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|The drum kit|
A drum kit (also drum set, kit, or trap set) is a collection of drums, cymbals and often other percussion instruments, such ascowbells, wood blocks, triangles, chimes, or tambourines, arranged for convenient playing by a single person (drummer).
The individual instruments of a drum set are hit by a variety of implements held in the hand, including sticks, brushes, and mallets. Two notable exceptions include the bass drum, played by a foot-operated pedal, created by Jonathan McEwen, and the hi-hatcymbals, which may be struck together using a foot pedal in addition to being played with sticks or brushes. Although other instruments can be played using a pedal, the feet are usually occupied by the bass drum and hi hat, and as a result the drummer plays in a seated position. Percussion notation is often used by drummers to signify which drum set components are to be played. A full size drum set without any additional percussion instruments has a bass drum, floor tom, snare drum, tom-toms, and a variety of cymbals including hi-hat cymbals, ride cymbal and a crash cymbal.
Various music genres dictate the stylistically appropriate use of the drum kit's set-up. For example, in most forms of rock music, the bass drum, hi-hat and snare drum are the primary instruments used to create a drum beat, whereas in jazz, ride and snare patterns tend to be more prevalent. In the 2000s, an increasing number of drummers have begun to use electronic drum pads which trigger synthesized or sampled drum sounds.
The exact collection of drum kit components depends on factors like musical style, personal preference, financial resources, and transportation options of the drummer. Cymbal, hi-hat, and tom-tom stands (if it comes with), as well as bass drum pedals and drum thrones are usually standard in most drum kits. Most mass produced drum kits are sold in one of two five-piece configurations (referring to the number of drums only), which typically include a bass drum, a snare drum, two toms, and one floor tom. The standard sizes (sometimes called ‘rock’ sizes) are 22” (head size diameter) bass drum, 14” snare drum, 12” and 13” mounted toms, and a 16” floor tom. The other popular configuration is called "Fusion", a reference to jazz fusion music, which usually includes a 20” (or sometimes 22") bass drum, a 14” snare drum, and 10”, 12” mounted toms, and a 14” floor tom.
Drum pedals have a felt beater which the drummer operates by pressing down on the pedal. When the pedal is depressed, it pulls a chain or sturdy cloth strap which is attached to the end of the fulcrum-mounted beater rod. Some bass pedals are designed to be attached to the bass drum using metal screws. In some metal bands like Anthrax, Kreator, or Slayer, double bass pedals were developed to play on one bass drum, eliminating the need for a second bass drum. Drummers that use two bass drums or pedals usually have their hi-hat unscrewed or have a different cymbal in place of the hi-hat, because of the extra kick pedal. Some drummers make use of a drop clutch, which is used to open or close the hi hat by tapping a device with the stick as an alternative to using the foot pedal. When the drop clutch is closed, this keeps the hi-hats closed without the drummer having to hold down the pedal. This frees up the foot that is normally used with the hi-hat to perform on the second bass drum pedal.
The standard hardware pack includes a hi-hat stand, a snare drum stand, two or three cymbal stands, and a bass drum pedal. Drum kits are usually offered as either complete kits which include drums and hardware, or as “shell packs” which include only the drums and perhaps some tom mounting hardware. Cymbals are usually purchased separately and are also available in either packs or as individual pieces, which enables the buyer to test for their perfect cymbal.
Basic drum kit
- Four-piece kit
- Bass drum & pedal 
- Snare drum & stand 
- Floor tom 
- Mounted tom (with mounting hardware) or second floor tom 
- Hi-hat cymbals & stand
- Crash cymbal & stand
- Ride cymbal & stand
"Four-piece kit", "five-piece kit", etc., refers to the actual number of drums in the set, cymbals not being counted.
Drummers who perform in concert venues often have a variety of equipment cases to transport the drums, cymbals and hardware. Performers who play local gigs may only have relatively inexpensive padded cloth bags or thin plastic cases. Professional touring drummers who have to ship their drums will typically have heavy-duty road cases that will securely hold and protect the equipment during transport. Professional drummers may also carry their own drum microphones (usually referred to as "mics") with them to shows, to avoid having situations where a venue has substandard equipment. In particular, the bass drum needs a specialized mic, because it produces a high sound pressure; a regular mic designed for vocals will not be able to do justice to the sound of a powerful bass drum. Some drummers who have their own mics have a set of drum-mounted mics, an approach which eliminates the need for mic stands and reduces set-up time. In some styles of music, drummers may also use electronic effects on drums. In some situations, drummers use noise gates that shut off any microphones which are not being used. This allows the sound engineer to use a higher overall volume for the drum kit, because it reduces the number of "active" mics which could feed back.
