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Acoustic Drum Kits

Acoustic Drum Kits are the percussive backbone of any band or ensemble. From the weekend warrior to festival headliner, you can bet on there being a drummer beating the heart and soul out of a well-stocked percussive arrangement. We stock a generous selection of drums, drum hardware, and drum accessories from the best in the business including Yamaha, Pearl, Mapex, Zildjian, Remo, Evans, Pro-Mark, and more. Whether you are just starting out or are a seasoned pro with countless hours behind the kit, we have everything you need at Dawsons Music & Sound.


How does an acoustic drum work?

Put simply, acoustic drums are composed of round shells fitted with drumheads on the top (batter) and bottom (resonant). When a drumhead is hit with a drumstick, mallet, or the hand, it compresses the air inside the shell. The now compressed air forces changes on the bottom head, which transmits that energy to the drum shell, before being reflected to the drumheads, and so on. It all happens in an instant and forms the basis of how drums work.


What is an acoustic drum kit?


Acoustic drum kits are comprised of multiple pieces featuring shells of varying diameters and depth, each of a different pitch that are designed to occupy various bands across the frequency spectrum. The larger the diameter of the drum shell the lower the pitch.


At the lowest end of the spectrum, you have the kick drum, often referred to as the bass drum for obvious reasons. The highest pitch sounding drum is usually the snare with its characteristic snap. Sitting between these are varying types of tom toms covering highs, mids, and the larger floor tom handling low-mids. Accompanying the drums there are a multitude of cymbals such as the hi-hats, ride, crash, splash, china, and more.


Parts of a Drum Kit


It could be fair to say that everyone is familiar with a standard 4/4 beat, due to its prevalence throughout popular music. The combination of kick and snare drum with added hi-hat to keep a uniform tempo, it is the rhythm that filters through our every day. So, let us begin there.


The kick (or bass) drum is a large drum placed on the floor with legs to keep it in place. A corresponding kick drum pedal with mallet(s) is used by the foot (or feet in the case of double pedals).


The snare drum features a “snare” that is stretched across the bottom (resonant) skin, which gives a characteristic buzzing sound when the drumhead is hit.


The hi-hat is a pair of cymbals placed closely together that can be opened or closed using a foot-operated pedal. The hi-hats are arguably the most dynamic and versatile element of the drum kit thanks to the wide range of sounds that they can produce.


Moving beyond that classic three-piece set-up the next up are the tom toms, or generally referred to simply as toms. They generally have drumheads on the top and bottom (batter and resonant), but the resonant head isn’t always necessary.


The ride cymbal typically sits to the right-hand side of the kit (if you’re right-handed that is), and is a relatively heavy cymbal played with the tip of the drumstick. Ride cymbals are generally used to play steady patterns, in a similar manner to hi-hats, rather than for accents.


Typically, accents are played using the crash cymbal. When you think of emphatic and explosive cymbals then you are most likely thinking of a crash cymbal.


Splash cymbals are similar to crash cymbals, in that they are utilised to provide accents. However, they a generally smaller and thinner, which gives them a distinctly sharper, shorter sound just like a water splash – hence the name.


If you spot a cymbal that looks like a crash but features an upturned edge, then you’re looking at a China cymbal. If you give these some welly, you can expect a crash-like tone but with a much trashier response. If you listen to heavy metal and thrash metal, then you have almost certainly heard one of these bad boys.


How big does your acoustic drum kit need to be?


When it comes to the number of drums you need to make up a kit, there is no standard as it comes down purely to personal preference. Some drummers can do more with a snare, kick, and hi-hat set-up than most could behind Neil Peart’s kit.


However, you will find that many beginner or junior drum kits feature kick, snare, and tom, along with hi-hat, and a crash cymbal for good measure. As a starting point this five-piece set-up is perfect for honing technique without feeling overwhelmed.


If you are struggling to focus on what you are looking for, then our handy guide on demystifying the drum kit selection process is for you. Use it to find the perfect drum kit for you.


What are drums made from?


The materials used to make drum shells are wide ranging from a plethora of wood types through synthetic materials to metal. , Often made from woods such as birch, beech, maple, that are glued together in sheets and then rolled to form the customary hoop shape.


As materials science and manufacturing technology has evolved, the range of materials available to build drum shells from has expanded significantly. Drum shells are known to be made using alternative materials such as acrylic, carbon fibre, and fibreglass, as well as metals such as steel, brass, aluminium, copper, bronze, and titanium.


When it comes down choosing the right material for your kit, we’ve also put together a guide for that too titled, “Which wood suits your next drum kit?”.


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