Submitted by Stephen Wight, Greenback, Tennessee
Idea posted June 17, 2008
Many Drum Corps replace their percussion equipment every year, and when they do they often sell off their old at steep discounts. You might even be able to talk them into donating it to your program.
If there are no Corps near you, you might talk to lots of local high schools. Usually High School bands will replace their percussion about once every 10-12 years. If it's a really competitive group (competitive = replace more often), the body will probably still have lots of life in it, although you'll probably need to replace the head. The school would probably sell it to you or, if it's within your system, you might just be able to get it from them at no charge; I don't know your band directors!
If you do look at used percussion equipment, don't be surprised if you have to replace the head, and perhaps the rims if they've been abused. There are metal sleeves you can buy so your students can click on the rim without shredding it, but some schools don't bother with them and that can leave you with a chewed up rim.
What to listen for:
For sound, it depends on what you want. If you're getting marching equipment, you're going to get a very dry sound with a very short decay. If that's not the sound you want, you'll want to look into concert percussion (though they get replaced a lot less frequently). With concert percussion, you typically get a very full sound with lots of decay.