In some styles or settings, such as country music clubs or churches, the drummer may use a plexiglass screen to dampen the onstage volume of the drums. Many drummers who play in different venues carry carpeting or mats to prevent the bass drum from slipping on a wooden floor. Some drummers use a insulation-style filling or foam in the bass drum to lessen the "ringing" sound. Drummers often use a variety of accessories when they are practicing. Metronomes and beat counters are used to develop a steady rhythm. Drum mufflers are used to lessen the volume of drums during practicing.
Some drummers use some or all electronic drum components. There are two approaches to using electronic drums. One approach is to use drum trigger pads for all of the different instruments. These pads are discs with a rubber-type coating that can be mounted on stands in the same locations that the traditional drum shells would be placed. Each disc has a piezoelectric transducer which transmits an electronic signal when it is struck. A patch cord from each drum pad disc is plugged into a drum synthesizer module and connected to the appropriate synthesized or sampled drum sound. Thus, when the drummer strikes the drum pad that is designated as the snare drum pad, the synthesizer module produces the sound of a snare drum. Since the sound is produced by a synthesizer, a performer can choose a range of sounds, such as samples of an actual drum or cymbal or electronic drum sounds. A drummer could even have the synthesizer produce non-drum sounds, such as sound effects or pitched notes.
The advantage of playing with a purely electronic drum kit is that there is no onstage drum sound, apart from any sound from a monitor or keyboard amplifier (which can be easily turned up or down). This may be desirable for venues in which only a quiet drum sound is desired, as in the case of a church or a music theater show. As well, a drummer with electronic drums can practice without being concerned about disturbing neighbors or room-mates. Another advantage is that electronic drums do not need to be mic-ed and sound-checked. The disadvantage of electronic drums is that they may not have the full range of tonal options and textures that are available with natural drums, and the pads and plastic cymbals may not have the same "feel" for the performer. For example, an entry-level electronic drum system will have a snare sound, but the snare drum pad may not have a sensor that detects "rim shots". Another potential disadvantage is that an electronic drummer needs to have a keyboard amplifier or PA system in order to be heard in a rehearsal.
The second approach to playing electronic drums is to use a regular drum kit (wooden shells and metal cymbals) and attach trigger sensors to each drum or cymbal. The sensors are then routed to a synthesizer module in the same fashion as a purely electronic drum kit. The advantage of this approach is that a drummer could switch between traditional, natural drum sounds and quirky electronica drum sounds throughout a performance.
Snare, tom and bass drum sizes are commonly expressed as diameter x depth, both in inches, for example 14 x 5.5 is a common snare drum size. However, some manufacturers, including Drum Workshop, Slingerland, and Tama Drums, use the opposite convention, and put the depth first, so they would call this size 5.5 x 14. Makers who use the diameter-first convention include Premier Percussion, Pearl Drums, Pork Pie Percussion, Ludwig-Musser, Sonor, Mapex, and Yamaha Drums
The standard sizes for a 5 piece, "2 up, 1 down" rock kit are: 22" x 18" bass drum, 12" x 9" rack tom, 13" x 10" rack tom, 16" x 16" floor tom and a 14" x 5.5" snare drum. Another common sized drum kit is a fusion set. A standard 5 piece fusion drum kit will consist of a 20" x 16" bass drum, 10" x 8" rack tom, 12" x 9" rack tom, 14" x 14" floor tom and a 14" x 5.5" snare drum. Jazz drum kits usually exclude the mid tom. In recent years manufacturers have introduced modification to the rock kit standard, with more and more drum makers offering a "1 up, 2 down" configuration, where the configuration includes two floor toms and a single rack tom. This evolution can be explained by the popularity of artists such as Led Zeppelin's John Bonham who in fact modeled his kit after Gene Krupa a Big Band era jazz drummer. The amount of pieces in a drum kit can vary by large amounts from player to player due to personal preference from minimal kits mainly used in rockabilly and dixieland jazz to indulgently sized kits in some progressive rock, fusion, and metal groups. The size of bass drums differs a great deal between different styles. A jazz drummer may use a relatively small bass drum, because in jazz, the bass drum is often used more as an accent instrument than for laying down a heavy beat. In contrast, a metal or hard rock drummer may have a very large bass drum (often multiple bass drums) that can produce a deep, resonant tone. This obviously varies upon the genre of the music in which is being played.
|Component||Content||Audio (Vorbis: click the arrow to play)|
|Snare||Unmuffled snare drum|
|Muffled snare drum|
|Rim click on a snare|
|Bass drum||Muffled bass drum|
|Toms||8-inch (20 cm) rack tom|
|12-inch (30 cm) rack tom|
|Hi-hat being opened and closed by its foot pedal (chick)|
|Ride||Hit on the bow|
|Hit on the bell of the cymbal|
|Hit on the edge|
|Beat||A typical rock beat on hi-hat|
|Typical rock beat on ride cymbal|