Anatomy of the Drums – Part 1: Parts of the Drum Kit

This small 4 piece drum set is the basic drum kit. Anything else is just an add-on. But to supply a rhythm for a song, this is the minimum of what it takes. Although Slim Jim Phantom could argue one only needs the bass, snare and ride cymbal. He might win that argument.

I have played large drum kits (11+ piece with double bass) most of my drumming life, but I learned on this size. And when gigging, a kit this size is preferable. The chrome drum is the snare drum. The large drum sitting on the ground is the bass drum, or kick drum. A bass drum pedal is needed to give sound to this drum. The snare and bass drums are the core drums used to create rhythms. These two drums are the drums used the most, even if there is a hundred other drums. The snare and the bass drum are used to create the beat, along with either a ride cymbal (the largest cymbal to the right) or the hi-hat (the one furthest left). The hi-hat is actually 2 cymbals, one on top of the other with the top cymbal mounted to a rod that allows it to be raised and lowered via a foot pedal. So a hi-hat is either open (cymbals not touching) or closed (cymbals touching). It’s unattended position is open. This rod allows the two cymbals to strike each other to make a sound. When both cymbals are closed, hitting them with a stick produces another sound. Hitting an open hi-hat produces yet another sound. And if one strikes a closed hi-hat then opens the cymbals while striking it, it makes yet again another sound. The disco pattern, the shish. The rack tom or aerial tom or closed tom is the smaller tom-tom mounted on the bass drum. The floor tom is standing on legs to the right of the snare and bass. Toms are typically used for fills and/or accents. Finally, a crash cymbal is the other unaccounted for cymbal. One difference between a crash cymbal and a ride cymbal is usually size and weight. A ride cymbal is used to produce a ride pattern and is large and heavy. Crash cymbals are used for accents and are typically smaller in diameter and thinner. Hi-hats are also used to produce a ride pattern, but with a much different sound than the ride. Keith Moon really didn’t use a hi-hat because he hated them as trip him they didn’t make a lot of noise. This is a right hand setup. A leftie would usually set them up in mirror image. Unless you’re Ringo Star. Then you learn to play right handed drums. Varying where one strikes a drum will vary the sound. But we try to hit them in the center consistently as that produces the best sound. Cymbals have holes in the center that allows them to be mounted to a stand. Cymbals have two different sections that will each produce different sounds. These are the bell, which is the large, raised, ‘bump’ at the center, and the bow, which is everything not the bell. Bells sound like bells. Bows have various sounds depending upon the location. One thing that is not pictured but is required is a drum throne. It is not a seat, and it is especially not a chair. It is a throne because we’re drummers dammit! I said that this is a basic kit and anything else is an add-on. Add-ons all make different sounds. We will get to all those add-ons in another post.

My Story

I started playing the drums when I was in the 4th grade, so I guess I was 7 or 8.