Buying your First Drums

Because We Are Not a Retail Music Store, We Can Offer Unbiased Advice About Purchasing Drums

How to Buy a Drum Set

The drums, also known as the drum set or drum kit, are less a single instrument and more a collection of instruments. If you have ever been to the symphony or seen a marching band you will see some of the individual components of a drum set played one at a time by one musician. Somewhere along the line, the snare, bass and tom tom drums, along with cymbals and other percussion goodies became the drum set.

Almost every musical ensemble uses the drum set, so it is a very popular instrument to learn to play.  For new music students and their families we like to refer to the drums as, “the hardest instrument to get into the house.” We say this because of the perception of the instrument being loud, expensive and big.

As far as being too loud, it is one of the louder acoustic instruments you can buy, but like most acoustic instruments, it can be played quieter. Unlike other acoustic instruments, playing louder is what the drums do best and lessons are needed to learn to play quieter. With other loud acoustic instruments like brass and woodwinds, it is the other way around.

Are they too expensive? Well compared to a piano they are a bargain. With a new piano starting at $3,000 that $600 drum set looks pretty good. A starter guitar can be $100. That means that the drums in the middle ground as far as instrument pricing, but for someone wanting to learn the drums, other instruments are not an option.

Drums come in many sizes and configurations so don’t confuse that humongous drum set you see on TV with the one you, your son or daughter will be coming home with.

Now that You Have Decided to Let the Drums in the Front Door

Once you have gotten used to the idea that drums can belong in your house you have quite a few options.

New vs. Used

It is no secret that buying used can save you money over buying new. When making such an important purchase, it is crucial that you know what to look for.

With a used drum-set you need to know a few things.

  1. What are the essential items I need in a drum set?
  2. What is reasonable wear and tear to expect from a used drum set?
  3. What is the value of an equivalent new drum set
  4. What do I NOT need in a drum set?
  5. Is everything in working order?

The instruments that comprise a basic drum set are

  • bass drum and pedal
  • snare drum and stand
  • one tom and mount
  • one floor tom and three legs
  • one pair hi-hats and stand
  • one ride cymbal and stand

Winnipeg Drumming LessonsYou could also have a crash cymbal, cowbell, second tom and/or floor tom included as part of a reasonable drum set.

The only non musical item you should get with your used drum set (or get new to go with your drumset) is a drum throne. This is a special adjustable seat for drumming and cannot be substituted with a normal chair or stool.

Things you don’t need in a first drum set

  • a second bass drum or a double pedal
  • more than one ride or crash cymbal
  • more than two toms or floor toms
  • an overly large bass drum (larger than 22″)

If you buy a new drum set like the one described above you should compare prices among the retail competition. Like many purchases, you have to budget for the ‘up sell’. For example, most drum sets are priced to not include cymbals or a drum throne.

Acoustic vs. Electronic Drums

As stated before the drums can be loud and if you live in an apartment, condo, townhome, semi-detached house, or don’t think you can deal with the noise, electronic drums may be a solution.  Please be advised that electronic drum sets have come and gone over the last 25 years and are not going to replace real drums.

Electronic drum sets come in 2 basic forms: affordable or good.

Affordable Electronic Drums


  • Can sound like drums
  • Headphones can be used for near silent practice
  • They don’t take up much room


  • Cannot be configured like a normal drum set
  • Contact surfaces are in dimensions much smaller than real drums and cymbals
  • Contact surfaces feel nothing like real drums and cymbals
  • Bear little or no resemblance to playing a real drum set


Good Electronic Drums


  • Looks like a real drum set
  • Headphones can be used for near silent practice
  • The dimensions and contact surfaces are like real drums and cymbals
  • It is very like playing a real drum set


  • Expensive
  • Heavy
  • Take up the same space as a real drum set


At the River Heights School of Music we use Electronic drums for the the late afternoon, early evenings and Saturday lessons and acoustic drums for the late morning, early afternoon weekday lessons.

As you can see, there are many options. If you have any questions about drum lessons or music classes in general do not hesitate to call us.

Drumming lessons winnipeg

River Heights School of Music
2nd Floor of the Tuxedo Park Shopping Center (Safeway, Starbucks)
202-2025 Corydon Ave
Winnipeg, Manitoba.
R3P 0N5