Difference Between Jazz and Rock Drum Kit

While the rock drum kit is equipped with all these components and several additional floor toms, the total number generally used in a rock drum kit is more than 4.


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Moreover, the two sets differ in the size of their bass drums. While the bass drum is smaller in a jazz kit, it is diametrically larger in a rock drum kit.

Key Takeaways

  1. A jazz drum kit usually consists of a 4 or 5-piece set with a smaller bass drum and thinner cymbals, while a rock drum kit usually consists of a 5 or 6-piece set with a larger bass drum and thicker cymbals.
  2. Jazz drummers typically use lighter sticks and play with a lighter touch, while rock drummers use heavier sticks and play with more power and aggression.
  3. Jazz drumming emphasizes improvisation and swing, while rock drumming emphasizes power and energy.

Jazz vs. Rock Drum Kit

A jazz drum kit has a smaller bass drum, ranging from 18 to 20 inches in diameter, and smaller tom-toms, which produce a higher-pitched sound. A rock drum kit has a larger bass drum, ranging from 20 to 24 inches in diameter, and larger tom-toms that produce a deeper, more resonant sound. 

Jazz vs Rock Drum Kit

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonJazz Drum KitRock Drum Kit
Kit SizeJazz drum kits are smaller than rock drum kits.Rock drum kits are larger than jazz kits.
Size of Bass DrumsThe bass drum used in a jazz kit is smaller. They usually range from 18-20 inches in diameter.Bass drums in a rock kit have wider diameters ranging from 20-22 inches.
Number of Floor TomsOnly one-floor tom is used in a jazz kit.A rock drum kit usually uses more than 4-floor toms.
Thickness of ShellsJazz drum kits have thinner shells to produce more rounded jazz tunes.Rock drum kits have thicker shells to produce more punchy tunes.
TuningJazz drum kits are tuned to a higher pitch level.Rock drum kits are tuned to a lower pitch level.
Sound ProducedThe sound produced is more mellow.The sound produced by a rock drum kit is quite loud.
CymbalsHigh-pitched cymbals are used. The ride cymbal is an indispensable part of a jazz drum kit.Low-pitched cymbals are used.
HeadsDrums have single-ply coated heads.Drums have 2 ply clear heads.
PriceJazz kits are affordably priced.Rock kits are quite expensive due to their additional components.
DesignMost jazz kits feature a sleek, vintage design.Vintage design elements are absent.

What is Jazz Drum Kit?

Jazz drum kits have evolved over decades to become crucial elements of most vintage jazz tunes. As an uncompromising style of music, jazz gained popularity from 1910 onwards.

Jazz drum kits are distinctive in terms of their components and size.

The bass drum in a jazz kit has a diminished diameter of 18 inches. This is accompanied by a 14-inch snare drum that offers the musician the right amount of tone control.

Apart from these two components, a jazz drum kit includes a 12-inch rack tom and a 14-inch floor tom. All these drums are generally tuned higher to produce a better jazz soundscape.

The 22-inch ride cymbal is a mandatory part of any jazz drum kit. As improvisation is an essential element of jazz as a genre of music, musicians are adept at improvising tunes on these standard drum kits.

jazz drum kit

What is Rock Drum Kit?

Rock drum kits play an equally significant role in the developmental history of rock n’ roll music. With the emergence of this genre of music in the 1940s and 1950s, pop culture experienced a potent musical revolution.

This genre of music was responsible for popularizing the use of drums and guitars.

The drum kits used in most rock music production are larger and include more additional components than standard drum kits. The bass drum of a rock kit is significantly larger in diameter, measuring up to 24 inches.

Initially, the original rock drum sets used only one snare drum and one bass drum.

However, over the year, musicians have tailored this configuration according to their individual requirements. Rock kits use more floor toms and cymbals than most standard drum kits.

The instruments in a rock drum kit are generally tuned lower than usual.

rock drum kit

Main Differences Between Jazz and Rock Drum Kit

  1. The main difference between a jazz and rock drum kit is the relative size of each. Jazz drum kits are generally smaller than rock drum kits.
  2. They have a smaller bass drum than most rock drum kits. The bass drum in a jazz kit is usually 18 inches to 22 inches in diameter, while those in a rock kit range from 22 inches to 24 inches.
  3. A jazz drum kit differs from a rock drum kit in style and design. The former model is known to be sleeker and more vintage-looking than the rock drum kit.
  4. The thickness of the drum shells is also quite contrary in the case of each drum kit. A jazz drum kit will have thinner shells as jazz tunes require more rounded percussions. Alternatively, the rock drum kit will have thicker drum shells to produce more punchy tunes.
  5. A single-ply coated head is used in most jazz drums, while in the case of rock drums, 2 ply-clear heads are generally implemented.  
  6. A jazz drum kit includes a small bass drum, snare drum, 1 or 2 rack toms, and a floor tom. However, a rock drum kit includes all these components with the probability of using more floor toms. They can have as many as 4 or 5-floor toms.
  7. Jazz drum kits tend to be tuned higher than most rock drum kits.
  8. Higher-pitched cymbals are used in a jazz drum kit.
  9. Rock drum kits are louder than standard jazz drum kits.
  10. Rock drum sets tend to be more expensive than smaller jazz sets.
Difference Between Jazz and Rock Drum Kit
  1. https://online.ucpress.edu/mp/article-abstract/25/5/471/62349
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/44015278
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