Buying your first drum set online or in a local drum store is an exciting moment. The myriad of drum set accessories available is also quite impressive, albeit a little intimidating at times. In my early career, I used to run one of the UK's top specialist drum stores, and routinely helped new drummers on all aspects of buying drums and related accessories. I have outlined ten popular options below - some are fun, and some are just practical. Some are a few dollars, and some are a little more. Before we dive in, don't forget our glossary is available for any terms that you might not be familiar with.
1) Sticks, brushes and rods.
In our blog on buying your first drum set, we highlighted that drum sticks may not be included with your purchase. It's like getting an electronic gadget for your birthday and discovering that batteries are not included! Our stick guide can help you with your selection, but it is also a good idea to buy some spares because sticks can, and do break. Also, buying a pair of brushes or rods (sticks made up with multiple thin dowels of wood) can give you some interesting options to experiment with.
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2) Stick bag or stick holder.
You need somewhere to put your sticks, brushes and rods. Stick bags usually open and close with a zip, and often have hooks so that you can attach them to your floor tom. Deluxe stick bags are usually oversized for increased capacity and feature shoulder carry straps and mini compartments for spares and accessories. Stick holders are different. These are devices that clamp to your hi hat stand (or nearby cymbal stand) and allow you to reach for a spare stick in the event of any drumming mishaps like broken sticks or the errant drum stick that you threw in the air, and didn't return exactly as planned. (Yes, it happens to all of us when doing our best Neil Peart impressions).
Let's face it - spares are not particularly exciting, so we often overlook them. That is until we realize that we have forgotten a hi-hat clutch, lost some cymbal felts, or we experience the classic situation of lost wing nuts from cymbal stands. Yes, these are all the delights of packing and unpacking your drums, and you will be glad that you picked up some spares! Specialist drum stores will stock these parts - don't be surprised if general music stores do not. While you are looking at spares, you might want to pick up a couple of extra drum keys, as these are easily lost, and you will find it impossible to tune drums and adjust bass drum beaters without them!
4) Music stand.
Once you have experienced a stiff neck from trying to read the music you sticky taped to the wall or placed on your floor tom, you will quickly understand the value of a real music stand. They are height adjustable, easily positioned to sit conveniently above your hi hat stand, and the "Conductor" models are usually bigger to accommodate multiple pages. It's also a convenient place to rest your metronome or smartphone. I really do recommend the Conductor models - they are sturdy and less delicate than the collapsible/foldable models you may have seen at school. (I've broken or bent more of those then I care to remember). You can also buy some cool LED lights that clip to the stand!
5) Sound dampening pads.
Yes - they don't make much sound and won't be a feature of your drum solo - but your neighbors and fellow family members will love you at times when they may not want to hear you. It also means that you can practice while keeping the noise to a minimum. You may also want to pick up a practice pad to work on your technique when you might not have access to a drum set. You can read our blog on sound control for more information.
If you want to support your brand with pride, or tell the world you are a drummer, then you should consider the extensive collection of drum apparel! T-Shirts, hats, hoodies, sports towels, key-chains, jackets and gloves are all commonly available. Slightly more off-the-wall but extremely fun include baby onesies and jumpsuits, dog collars, dog tags, bandanas, ID/lanyard holders, wallets, and car stickers. Seemingly, if you can slap a logo on it - those cunning marketeers will happily oblige!
7) Tuition books and DVDs.
There are some fantastic books available to feed your hunger for drum knowledge. Whether you are looking for a tuition book, a biography on a famous drummer, a history of the drum set or a transcription of a favorite album - there will most likely be a book that suits your needs. There is also an extensive library of performance and instructional DVDs available, although the majority of this media has inevitably appeared online.
If you have read our blog on time keeping, you will already understand the importance of working with a metronome. There are options available online and a variety of metronome apps for your smartphone, but if you want to go old-school and get a digital metronome, most music stores stock them. The prices can vary from $15 for a basic model to $100 for a more advanced model which usually has more volume and preset functions.
9) Mountable hand percussion.
It's fun to experiment with hand percussion, and certain items come with brackets and an optional mount so that you can attach them to your cymbal stands. Popular choices include cowbells, tambourines and effect blocks. We all know the world needs more cowbell, and this is your chance to deliver!
10) Drum tuner.
As a beginner drummer, you will be new to drum tuning and the nuances involved in making your drums sound good. Books have been written (which always confused me a little since we actually need to hear examples) and instructional DVDs have been dedicated to this field. Nowadays, there are plenty of good online tutorials too. Yet it still takes time, and a good deal of trial and error to get tuning right. Fortunately, there are some drum tuning devices that can simplify the process, and get us a quick-tune once we know how to use them properly. We discuss some of these options in our blog on getting a great drum sound from your starter drum set!
Buying drums and accessories really does open up a can of worms that can be endless! There is always room for expansion on your drum set, and a new cool accessory that you either need, or just want. It's all part of the fun and wonder of drumming.
If you have any questions relating to this article, please feel free to email [email protected].