A great drum sound is quite honestly a matter of opinion. What one drummer likes to hear and feel when sitting behind the drum set can easily be the exact opposite of another drummer. The type of music that’s being played and the style of playing all contribute to what’s considered great. Whether you’re in a studio session, playing live in front of 20,000 screaming fans or gigging in a small coffee shop or club, the sound of the drum kit is completely subjective.
The Best of What’s Around
More often than not, it’s easy to fall into the trap of purchasing the “best of the best.” Marketing departments in the music industry are exceptionally adept at putting a high price tag on the latest and “greatest” drum head, drum shell or cymbal. I’ll admit, I tend to get pulled down this path from time to time as well. However, I’ve learned that the “newest” cymbal that is claiming to be the “best” often doesn’t fit in with the rest of my sound. The same goes for any music related gear out there. If you’re spending more time collecting the best of what’s around, you’ve missed the point.
Define Who You Are as a Musician
As prior stated, I love talking about gear. I’ll be the first to admit I enjoy getting into conversations about shell thickness, tone, resonance, brilliance, etc. But, the reason I dig into the specifics of things is because I know what sound I’m looking for. If you haven’t already done so, take a good hard look at what kind of drummer you are or want to be. Do you like a really resonant tom sound that sings and sustains or do you prefer a full-bodied thud? Do you like dark and warm tones or lively and bright? It’s a beautiful thing to be inspired by other drummers. However, be careful not to run out and purchase the exact same gear your favorite drummer is using. Just because Carter Beauford uses Coated Ambassadors doesn’t mean they suit your style.
Realize Your Skill Level
If you’re a beginner, buying the most expensive drum set on the market is not a good idea. If you haven’t learned how to properly tune your drums to a specific sound then the shell thickness and ply count is pointless. Even if you consider yourself an experienced or professional drummer, take the time to define who you are. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What aspect of your current setup sounds particularly good?
- What makes you cringe every time you sit down to play?
- What about your current set up is just uncomfortable?
- What do your band mates honestly think about the blend of your drums with the music?
Before you do anything else, take note of the answers. For example, perhaps that splash cymbal doesn’t fit with the rest of your cymbal collection. Or maybe your floor tom is tuned higher than your rack toms. No matter your situation, take the time to write down what kind of drummer you want to be and define your own unique sound. Once you do, you’ll be glad you did because it will only get easier from here.