Drum Set Glossary

Drum Set


Accent: Emphasis placed on one note to make it louder than the others.
Acoustic Drums: Old school drums – with the shell and drum head. As opposed to electronic drums.
Bass Drum: Originally called the Turkish Drum, the bass drum is the largest drum in the drum set and is played with a with a pedal. Sometimes referred to as the “kick drum” or “kick.”
Bass Drum Pedal: The pedal that you step on to play the bass drum.
Bass Drum Beater: The part of the pedal that hits the bass drum.
Bass Pedal Spring: The spring that pulls the beater back after the footboard is stepped on.
Bass Drum Spurs: These are short metal legs that attach to the bass drum to keep it from sliding
Batter Head: The drum head that gets struck…., i.e. on the top of the drum.
Bearing Edge: The very edge of the drum shell that bears the weight of the drumhead.
Bell: The raised cup part in the center of the cymbal.
Brushes: Bundles of wire or plastic that are used as drum sticks. Often used to drag across the drum head instead of striking it.
China Cymbal: Cymbals constructed in a tradition Chinese shape. These are very trashy sounding.
Chops: Technical ability. example: that guy has great chops. It comes from horn players who would use their mouths, or chops, to play their horns.
Claw Hooks: Claw-like hooks that hold the bass drum hoop (that holds the bass drum head) on the bass drum.
Counter Hoop: See ‘Rim’.
Crash Cymbal: A cymbal with strong attack and fast decay.
Cymbal Sleeve: These are important to protect the cymbal from damage. Sleeves are usually plastic or rubber and prevent the cymbal from contacting the metal rod at the top of the cymbal.
Cymbal Stand: A stand that holds the cymbals up. Straight stands are straight, while boom stands have a movable arm, or boom, that extends from the stand at an angle.
Double Bass Pedal: Two bass drum pedals linked together. These are used to allow a drummer to play the bass drum with either foot.
Drum Key: A tool used for tensioning drum heads and making other adjustments to the drum hardware.
Drum Machine: A program or programmable computer that plays drum sounds.
Drum Module: The computer or ‘Brain’ in an electronic kit.
Drum Rack: A large stand that is used to mount all other hardware.
Drum Solo: When the drummer plays alone (solo) or is featured.
Drum Tab: A short hand way of writing out music for the drums. from Tablature.
Drum Throne: The seat or stool.
Drum Triggers: Sensors that are used in electronic drums to tell the drum module when they have been struck.
Drum Head: The head that fits over a drum’s shell. Originally made of calfskin, most modern heads are made of Mylar.
Dry Sound: A sound that has very little ring.
Dynamics: Usually means changes in volume over the length of a song, but really means nay kind of change. From the word ‘dynamic’ meaning ‘changing’
Feel: A very hard to define word that is used to describe how the music feels. If a song has a good feel, it feels good. It can also have a slinky feel, powerful feel, etc. Very similar to ‘groove’
Fill: Something you play that isn’t part of the groove (but should itself groove), from “Fill-in”
Flam: also known as a grace note, a flam is a short quiet note played just before a regular note. The effect is such that both note meld to sound like one fat note.
Floor Tom: Floor toms are toms that have legs and rest on the floor, although sometimes these days they can also hang from a stand instead. These are sometimes called hanging floor toms. They are usually the largest drum after the bass drum, usually sized 14″ to 18″ in diameter.
Foot Board: The metal part of the bass pedal or hi hat pedal that the foot rests on.
Gong: Chinese: A cymbal in the shape of a flat disc. Sometimes with the edges curled in.
Gong: SE Asian: A cymbal with a flat bell and the edges turned to point towards the middle of the cymbal. Also sometimes called a nipple gong.
Gong Drum: A bass drum mounted so you can play it with sticks.
Grace Note: see Flam
Groove: See feel.
Hi Hat Cymbals: Originating from those parade cymbals that drummers crash together in parades, the hi hats are a pair of cymbals that are mounted on a hihat stand.
