Which is best? Big drum set? Or Small drum set? This question (and arguments about it) have shown up many times on the drum forums. I would like to give my perspective on this issue.
If you are just beginning to learn drums, it is wise to not start off in the large drum set world just yet. Put your extra money on some lessons first. A single practice pad is all you really need to get started. If you can afford a small quality drum set, that would be good also. Drums take a pounding; don’t buy one that will fall apart in a year or two.
The reason I am saying “Don’t get a big set to start” is because you should not be spending your time going around a large set in circles when you could be working on your stamina, muscle memory, concentration and timing. Do not get distracted with “Which one of these dozens of items am I going to hit next?” syndrome. This problem is common with students who start on a large drum set.
If you have a large set, take the time to practice on a small set once in a while (or use small set mentality) to get back to the foundations of drumming. The basics of all complicated drum patterns are rooted in the combination of simple single strokes and double strokes. Always go back to your roots as a drummer and practice drum rudiments on a practice pad or snare. If you can’t do the basic rudiments then your drumming will suffer, small kit or large.
My preference is to do drum solos on a large set because I enjoy playing evolving patterns and melodies on the toms and cymbals. When I start a solo, I begin with a basic funky beat using only the hi-hat, snare and bass drum (again using a small set mentality). This is intended to remind myself of the “groove” that every drummer should master. After the solid foundation of timing and rhythm has entered my mindset, then I can branch out to the rest of the kit.
So which is best? Big drum set? Or Small drum set? - Neither - its what you do on the set that counts, not what size the drum set is!