Inspired by discussion at "It takes dedicated PARENTS to produce a good drummer" -- Tell me more

What is the minimum needed, in terms of quantity and quality, when assembling a drumkit for a child who enjoys drumming as a secondary instrument?

He's not aiming to become a Gene Krupa at this point -- but if he settles into drums as his primary interest as time goes on, then I can spend some $$ on better than minimal quality.


1 Answer 1


You can learn a lot with just a snare drum.

The absolute bare minimum to learn the basics of modern rock/pop/funk/etc. kit drumming is snare, hi-hat, and kick drum.

The most popular starting setup for someone learning to play a drum kit is a student level five-piece set that includes snare, kick, and three toms, plus a cymbal set that includes hi-hat, crash, ride, and sometimes an additional cymbal like a splash or china. Many times not all of the necessary hardware (e.g., cymbal stands) is included, so that is an extra expense. Thrones, sticks, extra heads, etc. are rarely included. You might get a free cymbal bag with the purchase of a cymbal set. In the USA, the new (i.e., not used) price for a five-piece kit plus a hat, crash, and ride cymbal pack and necessary hardware will likely end up between 600 and 1000 USD, more often on the higher end of that range for decent equipment.

One thing I would avoid in terms of cymbal packs are packs that include a "crash-ride" cymbal instead of a ride cymbal. Personally, if I were going to invest money in a cymbal to use as a ride cymbal, I want it to be an actual dedicated ride cymbal. The ride is arguably the cymbal with the most articulation options, so compromising it with a "crash-ride" design would be a detriment to learing the nuances of playing the ride. Plus, eventually one would want a real ride and a second dedicated crash, and at that point a "crash-ride" is most likely useless.

The minimum quality would be good enough to not fall over when struck, drums should be tunable and actually sound different when struck dead center versus at the edges, and cymbals should sound different when struck with the tip versus the shank of the stick. Any quality above that would be unlikely to be appreciated by an absolute beginner, but may serve as further inspiration and enjoyment of playing.

  • I recently saw a jazz group at a party in someone's home and the drummer had a cajon which he sat on and used his heel(s) as kick, a snare, and then 3 or 4 small rides (maybe 6 inch through 10 inch). That was it. He got huge sound out of it.
    – Yorik
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 19:50
  • I'm with Todd on this one, but just to counterpoint slightly, one of my favourite kits I bought from a junk shop for 50 UKP - kick, snare, ride tom. Not sure whether it was meant to be a 'child's kit' or a 'toy' [they're all non-standard sizes, can't get skins for them], but I add a subset of my regular hardware, hats, kick pedal, one 13" crash, optional ride, + stool & I have a lovely little cocktail kit - easy to play & very sweet sounding, once tuned/damped correctly.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 20:27
  • +1 especially for the notes about crash-ride. I had one on a set that I got and it was SOOOO ringy that in my bedroom I could never really figure out what to do with it if I was playing more than a few bars. After playing some (better) kits, I've found that a little duct tape is a wonderful thing on a practice set.
    – Josiah
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 21:56
  • @Tetsujin - How do you damp correctly? Tell me if I should create another question (for it to be promptly closed again....). Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 3:13
  • 1
    Personally, drum tuning & damping is "a lot of guessing til it sounds right" combined with having done it for 40 years ;-) ...though there is a great resource, the Drum Tuning Bible
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 6:43

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