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Old 04-12-2011, 08:14 PM   #1
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The Used Drumset/Beginner Guide: Who, what, where, why, and how much?

* Reminder this is if you want a respectable kit, not something you saw at a garage sale for $20 and will wind up being a coat hanger/ Dust Magnet*

Ahhh, the smell of clueless guitar players trying to broaden their musical horizons. I smell your fear. You've been so concerned with pickups, necks, guitar woods, and pedals that you really never payed attention to that silly guy in the back with those wooden sticks of his/hers. But maybe in the middle of band practice, you snuck back there with secret admiration and to yourself " Maybe one day..."

Well today could be the day, the day you realize that the dream is a little more attainable then you may have imagined and I am going to help you out.

You're in the market for a drumset and I'm going to give you the who's who and the what's what. Simply, How to get a solid sounding set up for the lowest price possible! The standard I am setting in this thread is, with my advice, you would be able to take this drum advice and build a giggable kit for a reasonable price.

" I heard I can get a Drumset from XYZ Music Shop for 249.99 and they throw in a pair of sticks"

Slow down noobie and read this thread before you blow 250+ Bucks

Some of these are going generalizations and examples to common set ups and I am going to attempt to make this as simple as possible.


Shells + Hardware ( The actual drums plus the attachments that come with them)
Cymbal stands
Snare Stand
Hi-Hat Stand
Bass Drum Pedal
A Pair of Sticks
Drum Throne

Now lucky for you most of this comes along with most used drumsets, HOWEVER very little of beginner kits have anything worth of quality or value when originally purchased that is why its an AWFUL idea to buy a beginner kit brand new. Because within the first 2 months, this is how your cymbals will look like


This is how your skins/drum heads will look like


Your stands will fall apart, the chain on your bass drum will snap, etc etc etc.

I repeat: THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO IF YOU WANT A GOOD DRUM SET-UP IS BUY A BEGINNER PACK FROM YOUR LOCAL MUSIC STORE. They want your money and to sell you on upgrades later. I learned this the hard way.

" Ok, Paul well then what brands/style of kit should I get"

Most low end drum kits are made with cheap woods, some are slightly better then others but its all the same crap at the end of the day.

I'm not going to get into wood types and etc because its not necessary at this point of your drumming career. however its this simple. I own a cheap Ibanez RG, John Doe owns a 1968 Fender Telecaster with blah blah blah. We both have the same amp for this illustration

I know how to tune my instrument, set up the settings on the amp, have all these great pedals and understand how to use them.

John Doe can't play a chord, can't tune, doesn't care about anything besides turning the amp on to 10 and strumming open nothing.

Whose set up sounds better?

It all comes down to setting up and using the gear to its fullest not the other way around.

Here comes the list of cheap kits that I have restored worked on and have had great success on. You should be able to get these "kits" for about 200 dollars and under. Most sellers will include a couple basic stands, a bass drum pedal, Drum throne, possibly some useless Cymbals and the hardware. HOWEVER Be careful, some owners will list the items as Shells only which means only drums or Shells plus Hardware which usually means just the drums with tom arms and attachments.

Really Cheap brands that will require elbow grease but will turn out great for the thrifty musician

Groove Percussion

Name brands lower series that you can get for a reasonable price

Tama Swingstar
Pearl Export
Ludwig Accent

Make sure when purchasing there is atleast

1 Bass Drum (average size 20-22 inches)
2 Toms (1 hanging tom, 1 floor tom)
A Snare Drum with a stand
All tom hardware

(If you have suggestions for more brands let me know within the specified price)

"You said most beginner set ups come with stuff I'm going to have to replace"

This is true unless you're buying what I like to call a level 2 used kit. What that means is a drummer who bought his first kit, added the correct upgrades, and now is re-selling his kit to buy a better one.

" How do I know its an upgraded kit"

The cymbals are not the brand of the drum set but of a different make

The drum heads are a different brand then the drum set

The Bass Drum Pedal is not the same brand as the drum kit (see the pattern lol)


"You said most beginner set ups come with stuff I'm going to have to replace"

Its true generally you should upgrade certain things but that can get expensive quick. At the end of the thread I am going to show you how and where to get this kind of stuff used and at a reasonable price but usually theres 2-3 things that you should upgrade quick.

