There are loads of drum accessories available on the market - practice pads, mute packs for the whole kit, metronomes, isolation headphones, drumsticks, brushes, drumstick bags, drum skins, cymbal stands, musician ear plugs, MP3 recording devices...the list goes on.
Below are a few essentials for any drummer, beginner or professional and a brief explanation of their uses.
Drum Kit Mute Pads
These mute pads 12", 13", 16", 14", 22", and 3x Cymbal Pads are rubber pads that sit on the snare drum, cymbals and tom toms and fix to the bass drum. They are very useful as they vastly reduce the volume of the drum kit, thereby, enabling you to practice all day without upsetting the neighbours!
Also see Isolation headphones below.
Snare Drum Pads
These pads are made of a hard or soft rubber and sit on top of your snare drum enabling you to practice your drum technique and rudiments at a low volume. Ahead make a great Double Sided stick/Brush Practice Pad
To build real strength and speed, Buddy Rich used to recommend practicing your single stroke roll and rudiments on a pillow. As there is no bounce obtained from a pillow, you're forced to use your wrist muscles, which builds great stamina and stength.
Some of the benefits of using a practice pad are :
- Clearly hearing the individual strokes of a rudiment
- Errors are much easier to detect
- Low volume; Less ear fatigue
Practice Drum Kit
A whole 5 piece practice kit is a consideration for anyone who needs a 'no noise' solution. The stick response on the rubber pads is similar to striking a real drum but perhaps a bit bouncier. It's worth mentioning the sound of the pads will be tonally uniform, unlike a real kit or an electronic drum kit and there is no hi-hat. There are a few on the market, but this is a good choice and not too expensive 5 piece Practice Pad Drum Kit
Here is a Sheet Music Stand with Height and Angle Adjustment I can recommend.
It is really easy to use, not like the wire ones that take off fingers!
Damper Pads - Moongel
Moongel is a self-adhesive rubber type substance that sticks to the surface of drums and cymbals thereby eliminating any unwanted resonances. This is especially useful when the drum kit is being recorded in a studio or any 'live' situation where the drums are being 'miked'. Moongel is also very useful because of its size, when placed on the drum or cymbal it doesn't get in the way of the playing area. The damper pad is washable and will last for a very long time.
Electronic Practice Pad
These pads help you, with a lot of practice, fine tune your own sense of time. There are lots of digital drum pads with a metronome built in to choose from. We like this one, it even comes with a pair of sticks - Anself Training Drum Practice Pad With Metronome and this one comes with a pair of mini-jack stereo headphones BD Digital Drum Pad Metronome. These pads are a handy all-in-one drum training product. The beats usually range from 0 to 9 and tempos from as slow as 30 to 280 BPM (beats per minute)
Other Drum Accessories
Metronomes are an essential for any musician. They help to cultivate your own sense of time and feel. TheBoss DB90 Dr. Beat Metronome and Boss DB60 Dr. Beat Metronome are two of the best metronomes on the market. I think it's best to avoid the old fashioned ‘tick-tock’ ones as they can be unreliable. If you have an iPhone or iTouch the ‘Tempo’ app by Frozen Ape is excellent. You can save a 'playlist' of tempos of either your band's set list or even a practice record of a particular exercise.
Vic Firth make some excellent Stereo Isolation Headphones. They are fantastic and I can't recommend them highly enough.
The headphones reduce the external volume of the drum kit by 24 decibels. When you need to practice along with a piece of music, metronome or click track, it makes it possible to keep the headphone volume at a sensible level, without straining to hear the music or click track over the sound of the drums, in other words, you are isolating your ears. There are also the cheaper non-electric headphones, Vic Firth Drummer's Ear Defenders for general ear protection use and for very young children, these Vic Firth Children's Ear Defenders . Thet are useful for a variety of situations i.e. loud concerts or festivals or even firework displays.
The Zoom H4n with Bonus 16GB SD Card and Mini Tripod is a fantastic Mp3/Wav recorder. I have recorded many gigs and rehearsals with this device and the sound quality is amazing. Once you have finished recording you can listen back with a pair of mini-jack headphones or transfer the tracks via a USB lead to your computer then burn to a cd or send tracks to your band mates by e-mail or an upload site such as You Send it or Dropbox
There are cheaper recorders such as the Roland R05 Handheld WAVE MP3 Digital Recorder which is also very good. They both record fantastically well and with both devices you have a choice of recording in Mp3 (compressed file) or Wav (Uncompressed file).
