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What Are the Different Types of Percussion Sets?

H. Bliss
H. Bliss

Percussion sets are generally organized packages of related percussive instruments or accessories. They are usually identified in a few ways: by the brand, by the types of instruments included in the set, and by the type of music the set is used for. Percussion sets are different in each band and in each part of a percussion section, sometimes called a drum line. Electronic musicians also use digital percussion sets when programming electronic music. The most well recognized type of percussion set is usually a one-man drum set like the kind used for rock bands and jazz combos.

Though they often have the same basic parts, minor components of percussion sets can vary greatly from one another. When they are not in a pre-designed set sold by a drum manufacturer, the parts of a percussion set are generally built by a percussionist to suit his performance. Sets can be for one person to play, or they can be for a whole drum section.

Latin music often uses bongo drums.
Latin music often uses bongo drums.

In addition to the familiar organic percussion set, these sets can also be electronic, producing a digital sound from speakers instead of a live sound from a drum. An electronic musician uses software-based percussion sets created for his electronic percussion program to design programmed beats to use in music. Generally, each set is programmed to contain the instruments used in a chosen genre of music. Types of percussion sets in an electronic drum program might include a rock music drum set, a Latin set, or an electronic glitch percussion set.

Percussion sets can include mallets for the marimba.
Percussion sets can include mallets for the marimba.

The sit-down set that a drummer usually plays in a jazz or rock band is most often called a drum set. Drum sets can be as simple as a snare, a kick, and a cymbal or hi-hat, or they can be modified to include almost any type of auxiliary percussion instrument. Examples of auxiliary percussion include cowbells, wood blocks, and wind chimes. Most drum sets have several cymbals of different sizes, including the standard ride cymbal, splash cymbals, and crash cymbals. Bongos, congas, and shakers are percussion sound accessories that can lend themselves to a Latin or island-feeling drum set.

A drum kit is a common type of percussion in rock, jazz and pop music.
A drum kit is a common type of percussion in rock, jazz and pop music.

Sets of percussion accessories can also be called percussion sets. A musician can purchase sets of mallets for the percussive instrument called the marimba. Drummers can buy percussion accessories in sets designed for specific types of drum sets. Other sets include cymbal sets and drum head sets.

Discussion Comments


I met a jazz ensemble director from a high school at a party a while back. I asked him about the percussion part of his band. He told me a few interesting things.

For his jazz ensemble, he has three drummers on the congas, and bongos. With three, they can work together on rhythm etc. In the metal section, you would hear cow bells, pipes and such. Wood percussion instruments would be blocks and logs and then whistles, shakers and wind chimes. And if the budget was big enough, computerized sounds could be added, like hand claps, waterfalls, and airplanes.

It takes a lot of work to set up and organize a percussion arrangement. The whole thing sounds like great fun!


Playing in the percussion section in high school is one of my best memories. I played in the marching band and concert band, but enjoyed concert band much more.

Playing the drums in marching band was quite cumbersome for me. I am not a very tall person and marching with the drums was heavy and bulky for me. The snare drums weren't so bad, but it was still a challenge for me.

Even though it can take awhile to get the percussion all set up before a concert, their effects make such a difference in the overall sound and quality of the music.

Most people think of the drums when they think of a percussion set, but there are a lot of other instruments that are used that are just as important. Some of them are pretty small, like the triangle, but their sound really adds a lot to the right songs.


I started out playing the saxophone in band, but really wanted to play in the percussion section. After one year of asking my parents over and over again if I could quit the saxophone and learn how to play the drums, they reluctantly said yes.

They didn't want to invest a whole lot of money in to this until they knew I would stick with it. I learned how to play many percussion instruments including the cymbals, bells and tambourine, but the drums were always my favorite.

One of my older cousins had a Verve percussion drum set that he was wanting to sell, so my parents bought it and I finally had my own drum set.

We set it up in the basement, but I know I still drove them crazy when I would practice. I played in the percussion section for the rest of high school and even in college.

I don't have my own percussion set right now, but will never forget how to play the drums!


When my grandson was four years old, he was enthralled with drum sets. Whenever church was over, the first place he wanted to go was up on the stage and play the drums.

His birthday was coming up and we decided to get him a drum set for this birthday. They have some good percussion drum sets in the stores that are made for kids, but my husband wanted to get him a real, full set.

We found a used drum set online and bought it for him and surprised him for his birthday. I think our son was just as excited about the present as our grandson was because he had always wanted his own drum set too.


Wow! I can't believe all the different types of percussion sets there are, and the many ways there are to make the rhythm components of a live performance or a recording.

I love to watch one man (or woman) drumming on a percussion set. The way he/she drums, uses the foot petal, and plays the cymbals at the right time is amazing.

I don't really understand how recorded computerized digital percussion sets are put together, but they sound great.

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    • Latin music often uses bongo drums.
      Latin music often uses bongo drums.
    • Percussion sets can include mallets for the marimba.
      By: Michael Flippo
      Percussion sets can include mallets for the marimba.
    • A drum kit is a common type of percussion in rock, jazz and pop music.
      By: Pavel Losevsky
      A drum kit is a common type of percussion in rock, jazz and pop music.
    • The rubberboard, or frottoir, is a type of percussion instrument worn as a vest and used in zydeco music.
      The rubberboard, or frottoir, is a type of percussion instrument worn as a vest and used in zydeco music.