Drum Kit Buyers Guide

Posted 17 January 2017
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Welcome! Based purely on the fact you are reading this blog it’s safe to assume that you or a loved one are now starting on a journey into the wonderful world of drums. We totally understand that it may seem incredibly daunting and a vast, scary place. So the aim of this blog is to give you enough information to make selecting the right gear an easy and straightforward process.


You’ve probably seen thousands of drum kits online in various forms, prices, and styles, but where do you start? Well let’s start by finding which kit will best fit your needs. There are two types of drum - acoustic (traditional) drums and electronic drum sets. We’ll take a look at the differences between the two.


Acoustic Drums


Acoustic drums aren’t just the basis for most live bands; they’re also therapeutic, great fun to play, and most of all - the best instrument in the band! (You can probably tell this was written by a drummer).


There is nothing like learning to play on a real drum kit - it really is as simple as that. They need no additional amplification and if you’re getting into a band or just jamming along with other musicians it’s so much easier to just turn up and play.


You have unlimited options when it comes to configuring your own kit. Although most drum sets come as a ‘5 Piece’ set up, most drum manufacturers make add on drums for their kits. Also there is no limit whatsoever to the number of cymbals that you can add!


Electronic Drums


So, electronic drum kits (E-kits, electric drums) have some great advantages. First and foremost, you can practice almost silently with or without headphones enabling you to get valuable practice time in without upsetting parents/neighbours/sleeping infants.


Secondly, they’re more compact than most acoustic sets which means that if you’re short on space, their footprint is relatively small. They can fold down when you’re not using them for storage under the bed, down the side of the wardrobe or wherever!


Finally, electronic drums have a vast array of sounds, teaching modes and additional features such as metronomes built in which make customising your kit to preferences and practicing requirements is a quick and easy process.


Which set-up is right for you?


So now that you’ve read about the advantages of both types of kit, it’s time to decide what set-up would be best for you. Names like ‘Shell Pack’, ‘Fusion’, ‘Rock’, ‘Bop’, and ‘5 Piece’ float around the internet and, unless you know what to look for, it can be a bit of a minefield. So let’s break it down and look at the differences between all of them.


Number of pieces


This refers to the number of drums you’re getting with the kit. It does not include cymbals, stands and other bits and bobs. Most entry to mid-level kits generally come as a ‘5 Piece’ set-up. This basically means that there are 5 drums in the set, usually configured as:



  • 1 Bass Drum

  • 1 Snare Drum

  • 2 Mounted Toms (also referred to as Tom Toms)

  • 1 Floor Tom


Fusion, Rock, Bop Sets and buying for kids


These seemingly random names each refer to a different sized kit and were once used as a rough guide for the genres they were used in. This isn’t the case now; there are plenty of people using ‘fusion’ style kits for hard rock bands, but the names have still stuck! We’ve also put an age guide in each kit. However this is only advisory and not something to be followed religiously.


Compact (5 Piece)


Suitable for ages 5+



  • 18” Bass Drum

  • 10” Tom

  • 12” Tom

  • 14” Floor Tom

  • 14” Snare


For example - Mapex Tornado 18" Compact Drum Kit


Fusion (5 Piece)


Suitable for ages 8+



  • 20” Bass Drum

  • 10” Tom

  • 12” Tom

  • 14” Floor Tom

  • 14” Snare Drum


For example – Pearl Export 20” Fusion Drum Kit


American Fusion (5 Piece)


Suitable for ages 10+



  • 22” Bass Drum

  • 10” Tom

  • 12” Tom

  • 16” Floor Tom

  • 14” Snare Drum


For example – Pearl Export 22” American Fusion Drum Kit


Rock (5 Piece)


Suitable for ages 10+



  • 22” Bass Drum

  • 12” Tom

  • 13” Tom

  • 16” Floor Tom

  • 14” Snare Drum


Shell Packs


A shell pack is the name given to any kit that is comprises of just the drums. No hardware or cymbals are provided with these kits, meaning that they are great for the person that’s looking to get a completely unique set-up and pick their own stands and cymbals.


We hope this guide has helped clear a few things up for you, but if you do have any questions about anything drum related, simply pop in the store and the drum department is on the first floor. Alternatively, you can call us on 01603 623563 or email our Percussion specialists at drums@cookes.co.uk and we will do our very best to help you buy the drum set that’s right for you.

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