What Is the Difference Between a Fusion Drum Kit and a Standard?

by Allison Horky
Standard and fusion drum kits typically have five drums and three cymbals.

Standard and fusion drum kits typically have five drums and three cymbals.

Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Drum sets use a five-piece kit to keep the beat during musical songs. The kit includes a snare drum, bass drum, floor tom, two mounted toms, hi-hat, crash cymbal and ride cymbal. A standard kit, also called a rock kit, and a fusion kit have all of these components. The fusion kit, referring to the jazz fusion style of music, has differently sized drums. The change in size creates different sounds more suitable to the style of jazz music where drums are not as prominent as instruments.

Bass Drum

The bass drum in the kit keeps a steady beat throughout the song that complements the faster, more complicated rhythms played on the snare and tom-toms. The bass drum on a standard drum kit is 22 inches in diameter, measuring just the head of the drum. The standard bass drum is 16 inches deep. The bass drum on a fusion kit is 20 inches across the head and 16 inches deep. The smaller drum does not produce as large a tone as a standard drum kit does. In rock music, the large bass line is more prominent than in jazz music, where it generally accents the other rhythms.

Snare Drum

The snare drum vibrates thin metal wires, or snares, along the bottom of the drum to produce a snappy, bright tone when struck with a stick. The snare drum on a standard rock kit is 14 inches across and 6 1/2 inches deep. The snare drum on a fusion kit, also called a piccolo snare, is also 14 inches across, but is only 3 1/2 inches deep. The shallower drum produces an even lighter tone when struck so it doesn't overpower the instrumental components in a jazz band.

Tom-Tom Drums

The two types of tom-tom drums, also called toms, are the mounted (to the bass drum) and floor. Toms do not have a snare and produce a full-bodied deep tone when struck. A standard drum kit has a 13-by-11-inch mounted tom, a 12-by-10-inch mounted tom and a 16-by-16-inch floor tom. A fusion drum kit has smaller tom-tom drums with a 10-by-8-inch mounted tom, a 12-by-9-inch mounted tom and a 14-by-11-inch floor tom.

Cymbals

The cymbals are made from alloy, or a combination of metals, and produce colorful, loud, sizzling, tinglike and clashing sounds. The percussionist must use a variety of techniques to construct the desired effect. She uses multiple objects to create the sounds, such as sticks, cloth mallets, brushes and plastic mallets. Standard and fusion drum sets use the same cymbals with similar sizes: ride, crash and hi-hat. The sizes of cymbals vary greatly and drummers often customize their drum kits with cymbals that produce optimal sounds for their style of music.

Photo Credits

  • Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images