Selecting & Buying Second-Hand Percussion by Waywood Music

Selecting & Buying Second-Hand Percussion


[Decorated Turkish frame drum]The rules for selecting and buying used hand percussion are a little different to drums and cymbals.

The scope of percussion is huge (much bigger than can be dealt with here) ranging from tuned classical at one extreme to 'eclectic' at the other.

We have divided percussion into the following categories:


Metal Instruments
Wooden Instruments
Hand Drums
Tambourines & Pandieros

If you apply the following principles you won't go very far wrong:


  1. Research the models that are available and what the reviewers say about them.
  2. Drums come in many different sizes and colours.  Think:
  3. Review adverts in the music press and always take someone with you who knows what they're looking for.
  4. Check the roundness of all drum shells and look for signs of damage e.g., chips, scratches or splits which may indicate poor treatment.  Examine the bearing edges (where the drum head rests on the shell) IF YOU CAN.
  5. Drums requiring high skin tensions should have shells and tensioning hardware which can stand up to those tensions.
  6. Listen to the drum.   Is it what you're after?  Listen for buzzes and rattles which may indicate problems (although they may simply be due to a loose nut, screw or tension rod).
  7. Remember that your drums will largely be played with your hands, and therefore too much volume is unlikely to be a problem.  Check for damage or dents on the skin caused by playing thin skin heads with sticks.  Check the quality of the head.  Always go for the best quality head that you can afford.  It may cost you more at first but will pay dividends in the longer term.


To cover all of the available 'toys' would be impossible.  Once again the major manufacturers produce very high quality goods.  It is when you go for something a little bit different from a small supplier who has less stringent quality control, that you have to be more careful.  The following list may help you through the 'maze'.

  1. With METAL INSTRUMENTS such as agogo bells and cowbells, ALWAYS check the spot welds or seams for signs of cracking or incompleteness.  Check for rattles and buzzes.  Make sure that the metal is thick enough to withstand the hitting that it will receive.  There is no point buying small, thin cowbells for loud music; they often last less than one gig!  Ensure that any clamps or brackets attached to these are securely welded on and that the 'thumb screw' used to secure the bell to a holder works smoothly and is not cross-threaded.  Check for signs of corrosion.
  2. With WOODEN INSTRUMENTS such as wood blocks, tambourines or vibra-slapsTM always ensure that they are not badly chipped, cracked or split
  3. With SHAKERS, always ensure that they are not cracked or split.  Check that any caps or 'attachments', there to keep the filling INSIDE the shaker, are secure.  Losing one of these during a performance is spectacular, and not easily forgotten!
  4. For HAND DRUMS with natural skin heads, check for splits or holes.  Make sure that they are of a good quality (cheap, poor quality heads may split the first time you give them a good hit with your hand).
  5. With TAMBOURINES and PANDIEROS always make sure that the jingles are held in place by secure pins.  Also make sure that the pins do not have sharp protrusions sticking out of either side.  REMEMBER these will at some stage be hitting your hands and fingers as you play.  Check the jingles for excessive wear or 'key-holing' around the mounting pins (see thumbnail for illustration of this).  Check for corrosion on metal parts.

[Diagram of Key-holing in Tambourine Jingle]

Diagram of Key-Holing in Tambourine Jingle (Click image to enlarge)


The list is almost endless.  You may like to Contact Us directly with specific Questions.

Alternatively, you may like to contact the Percussion Manufacturers directly, or the Music Press to access reviews and 'road tests' of the equipment you're looking for.


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