Got Rhythm?

I am thinking of getting a drum set for a 13 year old boy who will turn 14 in March. He loves music, plays the piano and trumpet, and can also play the violin. He has a bodhran bodhran.jpgand enjoys playing it. His sense of rhythm is fantastic.

He confessed to me the other day that he would love to have a drum set but doesn’t want to ask us for too much. Modesty is a be…

  1. raycon and lindacon

    I’m not a musician, but have spent lots of time in recording studios, and around bands.  Old school musicians resist electronic drum sets, but much of that is in regards to “feel” rather than sound.

    For a kid, or young man, I would recommend the electronic set.  He can practice with headphones on.  If he isn’t your own kid, consider your relationship with his parents and neighbors.

    There is a great show at some broadcaster and musician conferences called the silent rock band.  100% of the instruments are electronic, and when you watch them, there is no sound at all.  Looks really bizarre.  Then, put on the headphones and mix the band to your taste.  Fun and very informative demonstration.

  2. Old Buckeye

    My son started out with the electronic drum but when he left for college, he eschewed that and now plays in a studio setup with his musical friends. If he’s already been working with the bodhran, he’s probably ready to graduate to the real deal. If you have a music store in the area (a local type), chances are they have gently used instruments or a way to buy a full rig  piecemeal.

  3. Misthiocracy

    I play drums.

    Electronic drums are fine if you live in an apartment and you need to use headphones lest you disturb the neighbours.

    However, real acoustic drums are way better, especially for learning. The drummer has much more control over the sound, there’s better “recoil” between the stick and the drum head, plus they’re simply way more satisfying to wail on.

    I got my drum set used for C$500.

  4. Gus Marvinson

    My opinion (though I’m a guitarist/bassist and not a good drummer) distilled from years as a sales manager in a large musical instrument retail chain: real drums have better feel and are more emotionally engaging (trust me, when your son daydreams of a drum set, it isn’t an electronic set that quickens his pulse) but electronic drums can be very good. They have all sorts of built-in training aids and the added advantage of a headphone jack. Electronic drums can have annoying trigger bleed, meaning that when one strikes the kick pad, for instance, one of the cymbal pads will trigger from the impact, causing it to sound faintly in the background.

    So, my advice is to get him an inexpensive (but not cheap) drum kit, buy a good set of cymbals, and with the money left over from not going crazy on the kit, get him an electronic kit for quiet practice. The entry level Yamaha kit is very good. I have one and play it often.

    Oh yeah, bodhrans are cool!

  5. No Caesar

    I am a part-time musician and studied drums and other instruments for a number of years when I was younger.  The Spectrum is a toy.  It’s fine for sound effects and cool sounds (although overpriced), but not if this boy is serious about drumming.  Modern electronic drum sets are very good and give very realistic responses, but that Spectrum is not one of them. 

    If he is serious about being a drummer he needs a real snare drum at the very least.  The best electronic kits use real drum heads because there is no way a rubber pad can give you the response and stick control of a real drum head.  The better electronic kits are more expensive than good acoustic drum kits.

    If he’s still at the experimental stage then here are three suggestions for electronic units that are high quality and self-contained. If he is serious he needs a real snare drum and lessons, or at least this.  Move to a good acoustic drum kit if he sticks with it.  There is much to learn about drumming technique, and electronics will distract him from gaining the foundation to be good. 

  6. Devereaux

    I have an old Rogers set, approximately 67. One of the early memory-lock sets, which Rogers pioneered. There is nothing like real drum heads to get the feel and sound. Tuning is part of the knowledge base.

    Different drum sets sound different. So do different drum heads on the same set. If he is serious he will end up with a serious drum set of quality drums, and will find the heads that he most likes. Same with cymbals – old Zilgins are prized for their sound.

    No Caesar is right – don’t buy toys. If electronic drums are the only rational way, at least get real ones, so he can learn properly. You wouldn’t buy a toy piano if he was interested in learning to play that instrument.

  7. Mama Toad

    You Ricochetti rock! 

    Papa Toad is even more convinced of the value of Ricochet membership for the whole family….

    Thanks for all your advice and suggestions. The hard part will be figuring out where to put even a small drum kit… I’m sure we can shoe-horn one in somewhere…

    Thanks again!

  8. Percival

    must resist impulse to bag on drummers….

    This could be a stopgap, Mama Toad.


    It might just hold him until you can locate a good kit.

  9. Mama Toad

    Oh. my. GOODNESS!!!! That is hysterical, Percival.

    Hmmm… only $29.99! Of course, I can just see him sitting there while I’m lecturing away about the Gold Standard in history class… much more irritating than tapping a pencil… I think I’d have to ban the plug-in power pack during school hours…

  10. No Caesar

    Glad we could help.  It sounds like you’re looking at an acoustic drum kit.  Here’s the relevant page on Sweetwater.  If starting with a kit, get a good used one (local music store, eBay or Craig’s List).  Back in the day the two best makes were Rogers and Ludwig (I had a white Rogers kit, just like Joey Kramer’s of Aerosmith), now it’s a different world.  The page on Sweetwater will give you good guidance on makes. 

    For configuration, the common basic kit is a 5-piece set: bass, snare, two mounted toms, one floor tom, hi-hat, crash cymbal and ride cymbal.  Ideally he should play the different makes before deciding on one.  A good store will be able to provide guidance on the relevant characteristics of different manufacturers of the drums, drum-heads and cymbals. 

    As I said before, pay careful attention to the snare.  That (along with the bass drum) gets used the most and will be the primary drum he uses for the first couple years of lessons. 

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