UPGRADE A, most important CYMBALS

*Watch out for cracks when buying used cymbals*

You will generally need:

A set of Hi Hats
1-2 Crash Cymbals
A Ride Cymbal ( a little secret if you're really penny pinching you can use an 18" and up as a ride because of the size of the cymbal, not the same, but solid temporary solution)

Affordable Used Cymbals that will automatically help:

Scimitar/Scimitar Bronze (out of production but basically the same as ZBT's)
Z Planets

B8 pro


Wuhan (in general)

Meinl also has a low end cymbal series, just have never played them.

UPGRADE B: Drum Heads

Its simple, based on the amount of drums you have you should get top heads to improve the sound quality of your drums. You'll see a huge difference quick. This is personal preference but the cheaper the drum quality, the thicker the drum head you want. Reason? Less "character" out of your drum sound BUT more importantly it will cover up the imperfections of your low end set.


all respectable brands that WILL improve your drumset dramatically. I mean really you can make a kit sound 10 times better with a nice new pair of mid end skins without breaking the bank.


Bass Drum Pedals:

Not all stock bass drum pedals are the same, some can be reasonably solid actually. For now don't fret it. But if its one of those things that feel like there going to fall apart every time you kick, you might want to upgrade by getting soimething like a DW, Tama, Pearl, etc.

"What are things that I don't really need to upgrade or can survive with for now?"

Stands: You can see them listed for 20 dollars or 200 dollars. Yes there is a difference but for now it serves one basic service. Hold that metal up in the air. You can survive a year or two or more if you like with just some cheapo stands if you don't mind adjusting and tightening and dealing with their imperfections. Some might be very thin, some might let up from time to time, some might not be as tall as you wish. A thrifty drummer will make it work.

Thrones: We all like it when our butt is comfy, but deal with the crappy ones because the nice once with the back support and etc. cost A LOT.

Snare Drums: Yes cheap snare drums are a pain in the butt and there are people like me that look for that perfect snare sound for what they are going for. However with the purchase of the correct head, no matter how cheap the snare, if you tune it tight enough it'll sound semi respectable. I'm not promising its going to sound like a post produced Rock album snare. I can guarantee that 99% of the time you can get it something like this

ATLEAST which isnt ideal but its something for your first kit.

Speaking of.....

"I'm a metalhead and I want a double bass pedal!!!"

Too bad dude. you have to learn to crawl before you walk. Double bass pedals only inhibit a beginner drummer to use that second pedal as a crutch, you wind up not developing proper technique and a lazy right foot. Its kind of like getting a seven string electric before you learn to play on an acoustic. Just like guitar, you're going to have to play Nirvana songs and White Stripe songs before you start playing at 200 bpm. Its just the way things go. Plus they're usually expensive, and the cheap ones are awful.
Originally posted by J_Dizzle
THAAAANK YOU GoodCharloteSux is god

Last edited by GoodCharloteSux : 04-12-2011 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:15 PM   #2
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" Were at the stage were I'm ready, all this sounds expensive"

It is but there are a lot of places where you can cut corners and etc.
Heres a couple things Ive learned

EBAY and Craigslist are a Godsend

I have gotten at least 5 different kits, restored and re sold them from these sites. Long story short, Parents buy their kids drum sets, they sit there for years, get banged up, etc. etc.

Couple of little secrets of the trade:

On Ebay: use the tab " Nearest: First

You won't have to pay shipping costs on a cheap kit. I once bought a three piece Groove percussion for literally 10 dollars. Drive up with a buddy pick up a kit, shipping cost for this stuff isnt cheap.

You can get used drum heads for pretty cheap as well...you'll pay 20 bucks a pop for a new drum head or a used set of 3-4 varying sizes from some guy who wants a change in sound for 20-40 dollars off of ebay/craigslist.
Cymbal secrets:

Go to guitarcenter.com go to the used section. Type in a cheap cymbal brand and series (Zildjian ZBT for example) tab it to lowest. GC usually has some of the crashes for as low as 15 dollars in great condition. Better then paying 75-90 dollars per cymbal.

