How to Choose What Drums to Purchase for Your Drumline

by Steve Weiss Music on January 17, 2014

At Steve Weiss Music, we get asked all the time what drums customers should purchase for a specific number of players in a drumline. Jeff Phipps, our Educational Department Manager, wrote the following article. Please contact him via the Educational Department portion of our website if you need any personal assistance deciding on what to purchase, price quotes on Dynasty, Mapex, Pearl, Yamaha Drumlines or anything else percussion or if you need any additional information.

So you have the hard part down, you have eager students who want to be in the drumline. But now you need to evaluate their skills and determine who plays marching snare drum, tenors, bass drum, or cymbals. What should you look for?

The snare drum parts are typically those that require the most physical ability to play. The parts are usually relative to the main melody, yet may branch out to create their own “color” within the musical phrase. The snares, by virtue of their timbre, are also more exposed simply because they can usually be heard most easily. This tends to support the idea that your better players should be placed on snare drum.

In many cases the tenor parts are more related to the inner voices of your ensemble like the saxophones, or mellophones/french horns. But in a lot of cases with middle and high schools, they play the same parts as the snares, only spread over as many as 6 drums. This additional physical responsibility may require some of your top players to be on tenors. There is also an extra responsibility in reading the parts. This reading issue is the one to pay attention to. Some students just don’t have the ability to process the parts over multiple drums. Test them out by playing the same part on snare versus tenors and see how quickly or slowly they adapt to the multiple drums.

The bass drum parts, although split up over multiple players, generally do not require as much individual playing ability as the other two sections. However, these students should be strong in terms of pulse because many times it is the bass line that creates the foundation for the busier snare and tenor parts to sit on top of. If you have players that count well and feel things well but may not have the strongest chops or reading ability yet, these would be good bass drummers.

Crashes and other cymbal colors can be easily replicated using stationary suspended cymbals. That’s not to say that a marching line isn’t valuable. But, when faced with the decision as to how to build the marching percussion section and educate the players, it is worth considering putting them on drums if they intend to continue to be percussionists. If you have a well-rounded battery section established, additional less experienced players certainly should go on cymbals. Look for an awareness and command of their bodies. This is not always easily found in young performers.

In general, you’ll want to have all voices properly represented. Over the years I have seen groups with 4 snares and 4 basses and one single tenor player. The tenor voice will not speak in this set-up. Or, one snare, one tenor and 5 basses and 4 cymbals. This is usually the result of two strong experienced players and a large group of newer students. The balance is off in both of these situations. Be sure that when playing at the same dynamic levels that all sections of the ensemble can be heard contributing to the overall ensemble sound, with winds included. Also, be conscious of building for the future. Those new kids who are not ready for snare and tenors yet need to get ready somehow. Giving the glory to the two kids that can play by making them the sole snare and sole tenor player will not prepare the younger ones for next year and beyond. In most cases, putting an inexperienced player next to a much stronger one will bring them along much faster than if left on a less challenging instrument.

A quick guide:

6 players: 2 Snare Drums, 1 Tenor, 3 Bass Drums 9 players: 2 Snare Drums, 2 Tenors, 5 Bass Drums
7 players: 2 Snare Drums, 1 Tenor, 4 Bass Drums 10 players: 3 Snare Drums, 2 Tenors, 5 Bass Drums
8 players: 2 Snare Drums, 2 Tenors, 4 Bass Drums 11 players: 4 Snare Drums, 2 Tenors, 5 Bass Drums


Meinl Black Makah Burl String Cajon

Meinl Cajon Sale

by Steve Weiss Music on February 25, 2013

Meinl Cajons have been extremely popular lately, so we decided to create a new sale for them. We’re currently offering a FREE Meinl Snare Bongo Cajon when you purchase the Meinl Black Makah Burl String Cajon. This model cajon happens to be one of the best selling cajons available, and the freebie snare bongo cajon completes your setup. The cajon sale ends on March 10th and is only available while supplies last.

