All of the drums, cymbals, bells, and other percussion instruments used a drummer during a performance are referred to as a drum kit. The components of a drum kit vary according to the type of music played and the drummer’s personal preferences. A drum kit, also known as a drum set, consists of a bass drum, snare drum, hi-hat cymbals, crash cymbals, and tom-toms. Bongos, mounted or unmounted tambourines, cowbells, and specialized percussion instruments played a second drummer or percussionist are examples of additional equipment.
The snare drum is perhaps the most visible component of a standard drum kit. On the second and fourth beats of most rock and jazz songs, this drum is usually placed closest to the drummer’s dominant hand and provides a driving ‘backbeat’ snap. To give the snare drum even more presence during a performance, stage technicians frequently wire a pick-up microphone close to it. Snares are a set of springy wires that vibrate the bottom of the drum, amplifying the sound.
The bass drum, also known as a kick drum, is the most noticeable drum in a standard drum kit. A drummer’s swift kick used to play bass drums, but now the drummer will use a foot pedal to strike the back of the bass drum with a padded mallet. Because it is so prominently placed in the front of the drum kit, the bass drum may have a custom face advertising the name of the musical group. In conjunction with the electric bass guitar, a bass drum provides a strong first beat, known as the downbeat, as well as a driving syncopated rhythm.
A standard drum kit contains at least three different types of cymbals. A drummer can operate a hi-hat cymbal with his weaker hand and foot. Two cymbals are held together or apart a foot-operated stand in a hi-hat. The drummer taps out a series of fast beats on the closed cymbals with a stick, but he or she will occasionally let go of the pedal for a shimmering sound. Without the use of drumsticks, a hi-hat can be used in conjunction with the bass drum to create a basic rhythm pattern. This can come in handy during drum solos or complicated songs.
The ride cymbal is another cymbal found in a drum kit. The ride cymbal, like the hi-hat, is used to create rhythms. The drummer can make a bell sound or a shimmering metallic crescendo striking the ride cymbal in different places. For variety, a drummer may establish a rhythmic pattern on the snare or hi-hat first, then transfer that pattern to the ride cymbal. Although some cymbals are designed to serve as both ride and crash cymbals, many drummers prefer to separate the two functions.
The crash cymbal is the third cymbal in a standard drum kit. Two or three crash cymbals, each tuned to a different note, may be arranged around the top of the drum kit the drummer. The drummer may want to make a dramatic crashing sound at the end of a music line or at the end of the song itself during a performance. Individual stands hold crash cymbals loosely in place. When a crash cymbal is struck, the sound is short and sharp. Crash cymbals are frequently used drummers, especially those in rock bands, to create a wall of intense sound and energy.
A set of tom-toms is the final component of a basic drum kit. The floor tom, the largest tom-tom, sits on its own stand on the floor. It’s usually placed on one side of the snare drum. A series of braces connect smaller tom-toms to the bass drum or cymbals. Different pitches are also used for tom-toms. The floor tom can be used to supplement the bass drum pattern or as a larger snare for added effect. The drummer may strike all of the tom-toms in a rolling pattern if he is performing a solo or providing a variation known as a fill. During each solo break in the Sufaris’ instrumental rock classic Wipe Out, the drummer uses all of the different tom-toms.