Constructing a well-rounded drum set

At one time I was really into drums. I was up on what the best and worst items were, what characteristics a drum set had to have in order to be considered a good drum set and how much one could expect to pay for that set. Well, that was a long time ago. Now, I have to do research. So when one of the Sunday school classes at my church offered to purchase a drum set for use at the Anchor I started looking and making a list.
I started looking around first to see how much a top-of-the-line set costs today. Then from there I started looking at drum sets that were worth buying and of decent quality but cost around $1,000. What I found is that lots of drum manufacturers have gotten very good at making drum sets look professional, even when most of them aren’t worth buying.
I was always a fan of Tama drums because Metallica’s drummer used them. Now, I understand that he isn’t as good a drummer as I thought. The tone of most of Tama’s drums just isn’t that great. Their high-end Starclassic drums are very nice, but they’re also very pricey. That’s why I was surprised when I found their new Superstar EFX series.
They have birch and basswood shells, Die-cast hoops, the Star-cast mounting system (which allows you to mount the toms without having holes cut into the side of the drums, and the bass drum has wood hoops. These are all features of high-end drum sets and the set I liked was less than $900. I was impressed to say the least. The set comes with everything pictured except cymbals, so it’s a good base for building a well-rounded drumset. Next I started looking for cymbals and hardware.
I’ve already got a DW (Drum Workshop) hi-hat stand, which is one of the best you can buy. I’ve also got a DW bass drum pedal. However you can’t purchase a drum set without these items and it wouldn’t decrease the price much anyway. So, I moved on to cymbal stands. This set comes with two stands but in order to have a well-rounded set you need more than two cymbals. I typically like to have two crash cymbals, one crash/ride cymbal and one special effect cymbal, usually a china. I found two tama boom cymbal stands for less than $50 so I added them to my list as well. Now I had the long task of finding cymbals.
Cymbals are very hard to buy. The sound so different by themselves than they do with a band behind them and they sound different when they’re hit solo than then do when they’re hit in combination with the bass drum or the snare. So, you have to keep those things in mind when testing cymbals.
In the past the only way to buy cymbals was to either know what you wanted and buy it or go to a music store and stand there banging on cymbals until you found one you like. Things have changed. I visited Zildjian’s website and found that they had high-quality audio samples of every cymabal they make online for my review. I went through the various types of cymbals (hi-hats, crashes, rides, and then chinas) until I found the ones that I thought would work best for the music we’ll be playing at the Anchor. I eventaully decided on a 15" and 17" crash, an 18" crash/ride, an 18" china and a pair of 14" K/Z hi hats.
I had a complete list and the total came to around $1,800 for the entire set with new Zildjian cymbals. I was very impressed. A set of this quality would have cost around $4,000 back in the day. The best thing of all was that I was able to view photos, hear the sound of the cymbals and see the prices for each of them without leaving my desk. Yet another display of the wonder of the itnernet.

Some imagery provided by Unsplash.
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