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How to Choose an Electric Drum Kit

By Brentyn, published on 16/08/2018 Blog > Music > Drums > Buying an Electronic Drum Set

“Playing drums feels like coming home for me. Even during the White Stripes I thought: ‘I’ll do this for now but I’m really a drummer.’ That’s what I’ll put on my passport application.” -Jack White 

Millenials listen to 75% more music on a daily basis than baby boomers. 

Many young ones from 16-24 years of age consider music to be their favourite cultural activity spending more than 3 hours a day listening to tunes.

But beyond just listening to music on Spotify, if you want to play the drums, you have to learn to use the instrument well.

The technique is important and in order to train outside of your drum lessons from a music school, an at-home studio with an electronic drum pad is very much welcomed and appreciated.

How can you choose the correct one?

Superprof provides useful tips and tricks to guide you in buying an electronic drum kit.

Why choose an Electronic Drum Set?

Roland Drum Kit Electronic drum kits are great for practising at home without bothering the neighbours! (Source: Visual Hunt)

Electronic drums have many advantages in comparison to the more traditional acoustic drum kit. Here are some of them:

  • They make less noise. Although, you will still have the sound of drumsticks hitting the pads,
  • You can modify the sounds to make the set more or less loud. There is also an option to choose different samples of music,
  • You can turn on a direct metronome mode on the electronic module, also do musical exercises to practice or have a background musical accompaniment,
  • An electronic drum kit is very lightweight and saves a considerable amount of place in your flat,
  • It is very easy to use and understand,
  • The maintenance is far more simple than that of an acoustic drum kit because there is no wear and turn of the drum skins and no constant replacement of drumsticks.

Of course, you will not be able to play concerts using an electronic drum set. The sensations are very different and it is impossible to play the nuances that can be heard on an acoustic drum set.

Over time, your electronic drum set, especially if it is of the lowest quality, may slowly deteriorate and offer you some false contacts and notes.

However, for a beginner drummer wishing to train alone and review at home the rudiments taught by his music teacher, buying an electronic drum kit is a great idea and a wonderful start!

Defining a Criteria for Choosing an Electronic Drum Pad

A lot of choices of drums Stepping into music stores and trying out instruments can be fun but needs to be done with caution in order not to overspend and choose an instrument you will never use. (Source: Visual Hunt)

Before you go flying into your local music store, it is important to set criteria that will help you correctly choose the right set.

You do not buy musical instruments, whether it’s a bass guitar, an electric guitar, a clarinet or cello, the same way you buy fish and chips from your favourite shop!

What is your budget?

To get an equivalent in quality, it should be known that an electronic drum set will cost you more than an acoustic set.

So before selecting your new electronic drum pad, set yourself a price range and a threshold that you do not wish to exceed.

When buying a new car, if you have a budget to buy a Peugeot you would not look at an Aston Martin… the same goes when choosing your next set of drums! 

The price for an entry-level electronic drum set ranges from 200 to 400 £. At this low price do not expect miracles. Electric drums at this price have limited capabilities with low-quality finishes that are not very solid. Even worse, these models may have defects in sound, quality of tapping and provision of elements that may lead to bad habits.

It is preferable to choose a drum set that is at least mid-range and is priced from around £450. 

If your budget allows you, splurge and buy a higher end model. The touch of higher priced models is very similar to acoustic drums. However, be warned the price for one of those precious gems starts at £900.

Want a piece of advice? If your budget is from 550 to 650 pounds look to buy a used electronic pad. You will be able to find a higher quality drum for the price of a mid-range set. 

How will use your new Electronic Drum Set?

Before going to a music store, stop and ask yourself: what do I want to do with my drum kit?

This is a very important question that will save you from spending unnecessary money. 

Here are some of the reasons people buy drum kits:

  • It’s a hobby to have a little fun from time to time,
  • I want to buy a set that does not cost too much in order to learn the basics of drumming,
  • I would like a good quality electronic kit to play for a couple of years and then resell for a better one in the future,
  • These are the drums that will follow me everywhere: in practice sessions, in concert, at home,
  • I want electronic drums that are as close as possible to an acoustic set,
  • I am looking to buy a second set to play at home in my flat that doesn’t make as much noise in order to not bother my neighbours.

Mid-range electronic sets will have better quality finishes and are a good complement for practice sessions at home in addition to already having an acoustic drum set that you play in the studio and in music classes.

