Ultimate Guide to Buying Electronic Drums
Every drummer or live studio will tell you what makes their music tick; the quality of their drums. Electronic drums are the ultimate must-have for drummers; wanna-be’s or professionals. They are the secret to making heads turn to them when their drum rolls. And while it’s said that there’s no limit to what money can buy, quality does not solely rely in purchasing power. Having done my research well, I’ve documented here the most important things to consider when shopping for the right electronic drums. The points will also apply when looking for the best violin brands.
- The Electric Drum Kit Vs the Acoustic Drum Kit
- How Rubber Pads and Mesh Heads Will Determine the Ultimate Price
- Why You Should Purchase an Electronic Drum Kit
The Electric Drum Kit Vs the Acoustic Drum Kit
Many people, especially those starting drumming lessons, are always torn between learning to play the electric drum or the acoustic drum. While I cannot make the ultimate decision for anyone, I will enlighten you on their differences to help you make a more informed choice.
Electronic drums consist of a rubber pad or mesh head with a sensor beneath it. The sensor transmits a voltage value to a sound module, often called brain, which in turn prompts a particular sound. The sound module also works to decipher the quality of the strike to produce a softer or louder effect. An electronic drum and cymbal pads can have two or three sensors. This makes them capable of producing more than one sound for example a bell, bow or edge hit sound.
Unlike the electronic drum, you will have to set up cymbals, snares and other percussion instruments while using the acoustic drum set. This means that you will hear the sounds you play at a distance and not bare knuckled like you would the electric one. However, acoustic drums are way louder than a bomb that’s gone off as they luck drums sound isolation boards and noise-reducing pedals found in electric drums. And although one needs an amplifier to broadcast sound output to a larger scale, beginners or players in grumpy neighbourhoods should take the electric drum sets as their better choice.
Built in features such as metronomes and multiple drum kit sounds are features the electric drums have been praised for. Both percussionists and acoustic players agree that these features make it especially easy to practise and experiment individual playing sounds and styles. This also makes it particularly a lot easier for acoustic players to transition to playing electronic drums. High end electric drums have in-built recording equipment which is a hands-on tool for people doing practice or in writing sessions.
Stick-Bounce and MIDI Triggers
The ease in playing a drum is largely reliant on the simplicity in hitting it. Since rubber pads in electric drums are hardly strained, they give more stick bounce and therefore easier to play. They also have MIDI performance controllers that only need to be adjusted by sound engineers and one is ready to go. The trigger pads are however insensitive to touch and have tempos that can be challenging to adjust but these are components that only need time and practice to get used to. Acoustic players argue that you can simply install MIDI triggers in the acoustic drum set, and you can, but it will obviously not have the same feel. Besides, this will mean added weight for your drum set.
Pad Feels and Mesh Heads
There are of course so many components of acoustic ‘real’ drum sets that can’t be recreated electronically. One of these is the pad and the mesh in the acoustic drums. The pads in the electric drums have a peculiar feel and their mesh heads give room for experimentation. Unlike in the acoustic drums, rubber pads and mesh heads in electric drums need recurrent adjustments because of the variation in the attacks, rebounds and overall stick response.
Even after this highlight with comparisons, you may still be rubbing your temples over which one is better, acoustic or electric drums. In making that choice for you, I will be inequitable. Read on and maybe by the end of it you will decide which one wins.
How Rubber Pads and Mesh Heads Will Determine the Ultimate Price
Traditional electronic drums, like those of Simmons, took a paradigm shift to a rubber practise pad from the MIDI designs. And after Roland introduced mesh heads, electronic drums escalated to a whole new level. These new inputs are not only praised for versatility but the mesh heads that are said to imitate acoustic drum heads have made electronic drums more desirable.
Pros for the Electronic Rubber Pads
You do not have to dig deep into your pockets to afford rubber pads for your ‘machine’. For less than $500, you can get a kit with pads at Sweetwater. Even better, dual-trigger pads will only see you $100 ‘poorer’.
Unlike traditional pads, the new age pads are rebound and with a natural stick bounce. This therefore means you can play for longer without getting overly exhausted.
One component that ruffled waters in electronic drums, especially for staunch acoustic players, was the poor pad response. Well, several improvements have seen flexibility in the pad response. This consistence has improved the overall rating of electronic drums.
The new age pads are much easier to fit in. This means if one needs to add electronic sounds to their acoustic drums, they don’t have to worry about space or weight. These pads can be closely packed anywhere on your acoustic drums.
Pros for the Mesh Heads
Modules make varying sounds on the basis of where you strike. With the right combination of a module that supports these features, mesh head controllers remit a wider range of sounds. Some heads could even play you brush sweeps if you have the right sound module.
One thing that strikes about modern mesh heads is how easy it is to adjust their rebound and feel to achieve the desired snare. You even have a choice for electric percussion. It all depends on your needs, expectations and most importantly, your budget.
For those hell bent on having a ‘real drum’ feel, the mesh heads will not let you down. They are the closest you could get to traditional drum head, feel and rebound.
Triggers transmit stick hits to the sound module. They are found resting against the heads on the rims of acoustic kits. Because of triggers, you get to have an infinite choice of drum and percussion while feeling like you’re playing your normal drum. Triggers will also enable you to record your performance as MIDI data so you can play around with sounds later while mixing.
Drum machines, having been a component for Hip Hop for over 30 years, have never run out of demand. One-man-bands mostly make use of them in the rhythm section, and singer/songwriters who have no desire to learn how to program the drum also use them. Bass players, guitarists and keyboardists have also increased the demand for drum machines as they use them as a practice tool.
Why You Should Purchase an Electronic Drum Kit
Unlike the keyboard and the guitar, drum technology took long to evolve, and even longer for drummers to embrace. Yet, even with the unresolved challenges in the technology, the potential that it presents in insurmountable. Here’s why having an electronic drum will turn around your capabilities.
It is Convenient
While critics have noted that electronic drums are not exactly ‘quiet’ they agree that it gives a lot less disturbance. The built-in features like metronomes and the extra input pots allow players to plug in CD or MP3 players when they need to practice specific songs. The headphones that the electronic kit comes with also allows for a pad-quiet play.
It is portable and compact
Unlike traditional drums that need planning in order to be moved from one location to the other, electronic drums can be carried along on the go. Being removable gives one the freedom to pack them in any comfortable bag. Storing them while on the move is also not a task because they don’t occupy much space.
It gives a ‘real drum’ feeling
While cheap electronic drums will not give you the satisfaction that comes with playing a real drum, there are kits that will copy the feel of acoustic drums. The mesh heads, just like traditional drum skin, and the flexible rubber pads will impress your fingertips. Even better, you don’t need a collection of acoustic kits; you only need to stick with your module set up.
Unlimited sound for live performance
Most one-man bands are always worried about the drum output for their live gigs. They get timid when invited to concerts in quiet neighbourhoods. Now all these worries can be thrown out the window because of the near-silent pads. In addition to less disarray of stands and other equipment, one is also able to play with ought a microphone. The amplifier that comes with the electric kit also makes it easy to vary the amount and quality of sound while you play.
Does the deal sound too good? Your jaw is about to drop wider when you see the range of electronic drum kits at Sweetwater. Here, you have unlimited option from Roland to Yamaha and even Alesis!