Contemporary drum set can include different amount of diverse drums, and not only drums but also the other drum instruments (cymbals, musical triangle, cowbell and so on). That's why drummers used to call all instruments of the drum set as "dots". For example, the drum set on the picture below consists of 10 dots - 5 drums, 3 cymbals, and 2 dots are for the hi-het. The fact that the hi-het includes two cymbals allows the drummer to produce the sound by a foot pedal during his playing hi-het cymbals.
The minimal set which can provide the rhythmic function in the ensemble consists of three items - a bass drum, a snare drum and a hi-het. The common people used to call it "troika" ("three"), although as we see, it includes four dots. This minimal set is enough to play the majority of modern rhythms.
Therefore, a bass drum, a snare one and a hi-het are the foundation of drum set; the other "dots" are frequently used for decorating the main rhythmic line, as well as for performing so-called "transitions", "breaks", etc. Ideally, the complete drum set includes also the chair for sitting. This is a very important piece of the instrument, because the technique of playing the drum set involves all four extremities and of course our sitting part of the body gets the entire load. Therefore, one needs to take care of the chair to be stable and comfortable.
Choosing the drumsticks the following factors should be considered: density, slickness, sort of the wood, weight, length, diameter of the wooden part or the nylon tip. And also should be considered the filling of the "balance" and the grip. Choosing sticks, one should look for good quality wood, the texture of wood should not be too much appeared, and otherwise such sticks will be broken fast. Some drummers prefer the natural sound of wood tips. Others prefer nylon tips for bright, booming sound. Moreover, such tips are in use longer. The size of the stick, its diameter and length should fit your hand.
Holding sticks should be comfortable, it will allow you to produce the exact sound you want. You should try and compare several different sizes of sticks before you decide to buy something particular. When you are experienced enough in playing drums, you will probably choose the certain brand and the specific model, which will fit you well. Your teacher or consultant from the local musical store can help you in choosing drum sticks. Your choice of sticks also depends on music you play. Rock, jazz or classical - each type needs particular sticks. Also it should be considered where you are going to play: in a symphony orchestra, in a jazz band or in the rock group. Feel the sticks. Hold them in your hands.
Tap on the entire surface of the stick, and listen to the sound coming from wood. Avoid those sticks that sound or seemed to be hollow to touch. Also for sticks it's preferable to have equal weight throughout. If the stick has the same sound at the entire length, then it has the same weight as well. And again, sticks must be perfectly smooth. This can be verified by rolling them on a flat surface of the table or floor. Curved sticks will bring the filling of uncertainty to the grip. As time goes by, you will choose the best variant for yourself, although from time to time, you may try new models and brands.
While you're sitting behind the drum kit your back should be straight and you should stay completely relaxed. Also it is necessary to balance yourself, not bending forward, not leaning on the pedal.
It is important for all instruments of the drum kit to be placed in right natural order around the drummer. It will allow the drummer not to change the position of the back and the whole body, not to bend forward or aside. In other words, if you have to stretch forward the body to beat the cymbal, then it is situated too far away from you. The snare drum should be positioned approximately at waist level, where usually we have a belt buckle. Other instruments of the drum set must be placed as close as possible to each other. You should remember the more distance between the instruments you have, the more distance your hand and the stick need to overcome each time you want to change the drum you play. In this case, the too much distance brings unnecessary time, and arranging instruments closer to each other, you save this time, and get a chance to play more ergonomically, with the least expenditure of efforts and, consequently, with a higher speed.
The height of the seat has significant meaning and often the importance of this is undervalued by drummers. Also it is rather important to buy the best chair you can afford. The height of the chair must be easily regulated, the seat by itself should be comfortable and should not block the blood flow in the lower part of the thigh. The seat of the chair should be stable and should not swing from side to side. One can find the correct height of sitting behind the drum set by putting both feet on the pedals. The pedals should be at such particular distance from the chair that when you put the fit on the platforms, your leg and thigh are perpendicular to each other. Now, raise your leg up as high as possible, taking off only the heel, the toe stays still on the pedal. If your hips are parallel to the floor, you have reached the proper height of the seat. You have always to adjust the height of the seat and the correct position of pedals.
Before gripping the stick you need to find its balance point - it is 10-12 centimeters from thick part of the stick. In this place it has the most open bounce. In the balance point that you have found, grip the stick between the thumb and the second phalange of forefinger. The fingers' gripper that we get is called fulcrum - the point of rest for free turning of stick. You should avoid overstress of muscles, that is why don't hold the stick too tight, - give it some freedom.
Dave Weckl is showing.
There are two types of the grip - matched grip and traditional grip.
Jo Jo Mayer is showing.
There are three variants for the matched grip - German (palms are facing down), French (thumbs are on the top, palms are nearly perpendicular to the floor) and American (intermediate).
Dom Famularo is showing.
Traditional grip - is a technique when each hand holds the stick differently (left-handed people need to hold the stick other way round). This kind of holding the sticks originated in the tradition of marching drummers - traditional grip was used because of the drum sliding to the one side, while it was carried on the shoulder.
The rest of the fingers slightly hold the stick, all the time fingers must touch the stick, don't take them away.
In this grip the leading hand (right for right-handed) holds the stick in the same way as in the matched grip. Relax the left arm, bend it in the elbow and open the hand as if you're holding a tennis ball (1). Put the stick between the thumb and forefinger and you'll get fulcrum (2). The top joint of the forefinger must be on the top of the stick, the middle finger must be rest slightly on top side of the stick. The phalange of the ring-finger support the stick, the little finger is picked up. The palm looks aside, it's important not to open it upwards. The hand is on the same line as the forearm, not turning aside (3).
In all grips, except American one, the angle between sticks is about 90 degrees; in American it is a little bit smaller.
Drummers distinguish three types of the stroke or three techniques of the stroke, they are - wrist stroke, finger technique and Moeller technique. As it was mentioned above, the wrist stroke is a basic one.
Dave Weckl is showing.
Note that the forearm is almost unmovable and those fingers which are not used in fulcrum, constantly control the stick. Playing such stroke, one can get very loud sound.
There are some special devices thanks which kicking the drum become more comfortable.
The bass drum pedal is attached to the rim of the bass drum. Also the traditional drum set includes the hi-het pedal. So-called "Het machine" is designed in the way that allows hi-het cymbals to get clashed and naturally produce the sound while the hi-het pedal is pressed. If you remove your foot off the pedal, the cymbals will return to its original position under the influence of the return. Drummers distinguish two types of kicking: first one is downhill, the stroke with the heel support; second one - uphill, the stroke without the heel support. Downhill is performed by the ankle.
Steve Smith is showing.
Uphill is performed with the help of thigh muscles.
Within the musical practice all the time you need to use both types of kicks. And you constantly need to change the position of the leg with heel support (downhill) to the position without support (uphill). For better technique explanation there was introduced the concept of downhill with transition. Downhill with transition means the foot stroke with heel support subsequently transitioning to the stroke without heel support. And the opposite transition - from the stroke without heel support to the stroke with heel support (uphill with transition).