Buy cracked Cymbals: WHAT???

Heres what you do, find cracked cymbals that only have 1 to 2 edge cracks. Grab some pliers, taking as little of the cymbal out as possible. Then use a sander and some high grit sandpaper and smooth it out. Fasten the cymbal very tightly so it doesn;t spin on the stand BOOM! I have bought cymbals that are worth 200+ dollars each for 10-20 dollars and done this and they sound just as good.

Will have pictures if requested

Garage Sales: I know what I said but its simple. You can bargain with the sellers, take it home and use the shells and buy upgrades.

Don't worry about dings and appearances:

Sometimes people get so hung up on looks, well thats what stickers are for. Thats what spray paint is for. Thats what wraps are for. Its your first kit who cares how it looks. Its all about functionality at this point. As long as there is no cracks in the wood, and all hoops, tom adjustments, and other attachments are present and functioning to a ok degree then don't worry about color and other nuances.

Local Used Guitar Shops:

Heres what happens. Guitar, bass, keyboard players, singers all of them try to experiment with other instruments. They buy a kit from there roommate or cousin or mothers cousins, ex wifes accountant. They try and fail. They trade the kit thats been sitting in a basement for three years in for something theyre going to actually use. The local used guitar shop then gets stuck with this mediocre to low end gear that they only accepted because they wanted to make a sale. They wind up making a really cheap used combo pack for pennies and usually to make a very small profit. So when you go into a shop and the guy tries to sell you on that shiny silver sparkle kit with plastic all around it say " That looks cool, but do you have any beater kits you may have gotten in?" A lot of times they have this " crap stuff" somewhere in the back of the shop or in storage or blah blah blah.

here are a lit of sites that have used gear sections most are by owner or take trade ins:


"So I'm looking for just ABSOLUTE least minimum to learn on and it not sounding like death"

This is all based on estimations

ok well lets do the drum math.

Random Beater drum kit with the basics (hardware, bass drum pedal, throne, couple stands, pair of bad hi hat cymbals) at a local store:

Used Drum heads for a 12 inch tom a 16 inch floor tom and a 22 inch bass drum


Couple of cheap cymbals cymbals:


$230 dollars...don't think it can be done

Theres the kit

already comes with upgraded heads and at least one usable cymbal

a couple cheap cymbals?

Type into GC used ZBT with lowest price in the drum section 15.00-20.00 each same Sabian B8's

that comes out to 130+40= 170 dollars for a functional drum kit, with upgrades, that will sound 10 times better then if you buy it like this new:


Other common questions I'm going to give you a straight opinionated answers about...

Electric Kits:

Don't bother the cheap ones are just god awful and you'll wind up not learning how to play because of the quality. Not even taking into consideration the fact that you'll probably have to eventually have to adjust to a real kit which Ive been told is harder then you would think if you learn on an electric. If you have 900 bucks to blow for something that still sounds fake but alright then be my guest, I don;t suggest it.

What kind of drumsticks should I buy?

Noobies always get hung up on sticks. 5A's 7A's are what most people use....
Get cheap ones to start honestly. Bad drummers can break good sticks, Good drummers break good sticks, you might as well buy one of those packs of vaters and
whack away because as a bad drummer, youre going to break sticks, nothing you can do about it.

Should I buy sound rings instead of buying new heads? I hear they help!

*facepalm* No, just No

What should I do about the noise and my neighbors/parents

Pray you have permissible neighbors in parents. Soundproofing usually isn't as effective as advertised and is very expensive. Play when its light out, try being as thoughtful as possible...

Muffling Pads/Practice Pads

Eh, don't help enough and they're really annoying, its like playing your electric unplugged, You're playing, but are you really?

NOTE: Please let me know if some other experienced and thrifty drummers have any suggestions or have anything to add that I may have forgotten. I'm sure theres some stuff that I forgot, it took a lot to type it all out so if somethings incorrect let me know!


