Anyone with a few hundred dollars can buy a drum set. But, as with most musical instruments, purchasing drums should not be done on a whim.

Anyone with a few hundred dollars can buy a drum set. But, as with most musical instruments, purchasing drums should not be done on a whim.

''A lot of parents will buy their child an instrument and leave them on their own to figure it out,'' said Matt Leff, owner of Matt's Music Center in Weymouth. ''Nine times out of 10, it ends up in a closet or under a bed somewhere.''

Most drummers start with a standard five-piece drum set, which includes a bass drum, snare drum, two mounted toms and a floor tom. A standard set also includes a pair of high-hat cymbals and a multi-purpose crash/ride cymbal.

Most entry-level kits come with a throne, or seat, as well.

Entry-level drum kits typically cost between $300 and $400. Professional kits begin around $500 to $1,000 and can cost much more. Cymbals are the most expensive component of a drum set, ranging from $75 to $1,200 each.

Aspiring drummers who are uncertain if the instrument is right for them should begin with an entry-level kit.

Andy Keesan, manager of DiCenso's Drum Shop in Weymouth, said those who are unsure of their talent might begin with a practice pad to see if they have sufficient rhythm.

Keesan said he typically sees two varieties of beginners - adolescents and people he calls ''weekend warriors.''

''They just like to jam with buddies on the weekends,'' Keesan said. ''But they don't know the gear, the jargon - but it doesn't matter because they play really well.''

Keesan said finding a set that suits a drummer's needs and budget is easier than ever.

''As far as quality goes, even on low-end kits, it's threefold today what it was 20 years ago,'' he said.

While many adult shoppers tend to have an idea of their skill level, many adolescents and children interested in taking up drumming may not know if they have the skill to enjoy the instrument.

Leff charges $22 per half-hour for lessons that are geared at keeping a child interested.

''The last thing I want to do is give them a reason to give up,'' Leff said.

He said that, without proper training, beginners can become frustrated or overwhelmed.

Bang the Drum Quietly

Here are some ways to keep the drummer of the house from giving everyone else headaches:

Sticks: One way to reduce the volume of the drums is to use lighter drumsticks or brushes.

Pads: Another option for reducing drum volume is to use "noise guards" - circular pads, made of a material similar to that of computer mouse pads, that fit over the tops of the drums and muffle the sounds as the drummer strikes them with the sticks. According to Andy Keesan of DiCenso's Drum Shop, noise guards can reduce noise by as much as 80 percent. A set of five noise guards typically costs about $50.

Electronic: If you're looking for a way to keep drumming while cutting out the noise almost entirely, an electronic drum set may be for you. These sets allow for multiple effects and sounds and let the drummer listen solely by headphones. Electronic kits may not be the best bet for kids given their expense. With the cheapest model at DiCenso's costing $799, an acoustic set with noise guards might be a better option.

The Patriot Ledger

A.J. Bauer may be reached at ajbauer@ledger.com.