Hearing yourself back can be an invaluable lesson (and a frightening one too) because when you are doing this, you are using your 'listening ears'. This is how other people/musicians are hearing you! When you are playing, there are usually many distractions, musical or otherwise and maybe a few technical challenges as well. Your brain is so overloaded that sometimes it's difficult to hear your playing, while you are playing.
Ear Plug Accessories
In a playing or gig situation you really should wear some kind of discreet ear protection. These are the choices; foam, rubber, molded and non-molded ear plugs. For a very cheap option Soft Foam Earplugs are quite effective, but they can make the music sound a bit muffled as they cut mostly the high frequencies (i.e.; cymbals, guitars,keyboards) and some of the low end. For a more professional and balanced reduction across of all frequencies a pair of specifically molded ear plugs fitted with 15db or 25db filters would be perfect. However, typically they cost around £150 and they need to be fitted by an audiologist.
The non-moulded ear plugs with filters are cheaper but are still very effective. They are made by Alpine, ACS and Elacin. These are all good makes.
Sticks And Brushes
Vic Firth is a very reliable make of sticks and brushes and other drum accessories.
For adults I would recommend a Vic Firth 5A American Hickory Wood Tip (medium weight) or Vic Firth 5B American Hickory Wood Tip (heavier and thicker than 5a) and for children 5a (as above) or Vic Firth 7A American Hickory Wood Tip (for smaller hands)
For something a bit different I have found the Vic Firth American custom maple SD6 Swizzle to be a very useful addition to the stick bag. One end is a felt beater and the other a normal wooden tip - when ready to change just 'swizzle' or turn the stick over!
Vic Firth Heritage Drum Brushes are a good choice for children as they are quite light and for an excellent heavier brush Vic Firth Jazz Drum Brushes.
Drumstick bags are not only capable of obviously keeping your drumsticks, brushes and beaters but also they can hold all the other useful and essential bits and pieces in the handy pockets i.e. metronome, sheet music, drum key , pencil, rubber , Leatherman Multi-Tool (which I find generally a very useful tool for drum maintenance) and pegs (for outdoor gigs), etc.
Here is a really excellent one Protection Racket 6024 Deluxe Drum Stick Bag and here is a more luxurious one Vic Firth drum stick bag. Of c course there are cheaper stick bags on the market but both of these bags are very sturdy and are built to last.
Drum skins do wear out and they do break. There are various makes: Remo, Evans, Aquarian are among the very best. A cost effective way to buy a set of skins is to purchase a Drum Head Pack. Here is a set of coated drum heads (coated are good for brushes) Remo Emperor Pro Pack (12", 13", 16" Emperor Coated + FREE 14" Snare head) or for a more modern rocky sound (Clear heads, not coated) Remo pinstipe Pack 10" 12" 14" + 14" snare.
The above packs contains a 10” 12” 14” for the toms and 14” for the snare or 12” 13” 16” for the toms and 14” for the snare. Bass drum skins (front and back) are usually not part of the head pack and are bought separately. The 20" REMO POWERSTROKE 3 is one to consider and if you have a 22" bass drum try this one Remo Powerstroke 3 Coated. For the front head REMO POWERSTROKE 3 RESONANT - EBONY or the REMO POWERSTROKE 3 20 RESONANT. Both look and sound great. Do check your drum sizes first before you purchase any skins.
For an extra crash cymbal or ride cymbal you could use either of these stands, Stagg Cymbal Straight Stand or Stagg Cymbal Boom Stand . The difference between a boom stand and a straight stand is with a boom stand you can use the extra angle and length of the pivoting arm to place your cymbal (eg.ride cymbal) closer to you and the playing area and the straight stands just go straight up. At around the £70 mark here is a Paiste 16" 101 Crash Cymbal & Mapex Tornado Boom Stand combo.
Gear Protection Racket is a very reliable make of soft drum cases, please see pictures below. They do a great job of protecting your investment. The furry lining of the case cushions the drum/cymbals very effectively. Also the traps case (the case that carries all the stands) has wheels on one end which means no more back pain lifting in and out of the gig.
These clever little machines will help you to tune your drum kit effortlessly. The Tune-Bot Digital Drum Tuning Aid is one of those inventions you wish you had years ago. It takes the guess work out of tuning a drum and saves you hours of frustration! Also, slightly cheaper, there is the Tama Drum Dial Tuner which measures the actual head tension on an easy to read dial. Then you record the indicated numbers for that particular drum and duplicate the readings on all your drums. There are suggested sample tunings in the supplied directions and YouTube is always a very handy source for visual step-by-step help.