I love my Roland TD-4 electronic kit. It’s great for small gigs and for recording midi drum tracks. It made me interested in drumming and I learned a lot. However, it also made me interested in acoustic drums. I especially felt that playing exclusively on rubber cymbals was giving me bad habits. I decided that I wanted a small, portable kit that would be suitable for coffeehouse gigs, and after some research I ordered a GMS Subway SL kit from Indoor Storm. They warned me that it might take a while to ship, but I got tired of waiting after four months. In the mean time, some new possibilities opened up.
It seems that small portable drum kits are very popular right now. A number of manufacturers have small four piece “bop” kits that are designed for jazz. The Yamaha “Hipgig” and the Sonor “Jungle” kit are even smaller kits that are built around a large floor tom converted to a bass drum. These two are fairly expensive. However. Sonor recently came out with the “Safari” kit, a very reasonably-priced ($339 street) kit with basswood shells. I almost bought that. Instead, I went with the new Tama Metro Jam kit for $499 because of the birch shells. Mine is in sky blue sparkle. Here it is set up in my music room:
I ordered the kit from American Musical Supply. It came in two boxes:
The smaller box contained the floor tom and the bigger box contained the rest of the kit, with the snare and small tom packed inside the bass drum shell.
Everything was well packed. I had to install the bass drum heads and tune them up. There are lots of videos on YouTube about drum tuning, but they tend to contradict one another. For example, one says to tune the resonant (bottom) heads on the toms higher than the batter heads, another says to make them the same pitch. One says never tap the head with the drum key because you might damage the bearing edges, but another shows a guy tapping with the key. The toms on my set were tuned with the resonant heads higher.
Tuning drums requires a good ear and patience. It can be frustrating. I am getting better at it. I may change the heads soon. The stock heads on any set of drums are cheap because most serious players will put their favorite heads on.
Right now I am getting used to playing the kit. Acoustic drums are LOUD, especially when you are used to hitting rubber things. I really need to work on dynamics and control. I am having fun though.
Update 2/23/13: I have changed all the heads. I have a coated Remo Powerstroke 3 on the batter side of the bass drum, and a coated Ambassador on the reso, with a three inch felt strip to muffle it. It makes a nice warm thump! I put Evans G2 clears on the batter side of the toms, with G1 resos, but I changed the G2s to G1s because it was hard for me to get the 2-ply heads in tune with the 1-ply heads on the bottom. I like the G1s better anyway. I put a coated Remo Ambassador X on the batter side of the snare, and an Ambassador snare-side on the reso. To tell the truth, I got the slightly thicker Ambassador X by mistake. I wanted a regular Ambassador, but this head sounds good on the drum. I am very happy with these drums! They were a good price, they are well made, and they sound great!