Getting into Jazz Music: The Ultimate Drumkit Guide!

A drumkit guide tailored for the aspiring drummer seeking the ideal gear to set the perfect jazz vibe!

By Magesh MageshContributing Author

Article photo - Getting into Jazz Music: The Ultimate Drumkit Guide!


Certain things make jazz music sound like jazz music. Eloquent piano licks, a walking bass line on a double bass, and a swing beat from a drummer. 

As a drummer, it is important to play jazz music with the right equipment. I’m writing this article to help you understand how to get a jazzy sound with the right sticks, brushes, and drums.


The Bass Drum

It is easier to make a small drum sound big as opposed to making a big drum sound small.

To get an authentic jazz drum sound you would not want to go bigger than a 20-inch bass drum. A 16 and 18 are also great. The deciding factor will be the type of venue you are playing and if the bass drum will be miked.

Check out these bass drums:


Sonor 16'x15' AQ2 Bass Drum TSB see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Sonor 16'x15' AQ2 Bass Drum TSB", read the reviews and join the community! The advantage of having a 16-inch bass drum is you can position your toms super close to you as the bass drum height won’t interfere with your setup.


Pearl Export 18'x14' Bass Drum #31 see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Pearl Export 18'x14' Bass Drum #31", read the reviews and join the community! An 18-inch drum has a little more bottom end which will help you if you are playing with an acoustic bass player.
 

DrumCraft Series 6 20'x16' BD SBR-NM see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "DrumCraft Series 6 20'x16' BD SBR-NM", read the reviews and join the community! A 20-inch bass drum used for jazz would be ideal for playing in larger venues.


The Snare Drum

The snare drum for jazz can vary. This is because jazz music isn’t defined by a backbeat (snare drum beat on 2 and 4) like rock or pop music. It is personal taste if you want a metal or wood snare drum.

I like wooden drums because I feel they create a warmer sound. You would want the snare drum to be high-pitched but still have some bottom end. For that reason, I would avoid a small depth drum like a piccolo.

Check out these snare drums.


Ludwig LB415 14'x6,5' Black Beauty see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Ludwig LB415 14'x6,5' Black Beauty", read the reviews and join the community!

Ludwig LW0414CP Carl Palmer Snare see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Ludwig LW0414CP Carl Palmer Snare", read the reviews and join the community!

Pearl 14'x6,5' Special Reserve Snare see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Pearl 14'x6,5' Special Reserve Snare", read the reviews and join the community!


Tom Sizes

Jazz sizes and fusion sizes are very similar when it comes to tone. Fusion sizes usually mean 8, 10 for the small tom, 12 for the middle tom, and 14 for the floor tom. These sizes are perfect for Jazz music also. 

Check out these jazzy-sounding drum kits!


DrumCraft Series 3 Studio Impulz Natural see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "DrumCraft Series 3 Studio Impulz Natural", read the reviews and join the community!


Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz - SWG see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz - SWG", read the reviews and join the community!


Sonor AQ1 Studio Set Caribbean Blue see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Sonor AQ1 Studio Set Caribbean Blue", read the reviews and join the community!


Ludwig Breakbeats Set Black Sparkle see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Ludwig Breakbeats Set Black Sparkle", read the reviews and join the community!


Cymbals

The ride cymbal is the most important piece of equipment for a jazz drummer. This is because the main swing beat is played on the ride cymbal. You want to get something that sounds ‘Dark’, this is simply because a ‘bright’ sounding cymbal will make the main rhythm wash out.

Check out these ride cymbals!


Remo 14' Ambassador Snare Reso see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Remo 14' Ambassador Snare Reso", read the reviews and join the community!

Evans 14' Heavyweight Dry see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Evans 14' Heavyweight Dry", read the reviews and join the community!

Remo 14' Fiberskyn 3 Medium (FA) see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Remo 14' Fiberskyn 3 Medium (FA)", read the reviews and join the community!


Sticks/Brushes

I can't stress how important sticks are to playing certain styles of music. 7a sticks for jazz are perfect. This is because they are thin and don’t have as much weight behind them as a 2B stick. Playing with too much volume can kill the jazz feel.

When it comes to brushes there are 2 types: nylon and wire.

Nylon will give you a smoother sound, ideal for playing with acoustic instruments. Wire brushes can give a more aggressive sound, the only issue I have with wire brushes is they can sometimes get tangled when they retract into the handle of the brush.

Check out these sticks and brushes!


Vic Firth 7A American Hickory Value Pack see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Vic Firth 7A American Hickory Value Pack", read the reviews and join the community!


Vater 7A Manhattan Sticks Wood see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Vater 7A Manhattan Sticks Wood", read the reviews and join the community!


Vic Firth HB Heritage Brushes see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Vic Firth HB Heritage Brushes", read the reviews and join the community!


Vic Firth WB Jazz Brushes see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Vic Firth WB Jazz Brushes", read the reviews and join the community!

​​​​​​​Vic Firth BJR Jazz Rake Brushes see price

Take the "IS IT GOOD FOR ME" test for "Vic Firth BJR Jazz Rake Brushes", read the reviews and join the community!



Conclusion

Remember that jazz music is usually played at a lower volume on the drums. Make sure your ride cymbal pattern sounds clean. Snare drum accents should be played with purpose.

Listen to Miles Davis's ‘Kind Of Blue’ album for inspiration. It is a great place to start if you want to get into jazz drumming.

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.
Website: mageshdrumteacher.co.uk

Contact Magesh Magesh at magesh.magesh7@gmail.com

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