Most five-piece kits, at more than entry level, also have one or more effects cymbals. Adding cymbals beyond the basic ride, hi-hats and one crash configuration requires more stands in addition to the standard drum hardware packs. Because of this, many higher-cost kits for professionals are sold with little or even no hardware, to allow the drummer to choose the stands and also the bass drum pedal he/she prefers. At the other extreme, many inexpensive, entry-level kits are sold as a five-piece kit complete with two cymbal stands, most often one straight and one boom, and some even with a standard cymbal pack, a stool and a pair of 5A drum sticks. In the 2010s, digital kits are often offered in a five-piece kit, usually with one plastic crash cymbal triggers and one ride cymbal trigger. Fully electronic drums do not produce any acoustic sound beyond the quiet tapping of sticks on the plastic or rubber heads. The trigger-pads are wired up to a synth module or sampler.

Swing drummers such as Max Roach and Kenny Clarke had already deviated from the large marching band-style bass drums, finding that they were too loud and boomy. Bebop drummers continued this trend, and they started trying out smaller bass drum sizes in the drum set. Bebop drummers' experimentations with new drum sizes and new sounds led to the innovative concept of applying the busy "four on the floor" bass drum rhythms to a new larger cymbal called the ride cymbal. By focusing on keeping time on the new ride cymbal instead of the bass drum, the "feel" went from bass drum and hi-hat heavy, to a lighter melodic feel that has been explained as "floating on top of the time". This allowed drummers to express themselves in a more melodic fashion by playing the rhythms used by the guitar, piano and sax players using the new smaller, more focused bass drums and snare. Louie Bellson also assisted in the innovative sizes and sounds of the 1940s drum set by pioneering the use of two bass drums, or the double bass drum kit.
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