Buying drums can be a very overwhelming and confusing process. The following list of 10 "Dos and Donts" is a must read before buying your first drum set. Plus, you might just save yourself a lot of money!

DO: Do buy a practice pad and drumsticks before a full drum set. Drummers have to start somewhere. Sometimes its pots and pans -- most of the time, it's the staple of learning drums: the practice pad.

From beginners to pros, tunable practice pads imitate the tension and feedback of a real drum. The sound is muffled for quieter practice sessions and they accentuate the intricacies of proper technique and dynamics. Most private instructors require them for beginner lessons. Plus, this is a great way for parents to challenge their children first. Can they study and learn the basics without losing interest in the craft? Make sure that's a yes...BEFORE pulling the trigger on a full drum set. Remo offers the most famous of the basic practice pads that attach to tripods or cymbal stands, while DW Drums and other manufacturers offer full practice pad drum sets (pictured at right).

DON'T: Don't buy the most expensive drums available. Truth is, good drummers can practically make any drum sound good. Take drummer Brain for example, who bought and played the worst drum set he could find for his instructional DVD.

DO: Do buy used. You'll pay a lot less for drums that might just need a little touch up and cleaning. You might just stumble across a vintage kit that's worth a lot more than you paid for it. Replace the old heads with new ones, and most drums will sound as good as new.

DON'T: Don't go large. Save the big drums for your daydreams. As much as you love Neil Peart, beginners only need a basic set up to build their chops. Traditionally, that means all you need is a four or five piece kit (snare, bass drum and 2-3 toms) as well as a set of hi-hats, crash and ride cymbals.

DO: Do think about your hardware needs. How much will you move your drums around? Will they be stationary or will you regularly take them on the go to a friend's house, school or shows? Heavy hardware can be more durable and last longer, but it's much harder and heavier to setup and tear down. It gets tiring lugging over 100lbs of equipment. Light hardware takes up less space, is more affordable and is perfect for practice drumsets that remain in place most of the time.

DON'T: Don't buy online unless from a reliable music retailer or trusted source. Make sure the seller has a legitimate track record selling equipment on eBay and Amazon. Is there a return policy? Photoshop can work wonders on an old set! Ideally, you will want a chance to see and play the drums before making a final decision.

DO: Buy a comfortable, quality drum throne. You spend 100% of your time sitting at your drumset so you might as well be comfortable doing so. A good throne encourages good posture and can stand up to the test of time. It won't make your butt hurt after a few minutes or lose its height once you sit on it. Beware hydraulic lifts on thrones -- these can become quite faulty over time -- you may never sit higher than the lowest position again!   

DON'T: Don't forget to consider your practice space. How much space do you have for practice? How will your neighbors and roommates respond to the drumming noise? Hint: don't be shy -- ask them before you buy! Do you need to consider low volume heads and cymbals, or an electronic kit, to keep the decibels down?

DO: Do determine a budget and stick to it! Set a budget and stay within it. You should be able to find a decent beginner set with all the hardware and cymbals for around $1000. Budget an extra $200 or so for fresh heads on both sides of the drum. Have an experienced drummer help you tune the set or watch the "How to Tune your Drums" video in our drumming tips section. 

DON'T: While entry level sets from major manufacturers can be great drums for beginners, don't buy cheap, off-brand drums and cymbals. While the price tag is enticing, cheap, no-name drums won't be very durable and the cymbals truly sound like garbage cans. Both won't last long either. You are better off buying good used cymbals that have yet to crack, at a discount price. There are fantastic, affordable used drum sets and "cheap", new entry level kits from major manufacturers like Yamaha, Drum Workshop, Pacific, C Bruno,  Percussion Plus, Gretsch, Jamm (Universal Percussion,) Dixon Drums, Crush Drums and other PMC members.