Parts of a Drum Set

by devon mcclory
(jasper alberta)

How do you read tabs for drums if you don't know what some of the parts of your drums are called?


Hi, Devon--

The best thing to do would be to learn the names of all of the parts of your drum set!

BASS DRUM: This is the BIG drum on the floor, in the middle. It has a pedal attached. You will place your right foot on that pedal. It has the deepest tone of all the drums in the kit. (BD)

SNARE DRUM: This is the small drum on a stand by itself. It has wires underneath it called 'snares'. Those wires may be made of wire, or they may be made of nylon. The 'snares' (or wires) give the Snare drum its snappy sound. The Snare is the central most drum in the kit and it will sit between your legs. You will play on top of it with either hand or sometimes both hands . . . depending on the rhythm you are executing. (S)

HI-HAT: The hi-hat normally sits to the left of the Snare drum. It looks sorta like a hat. You will see two smaller cymbals that clap together by means of a foot pedal on a high stand. Your left foot would go on the footboard. You will see that you can work the pedal and make the top cymbal 'clap' or 'connect' with the lower cymbal. It makes sort of a 'chic' or 'clang' sound when you clap the two cymbals together.(H H)

RIDE CYMBAL: This is usually the biggest and thickest cymbal in the drum set. It may be from 18" to 24" (inches) in diameter. We sometimes move our right hand over to this cymbal when we want to play louder . . . like when the singer has stopped singing and as the louder (guitar & other)
instruments are playing. We play our beats pretty much the same as if we were on the hi-hat . . . but by moving the right hand over to the 'Ride Cymbal', we will discover a variety of tonal changes that tend to fill up the music and create a little more excitement as the band plays. (Ride, or C)

Tom Toms: Toms may range in size from 6" to 18" (inches) in diameter and the may also come in many depths, ranging from 3" to 16" (inches.) Usually, the larger a tom tom is . . . the deeper its tone will be. So, we arrange our toms in a clockwise (circle) fashion around the kit. The largest tom (Floor Tom) will be on our far right and all the smaller toms will be arranged in order according to size . . . leading around to the floor tom. (T1, 2, 3, etc.)

FLOOR TOM: The Floor Tom is an abnormally large Tom Tom and it usually has legs on it. It stands (or sits) on its own legs. It usually isn't attached to the bass drum as some of the smaller tom toms may be. (FT)

CRASH CYMBALS: Crash Cymbals may range in size from 4" or 5" inches up to 18" in diameter. They come in all sorts of weights and thicknesses. We use them as punctuation in the music . . . crashing occasionally to 'emphasize' certain parts of the music that needs special accents or kicks. (CR)

(Courtesy of Bill Powelson)

Hope this helps you out. Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

You might want to check out these drum tabs!

Almost Free Drum Tabs

Grab the free sample and see if it is easier to read. There is also some advice about reading tabs there.

Best Wishes!

Comments for Parts of a Drum Set

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Sep 16, 2010
good lesson
by: Samson

this a good class for new drummer who really want to be a drummer I love this.Samson

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