How to Make a Drum Set Out of Buckets

Do you want a drum set but can't quite afford one? There are ways to make your own complete drum set using plastic buckets and other materials like paint cans. This article provides instructions on how to build a nice plastic bucket drum set by using some basic sound principles.

How to Make a Drum Set Out of Buckets
How to Make a Drum Set Out of Buckets (Thomas Hooke/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Five-gallon paint bucket,
  • Two 1-gallon plastic ice cream buckets,
  • One-gallon paint bucket
  • Nails
  • Small drinking glasses
  • Sticks or mallets
Step 1:

Before starting to build your drum set, it is important to learn a few basic sound principles. Hollow objects such as big plastic buckets or metal paint cans sound differently depending on their size. Large hollow objects will have a lower pitch when struck because the vibrations inside have more room to travel between surfaces. On the other hand, small, hollow objects will have a higher pitch when struck because the vibration occurs more rapidly. This is explained by physics.

(Thomas Hooke/Demand Media)
Step 2:

Using these principles, start building your drum set. Plastic buckets are best because their percussive sound best resembles a drum. Start with the bass drum. A five-gallon industrial-type bucket for hauling construction materials is optimal due to the deep sound it will produce. If you do not have one, one can be found at any home improvement store.

(Thomas Hooke/Demand Media)
Step 3:

Most drum sets have a snare drum. The best way to make a snare is to find an empty one-gallon metal paint can and turn it upside down. Place some small nails or pocket change on the top. When you strike it on top, it produces a sound resembling a snare drum.

(Thomas Hooke/Demand Media)
Step 4:

Include two tom-toms, which are also part of a basic drum set. Gather two empty plastic 1-gallon ice cream tubs. When placing them upside down, experiment with striking them on the edge and towards the middle to produce different sounds.

(Thomas Hooke/Demand Media)
Step 5:

If you want cymbals, find two or three drinking glasses of different sizes. A cymbal effect is produced when striking them gently, and the different size glasses will give a broad range of sounds.

(Thomas Hooke/Demand Media)
Step 6:

Once you have your drums and cymbals, place them on a flat surface with all the openings facing down. The flat surface provides a seal for the buckets to allow the vibrations to bounce around inside when they are struck. If you can, place the bass drum on the floor in between your knees and the rest of the buckets and glasses on a table about the height of your knees. Arrange the ones on the table in a circular fashion for equal access to all of them.

(Thomas Hooke/Demand Media)
Step 7:

Find two sticks or mallets and start playing.

(Thomas Hooke/Demand Media)
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