Last Updated on May 17, 2021 by Danny
If you or your kid has recently started drumming, you might have wondered which drum set would work best for you. Before you consider buying a drum set, it’s better to be familiar with the different drum kit configurations to help you decide which ones would be more suitable for you.
So, let’s start to know about 3, 4 and 5 piece drum sets.
What Are 3, 4, and 5 Piece Drum Sets?
A drum set is a combination of different percussion instruments such as drums, and cymbals of different types and sizes.
A 5 Piece Drum Set contains a bass drum, two mounted toms, a floor tom, and a snare drum, which is a common setup for several genres such as Rock, Gospel, and Blues.
Remove one tom from a five piece kit, and you have a four piece kit suitable for classic and jazz music.
Finally, a three piece kit contains a snare, tom, and a bass drum. Most of these kits are paired with a cymbal set containing at least a crash, hi-hat cymbals, and a ride cymbal.
Each drum set has different variations of its own, which are further discussed below.
Five Piece Drum Set
Most 5 piece kits contain two rack toms suspended through a mounting system on the bass drum, and a separate floor tom positioned on the right side of the snare.
This drum set is considered to be the standard for several music genres as it provides a variety of drum sounds with different pitch ranges.
Hence, because of its versatility, this five piece drum set has become popular for almost any type of musical setup from home/studio recording, to live/stage performances.
Four Piece Drum Set
I dare you to think of any jazz or rock band from the 1960s to the 1980s. Most probably, their drummer has used a four piece drum set as their standard or main kit.
Instead of two mounted toms on the bass drum, a four piece kit only has one rack tom, with a floor tom, kick drum, and a snare drum.
During the early years in which four piece kits have become popular, the rack tom is not mounted on the bass drum but suspended via a tall stand.
Although 5 piece drum kit is more common than four piece and is still widely used for select musical genres such as traditional Jazz, Gospel, Country, and pop music.
Three Piece Drum Set
To make your drum set smaller, remove the mounted tom, from a 4 piece kit, and you are left with a three piece drum set with only a bass drum, floor tom, and a snare drum.
While this configuration might look like it’s not going to work, don’t let that prejudice fool you. There are several music artists and talented minimalist drummers who can make the most out of a three piece drum kit, while still delivering a powerful groove, and making the whole drum set sing.
If you are up for a challenge, or if you believe that less is more, we encourage you to consider opting for a three piece kit and to take a look at our top choices.
Choosing the Right Configuration for You
Choosing the right drum set is comparable to identifying the best car for you. Your friend might suggest a top-of-the-line sports car, while your dad or granddad might suggest a vintage Volkswagen.
While none of them could be wrong, choosing the right design and kit is more of a personal choice that requires careful thought and consideration.
In line with this, we have identified some of the factors that can help you in choosing the right drum set that would work best for you.
What type of music genre do you play? Do you plan to focus on one type of genre? If so, you might want to choose a drum set that is more suitable to the genre you are pursuing.
For instance, if you work more on Jazz music, or you find more enjoyment in playing Jazz, a 4 piece kit might serve you well. On the other hand, 5 piece kits or 6 piece kits might be more appropriate for Rock and Metal music genres.
However, if you are considering to play more than one music genre, a standard 5 piece kit is a good to start since most acoustic drums with this arrangement are versatile and appropriate for several music styles.
The coordination and timing of your limbs play a crucial role in drumming. If you have physical conditions that might affect the way you play, it is a wise decision to consider a drum set that would work best for these physical conditions/limitations.
For instance, if you are left-handed you might want to consider switching the position of the drums to get you more comfortable in playing and to develop a unique playing technique. Another physical factor that you must consider is your physique.
If you have shorter limbs, you might want to bring the drums closer so you could control the intensity and fluidity of your strokes.
You might think this is self-explanatory, but considering your personal preferences well might prevent you from regretting any of your buying decisions.
If you prefer a smaller drum set, and you think it will be suitable for the type of music you play, I see no reason why you shouldn’t buy one. A four piece, or even a three piece kit might be the best for you.
However, if you feel more confident hitting more drums, and you think it contributes musically to the overall sound of the band, then consider buying more than a five piece kit.
Admit it, drums are heavy and expensive instruments. If you are a touring drummer, it’s hard to relocate your drum set, especially if you have a massive setup.
If you do not have the necessary equipment to transport your drums with ease, you might have a more convenient time investing in 4 or 5 piece kits.
Also, as a rule of thumb, the greater number of drums, cymbals, and hardware, the more expensive will be the cost of your drum set. You might want a massive 10 piece kit, but your wallet might beg you for a 4 piece kit instead.
For what purpose would you use your drum set? Keep in mind that some drum set might be more suitable for specific purposes.
For instance, if you are a drum instructor, you might want to get a standard 5 piece kit, since this is the most versatile configuration and it might help your student to improve the fundamental techniques before transitioning to a larger or a smaller kit.
On the other hand, smaller kits such as a four piece kit might suffice for your home/recording studios since you can control your sound better, and prevent unwanted/excessive noise from a much larger kit.