Buying drum sets online has become a necessity for many beginner drummers. With the past year's events, it has been difficult to visit physical music stores and check out the options. Online stores offer a huge selection and highly competitive pricing, as long as you don't mind doing a certain amount of research by yourself.
Talking to a local drum store specialist can answer many questions, from making the right decisions for your budget to ensuring you have everything you need to get started. Online searches can often leave you on your own to navigate the weird and wonderful world of drum products. To compound the issue, it's not always crystal clear what is and what is not included in the price you are quoted. There's nothing more annoying than excitedly opening your boxes to discover that half the parts you need are missing, incomplete, or not what you expected. We are here to help with five tips to consider when shopping for drums online.
Helpful related articles:
Why are some drum sets more expensive than others?
A guide to buying your first drum set.
How to assemble a drum set from the box - A video guide.
Firstly, if you are looking for pricing guidance on buying your first drum set, we recommend checking out this article. If you have not weighed up the options yet, it's a good idea to determine whether electronic or acoustic drums are the best fit for your situation. Here are five common mistakes, most of which are not obvious, that we'd like to help consumers avoid.
1. Shell Packs are not the same as full drum sets.
Some online retailers do not make it clear that a Shell Pack consists of just the drums only. To compound the problem, they often show you an image of the set with cymbals and hardware, and you would be forgiven for thinking that these items are included. This is not the case. Drum sets require hardware, including cymbal stands, bass drum pedal, snare drum stand, and hi-hat stand. Unless it states specifically on the website that this is included in your price, you will most likely have to add a hardware pack, and this can increase your cost from the marked shell-pack price by upwards of $250. Some shell packs come with holders, but these are the clamps that attach the drums to the bass drum, which is not the same as drum hardware.
2. Cymbals are not included.
Unless specifically indicated, cymbals are not included in drum set purchases. Again, many images you see will show the set with cymbals, but that does not mean they are included. You will need a set of hi-hats, a ride cymbal, and a crash cymbal when starting. These can be purchased in boxed sets for better value. Some budget starter drum sets include a basic cymbal setup, but these do not sound great and are often the first thing to be upgraded. You'll find out quickly that if it sounds nasty, you don't want to hit it! Cymbal box sets are great value but can add up to $300+ to the cost of your drum set. Most cymbal box sets come with a ride cymbal, crash cymbal, and a set of hi-hats. Some, however, have a combined crash/ride cymbal which is just one cymbal for both functions, so it is important to read the contents carefully. It is also prudent to check that you have enough stands in your hardware pack to mount all cymbals, particularly when some box sets offer additional free cymbals. The bottom line here is that it is essential to allow for a good cymbal set in your overall budget. Don't spend your entire budget on the drums and end up hating your cymbal set! Cheap cymbals are cheap for a reason.
3. The throne is not included.
The seat that drummers sit on is called a throne. Again, unless specifically indicated, these are not included with your drum set purchase. Don't skimp here! A comfortable and supportive throne can be one of the most important drum hardware items you can buy. Many consumers forgo the throne purchase to save money, thinking that a household seat or stool will do. This is not the case. Drum thrones need to be height adjustable, and the legs are designed to not interfere with the positioning of the foot pedals. If you are not comfortable or well supported, it can affect your technique and lead to physical pain.
4. The drum set will not arrive assembled.
Your drum set will come boxed for self-assembly. By assembly, we mean fitting the drum heads, attaching necessary bolts, and tuning the drums. Some physical retail stores can arrange to ship your set assembled, but most online stores do not offer this option. There is normally a premium for this, as it involves assembly time and more shipped boxes, which means more cost. It's not particularly difficult to assemble a drum set since most come with instructions. However, unless you are experienced, the tuning can be difficult.
5. Sticks and sound control products are not included.
Some basic starter packages will also include a pair of drum sticks, but these are normally cheap unbranded sticks. They don't normally last too long, so it's best to buy a good pair of sticks from a reputable brand. Many sets don't have sticks at all, which can be extremely annoying if you are unprepared for this. Sound control products such as mute pads, tone rings, and tone control gels are extra. You can find guidance on these products here.
What about electronic drums?
Whilst this article mostly covers acoustic drum sets, you should also be mindful when buying electronic drum sets online. Depending on the specifications of the set you are purchasing, you may need to buy a drum throne, bass drum pedal, sticks, and hi-hat stand. If you are planning on listening to the drums without a headphone set, you will also need to consider an appropriate drum monitor. Look out for online music stores that offer bundles.
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