If you have any questions fire away and hope this helps

Note: I have recordings of my kit in my songs on my profile: mostly pop-punk--punk style, sounds pretty great for my drums considering Im playing basically mostly cheaper gear. A song like PONXISH has great drum production for instance.
Originally posted by J_Dizzle
THAAAANK YOU GoodCharloteSux is god

Last edited by GoodCharloteSux : 04-12-2011 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 04-12-2011, 10:59 PM   #3
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Damn dude, great job
Originally Posted by blake1221
Dylan, I believe at this point, you've listened to all the music. Congratulations, you win one Chuck E Cheese token and a balloon.

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Old 04-13-2011, 09:55 AM   #4
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Very helpful.

Sticky the mother****er mods
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Old 04-27-2011, 02:42 PM   #5
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Well I guess the mods don't check their pm's..?
Originally posted by J_Dizzle
THAAAANK YOU GoodCharloteSux is god
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Old 04-27-2011, 03:19 PM   #6
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Nice job. This deserves to be sticky.

Im a bassist/guitarist first but drums are just so fun I bough a used westbury set for $100 just over a year ago. Since then I have replaced all the heads, got a Meinl crash/ride, and got a sound percussion double kick. I still want to upgrade the snare eventually (maybe a black panther snare) but drums isn't one of my top priorities.
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Old 05-13-2011, 03:35 AM   #7
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for a cheap snare mute you can use a mouse pad. thats what I do when i need to be quite and am working on rudiments.
no sir away a papaya war is on
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Old 05-13-2011, 08:18 AM   #8
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Are there supposed to be images in this?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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Old 05-13-2011, 09:33 AM   #9
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A couple things I disagree with or didn't see in there.

1, Never buy used drumheads. As a general rule people are selling heads because they took them off to put on new heads. Often times people that play soft will never dent their heads and they always look like they are 3 weeks old but they still need to be replaced AT LEAST every year. Many of these drummers will sell the head on ebay and say that they are selling it because "it wasn't the right sound for them" even though the real reason is the head is worn out. Other drummers will tune the head wrong and overstreach certain edges so that it's impossible for the head to resonate with 1 dominate tone. This causes a brand new head to always be out of tune with it's self and a lot of these go on ebay. It simply isn't worth it! I've never seen people put used heads on their kit and be happy with them. They might be better than the ones with 1" dents that they already had, but they still won't sound half as good as new heads.

2 I didn't quite agree with your fixing method. Having a clamp on the cymbal dramatically changes the tone so although you can get good sounds, you won't get the sound of a $200 cymbal. I would amend your fixing method by suggesting the use of epoxy. Get a very liquid but strong epoxy, like they use when doing carbon fibre, and work that into the edge crack and clamp it. After the epoxy dries sand it smooth, mark the cymbal so you can see where the crack is and not hit the cymbal there, then use the cymbal as normal. For small edge cracks this will sound completely natural.

I'll also specifically warn against buying cymbals with cracks that are not at the edge. The TS alluded to this but didn't outright say it. If the crack is not at the edge then it's not something most people can fix.

3 The resonator head is important too. Every 2nd time you change your batter head on the snare you need to change the head underneath. This will dramatically improve snare tone. The resonator heads on toms need changed every 3rd time you change heads.

I bring this up because it's normal for a used kit to not only need new top heads but new bottom heads too. I wouldn't run out and buy reso heads the same time you buy that 1st set of batter heads, because the reso heads might still be good, but if you can't seem to get the drum to sound right simply by replacing the batter heads then you should look at getting new reso heads.

4rd You do have to tune your drumset. Pitch isn't important but it is important that the drum sounds good with it's self. There are a lot of good youtube vids on how to do this. If your drums aren't in tune with themselves you will always sound horrible.

Thats my 2 cents
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Old 05-30-2011, 12:38 PM   #10
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Thank you Corduroy for some of your advice. I personally have purchased various heads from ebay and never had an issue and although possibly not the best solution in the world a semi- used after market head is still ages better then the stock heads given on a generic super low end poplar kit.

