Drum kit

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A typical drum kit

A drum kit (or drum set or trap set) is a collection of drums, cymbals, and other percussion instruments that is used by a drummer in a musical group.

Setup[change | change source]

A drum kit is normally comprised of the following:

  • Bass drum - The largest drum that is struck with a hammer by pressing with one's foot; typically used to start "bars" with and keep the beat. Often called a kick drum.
  • Snare drum - A drum with small cables of metal wires stretched across the bottom to make the loud "tat" sound.
  • Tom Toms - Often simply called a "tom," these are typically two drums across the top of the kit. To the drummer's left (or right if he/she is right-handed) is the small tom that makes a higher sound; on the other side is the medium or middle tom with a slightly lower sound, depending on the tuning. The number and positioning varies by the drummer; some drummers have several toms on their kit, such as an 8 inch tom giving an even higher sound (often used in jazz drumming).
  • Floor Tom - Typically placed to the right of the drummer, this is a tom that has its own legs or stand and produces a lower note than the other toms (usually the second lowest after the bass drum). Sizes tend to range between 14-18 inches.
  • Hi-hat - Two cymbals, typically of the same size, that are either struck together by using its pedal below or by hitting with a drumstick. This is used to keep the beat, improvise rhythms and keep the accompanying instruments moving. Hi-hats can be played in the open, closed, and in-between positions. The hi-hats are the most important cymbals on the kit. Some drummers have more than one hi-hat setup around their kit.
  • Crash Cymbal - A cymbal that makes a loud "crash" sound. The sound and decay of crash cymbals vary by brand and product line. The number of crash cymbals is dictated by the drummer's personal taste and need for the style of music being played. Used in solos, the beginning of bars, riffs, and rudimentary bars, as well as to accent beats. It can also be ridden like a ride cymbal, depending on the drummer.
  • Ride Cymbal - A large, heavy cymbal that, typically, makes a light, airy sound, named from the fact that the drummer can "ride on it" or keep time on it. The ride is often used during choruses or bridges, because it tends to cut through more aggressively then hi-hats. The bell of the ride cymbal can also be played, giving a pinging sound. The ride cymbal arguably is the second most important cymbal on the kit, next to the hi-hats.

Other cymbals and drums can be added to the setup for a wider range of sounds like the Splash, a small cymbal around 10"/25 cm giving a distinct crash sound with a quick decay, or a China cymbal, that gives an "oriental feel" to beats, rhythms, solos and fills. The latter is much like a crash cymbal popped inside out with the screw and sponge holding it to the stand inside it, so it has a shallow bowl shape.

The drummer can do other things to the kit, such as attach a tambourine to the spine of the hi-hat, so when he/she puts his/her foot down on the pedal or hits it with a drumstick, the drummer gets the tambourine sound at the same time. Cymbals can also have rivets inserted into them to give them a 'sizzling' sound, or a cowbell can be attached to the top of the bass drum between the snare and floor tom to use in fills, solos, grooves, etc.