It's bad enough that drummers are always at the butt end of jokes among bandmates, but they also have to lug around the heaviest and bulkiest equipment. Fortunately, portable drum sets allow for painless transitions from gig to gig for the drummer fed up with the endless bags, cases and other backbreaking contraptions associated with standard-sized drum sets. If it's not enough that they are lightweight, compact and portable--three attractive qualities in themselves--the surprising richness of the sound is sure to win you over. A variety of models are available from major manufacturers like Yamaha, Pearl and Arbiter.
To Buy or Not to Buy
If any of the following scenarios apply to you, take a long, good look at the advantages of a portable drum set:
* You're a gigging drummer who is frequently on the move.
* Storage space is a major issue and/or setup space at the gig may be tight.
* You want a reliable drum set that sounds good, but don't want to spend a fortune (just yet).
* You want a kit to practice on but you live in an apartment.
* You're both an aspiring drummer and in college, which probably means you're broke.
Unlike a few years ago, there are many compact drum sets on the market today. While the general approach is the same (portable and lightweight), each manufacturer offers something unique. Do you prefer single-headed drums (Arbiter Flats) or the traditional double-headed ones (Yamaha Hipgig)? Would you rather purchase a shell kit (Arbiter Flats Pro) and build around it, or do you want to play right out of the box (Pearl Rhythm Traveler)? Before you seek out a distributor, do your research, test out the different products if possible and determine for yourself which kit is right for you.
The Yamaha Hipgig is a compact version of the standard drum set. The drums feature smaller, double-headed shells for easy storage and transportation--all the drums fit snugly into the bass drum while the stands go into the drum throne. But if you think that small drums equate to small sound, you'll be surprised. The Hipgig is suitable for most low to moderate-volume situations, and can easily accommodate larger settings with the proper use of drum mics.
Specs for Yamaha Hipgig:
* 16 x 20" Bass Drum, 12 x 5" Snare Drum, and 10 x 6" and 13 x 7" Mounted Toms
* 7-ply Birch/Mahogany Shell
* Floating bass drum system
* All drums and cymbals (except hi-hats) are mounted on bass drum
* Gig bag included with set
* Available finishes: White Marine Pearl, Mellow Yellow, Cherry Wood
* Add-on toms available
Based in the U.K., Arbiter has seen its line of Flats drum sets gain popularity overseas in the United States. There are two models: the Arbiter Flats Lite and the Arbiter Flats Pro, which is the higher end model. While the Pro is only available as a shell kit (drums and bag), the Lite ships with everything you need to begin playing immediately--drums, stands, pedals and even cymbals. The Lite is also available with a drum rack for extra stability.
The following specs apply to the Arbiter Flats Pro:
* Single-headed drums built around thin ABS shells
* AT single-screw tuning system for quick and easy adjustments
* Chromed steel hoops
* Half the weight of a regular drum set
* All drums fit into one bag (included)
* Drums available in wide range of diameters (8" to 22")
* Combination of single head and screw allows for fast changing of heads
Pearl Rhythm Traveler
Pearl Rhythm Traveler has been designed with the working and rehearsing drummer in mind. Many times it is impractical to carry a standard drum set back and forth from home and between gigs. Rhythm Traveler addresses these very issues: the live kit converts to a practice kit in minutes with the help of mesh heads (included); the single-headed toms stack neatly into each other for easy transport and storage. Play anywhere at any time of night with no hassle.
Specs for Pearl Rhythm Traveler:
* 20 x 8" Bass Drum, 13 x 5" Snare Drum, and 10 x 5", 12 x 5" and 14 x 5" Toms
* Shells manufactured by Pearl's patented Heat Compression Shell Molding System
* Single headed design allows toms to neatly stack for compact travel
* Cymbals and hardware included
* Standard drum heads (live), mesh heads (practice) and cymbal mutes included
* Switch from live kit to practice kit in minutes