Cheap = Bad sounding?


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I met a guy once. After talking to him I got to a conclusion that he believed that anything INEXSPENSIVE (you notice I did'nt use the word CHEAP!) is of inferior sound / quality. Actually, I'm not imagining this, he actually said it.
I find that idea pretty annoying, and I'm not just taking offence at his reference to MY OWN equipment, I'd like to think I'm mature enough to not be bothered by that sort of criticism. But I think it's a bad view to pass on, especially to younger or new drummers. It's bad enough when music stores try to sell you something that's WAY to exspensive for your needs!
Any thoughts / comments? Do any of you guys use gear that other drummers might call "cheap"?


New member,,exc.cymbals.etc)!

( :x )



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IMO the best sounding china cymbals are wuhans, which are some of the cheapest cast bronze cymbals you can buy. They don't last, but they have the sound that more expensive chinas just can't get.

People that focus too much on high quality gear probably don't focus enough on their own low quality technique.

Johnny Cat

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Depends on what it is.

Sometimes yes it's true, you get what you pay for. Other times you can find really great quality stuff for cheap. Just do your homework and you should be okay. :)


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Inexpensive drums, true they're not made with the same kinda quality or care that really expensive ones. But... thats not to say you can't make them sound good. There's a lot to be said for tuning and head selection. I know for one, Sonor's inexpensive drum sets, especially the 3005 kits are incredible considering what you pay. IF you know how to tune and put good heads on them.
You can find snare drums under $200 (Canadian) that sound great with a little TLC.

Paying a lot of money for a drum doesn't guarantee you a good sound. After all, there are some really expensive kits that sound O.K. or average at best. Then you find a guy who really knows how to tune and really plays the bounce on all his drums who's sitting on a kit costing him hardly anything that could kick its ass sound wise.

Perfect example. I've seen guys playing Masterworks kits. (highest end pearl drum sets, very expensive) Who really don't know the first thing about tuning, and it just sounds like crap. My live kit is a special edition Sonor 2005 kit. Its a silver sparkle wrapped six piece. I took it without the hardware and got it for $600. I take half of it. The 12, the 14 and the bass drum plus a couple snare drums that don't match the kit etc. now my drum set sounds far better than his drum set that easily cost him at least five times that. Why? because I can tune and I play the bounce. He burries his sticks into the heads and can't tune worth crap.

Whats the lesson here? It's not how much you pay. People who think the end all to drum sounds is the amount you pulled out of your wallet are like the guy on the Masterworks kit. They have no clue.

Again though, its not like an expensive drum set won't sound good either, I have a Sonor Delite as well and it's the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. Again, tuning and how you play it.

Two guys can sound completely different on the same kit. Thats proof right there that its not the gear making all the difference in sound.
when i got my drumset way back when, i got the like 250 dollar pacific drumset by DW, and i still use it now. sure it was...inexpensive, but after putting new heads on it and replacing some hardware, i have the best sounding set in my town.


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I've been playing drums for many years and I believe at one time that was true. Years ago when you bought a cheap cymbal it sound cheap and the thing is now they sell cymbals that sound bad because people want those tones and those cymbals aren't cheap either. The lower line drums had like 3 ply / 4 ply shells and a crappy wrap finish and cheap hardware. Today kits are totally amazing!!! I wish I had the quality gear people have today when I was growing up. lower line drums with die cast hoops, lacquer finishes, heavy duty hardware, cymbals that are comparable to the top end cymbals... check them out.. I actually did this the other day.

The thing is I played DW drums " i hated them " they were the biggest joke.. but yeah I owned a DW kit. I also owned a pearl masters kit also can't say one bad thing about it.. those drums were absolutlely beautiful. Now I play a ddrum kit which I bought a whole shell pack which cost as much as or less that just one of those high end drums. I also use cheaper cymbals.. I used paiste signatures for awhile and was breaking one every week playing out. One day I bought a paiste 802 which a comparable professional sound and put it to the test... well that cymbal lasted took a beating. I now use lower line crash cymbals because they are harder to break because of the alloys in them. The only higher end cymbals I use are my hi-hats and ride cymbal..but really how offten do u break them??


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Tuning, heads and technique can go a long way...a real long way.

A lot of people think that the North American maple is the best wood out there and anything less is horrible. Most "high end" drums are maple and the "low end" drums are basswood or mohogany so people think those woods are bad.
I agree that maple looks good, but for sound, that's up to the guy playing the kit. Those little Mapex Venus Voyager sets (8x8, 10x8, 12x10, 18x14) are basswood and they sound pretty damn good, even with not-so-great heads. They don't make that set anymore, but they were $375 new and you can find them on Ebay from like $175 to $475...not a lot of money at all considering people will pay $2,500 for a 3 or 4 piece Spaun set where the wrap is loose from the factory (or because of Sam Ash's handling).

Personally, I think birch sounds best and those tend to be less money than maple. Are they inferior? Hell no!
I think mohogany sounds good too, and it's durable as hell. Just depends on what you're looking for.

Now the difference in hardware prices will tell you something (not that the expensive stuff is really worth what they charge you), but if it were possible to buy, for example, a Mapex QX set with Mapex Orion hardware, then I'd go for the QX since it sounds good for what I'm doing and I'm going to beat the crap out of it without worrying about the $2,000 extra dollars I would have spent on the "good" set.

They do put a little more care into making the high end stuff, but I've never seen the shells on a low end kit separate or warp or anything if they're taken care of like they should be so the construction of the low end stuff is plenty good enough.


