How Many Drums in a Drum Set?

Drums can be surprising heavy instruments; for instance, an entire four-piece kit weighs twice the amount of a guitar and amp and many times more than flute or saxophone instruments.

Drum sets can refer to various things, but for most drummers it usually refers to full-sized drum kits featuring four drums and two cymbals.

Bass Drum

A drum kit (commonly referred to as a trap set, rhythm section or simply drums) is a collection of drums, cymbals, and other percussion instruments designed for one person to play by holding drumsticks while using their feet to operate bass drum pedals and hi-hat stands. Used across many genres such as rock and jazz music genres.

When purchasing a drum set, it’s essential to decide the sound you desire. Different drum sizes, woods and construction methods produce different tones in each kit. Experienced drummers or music store clerks can offer valuable assistance in finding one to meet personal preferences.

Most common drum kits consist of a bass drum, snare drum and two toms; four-piece kits take this further by adding either an additional hanging tom mounted to the bass drum (made popular by Chris Frantz of Talking Heads) or floor tom (popularized by Talking Heads guitarist Chris Frantz). Furthermore, ride and crash cymbals may be added on stands at either end for further accompaniment of their set-up.

Drums are typically constructed out of wood, though some manufacturers also utilize metal in their construction. Maple and birch are popular wood choices used in drum manufacturing; however, other materials can also be found within drums.

Snare drums are usually composed of steel; however, brass and aluminum models are also commonly found. Many drummers opt to add an additional side snare drum (sometimes known as an effect cymbal) for added sound or accent; such side snares provide an alternative tone than that produced by their main snare drum.

No matter if you are just beginning or upgrading, it is essential to realize that most differences among kits come down to quality and craftsmanship, rather than quantity of drums and cymbals. By purchasing a quality set, your satisfaction with your purchase should last years afterward.

When selecting a drum set, be sure to inspect its price to make sure you’re getting a good value for your money. Many stores also provide extended manufacturer’s warranties to give buyers peace of mind in their purchase decision.

Snare Drum

Many drummers rely on the snare drum as the centerpiece of their drum set. It provides rhythmic foundation for songs and comes in different sizes and types that help you achieve the sound you’re after; selecting your ideal model starts by understanding its use; listening to songs by bands you already like may provide clues as to its sound output.

Popular music typically uses a simple backbeat snare drum with roughly the same depth and diameter as your toms, though more complex musical styles often employ various drum sizes; for instance, Spanish bolero often utilizes small snare drums to mark steps of this stately dance while its beautiful melody soars above; this same basic groove can also be utilized with larger drums for dramatic effect.

Snare drums can be constructed from various materials, each providing their own distinct sound. Mahogany is the traditional choice and offers a warm sound with wide dynamic range, while Birch offers crisp yet focused sounds with sharp attacks and exciting striated wood grain patterns. Other shells to consider include walnut, cherry and soft poplar which have recently come back into fashion after decades of neglect.

Drummers can customize the sound of their snare drum by tuning and dampening its bed. Players typically tune the side head for response while the top head provides feel and pitch control. Coated batter heads and pre-muffed resonant heads tuned a half turn looser can provide maximum responsiveness with control features such as resonance.

Some drummers add an additional snare drum, usually placed off to one side (opposite the floor toms and to the left of the hi-hat), to achieve a fuller, more distinct sound. Others even tune this secondary snare to different pitches than their main drum – something which may come in handy should one or both main snare heads be damaged during performance.


A drum set can have any number of toms the drummer desires; this choice depends on their personal taste, musical style and song or music being performed. While adding more toms can provide greater tonal options for their soundscape, doing so may make playing and setting up more complex.

Different sized toms produce various sounds, making a complete drum set an essential addition. Shell diameter makes a difference – 8 and 10-inch toms are better for high pitch options while 12-13-inch ones provide mid tones tones. Depth also plays an integral part in tone production: deeper toms have greater resonance compared to shallow ones.

Drum sound can also be altered by its materials and head type, including its construction from any one of several materials such as birch. Other shell types like maple and oak may require more expensive hardware for installing the head. Also, some drum shells may contain multiple thicknesses of plywood that have been glued together – adding weight.

The 12-inch rack tom is the most widely-used tom size, followed by 14-inch floor toms. These can either be “mounted,” such as on a fusion kit, or clamped onto a cymbal stand; often preferred due to closer placement to bass drum for increased power of sound production.

Most drummers typically utilize three toms in their kits; however, there are those who utilize more. While more toms may create a more intricate and varied soundscape, using multiple can be challenging when performing fast-paced genres such as rock or metal music.

Some drummers also prefer using one-tom kits, which may be easier for beginners to manage and more practical for drummers who do not have space or wish to transport multiple tom drums to gigs and rehearsals.


Cymbals are often used by drummers to both keep time and add flavor to their grooves, with basic sets consisting of hi-hat, ride, crash and splash cymbals being essential parts of a drummer’s sound palette. Other cymbals such as second ride or crash/ride cymbals were once common (jazz drummers often utilized multiple ride cymbals) but have become less frequently utilized over time.

Cymbals on a drum kit can vary anywhere from two to forty pieces; four-piece sets consist of the bass drum, snare drum and three toms (high, mid, and low). This setup gives drummers access to an expansive variety of sounds to play with and creates an even mix of tone.

Many manufacturers provide all-inclusive cymbal sets designed to keep costs down for new drummers. These sets typically consist of hi-hats and one crash/ride cymbal, serving two purposes.

Cymbals can be made of brass, bronze, aluminum or steel and the latter material is often preferred due to its durability and sound-producing ability. Silver, gold or copper coating can add visual appeal while simultaneously increasing sound output from their instrument; well-maintained cymbals should feature attractive finishes with even playing qualities when being played.

Drum sizes often differ between manufacturers. Some measure depth x diameter while others specify diameter x height measurements; to avoid any potential miscommunication it’s wise to buy your drum from one who uses their own measurement system.

When choosing the size of a drum, its choice depends on both its intended use and your personal tastes. A studio drummer may want something smaller while metal drummers may prefer something larger. When selecting your size of drum, keep its weight in mind as this can have an effect on how easily it is lifted or transported, as well as considering what size drum stands you require.