Bedfordview-based drummer Warren van Wyk has been playing drums from the age of eight and has been teaching for the past 11 years. He has also worked with top artists in South Africa. In this article, he gives tips on purchasing your first drum kit.
When people decide to start playing the drums, they are very excited and motivated – we all get excited about a new venture. Because the excitement levels are so high, they go out and buy expensive high-end kits, thinking that they’ll be using them in their successful rock bands one day.
I can relate to this because I’m terrible when I start a new hobby – I want the best gear on the market even though I know it’s unnecessary for a beginner. A few months later, the novelty wears off, and I wonder why I spent all that money, or life gets busy and I can’t use it like I wanted to. If you find yourself in this situation, you might think that this is OK because you can sell the gear, but you will never retrieve the full value of what you spent.
When you begin playing drums, don’t buy the most expensive drum kit on the market. Rather start with cheaper equipment. However, we usually recommend taking a few lessons before purchasing anything, then you can see if you really enjoy it. If you want to continue after that, start with a simple entry-level drum kit. There are plenty of entry-level kits that come with everything you need.
The only time you will need a higher-end drum kit is when you start taking it seriously and begin to hear and feel the difference, and you are 100% sure that you want to carry on with drumming. When starting, you shouldn’t worry too much about the sound, look and feel of the drum kit as it will only be used for practising in your bedroom and not on a stage where a good sound is a must.
When you think that the novelty stage has worn off and you are just as much or more in love with playing the drums and want to take it to the next level, only then look at selling your current kit and upgrading to something better. You don’t even need to buy a whole new drum kit. Look at upgrading it piece by piece. I would personally upgrade the bass drum pedal, for example, then the snare and then the cymbals. You can also look at putting new drumheads on your entry-level kit, which would already take the sound quality up a notch, and it will be a lot cheaper than a whole new set.
My first drum kit was second-hand, which my dad purchased for me when I was eight years old. It was as entry-level as they came. That was an excellent way for him to see whether or not I would keep it up and not lose interest. It was also an attractive incentive for me because I knew if I carried on playing and I showed him I would pursue it and not waste his money, he would get me a more expensive drum kit. After proving myself and playing that kit for 5-6 years, he got me a higher-end drum kit. I used my new kit for a lot of shows and recordings, and only when entering a higher level of playing did I purchase an even higher-end kit with the money I made. I only upgraded when I felt that my playing and scale of my career was at a certain point.
The most important thing when starting is not to get carried away right from the start. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the feeling of getting better at it and getting better equipment as you scale up. I feel it is so rewarding doing it this way and you won’t waste much money if you think playing the drums isn’t your thing a year down the line.