High-end, more expensive electronic drums allow you to adjust the tension of the snare skins and other drums in the set. These drums can even be used to record in the studio and even in concert!

Key Points to Verify on your Electronic Drums

The elements of the electronic drum are the same as an acoustic set but are not represented in the same way. To be sure to make the right choice, we must focus on 4 essential points.

Drum Module

Often referred to as the “brain” of the set, this component is what relays to the amp or headphones your panel of sounds. The sound is very important: you have to be able to manage the different sounds and styles.

Make sure you can connect headphones with a jack and potentially an mp3. 

Some drum modules are very precise and diverse. They allow, for example, to configure the depth of the drums of the type of skin you want to tap on in order to change the sound and play any type of music.

Cymbals and Hi-Hats

Careful attention needs to paid by choosing the correct cymbals and especially the right Hi-Hat. The Hi-Hat must look and sound like a cymbal and not a pad like the others. The sound quality will be improved by choosing the correct components.

Pedals for Drums Choosing the right drum pedals for an electronic drum set is very important for practice. (Source: Visual Hunt)

The Bass Drum and its Pedal

Buying a real bass drum pedal is crucial otherwise you will not be used to the touch and feel when you play on “real” acoustic drums.

Check that the mechanism is a “real” mechanism with a bat that comes knocking on a pad representing the bass drum. You can also buy a classic bass drum pedal from a reputable brand such as Pearl or others.

Materials Used

The materials will obviously influence the feeling but also the sound of hitting on the pad. The rebound and the feeling of  striking will, therefore, be different depending on whether the pad is:

  • Meshed Skin: it is the one that is the most realistic,
  • Silicone: it’s a very good compromise between rubber and meshed skin,
  • Rubber: it is the most widespread material used for electronic drums but it is far from being the best…

Take a special interest in the snare drum. If you can encounter a snare that is made of meshed skin or silicone, it is highly recommended but also more costly. It ultimately depends on you; superior drumming or budget-friendly materials!

Three Electronic Drum Sets to Try Out

Roland Drums Alesis, Roland and Yamaha are industry leaders when it comes to electronic drums. (Source: Visual Hunt)

Here are three electronic drum kits at different prices for average budgets to help you make your selection.

The Alesis Nitro Set

For those who have small budgets and still seek a high-quality electronic drum, the Alesis Nitro is made for you!

For just £300, you will have a mid-ranged electronic drum set, although it is important to note that the skin of the snare drum is not made of meshed skin.

However, the bass drum pad does the job and the equipment is solidly made. It’s a very good investment to start with!

The Yamaha DTXplorer

For around £500 new, this drum set is fun to play and lets out a performant sound.

It is robustly made and flexible: you can change the place of the different components and also add new pads.

The Yamaha DTXplorer drums allow for both a powerful live sound and a more nuanced studio sound. This is available provided you release the presets provided and create your own acoustic or electronic set.

The bounces that rebound allow fast bearings. Be careful to adjust the sensitivity of the Hi-Hat because the drums can be difficult to understand without the correct modifications.

The Roland TD-11KV

For a little more than £650, priced midway between the middle and high-end electronic drum sets, there is the Roland TD-11KV electronic kit.

It has a mesh skin snare drum, a cloth based drum pad a sturdy set of hardware. In the latest version, the toms are also made of a meshed material, (however, this is not necessary) and the cymbals have multiple play areas.

The drum sound module is very good, it offers a realism that is normally reserved for more high-end, expensive electronic drums from Roland.

It’s very simple to remember, the more the number increases (TD-17KVX, TD25KV, TD50KV…), the more the electronic drum will cost and the higher the quality will be. That’s Roland for you!

Now you have a few suggestions to buy a mid-range electronic drum set. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a budding expert, these three options will have you play the drums in style!

Definitions of components from Electronic Drums

Learning the drums does not just include familiarizing yourself with the instrument, it also involves implementing new words in your vocabulary.

What is the groove?

The groove refers to the rhythm when playing the drums. It is also a word derived from funk used to show that a part of music makes you want to dance and move along to the rhythm.

What is a meshed skin?

It is a material used on snare drums and others. There are of higher quality than rubber and provide a more silent playing experience. Just what your neighbours want!

Playing the drums electronically or acoustically has never been more fun! Superprof offers qualified music teachers near you to perfect your drum playing.

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