What Type of Drum Set Should You Buy for Your Home Studio?

By Jeff Strong

You may eventually feel that you need a drum set as part of your home recording studio. If you want to buy a drum set for your home studio, here are some guidelines:

  • Smaller drums can sound bigger. At one point, a good home studio had two top-notch Gretsch drum sets. One was a rock kit that had a 24-inch kick; 13-, 14-, and 18-inch tom-toms; and a 6 1/2 -inch-deep metal snare drum. The other was a small jazz kit consisting of an 18-inch kick, 10- and 14-inch tom-toms, and a 5-inch deep-wood snare.

    Guess what? Even for the hardest rock music, the small kit sounded much bigger. You can tune the small drums down a bit and they just sing!

  • Choose your heads wisely. Not all heads are equal. Some sound great on stage, while others are better suited to the studio. Because the heads that come with a kit are most likely not the ones that sound the best on a recording, invest some money in testing different drumheads on your kit.

    Consider either Remo pinstripes (great for rock and R&B) or coated Ambassadors (great for jazz) on the top and either clear or coated Ambassadors on the bottom of the drum.

  • Use cymbals with a fast decay. Cymbals that sound great on stage are different from those that sound great in the studio. Stage cymbals often have long decays and slow attacks. This causes bleeding, especially through the tom-tom mics, and correcting the problem can be a headache. If you buy cymbals for your studio, choose those that have a very fast attack and a short decay.

  • More expensive isn’t always better. For recording, a great idea for drum sets are used kits from the late ’60s and early ’70s. An all-time favorite recording set is a late-’60s Gretsch jazz drum set with an 18-inch kick drum, a 10-inch mounted tom-tom, and a 14-inch floor tom.

    For a snare, you could seek 5-inch wooden snare drums (for example, Gretsch, Ludwig, or Slingerland). One of these sets should cost around $350, including all the mounting hardware and the snare drum. It may not be pretty, but it sounds great.