For those of you interested in upgrading your current drum kit, or considering purchasing a new set, there are a few things to consider before making any final decisions. I’m going to talk a little about what items I like to play, why, and what I know about drum shopping.
Let’s talk toys; this can range from cymbals to bass pedals, drum heads, sticks, and so on. Let’s say you want your kit to sound better, but don’t necessarily feel like spending the cash to buy a whole new kit. One huge improvement to any set that is often overlooked is changing the drum heads. Keep in mind, only the top heads (the side you hit) are usually the ones that need changing. If you want a head that provides a solid, thunderous sound and will also be durable for you hard hitters, I recommend the Pinstripes by Remo. These seemingly simple heads have proven to be easy to tune, have impressed me with their ability to sustain hard hits, and improve a drum’s overall sound.
On a literal higher note, here are some cymbal brands and models that I am familiar with and would recommend to any serious drummer. You need to consider that most of these items cold range from $100 to upwards of $400 each. Brands I recommend are Sabian, Zildjian, Meinl, and Paiste. I play mostly Sabian. I have found their upper lines of cymbals to provide the best all-around sound. I look for darker tones with fast response, and a lot of sustain. You can find all of these qualities in Sabian’s AAX, HH, HHX, and HHX Evolution lines. If I were to take the Zildjian alternative, my drums would be equipped with their A, A Custom, K, or K Custom lines.
If you are ready to take a serious plunge into some new shells (drums), the first consideration should be what type of shell material (in most cases, these are made of different types of wood) you prefer. Generally, the harder the wood, the better the sound. A quick, simple summary of the role of the two most desired wood shell types are as such; Maple – Warm, Even. Rich. An extremely versatile choice, capable of producing some of the most sought-after sounds in both a recording and performing environment. Birch – Loud. Bright. Boosted high frequencies, slightly reduced mids, and a solid low-end punch provide for applications requiring extra presence and cut. The choice between these two types of drums is ultimately a matter of personal opinion, as are most choices when selecting high-end instruments. They both have the ability to sound wonderful in a vast array of contexts and look very attractive with a natural finish.
Speaking of finish, I hope you found this entry to be beneficial to your wish list, or perhaps shopping list this holiday season. Be sure to check back regularly for future entries where I will go into more depth on specific items, as well as discuss some influential drummers who have helped me establish my overall desired sound.