There are five basic types of percussion groups: cymbals, acoustic drums, electric drums, world percussion, and marching percussion. Major music retailers commonly categorize their percussion instruments into these five groups or a variation thereon. Accessories may be necessary as well for percussionists to get the sounds they want.
Cymbals are a common percussive instrument that give off higher pitches and resonant tones. They are almost always circular shaped and are used in genres from jazz to heavy metal to marching band music. A basic drum set traditionally incorporates a ride cymbal, a crash cymbal, and hi-hat cymbals. Cymbal stands, clamps, and add-ons fall under the category of accessories, separate from percussion groups themselves.
Acoustic drums mainly encompass the hardware of a drum set. An acoustic drum makes sound when hit and does not normally require amplification. The hardware of a basic drum set includes a snare drum, a floor tom, a rack tom, and a bass drum, which is also known as the kick drum. For live concerts in medium to large-sized clubs and concert halls, microphones may be put on these drums for added amplification. It is not necessary to mic the drums in small rooms.
Electric drums imitate acoustic drum sets. The skins are made of plastic, rubber, or mesh. When the musician hits the skin of the drum, it triggers a preprogrammed, prerecorded sound of the respective drum in use. For example, when the electric snare drum is triggered, a prerecorded hit from an acoustic snare will resonate.
There are multiple channels or settings for electric drums for the drummer to obtain various tones and drum set sounds. Electric drums are great for practice as the user has total control of the volume. An electric drum set can be plugged directly into an amplifier or PA system.
World percussion groups encompass bongos, congas, wood box Cajuns, and a number of other hand percussion instruments. World music is known for its percussion-driven sound. Shakers, tambourines, and other small, handheld percussive instruments could be classified under world percussion as well, though they are used across all genres of music.
Marching percussion groups include marching snare drums, marching tom sets, and marching bass drums in addition to modified cymbals and a variety of other accessories. The drums are customized with shoulder straps and harnesses to fit on the musicians’ shoulders or necks. Marching bands have multiple players of the same instrument to strengthen their sound. Sticks and mallets are necessary accessories for a concert percussion group.