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Adam Deitch recorded John Scofields Uberjam for a 500$ set and made it sound good.
I'd say buy drums with good hardware that is durable and reliable. With good heads, good ears(tuning) and good hands(playing touch) you'll make almost any kit sound great. I'm talking about entry level(Premier olympic, Mapex Q etc) or better. I've seen drums made out of cardboard- not talking about them of course :)

Chad Scott

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I have played drums for 25 years. I think that you get what you pay for!
I have played about every kind of drum & wood out there & think that it depends on the wood, the player, the heads, the style, the ply count, the cymbals & many more aspects that account for what each person wants...
I personally have four kits that all work in different ways..
For me--I can't stand playing anything mid range or under because they just don't have the quality a drum of higher quality provides--if you know exactly what your doing!! Very few drums of lower lines can even come close to great wood & head choice! None that I know of...I do agree that you can make just about any drum sound good, though I think there is a big difference between good & great!

top drummer

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I wouldn't say that cheap drums always means bad sounding drum. If you get the right heads, tune them right and hit them right I would say that most cheap drums could sound quite nice. However, when it comes to stuff like hardware I believe that you pay for what you get.
And let's not forget that as always it's all just a matter of personal taste.


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when it comes to drums, u can make a cheap kit sound like a high quality high priced one. i bought my kit for a crappy 200 pound, but i bought remo heads for them and gave them the right tuning, now my drums sound like dave grohls drums during his Nirvana days, which is awsome lol

however, i think with cymbals, this isn't the case.
in a recording, i think better quality cymbals r important for the overall sound quality. During a live performance however, cheap cymbals sometimes work very very well depending on the environment your in and the music your playing.


New member
I don't think you can generalize, really.
Working in various studios for the past 15 years or so, I've seen all kinds of gear come through.
I've heard cheap cymbals that sounded like a telephone ringing everytime it was hit. I've heard inexpensive cymbals that sounded great-

For the most part, I believe you get what you pay for- if you do your homework. Buying the best quality gear you can afford is usually a good investment. But there is some gear out there that does a great job and is relatively inexpensive. It's up to the consumer to do some research, TRY the stuff in person (!) and decide what works best for them.


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I played a kit provided by a sound company owned by a drummer I had met a few weeks earlier at another show. He had told me ,"next time you can just use mine".....Hell yeah, I'll leave my good shit at home. I get there.....10 year old Pearl Exports....I'm thinking maybe I should have brought mine, when I notice they have fairly new heads. Of course I used my own snare, but the kick and toms sounded fine. Not my N&C's but kick ass enough. They were tuned well. On the reverse....I played a show with another band, we were opening, and the drummer let me use his Starclassics. They were about 5 years old with the ORIGINAL tama logo tom heads! They all had dents an inch deep. Needless to say, that guy spent money on a rolls royce and never changed the oil, so it ran like shit. He would have done better to get less expensive drums and use the savings to change his heads more often.


The sound quality is different between drums in price range, but there is also taste to consider, some might like a cheaper drumkit of one brand over a more expensive one of another (or of the same brand.) It's been said already, but I think its important to stress that the lower end drumkits of present sound a lot better then a lot of the more expensive drumkits of yesterday. So even though they are cheaper they sound better than many of the drums that were much more expensive in the past.


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I personally feel that if you know how to tune drums you can make a really low end set sound decent. However when it comes to hardware my experience with the lower quality stuff is well just that.


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i Think that idea has to be one of the worst things you could possibly say do to the fact that my own gear isnt wat you would call top of the line and it still sounds just as good as a much more expensive set there is some difference in the shells but most of the time if you have good heads and tuned rite you can get the same exact tone as anyother set and if your out playing shows with a cheap set aslong as its tuned rite you will be fine becasue one you drums are all eq'd it dosent make a difference wat the actull sound is


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I have a Planet Z (Zildjian) 18" Crash Ride, they don't make the Planet Z's anymore... but I think it sounds AWESOME! Even though I will be replacing it with a Paiste RUDE 18" Crash Ride, I still like it, and instead of demolishing it like I did my old CODA 16" Crash, I will put it on display....

I also have 12" and 18" Wuhan Chinas that sound pretty good.... VERY CHEAP priced I must say!

On top of this... I have a B8(Sabian) 20" Ride which I think sounds AMAZING!!!

My drumset is a Tama Swingstar... I don't know, it sounds ok... but I REALLY need to get new heads.... badly. They are a FEW YEARS old... However my snare drum is a Tama Artwood 6.5"x13" and looks really nice... $150, GREAT sound!!!

My hi-hats which are CODA's, are ok.... however a friend of mine is going to help me replace them soon enough, because I really can't stand having such low quality hi-hats on a Tama HH905 Iron Cobra Hi-Hat stand lol... so I'm getting Paiste RUDEs....

But yah.... My thought... cheap can sound good and bad, DEPENDING....


New member
Okay. I DO use all top of the line very expensive gear and it's freaking great! I did use lower quality more affordable gear for many years while I worked my way up and I AM NEVER GOING BACK TO THAT CRAP!!!!!!!!!

Now I agree with just about everything that has been said for the most part. Heads and tuning, yeah yeah yeah. But lets see you boys record an album with your Pearl Exports and ZBT pre-packs. It would not sound good at all. Most drummers tend to be ridiculously egotistical to the point that they all think their drum kit sounds the best even though it costs a quarter of what all the pros are using. Lets not ignore the facts. Expensive gear tends to sound better.


New member
although it is true that you get what you pay for, that doesn't mean you can't work something out. i've been using pretty beat up equipment myself for a long time and over the course of a while i learned to make what i have sound good.

...although i would LOVE a DW kit.