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Are Drums Good Used Student Instruments?

used student instruments Close-up of hands playing timpani

When your child is getting started in band, they might decide they want to be a percussionist. There is a long list of instruments in the percussion family that they may be interested in learning or are going to need to play for a piece of music in their band class. Even though your child may play a variety of these instruments at one point or another, you don’t have to buy each one brand new. Luckily you can get used student instruments which are an excellent choice for percussionists.

What Instruments are in the Percussion Family?

Some of the most common instruments in the percussion family are the snare drum, bass drum, timpani, xylophone, cymbals, and the drum set. 

Snare Drum

The snare drum can be played by itself in the percussion section, or it may be part of a drum kit. Either way, a used snare drum is a great way to get started learning this instrument. A used snare can last a long time if it’s properly taken care of. Check for any cracks in the wood or warping from water damage. Make sure the metal hoops aren’t bent or rusty, along with the lugs and tension rods. If the head of the drum doesn’t look great, that’s not a big deal, as those are easily replaced and should be replaced every so often anyway. 

Bass Drum

Bass drums are much bigger, but they have many of the same features as a snare drum, so again, check the wood and metal pieces to see if they are damaged. If the bass drum will be used for a fill drum kit, check on the condition of the wood on the hoop where the drum pedal attaches to see if its damaged. You will also want to check that the legs of the drum lock tightly into place so the drum can stand still when placed on the floor.


Crash cymbals are the most common type of cymbals used in school band, but if you’re putting together a drum kit, you may find various sizes and types of cymbals. Regardless, check any cymbal for cracks. Commonly you will see cracks around the bell hole in the center or the very outer edge. If you see a lot of rust or green oxidation, you may want to think twice. A little rust won’t hurt, but a lot can affect the sound. 


When shopping for a used xylophone, first you can do a visual inspection. Check for cracks, dents, scratches, chipping, discoloration, or any missing components. If everything looks good, play it for a bit to make sure there aren’t any issues with how it sounds. If you can purchase the xylophone with its case, that is an added bonus so you can keep it safe during transport and when stored. 


Timpani are fairly large percussion instruments, and honestly, not many students will need to purchase their own. Most music programs have timpani available for students to play and may have other percussion instruments available as well, especially those that are larger in size and may be difficult for students to keep at home to practice. But if you do decide to purchase a used timpani, check for any signs of damage. Timpani have a kettle that could be easily dented. You will also want to check the hardware, head, and the frame for any issues. The tuning pedal and tuning rod are also a very important part of a timpani drum since this is what allows the player to change its pitch. Be sure this works properly and check its full range of pitches. 

Drum Set

If you are looking to purchase an entire drum kit, at minimum, you need a snare drum, bass drum, and cymbals (crash, ride, and hi-hat) as well as cymbal stands, tom drums, and a stool. There are a lot of working parts to an entire drum kit so check it all out carefully. In addition to inspecting the drums and cymbals as mentioned earlier in this article, make sure all of the stands have the proper hardware to keep drums or cymbals attached. 

Purchased Used Student Instruments From A Reputable Source

You can quickly do an online search and find used student instruments on places like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. However, if you want to be certain you are purchasing a quality instrument, find a reputable music shop and see if they have what you’re looking for first. For used student instruments in the Denver area, CIOMIT has you covered! Choose from a variety of new and used percussion instruments as well as woodwinds, brass, strings, and more. 

Rent Percussion Instruments from CIOMIT

If your band student is new to playing percussion and you want to be sure they will stick with it before making a purchase, renting percussion instruments is a great option! CIOMIT has a vareity of percussion rentals available as well.