Budget constraints and space considerations in musical theatre pit orchestras led bandleaders to pressure fewer percussionists to cover more percussion parts. Metal consoles were developed to hold Chinese tom-toms, with swing-out stands for snare drums and cymbals. On top of the console was a "contraption" tray (shortened to "trap"), used to hold items like whistles, klaxons, and cowbells, so these drums/kits were dubbed "trap kits". Hi-hat stands became available around 1926.
Prior to the development of the drum set, drums and cymbals used in military and orchestral music settings were played separately by different percussionists; if the score called for bass drum, triangle and cymbals, three percussionists would be hired to play these three instruments. In the 1840s, percussionists began to experiment with foot pedals as a way to enable them to play more than one instrument, but these devices would not be mass-produced for another 75 years. By the 1860s, percussionists started combining multiple drums into a set. The bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, and other percussion instruments were all struck with hand-held drum sticks. Drummers in musical theater shows and stage shows, where the budget for pit orchestras was often limited, contributed to the creation of the drum set by developing techniques and devices that would enable them to cover the roles of multiple percussionists.
Six strings are usually tuned B0–E1–A1–D2–G2–C3—like a four-string bass with an additional low B string and a high C string. Some players prefer B0–E1–A1–D2–F♯2–B2, which preserves the intervals of standard six-string guitar tuning (an octave and a fourth lower) and makes the highest and lowest string the same note two octaves apart. While less common than four or five-string basses, they appear in Latin, jazz, and other genres, as well as in studio work where a session musician's single instrument must be highly versatile, and to facilitate sightreading in the recording studio. Alternative tunings for six-string bass include B–E–A–D–G–B, matching the first five strings of an acoustic or electric guitar with an additional low B, and E–A–D–G–B–E, completely matching the tuning of a six-string guitar but one octave lower allowing the use of guitar chord fingerings. Rarer tunings such as E–A–D–G–C–F and F♯–B–E–A–D–G provide a lower or higher range in a given position while maintaining consistent string intervals. In 1974, Anthony Jackson worked with Carl Thompson to create the Contrabass guitar (BEADGC). Later, Jackson brought his ideas to Fodera and worked with Ken Smith to create a wider-spaced Contrabass guitar, which evolved to the modern six-string bass.
Macaque monkeys drum objects in a rhythmic way to show social dominance and this has been shown to be processed in a similar way in their brains to vocalizations suggesting an evolutionary origin to drumming as part of social communication. Other primates make drumming sounds by chest beating or hand clapping, and rodents such as kangaroo rats also make similar sounds using their paws on the ground.