stand, and they provide the widest range of percussion sounds you can think of!
Next comes the hardware of the drums. This is the name given to the metal parts of the drums that provide support of the drums, cymbals, and the other instruments. They include the hi-hat pedal, bass drum pedal, and drum throne. Here is a list of the common drum hardware.
- Cymbal stands
- Hi-hat stand
- Tom Brackets
- Floor tom legs
- Snare drum stand
- Drum key
- Bass drum pedal and hi-hat pedal
- Accessories like snare drum rattles, washers, tension rods, cymbal sleeves, etc.
These hardware are being replaced by racks these days, as racks can hold more drum parts on a larger drum set.