Just getting started with drumming and don’t know where to begin?
We’ve got you covered!
Below you’ll find all the steps to become the drummer you’ve always dreamed of.
Before you start down the path to drumming greatness, you’ll of course need something to play on. Here are the absolute essentials that every drummer should have from the start:
No matter what style of music you want to learn, and no matter what type of percussion instrument you want to play, there is one thing you’ll need for sure - a practice pad!
It’s the most basic foundation you can start on, it’s super portable, and it will allow you to learn everything from rudiments, to stick control, and much more. A drummer playing on a drum set without learning how to play on a practice pad is like trying to write a sentence without fully understanding the alphabet.
Our recommendation is the Evans Realfeel 2-Sided Practice Pad. It has a large playing area and 2 sides, each with different amounts of rebound.
Want to learn more? Check out our buyer’s guide for our top rated practice pads.
This one is simple enough - Pick up a pair of Vic Firth 5A Drumsticks. 5A drumsticks are pretty much the standard middleground, with a nice balance and weight.
If you’d like to learn all about the differences between drumsticks and what the letters and numbers mean, check out our article on how to choose drumsticks.
Drum Set - Electronic or Acoustic?
Now for the big decision. Don’t worry though - we’ve got plenty of info to help you out!
Every drummer should have a drum set. It’s where all of your knowledge/practice comes into use, and it’s where you can have the most impact and influence on others with your playing. After all, the greatest drummers in the world didn’t become famous just from playing on a practice pad!
So the question is, do you get an acoustic drum set or one of those new electronic drum sets you’ve seen? Here’s my advice:
If loud sound is not an issue for you, I would get an acoustic drum set. You’ll learn all the subtle nuances of things like tuning, muffling, drum material differences, rebound, and much more. These are the things that drummers need to be familiar with.
While electronic drum sets are great (I’ll get to that), they will never quite sound or feel like the real thing.
My recommendation for a reliable and low-cost acoustic drum set is the Tama Imperialstar 5-Piece Drum Set. You’ll have a hard time finding a better drum kit for the price that comes with everything you need. Sure, you’ll want to upgrade some things down the road, but it’s a fantastic starting point for any drummer. You don’t want to go TOO cheap in the beginning because this purchase will serve as your foundation to build upon for quite a few years to come.
If you want to check out some other options, we have some listed on our Best Cheap Drum Sets article.
If you live in an apartment or just too close to neighbors in general, you’ll know the pain of not being able to have an acoustic drum set. This is where an electronic drum set shines!
With an electronic kit, you’ll be able to plug in headphones and play whenever you want. Not only that, but you’ll have access to an almost unlimited number of sounds that you can tweak to your heart's content.
There are a ton of electronic drum sets on the market, and they can get pricey, but our recommendation for a great low-cost electronic kit is the Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit. Not only is it budget-friendly, but it comes with mesh pads - something that usually only comes with higher-end models.
If you want to compare some different electronic drum kits, check out our post on the Best Electronic Drum Sets.
Technique and Theory Basics
Now that you’ve got everything you need, it’s finally time to start playing! You’ll want to get down some of the basic building blocks of technique and theory as soon as you can, as it will give you a solid foundation to built upon.
How you hold your drumsticks can make your learning path easy or incredibly hard, so it’s important to get down from the start.
Luckily, we wrote an article on the proper way to hold your drumsticks right here.
Ah, rudiments… The first thing that most drummers learn, and one of the longest things it will take you to master.
It can be the most boring from time-to-time, but it is by far the most helpful thing when it comes to developing stick control and hand independence. If you can master your rudiments, you’ll be able to play pretty much anything.
Reading Drum Sheet Music
While learning to read music is not entirely necessary (a lot of professional drummers don’t read music), it can give you a much better understanding of different subdivisions and odd-time signatures. Plus, you’ll be perfectly prepared to read the sheet music for your favorite bands if you want to learn songs note-by-note.
Check out our guide on how to read drum music.
Online drum lessons have exploded in content and popularity in the past few years. It couldn’t be easier to find hours upon hours of content geared toward what YOU want to learn.
If you really want to get serious with drumming and if you crave structured content, I would recommend signing up with Drumeo. It’ll cost a little money, but it’s filled to the brim with awesome content from the world’s top drummers.
Another great site is Mike’s Lessons. Mike has such a great personality, so it makes learning very engaging and fun.
If you want to go the free route, YouTube is king. Just search around for specific lessons that suit your needs, and let that help you discover new drum lesson channels. There’s literally thousands out there, although they won’t have the structure of a paid site.
Play With Other Musicians
Perhaps the best way to advance your skills and groove quickly is to play with others.
Have a friend that plays a little guitar? Invite them over to have a little jam session! Not only will you get better at improvising, but you’ll start to really understand the true role of the drums, and how to make the other instruments shine.
Don’t have anybody to jam with? No problem!
Throw on a couple drumless jam tracks and try out some new grooves. We recently wrote an article on where to find the best drumless jam tracks, so make sure to check that out!
There is one important lesson to be learned from learning how to play the drums. And that is...have fun! As long as you're enjoying yourself along your journey, you win. It's as simple as that.
You can learn all the technique you want, but somebody who is having fun being themselves behind the drum kit and expressing what THEY want to express will progress tremendously faster than everybody else.
So get out there and play what YOU want to play, and don't let anybody else tell you otherwise.
I wish you the best of luck of this awesome new journey of yours, and make sure to check back here from time-to-time for some awesome new drumming tips to help you along!