Which Drums to Learn

Which Drums to Learn

New drummers are excited to learn drums, but don’t always know which drums they want to learn. Drums are percussion instruments. There are many percussion instruments. Drummers can be attracted to a musical setting such as a rock band or drumline, or to an instrument such as drum set or marimba. Some percussion instruments are used in multiple musical settings while others have specific applications. This page lists percussion instruments that are common for drummers in the USA and shows the musical settings in which the instruments are played.

Drum Set

Used in most popular music bands including pop, rock, jazz, country, heavy metal, punk, etc., and school jazz band.


Used in marching band, pep band, and field shows in high schools, colleges, and professional drum corps.

  • snare drum
  • tenor drums
  • bass drum
  • cymbals
  • mallets & auxilary

Hand Drums and Percussion

Used in popular, jazz, and Latin bands, school and professional orchestras and bands, and other performance settings such as percussion ensembles and drum circles.

  • Conga
  • Bongo
  • Timbales
  • Cajon
  • Djembe


Used in school, community, and professional orchestras and bands, jazz and Latin bands, drumlines, and percussion ensembles.

  • Marimba
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone
  • Bells


Used in school and professional orchestras, bands, and percussion ensembles.

Snare Drum

Snare drum is commonly the instrument on which a new drum student begins learning drums. Used as an individual instrument or part of a drum set in orchestras, bands, percussion ensembles, drumline, and popular performance settings.

Learn how drums are classified by visiting Percussion Instruments on Wikipedia.