Meinl Snare Bongo Cajon The cajon has been used for centuries in Afro-Peruvian music, and more recently in Cuban and flamenco music. The popularity of the cajon in pop music has exploded in the USA in the last decade. It is being used as a drum set replacement in acoustic settings, integrated into hand percussion and drum set setups, played with brushes and can be heard on many popular recordings. One common use of the cajon is to add a bass drum pedal, snare drum, and hi-hat to create a portable drum set like instrument.

Meinl has been instrumental in the growth of the popularity of the cajon, which is why we chose to partner with them on this incredible sale.



Custom Drums

Custom Drums Information Now Available

by Steve Weiss Music on December 26, 2012

We recently spent a lot of time updating the Custom Drums category on our website.   You can now browse information on custom drums from Gretsch, Ludwig, Pearl and Yamaha.  An easy to use contact form provides quick access to our custom drum set experts for pricing, build time, available options and more.  This section of our website is a great resource for looking at color swatches, full drum set color examples, detailed photos of options.  Please visit our Custom Drums page or as always, you can call us at (888) 659-3477.


Should you buy or rent a marimba?

July 16, 2012

Many customers contact us to see if we offer marimba rentals.  We may rent marimbas at some point, but up until now we’ve always suggested that you purchase a marimba instead of renting one.  In our opinion, renting a marimba should not be used in place of financing a purchase.  Here are a few points […]

Read the full article →

Buying Your First Drum Set

May 11, 2012

Buying a first drum set for yourself, a school or church, or the young drummer in the family, can be an overwhelming task if you aren’t familiar with all of the technical features and characteristics of this instrument. There are a few things to keep in mind when looking for one, and we’ve just made […]

Read the full article →

Tuned Gongs Introduction

January 16, 2012

Over the past few months, I have had the honor of welcoming a few shipments of tuned gongs into this country. I have learned there are many types of gongs, but a few tune more easily and accurately than others: The most popular are our Tuned Thai Gongs, featuring a raised center that is one […]

Read the full article →

HAPI Drums are now available from Steve Weiss Music!

August 5, 2011

HAPI Drums (Hand Activated Percussion Instrument)  are melodic steel tongue drums resembling a Hang Drum, Tank Drum, and many other similar products.  What sets HAPIs apart from these and other drums is the production quality, overall tone, and pricing. They have also been featured on the soundtracks for major movies and TV shows, and are played […]

Read the full article →

Marimba One Marimbas Now Available

July 26, 2011

Steve Weiss Music is excited to announce that we recently added Marimba One Marimbas to our selection of concert percussion instruments.  Three five-octave models ranging from $11,500 to $14,550 are available, in addition to our new Marimba One Custom Marimba Builder which offers a choice in frame type, range, optional bar upgrades and more.  All […]

Read the full article →

UFIP Cymbals now in stock.

May 16, 2011

We recently received a large shipment for UFIP Cymbals.  UFIP is an Italian Cymbal maker, well-known for creating great sounding cymbals using their patented rotocasting technique.  The rotation uses centrifugal force to push the impurities, which are present during the casting process, towards the outer edge of the cymbal, and are then eliminated during the […]

Read the full article →

Dream Cymbals Now In Stock

May 10, 2011

We recently received a large shipment of Dream Cymbals.  The Dream Line of Cymbals, while new to the U. S., are among the best hand-crafted western style (sounding) cymbals to come on the market in many years!  Their foundry is located in Wuhan China, a region well known for the gongs and lion/china type cymbals […]

Read the full article →

Evans New Hybrid-S & System Blue Drum Heads

December 16, 2010
Evans System Blue Tenor Heads

Recently I was asked to test out two of Evan’s drumheads newest marching heads: the Evans Hybrid-S Marching Snare Drum Head and the Evans System Blue Tenor Drum Heads.  Now, I’m fairly particular about my drum heads, as any serious player would be, and I definitely have my ‘brand of choice’.  In my mind, the […]

Read the full article →