This is for a person that has already purchased sticks and a practice pad and knows that they are ready to go the next step and have a drum set.  I have bought new sets and used over the years and feel that it is always better to buy a used set than pay retail for a new drum set.  I always tell my students to remember when buying a set of drums to buy the best drum name brand they can afford so that no matter what they decide later on they will be able to get a fair return on the money they have spent and to remember that with a vintage drum set it will problably increase in value so they might even make money.  Next I tell them that once you have bought a set of drums, go find a set of cases for them.  Cases are cheap and even if you are not sure you are ever going to transport them anywhere, just having the ability to store them safely and keeping them clean, you will thank yourself later.

 Drum sets come in a wide variety of configurations, styles and sizes.  The standard set is a 5 piece consisting of bass drum, snare drum, one or two tom toms mounted on the bass drum and a floor tom.  

 Here are a few average types of sets:

“Rock” - 22" or 24” Bass Drum, 13" & 14" Mounted Toms, 16" Floor Tom and a 14" Snare Drum.

 “Jazz” – Normally a smaller bass drum 18” or 20” and only one mounted tom either 12” or 13” and 14” floor tom.  The reason jazz style sets only have one mounted tom is to allow for a ride cymbal to be mounted on the bass drum.

“Fusion” - 22” bass drum and have a smaller 10” tom included along with 12”, 14” mounted toms and 16” floor tom

“BeBop” - looks like a rock set with two mounted toms but the drums are smaller normally 18” bass drum 10”-12” and 14” floor tom

 Here are just a few name brand drum manufacturers I have used in my years of playing, and would suggest to anyone as possible ones to buy used and still be able to retain their value.  The average drum set price is about half the retail price and if it is kept clean and taken care of, will easily sell for at least that same price.

 Yamaha, Pearl, Ludwig, Sonor, Rogers, Trixon, DW, Premier, and Gretsch.

 When looking at used drums, remember that these were all bought to be play by beating them HARD with two pieces of wood called drum sticks  so wear is going to happen.  Drums are designed for this purpose of taking a beating and if taken care of, a drum set can last forever. 

The key to finding a good deal on a used set is to know how to tell if they were taken care of.  Is the chrome pitted, dull?  The biggest deal in a used set is... Is there anything missing? If you buy a bass drum with one mounted tom and a floor tom these should be original and complete.  Missing pieces can be costly to replace.  Example is that on a Trixon snare drum if the original snare wires are missing it these can be as expensive as the whole snare drum to replace plus a nightmare to try and find them.  Another thing to watch for is extra holes drilled into the shells.  This is very serious with collectors on a vintage set and can effect the value.  Most extra holes in shells are from people wanting to change mounting brackets for toms or snare drum throw offs.  Just make sure the drum throw off and mounts are original an you should not have any problems.  Here are other things to look for:  Did the user have cases to keep them clean and safe? (If he had cases for them this sometimes shows that this person is one that takes care of things he owns and the drum will be in better shape)  Did he keep them clean? Are there any other signs of abusing them other than playing?   Is the finish kept clean?  Any scratches or cracks in the shells or finish?  These are the kinds of question you need to ask yourself when looking at a used set. 

I never look much at the batter or top heads as a reason to buy a drum or not because with normal wear they stretch out then lose tone and probably need to be replaced anyway.  A good tip is to make sure the resonance or bottom heads are not played on and are in good shape.  These heads last a long time with out hurting the tone of the drum and if these are in good shape, can save you money by not having to replace them. Then once you replace the top heads, you will have a fresh sounding set.

 On a drum set the only pieces other than the set that is needed is a bass drum pedal about $20.00-70.00, high hat stand $30.00-150.00, and cymbal stands @ about $30.00-70.00 each.

Hopefully in the deal for the used set, cymbals are included. But if you need to buy them you will normally need a Ride, crash, and high hat cymbals (tip: Only buy good cymbals like Zildjian, Paiste or Sabian these will sound better and last longer than other cheap brands on the market). Try to buy used but if you buy new cymbals, a good tip is that the manufacturer now packages ride, crash and high hats in sets and sell cheaper, normally for around $300.00-$500.00 

Here is a HOT Tip for buying drum sticks:

Do the Roll, Inspect and Tap Test:   Pro drummers that buy a lot of sticks know that when buying sticks to ask the dealer to let them check "ALL"  they have available.  Inspect each stick to see that the wood grain is  continuous from the butt of the stick to the tip.  The weakest sticks will have this grain shooting off to one side or the other.  Then  roll them on a flat surface to check for straight.  Then, tap each stick on a hard surface and listen to sound or pitch.  What your listening for is highest pitch,  This tells the pro drummer which stick has the most dense wood.  Once this is done these sticks picked are the hardest, straightest and strongest and will last longest possible.

 Get Drumming and Have fun ........