Hi Hat Stand: The stand that holds up the hi hats. An integrated footpedal is pushed down to close the hi hats and released to open them.
Hi Hat Clutch: The part of the hi hat stand that holds the top cymbal.
Hoop: See ‘Rim’
Kick Drum: See ‘Bass Drum’
Lick: A short phrase, or fill.
Linear Drumming: A style of drumming where only one drum is played at a time.
Lug: The metal piece that is attached to the drum shell and accepts a tension rods. Not all drums have them, but most do.
Mallet: A drum stick with yarn rolled up on the end, used to soften the attack of a note. Also used to protect soft materials, such as marimba bars from damage from wooden sticks.
Metronome: Also called a click or a click track. A metronome provides a steady pulse and s used to practice playing at a constant speed. Metronomes are also used in the studio while recording to help musicians play with a steadier tempo.
Notation: How the notes are written (notated)
Rack Toms: Toms that are placed above the bass drum, and mounted from racks. Also called the hi tom/mid tom, and various other names.
Piccolo Snare: A very thin, higher pitched snare drum, usually with a 3-1/2″ depth.
Pulse: What you tap your foot to, the tempo of the song.
Ride: verb: To play a relatively constant stream of notes. You can ride the hi hats, ride the ride cymbal, ride the floor tom, etc.
Ride Pattern: The pattern that is played on the Ride cymbal. Usually straight quarter notes or eighth notes.
Ride Cymbal: A large cymbal that is played like a hi hat, but with no pedal. They usually have a sharp attack, fast decay, and clear stick definition. Generally 20″ or 22″ in size, ride cymbals create a continuous “riding” pattern and are often used for accompanying instrumental solos.
Resonant Head: The bottom head on drums that is not struck.
Rim: often called the hoop, although more properly it is the counter hoop. The hoop is technically the metal ring that cones with the drum head. The counter hoop it the much larger hoop that you tension and holds the drum head on the drum. These come in rolled steel, die cast, or wood varieties. Rolled steel hoops are softer and easier to tune. Die cast hoops are sharper with more attack. Wood hoops are very dry, warm and, well, woody.
Rudiments: Rudiments are short phrases that are considered to be rudimentary.
Side Snare: A second snare drum placed to the side of the hi hat.
Shell: The drum proper. Usually made of wood, sometimes made of metal or plastic or even ice.
Shell Pack: You can buy just the drums without any cymbals or hardware. This is called a shell pack. The tom holders and bass drum legs are usually included.
Snare: Originating from the word snare as in trap (i.e. animal trap), snares are wires that cross over the drum. Originally found on the top of the drum as in Brazilian Caixas, the Swiss Army put the snares along the bottom for increased longevity. The American Minutemen hired the Swiss military to train it’s soldiers in the Revolutionary war, and that’s why we use a Swiss army type snares.
Snare Drum: The drum with the snares on it. Has a characteristic buzzing sound created by the sound of the snares on the bottom head.
Snare Side Head: The resonant head on a snare drum.
Snare Stand: The stand that holds up the snare drum.
Snare Strainer (or throw-off): The thing that holds the metal snares against the bottom snare side head. It has a lever that allows you to tighten or release the snares.
Soprano Snare: A snare with a 12” diameter.
Splash Cymbals: Small, thin crash cymbals that are thought to go ‘splash’
Tension Rods: The rods that go through the counter hoop, inserted into lugs and are turned to tension drum heads.
Tom Holder: The mounting hardware for the toms.
Trigger: See Drum Trigger.
Washer: A thin metal disk with a hole in it that fits between the head of the tension rod and the counter hoop.
Wet Sound: A sound with a lot of reverberation and ring.
Woodshed: verb: ‘to woodshed’, or ‘to shed’. Practice time. If you don’t have something mastered, you take it to the woodshed to practice where people can’t hear you. Example: I really have to sheds this before I perform it in the recital.