Building a Killer Drumkit: A Step-By-Step Guide

By Magesh MageshContributing Author

Article photo - Building a Killer Drumkit: A Step-By-Step Guide

The best thing about playing the drums is you really get to choose every aspect of your kit. It is easily the most customizable instrument. There are a few things you should consider before spending money on cymbals, pedals, hardware, and drums.

I would like to talk about the main aspects of putting together a killer drumkit and share some YouTube links to check out other great drummers kits.


The most IMPORTANT factor when putting together a drumkit is style. This determines the sizes of your drums, cymbals, and sticks. Jazz drummers use 7a sticks because they are thin and lightweight. They don’t need to worry about them breaking because the music they play is usually at a low volume. Heavy metal drummers play larger cymbals and drums for sheer volume.

1. The bass drum

I believe the first step in putting together a killer drumkit is the size of the bass drum. If you buy a stock standard drumkit it will have a 22-inch bass drum. This is fine for rock music. If you play jazz you would want it to be 18 inches. I have always played a 20-inch bass drum for its versatility. If I play rock I can always tune it down to sound low and tune it up high for jazz or pop.

Session drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. who works for Paul McCartney always uses an extra large bass drum. It’s usually around 26 inches! Check it out here:

2. The snare drum

There are so many types of snare drums on the market. Brass, wood, and copper will all affect your sound as will the depth. I would use a shallow drum for funk music or even a piccolo.

For heavier music consider 15 inches in diameter and at least 6 inches deep. If you can afford a wooden hoop…go for it!

Check out how funky Steve Jordan's snare with wooden hopp is in this clip.

3. Cymbals

Regardless of what style of music you are playing you will at least need a set of hi-hats, crash and ride. Remember to use brighter-sounding cymbals for rock and metal. When I was coming up as a young drummer I would use dark-sounding cymbals for rock and metal. This led me to hit harder to get a sound, which led to me breaking a lot of cymbals! A killer setup for rock will need at least 2 crashes and a China cymbal.

Check out this clip of legendary drummer Dom Famularo. This is a perfect example of a killer drum set! 

4. Pedals

If you are playing loud music and playing hard, I recommend a double-chain pedal. These pedals can stand a good beating and won’t quit in the middle of a gig. Tama's Iron Cobra series is phenomenal! If you play metal and can afford an extra bass drum, that’s great. If not a double pedal should suffice.

Check out master drummer Virgil Donati’s bass drum work on his killer setup. 

5. Imagination

The best advice I can give about creating a killer drum setup is to use your imagination. You can literally add whatever you want to the drumkit! I added traditional Indian hand drums, samplers, and triggers to get sounds usually only achieved in the studio. I did this because it was what I was hearing in my head.

Never let anyone tell you what you can add to your drumkit.

Terry Bozzio is the perfect example of a musician creating the killer setup that is perfect for him. 

Once again, take into account the style of music you are playing when putting together your killer drum setup. This will help you get the right sizes, depths, and cymbals. Good luck and keep practicing!

About Magesh Magesh

Magesh is a musician and producer who has worked with Rihanna, Lionel Richie, Ricky Martin, Chris Brown, The Pussy Cat Dolls, Nelly Furtado, and Vernon Reid of Living Colour. He released an instructional drumming DVD called "Unique Beats" where he mixed the drum kit with electronics and Indian hand percussion. He recently moved from Australia to the UK to explore new musical opportunities.

Contact Magesh Magesh at

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