An acoustic drum kit - specifically a setup without electronic drum pads - often encompasses a specific arrangement of instruments designed to cover a wide range of tones and effects.
Generally, acoustic kits are referenced by the number of drums going into the arrangement - cymbals and novelty items like cowbells aren't included, however. A five-piece kit is typical, often consisting of a bass drum, snare drum and three tom-toms, in addition to hi-hats and cymbals. A seven-piece kit, the next-most common option, may add two additional tom-toms.
The Basic Parts of an Acoustic Drum Kit
You'll see some truly wild drum kit setups out there, perhaps with a gong behind or, in more modern bands, a mix of acoustic and electronic elements, including pads and a drum machine.
This type of kit is geared toward a more advanced player who's starting to experiment with software but has a solid grasp on the technical, rhythmic aspects of acoustic drum playing.
As such, for a beginner to intermediate player, an acoustic drum kit typically includes at least one of the following:
- Bass Drum: More commonly, you'll also hear this instrument called a "kick drum," in reference to the action needed to play it. Unlike in a classical ensemble, the player uses a foot pedal attached to the drum's rim to keep the beat and hit the low notes.
- Snare Drum: You'll also find snare drums in an orchestral percussion section, but in a rock band, this instrument often forms the backbeat in the rhythm section. Known for a distinctive tone, snare drums have wires or strings going across the bottom to create a rattling noise.
- Tom-Toms: In sizes from 10 to 16 inches, tom-toms include a set of three drums mounted from high to low, and along with the snare, tend to compose the bulk of the sounds you hear in a drum solo.
- Hi-Hats: One of the cymbals typically included in a drum kit, the hi-hat consists of a pair positioned horizontally that's also played with a foot pedal. The player typically reserves their left for the hi-hat and their right for the bass drum.
- Cymbals: Acoustic drum kits have at least three other types of cymbals, excluding the hi-hat. The ride cymbal is a larger, often 20-inch wide disc that the player hits with a drum stick, while the crash cymbal is essentially a smaller version requiring a stronger touch. A splash cymbal is even smaller, at roughly eight inches wide, and generally accents and complements the sounds of the other two listed here.
- Drum Stool: While not an instrument, the stool is where the player sits and is positioned to reach all drums and cymbals. Ideally, the player can sit so that their feet are fully flat on the floor and they can access all parts of the kit.
Build Your Acoustic Drum Kit with Alamo Music Center
Whether you need a basic setup or you're looking to expand your existing kit, Alamo Music Center has all of the essentials to cover the full spectrum of percussion sounds. We offer no-interest, 48-month financing, plus extended warranties and trial lessons, on all purchases.