Drum Set Hardware
Posted in Guides And Tips
Honestly, I rarely thought about drum set hardware until I started to carry it around for gigs. There's a lot of heavy metal in those hardware bags!
Choice in drumset hardware reflects the way you plan on playing the drums. If you play hard and put lots of strain on your cymbal stands, rack tom holders and/or floor tom legs, pedals, etc., you'll probably need sturdy, double-braced hardware. If you play lots of club dates and ride the subway with your kit, you'll probably want the lightest hardware you can find.
There's no such thing as "bad" drumset hardware, only hardware that won't suit your needs. Unless a piece of hardware is completely falling apart to the point of being non-functional, it can be used. Somebody somewhere probably loves their old pedal or snare stand and prefers it to a new one.
Personally, I love light-weight hardware because it's easy to carry. You might like something else.
There are a couple categories of drumset hardware that I'll cover...
- Cymbal Stands
- Snare Stands
- Tom Mounting Systems
Cymbal stands comes in two major weight varieties: single and double braced. Double braced is stronger, and single braced is flimsier.
Double braced stand on the left, single braced on the right
Double braced hardware is going to be heavier, and single is going to be more portable. What you use will be dependant on your needs.
Newer drumset hardware is going to be more durable than vintage stuff.
Another option for cymbal stands is DW's "flat base" cymbal stand. It's a modern take on a vintage concept. Combined with other "normal" stands, the flat design allows these stand to get into places that traditional stands couldn't. They're pretty lightweight, so they might not be ideal for the heavy hitters.
Pedals come in all sorts of constructions. Some are built like tanks and weigh 25 lbs, and others are delicate and simple.
The drive system (what moves the beater), can be either chain-driven or strap-driven. Straps are lighter and are more susceptible to breakage. Chains are sturdier but heavier. Double chain drives even exist for the heaviest of stompers.
To me, the most important aspect of a pedal is the feel!
Personally, I don't have the greatest feet. I work on them but I'm just not as naturally gifted as so many drummers are today. If my pedal isn't solid, with a good spring rebound and decent weight to it, I don't feel like I can control it all that well. But that's just me.
It's important to get to know your pedal. How do you set it up? What do you like?
Heavy pedals don't always equal loud playing. I play very lightly with a heavy, sturdy DW pedal. A better-made pedal will simply last you longer, and make it easier for you to play your ideas.
Snare Drum Stands
Snare drum stands are not a big deal. People don't typically "freak out" over the new snare drum stand model of the year. Like most drumset hardware, if the stand holds up, it's fine. There are a few things to know when picking your stand, though.
Some snare stands have height limitations. Make sure the stand will hold the snare at a high enough, or low enough height for you. Sit down behind it (preferably with a snare of the same depth as yours), and adjust it to see if it can do what you ask of it.
I have very flimsy snare stand to travel with and a more solid one that I leave at home. Just like with other hardware, if durability is an issue for you, go with something strong. If weight is an issue, you may want to sacrifice durability for portability.
Tom Mounting System
There are two main tom mounting systems. Suspended, and what I'll call "Direct Mounting".
With suspended mounting, there is a separate "mounting piece" attached to the tom. The lugs must usually be removed, the mounting piece is placed between the rim and lug holders, and the lugs are fastened back in, securing the tom mount in place. The mount then has an attachment that fastens to a rack mount or some other type of holder. This way, the mount never touches the shell and allows it to vibrate more freely.
"Direct" mounting is when the mounting attachment is directly on the shell. Most older drums have this system in place. The drum is usually less free to move in its holder in this situation, but the shell is being touched directly, so the vibration is going to be stifled. How much vibration is killed? I don't notice much of a difference (then again, I've never tried the same tom with two different mounts). I've never thought a "direct mounted" tom sounded too choked up simply because of its mounting system.
For floor toms, the suspended mounting system is the same (they hang off of cymbal stands usually). The direct mounting system is similar but uses legs instead of an attachment for a rack insert.
Which is better? It's up to you. Personally, I prefer direct mounting. Especially on floor toms! I have the tendency to lean on the floor tom to change its pitch with my elbows sometimes. The legs are the only mounting system that stands up to that kind of weight. Also, direct mounting is less hardware, less weight, and easier to position and lock into place than a floating mount. That's just my opinion, though!