29 Types Of Drums For Beginners

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Tenor Drums

Tenor Drums

Tenor drums are the final type of drum that you’ll find in a marching band’s percussion section. These are also referred to as multi tenor drums, and they’re a series of drums that are connected together and carried via a harness.

They sit flat in front of the player so that they have easy access to all the drums. Snare drum players need to use traditional grip, while tenor drum players need to use matched grip to have a good reach.

You’ll find a varying number of drums in different tenor drum setups, but you’ll always get an array of tones from all the drums. Tenor drums are the only drums in a drum line that can produce somewhat of a melody, so they’re often utilized in that way.

Concert Snare Drum

Concert Snare Drum

Concert snare drums are similar to acoustic drum kit snare drums, and you can even place a concert snare on a standard kit. However, they have a few design differences that make them perform better in orchestral environments.

When an orchestral percussionist plays a snare drum, it’s usually placed on a tall snare drum stand that allows them to stand while playing.

The snare drum shells are typically 14” in diameter with 5” depths. But like acoustic snares, you get various shell sizes offered by different brands.

Concert snares commonly have more intense snare wire designs than standard snares. You’ll find them having more than one snare throw-off to give you more control over how the snare wires respond when you strike the drum.

Another thing to mention about concert snare drums is that most of them are very expensive. That’s why many orchestras just use normal snare drums in their percussion section, especially if they’re not professional orchestras with access to high-end gear.

Concert Bass Drum

Concert Bass Drum

Concert bass drums are always the largest types of bass drums that you’ll see. They range from 30” to 40”. With them being so large, they need to be mounted onto a cradle stand.

A concert bass drum player will use one large mallet to strike a single side, which is different from marching bass drum players striking both sides.

Concert bass drums are one of the lowest-pitched sounds in an orchestra, so they’re always used for dramatic effect.

Players also need to place their hand on the skin of a concert bass drum after striking it, as the resonance is very powerful. They may wait a bit before muffling with their hand, but you’ll hear some unwanted overtones if you leave it for too long.



Timpani are the largest drums that you’ll find being played in an orchestral percussion section. They usually come in sets of four, but you’ll also regularly see percussionists playing two.

They fall under the pitched percussion set of instruments, meaning they produce melodic notes as you strike them with mallets.

They’re also regularly called kettle drums, and they’re often a key sound that you can hear in classical compositions.

Each drum in a set has a pedal that allows you to change the tones that they produce. As you push the pedal down, it tightens the skin to produce a higher pitch. As you press the back of the pedal to lift it up, the drum produces a lower pitch.

The trick about playing timpani is that you need to get those pitches to match whatever key the band is playing in. Timpani players often have to do this in the middle of songs when they need to play different notes. It’s really impressive!

Hang Drum

Hang Drum

The hang drum is a large steel pan with dents in it that produce different tones as you strike them with your fingers. It’s also known as a handpan, but the origins of the instrument are a bit shaky.

The original hang was designed by Felix Rohner and Sabina Scharer in Switzerland under a company called PANArt. However, the instrument gained major popularity, and many knockoff versions started being created.

The original creators aren’t fans of the other versions, as they believe that the original versions are more of a way of life than a simple instrument that people play. At one stage, they required handwritten letters to be sent to them before they made a hang for someone.

With that said, handpans are beautiful instruments. They’re always designed to set scales and tonal ranges, making them easy to play. If you want to play a different scale, you need to get an entirely new handpan.

The downside of these instruments is that they’re seriously expensive. All authentic hang drums cost well over $1000 or $2000.

Tongue Drum

Tongue Drum

A tongue drum is very similar to a handpan, as it has the same design and way of playing it. However, most tongue drums are far more affordable. They also have more aggressive tones. They sound bright and aggressive, whereas handpans sound smooth and ethereal.

Tongue drums are also a lot smaller than handpans. Some are as small as 5”, while others are as large as 16”, which is still smaller than most handpans.

You can play top tongue drums with your fingers, but the steel surface feels a lot harder than the surfaces on handpans. You also have to strike harder to get good notes out. So, most companies that sell tongue drums provide mallets to play them with.

These mallets are small, but they allow you to play a tongue drum a lot easier. Like handpans, tongue drums are tuned to specific scales and modes. You need to own several of them if you want to be able to play different songs of varying keys.



A steelpan is another pitched percussion instrument, and they’re often referred to as steel drums. Unlike tongue drums and handpans, steel drums have a chromatic set of notes. This means that you can play any song with any keys on them.

You play a steelpan by using two mallets with rubber tips. You get various types of steelpans, and the size of the mallets depends on what type of pan you’re playing.

These drums originate from Trinidad and Tobago, and they’re mostly used in Caribbean styles of music.

They work well as a solo instrument, but they also sound incredible when played in an ensemble of multiple steelpan players.

Steelpan playing is quite easy to get into, as you don’t need to master too many playing techniques. However, like all instruments, these drums are tricky to master.



Timbales are metal-shelled drums that typically come in pairs. They have drumheads on the top, but they’re left open at the bottom with no drumheads so that they have short and punchy sounds.

A normal timbale setup will have two timbales mounted onto a hardware stand, and percussionists often mount something else to that stand, like a cowbell.

These drums originate from Cuba, and they’re most often used in various types of Latin music.

You can play them with any types of sticks. Some percussionists use thick wooden sticks, while others use standard drumsticks. You may also find timbales being utilized in an acoustic drum kit setup.

Taiko Drums

Taiko Drums

Taiko is the term used to describe a series of different drums in Japan. Most of these drums have similar design aspects, but they come in a range of shapes and sizes.

They have an incredibly rich history, dating all the way back to ancient Japan. The drums were regularly used in war, but they’re now mostly used in traditional settings.

The art of playing taiko drums is a unique one, as players use specific posture and movements. Players also commonly wear traditional clothing during performances.

Electronic Sampling Pad

Electronic Sampling Pad

Electronic sampling pads are essentially mini electronic drum kits. They have six to twelve pads that trigger sounds when you strike them.

They also have a built-in drum module that allows you to utilize various features. Most electronic pads let you load your own sounds, making them highly valuable to gigging drummers that need to recreate certain electronic sounds on stage.

You can expand on an electronic sampling pad by adding external pads to make a small drum kit setup. Drummers often do this when they play in small venues. Drummers also incorporate them within their acoustic drum kit setup, creating what is known as a hybrid drum set.

Some electronic sample pads also act as audio interfaces, making them incredibly useful for musicians that do a lot of audio production work.

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