Rock Drumming System

Kit Setup Size: BIG Drumset vs. Small Drumset

There is so many different options these days as far as getting a drumkit. Do you get a huge one, or a small one? Big toms or little toms? Crash cymbals, splash cymbals, ride cymbals, china cymbals, or hi-hat cymbals? Personally, I have had both small and large kits in the past. My kits have ranged from small two piece kits all the way up to large fifteen piece kits. As you would expect, there are pros and cons to each. I've done my best to list some of the key advantages and disadvantages here:

Advantages Of A Big Drum Kit:

  • Lots of sound variety (china cymbals, splashes, roto toms)
  • Requires less creativity to come up with unique beats/fills
  • Non-drummers can base respect on kit size, and thus favor you
  • More tom and cymbal melody options (e.g. Terry Bozzio)
  • Sometimes get gigs based on "showmanship" (including kit size)

Dis-Advantages Of A Big Drum Kit:

  • Much longer load-in, set-up, tear-down, load-out time for gigs
  • Tuning can be a nightmare (matching double kicks, lots of toms)
  • Sometimes too many options can be confusing, not helpful
  • Being accustomed to a large kit can reduce creativity on a small kit
  • Finding transportation for this many drum cases can be difficult
  • Sound guys at some venues may not have the have the space, mics, or patience for you when it's a night with a tight set.
  • More expensive to maintain, and the more gear you carry around, the greater the chance of something failing or being left behind. Also you will need to buy more drum skins, cymbal cleaner, etc.

Advantages Of A Small Drum Kit:

  • Significantly faster load-in, set-up, tear-down, load-out time
  • Drummers will respect you more for creativity on a small kit
  • Great for venues that do not have lots of mics or stage space
  • The sound guys will love you for simplifying their job. Less mics, faster sound check time, and less to "mix" for good sound
  • Significantly cheaper and less components to worry about
  • They force creativity (which can be a pro or a con)

Dis-Advantages Of A Small Drum Kit:

  • Small kits can be boring after playing big kits
  • Less flashy or impressive to the average crowd
  • Less options, and fills can start to sound generic/repetitive
  • They force creativity (which can be a pro or a con)

Kit choice is really a personal opinion and your style of playing ultimately has a say in what kit you choose. Personally, I have a nine piece Pearl kit with two kicks and six toms that I love to play when the style of music calls for it. I also have an assortment of vintage smaller four piece kits that I like for jazz music. All in all, if I had to pick between the two - I would definitely choose the BEAST!

Related content you may also be interested in...

Save Your Money With These Drum Kit Buying Tips - It can be frustrating shopping around at different places, wondering whether the kit that you like is any good. I have bought and sold over 40 drum-kits in the last four years, and here are some of the things I've learned.

Selecting The Right Drumstick - With all the different varieties and brands of drum sticks on the market today, you really need to make sure you are selecting the most appropriate stick for your style. This article will tell you everything you need to know about drum sticks!

Selecting The Right Drum Tip -Thats right, you have to make sure you get the right tip for your stick as well. With so many differnt shapes and sizes, you need to know which one works best for your style! To choose the stick, you must choose the tip!

Understanding Drum Heads - In order to apply proper maintanace to your drum heads, you mus first understand them. How do they work? What makes them ring. This will let you in on everything you wanted to know about Drum Heads.

Selecting The Best Drum Heads - Drum heads are the most important part of your drum kit. You could have the nicest, most expensive drum set, but without decent skins, it would sound terrible. So how do we make sure our drums sound the best they can?