My cymbal fixing methods works for me. I didn't say it was the only solution and your solution is definitely more sophisticated but, cutting out cracks has been something drummers have been doing since the beginning of time and using a sander to smooth out the cracks only helps the longevity of a crack occurring. I never claimed the "same" sound but a similar sound.

And no doubt the resonator head is important but we are talking to people are strict budgets and primarily guitar players who are looking to dabble and see if drums would be an option. I don't suggest worrying\ about the resonator heads until youve taken care of many other priorities on a beginner first drum set.
Originally posted by J_Dizzle
THAAAANK YOU GoodCharloteSux is god
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Old 06-23-2011, 10:42 AM   #11
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Thank you.

I've been a guitarist for 7 or so years, and I've relied on UG for over half of a decade. When I decided to experiment with a friend's kit that he is selling, I got worried about where I would start my researching/education, and the UG Community steps up again!

I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to put this guide together. You answered all of my questions neatly, efficiently, and effectively. I knew I would have to buy some drum stuff right off the bat, and you gave me direction.

Originally Posted by happytimeharry

1. Lacking education or knowledge.
2. Showing or arising from a lack of education or knowledge: an ignorant mistake.
3. Unaware or uninformed.

also see: elitist asshat
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Old 07-11-2011, 08:29 AM   #12
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Thanks SO MUCH! I was going to buy a new beginner kit from gear4music for like £200 then luckily i saw this guide and got one on ebay which are CB drums, with attack skins which have hardly been used along with silencing pads for only... £97 and i picked it up myself which was like a 20 minute drive!

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Old 08-15-2011, 01:01 PM   #13
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Congratulations on this "guide". Absolutely loved it, but I would like to ask something to you all.

I live in South America (Chile), and I find it impossible to look for good drumsets (acoustics and electrics) available for me. Sadly, bestbuy or Amazon can't ship this far, and shops here are extremely expensive, and now I fear of a possible scam when buying a drumset.

Help me, guys. Now it's the first time I CAN get a drumset, but there are no drumsets for me
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I kindly ask you to correct my grammar. And also to smile.
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Old 08-21-2011, 07:54 PM   #14
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^ I would look and ask ebay members if they were willing to ship to your country, some are willing to do so, just be prepared to pay,I guess thats one of the main issues but still worth looking and asking!
Originally posted by J_Dizzle
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Old 09-07-2011, 11:13 PM   #15
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Awesome stuff man, this will help me loads when buying a kit for myself. Thanks!
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Old 09-22-2011, 07:56 PM   #16
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Very informative thread.

I see that there are several recommendations for beginner drum sets. Could anyone describe the advantages and disadvantages with each set? If you have any other recommendations for beginners sets, pleasure list (and describe) them.

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Old 09-25-2011, 10:10 PM   #17
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do yourself a massive favor and just buy ANY of the Pearl Export series, any age, condition. Excellent kits for the price.
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Old 10-19-2011, 06:31 PM   #18
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This is really very nice post and thanks for sharing with us. I would like to learn drum playing with this site. And i hope i will get such post regularly. Really good job. Now anybody who wants to learn drum will not have to go for classes or anywhere else.
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Old 11-23-2011, 05:35 PM   #19
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Is it possible to have a quiet drumset and not take up a lot of room.

My old neighbors had a drummer that really pissed off everyone in my house because you could hear him playing drums till like midnight which already gave them a huge bias against me getting a drum kit, and theres no room in our house really unless I took it apart everytime I was done using it and stuff it under my bed and leave the bass drum out or something.

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Old 11-24-2011, 12:37 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by zomgguitarz1234
Is it possible to have a quiet drumset and not take up a lot of room.

My old neighbors had a drummer that really pissed off everyone in my house because you could hear him playing drums till like midnight which already gave them a huge bias against me getting a drum kit, and theres no room in our house really unless I took it apart everytime I was done using it and stuff it under my bed and leave the bass drum out or something.

Electric kit solves both those problems just about. There will be noise but obviously a lot less and it will take up far less space.
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