Drums - Introduction


The word drums can be used for a wide variety of percussion musical instruments but this tutorial is about the typical drum set, with a bass drum, a snare drum, multiple cymbals and a pair of tom-toms. These elements will be discussed further in detail but before anything else you need to know the right way to hold the sticks that you will need to use in order to strike them. There are two ways to do that; you could grip them between your thumb and your index finger about four centimeters above the tip with the rest of the fingers wrapped around the rest of it. This technique is known as “matched grip”, as both the sticks are held in the same way. The alternative to that is called “traditional grip” and it’s the same as matched grip for the right hand but in the left hand, you need to have the tip of the stick laid in the cradle of the thumb and the index finger and the rest of it griped between the middle finger and the ring finger, held with the palm facing up. Being a lot more sophisticated it is not given as much preference as the matched grip but it is popular among Jazz drummers.

Now for the instruments, we don’t have to go into much detail, just enough to help you recognize each one of them. The bass drum lies on the ground and is struck to produce a low pitched beat using a mallet operated with a foot pedal by the right foot. The snare drum or the side drum is struck by the left hand stick and hence is placed on the extreme left. There are three types of tom-toms, floor tom, mid tom and high tom in the ascending order of the pitch of the sound they produce. Finally cymbals, almost every drum set has more than one cymbal and there are four common types, high-hat, crash, splash and ride, differentiated by their shapes and the sounds they generate. The high-hat constitutes of a pair of metal plates resting on a foot pedal operated with the left foot, the two plates strike together every time you tap on the foot pedal. The remaining three are struck using the sticks and the sticks can vary depending upon the position of the cymbals as the per the drummers preferences. The ride produces a very gentle sound, the crash produces a very loud sound and is sustained for long as it can continue resonating for a while and the splash produces a similar sound but it isn’t sustained for nearly as much time and after hitting the peak it quickly dies off, like a water splash.

So to sum up the right foot pedal operates the mallet to strike the bass drum, the left foot pedal makes the two cymbals of the high-hat strike together and the rest of them can be struck using the two sticks. To choose from the two techniques, unless you are already using the traditional grip, the matched grip is recommended.

If you don’t have a drum set at your disposal, you could start off by buying an old set of three, with a high-hat, a snare and a bass drum. As for the sticks, there are different types available, distinguished by their weight and the material. For beginners 5A stick weight is recommended, but you never know what might be right for you until you grip the sticks that feel the most comfortable in your hands. The tips mentioned above cannot tell you everything you need to know about playing drums, you will need someone who could actually play drums efficiently, as a teacher to observe you and direct you in the right direction, and these tips can only get you a head start.

Lastly and most importantly, don’t forget to put on your ear-plugs to protect your ears.