Investing in your First Used Acoustic Drum Set

Updated: Jul 10, 2019

Buying a drum set is one of the most important things to consider as a young drummer. There are tons of guides on what the best starting kits are. So instead of that, we'll talk about what to look for in a used drum set.

1. Scratches

Most drum sets will have some scratches regardless of if they're new, used, and who owns them. These are instruments and they're moved around a lot. So, if you're looking at a used drum set look for scratches and make sure to examine the surround area in case the drum was dropped or fell at some point. While one or two scratches isn't the end of the world. If a drum is seriously scratched up it lowers the value.

2. Dents

Dents can be a big issue for used drum sets. Make sure to examine the whole drum and make sure there aren't any dents. A dent on a drum can cause many problems. If the shell is dented it can cause problems when putting on a new head. Long term, these dents can get worse and cause a variety of issues.

3. Loose Lugs

Loose lugs can be normal, but if the lugs can't tighten at all the drum may have hardware issues. These hardware issues can cause problems when putting on a new head and keeping the drum in tune. Make sure to bring a drum key with you when you check out a used kit and make sure to tighten and loosen some of the lugs to make sure that the drums can stay in tune.

4. Cymbals

Cymbals are very expensive. For most beginners I suggest getting a beginner set with starter cymbals and over time investing in better cymbals. If you buy a drum set off Craigslist or somewhere else used make sure that the set either includes cymbals or the price isn't too high for JUST THE SET.

If the drum set does include cymbals, make sure that they don't have holes and that they aren't warped. Both of these issues completely ruin the cymbal and make them essentially unusable.

5. Hardware

Hardware can be expensive to buy brand new now days. So, if the drum set includes cymbal stands and a throne it's important to make sure all the lugs and adjustment hardware is present. When checking hardware just make sure to tighten and loosen everything you can get your hands on and make sure all of it is adjustable. If something is completely stuck and can't be moved with WD-40 it might be time to check out a different drum set.


Musician / Music Educator

M 608-576-2455 E W

If you, or someone you know, is interested in drum set or percussion lessons in the San Diego area. Please head on over to the Lessons page for more information on lessons with Sam! Online lessons are also available!

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