How Do I Choose the Best Custom Drums?

Erik J.J. Goserud

Custom drums refer to modified drum kits with added-on parts specialized for a musician’s playing style and drum set preferences. Custom drum companies specialize in specific parts usually outside of the traditional, premade drum set. These drum makers offer premade, standard-sized sets as well as custom-made sets to customer specifications.

Snare drums are one kind of drum.
Snare drums are one kind of drum.

Custom drums offer a wide variety of shell sizes from 8 inches (20 cm) to the upwards of 30 inches (76 cm). Buyers can request custom paints and finishes. These stray outside of the traditional black, white, red, and grey sets and can include lacquer, satin, hard satin, and graphics. There are various types of wood to choose from when purchasing custom drums.

Drum kits can come in countless sizes and configurations.
Drum kits can come in countless sizes and configurations.

Traditional, standard drum sets come premade and usually include a bass drum, kick drum, floor tom, and two rack toms. While customers sometimes ask for stripped-down, smaller sets, larger, more complex models are usually crafted for gear-loving drummers. Youth custom drums are also available. Some parents opt for a higher-quality custom youth drum set as most premade youth drums are less expensive.

If a drummer cannot afford to customize an entire set, he or she often opts for a custom snare drum. Oak, ash, and steel are the main materials used to make snares. To achieve a more radiant, ringing snare sound, opt for a steel snare. Wood snares often have a tighter, punchier sound. Custom drum shops can craft the snare to sound like a recording of a particular snare sound the customer may desire.

Bands like Rush and Motley Crue are known for having enormous custom drum sets sprawling in size with over 20 pieces. These custom drums are designed by high-end makers and can include more than 12 cymbals, several floor toms, rack toms, and accessory percussion such as wood blocks, tambourines, and cowbells. Custom jazz sets are usually smaller, with the basic hardware of a smaller bass drum, snare drum, low tom, and one rack tom. Players add accessories from there.

When a drum set grows in size and parts, drummers sometimes implement a custom rack to hold cymbal stands and toms. These racks suspend across the bass drum and anchor on either side. Racks save on setup and teardown time. They also help organize and stabilize all of the drum set's parts. Racks are recommended for sets with multiple percussion accessories, as well as added toms and cymbals.

Custom hardware also includes cymbal stands of various sizes. Drummers who prefer to reach higher to strike their cymbals may opt for customized, taller cymbal stands. Hard rock and metal drummers may opt for a double-kick pedal with faster reaction time.

A standard drum kit includes a standard size bass drum, snare drum, and tom-toms.
A standard drum kit includes a standard size bass drum, snare drum, and tom-toms.

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