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Old 12th July 2019
Gear Nut

Drums: As far as drums, buy a used classic kit in good condition and you should be able to get your money back if it's not your thing. Especially if you deal locally. Which kit, of course, depends on your preferences. I wound up buying Recording Customs but also check out the Absolutes if you can. Yamahas may not be your sound. I recommend listening to and playing a lot of kits. There are a ton of nice drums suitable for songwriter-type stuff. Gretsch, Ludwig, Pearl, etc. So many choices, really. I recommend (ultimately) owning a few snares. Black Beauty is a classic, but have other materials such as woods and aluminum and sizes on hand. Changing the snare and cymbals can really change the sound of the kit.

Hardware: Hardware affects the sound of the cymbal/drum it's holding. Cheap or light hardware can also rock and squeak. Bleh. Light is nice if you are gigging and want less in tow but not my preference in the studio. Like drums/shells, look around locally used and get it for 50% off. If that fails, then just grab a pack to start out with and replace as needed. The markup on hardware is pretty high. Wait for the better hardware to go on sale at a deeper discount. Then supplement as needed.

Cymbals: Cymbals and Snares are the core things to swap out when recording. You may only "need" one 10" tom but you may find you "need" 6 snares and 20 cymbals for good coverage. I recently saw a sale for K and K Custom Dark packs for $6xx new. That is a really good starting point. I really think it's ok to start there. I's a good value and the cymbals consistently sound good. You can spend the next 5 years cherry picking the best cymbals and snares for your preferences.

So what does that get you? About $1500 for shells (Used RC or Absolute 5 pc) plus $400 for a set of good hardware+pedal used and local. And if you can get a pack like the Ks for under $700, do it. It's a starting point. Totally usable for recording but maybe not ultimately the best tools or most complete toolset for your needs. Just like if somebody asked "What mics do I need in my locker ($2500 budget)?" So I figure a few months down the road you may be interest in augmenting with a specific snare or cymbals. $2500 is, to me, a bit of a stretch. But your needs and tastes may be different from mine. If you only need 3 drums and 4 cymbals you can get in that budget much more easily.

My current kit in its default state: Mid-80s Recording Custom drums (12,14,16,18,22), Ludwig Hammered Bronze snares (6.5" and 5" depths), and Zildjian K (family - Kerope, K, Custom Dark, etc) cymbals, Yamaha (toms) and DW 9000 (everything else) hardware.