There used to be a time when people hated having drummers as neighbors, a time when drum practice woke up the neighborhood and pushed up ear-plug sales. An ancient proverb states, “If thine enemy wrong thee, buy each of his children a drum.”
Things have changed now, with the dawn of the electronic drum kit, a modern-day instrument that replicates the good old acoustic drum-kit, giving its user countless opportunities to create music, while giving the user’s neighbors peace of mind! What makes the electronic drum kit so much different from an acoustic one? Firstly, these kits don’t really have huge toms, snares and bass-drums that produce sound acoustically. Instead, electronic drum kits use drum pads that are wired to produce the sound of an acoustic kit. This enables users to plug in a pair of head phones and play their best patterns and rolls without creating any external sound!
An electronic drum kit is essentially made up of two types of component, the first being the transducers, also commonly known as drum pads or trigger pads, and the trigger interface or module to which these are connected. The pads either use a rubber playing surface with an embedded transducer or sport a drum shell with a mesh and an internally integrated replaceable trigger.
These drum and cymbal pads pack sensors beneath their playing surfaces. When these surfaces are hit, the sensors detect the intensity of the hit and produce sounds that are as close to the original acoustic drum kit as possible. Striking various parts of the electronic kit, like the tom pads, the snare or the cymbal pads, produces pre-assigned sounds. Given the fact that the sounds assigned to each unit of an electronic kit is assignable, players are capable of selecting from and using countless kit arrangements!
When electronic drum kits first showed up on store-shelves, they weren’t extremely popular, given the fact that drummers using these continually complained about the lack of “feel” and the tediousness of playing an e-kit. As these kits evolved over time, they’ve changed from a geeky musical accessory into a favorite of both, live performers and studio professionals.
The more expensive the module, the better sound bank will you be presented with. It’s really as simple as that! High-end drum modules come with a plethora of top-notch sounds to choose from. This doesn’t really mean that economical drum modules compromise on sound. They do come with nearly every sound a beginner or intermediate drummer will require while playing or composing music. Some of the sounds you can expect out of a regular drum module include the conventional percussion instruments, bells, wood blocks and a bunch of special effects to
While investing in an electronic drum kit, make sure you buy one with good connectivity and expansion capabilities. Most kits today are USB compatible, enabling drummers to send MIDI data to computers, workstations and digital audio interfaces. Also, make sure you bring home a drum module that’ll let you connect an MP3 player or a CD player, so you can play along to your favorite tracks. The outputs on the module you plan to buy must support the amplifcation type you’ve settled for.
You guessed that right, electronic drum kits can also play preset patterns that’ll automatically accompany you as you play or as you simply sip on a soda! While these presets can be used as learning tools, they can also be used in live concerts to play samples. While many modules come pre-packed with presets, some also enable you to create your own!
An essential part of an e-kit, rubber pads come with single, dual and at times three trigger pads too. These are very similar to drum practice pads and have a similar rebound. As compared to mesh heads, these are much more economical and are great when it comes to sound consistency. Rubber pads are best used to create loops or sustained notes while drumming. While rubber pads released years ago did tend to be a “little to hard”, the ones available today offer a rebound that meets the expectations of nearly every drummer. Rubber pads are also usually used in electronic drum kits that are more compact.
As compared to the rubber pads mentioned before, mesh heads tend to have a more realistic feel. These are as close to an acoustic drum kit as it gets. Unlike rubber pads, mesh heads are more responsive and can give out a number of different sounds when struck in different areas. One of the biggest advantages of settling for a mesh head is the fact that these electronic drum kit parts are tunable. The tension of a mesh head can be completely adjusted for a rebound and bounce of your choice.
Unlike rubber pads and mesh heads, triggers are actually an electronic part that’s used in acoustic drum kits. These mount onto the rims of acoustic kits and transmit sounds to the module they’re connected to. Using a trigger, a drummer can record the patterns played as a MIDI to be used later while mixing. Apart from this, sounds can also be changed as per the drummer’s preferences, while still sticking to a familiar acoustic drum kit!
Realistically, the two aren’t that different. Both of these are electronic instruments that produce drum sounds. The arrangement the two use and the apparatus is completely different though. While an electronic drum kit emulates an acoustic drum kit, a percussion pad is generally a single unit with different areas of its surface producing a different preset sound. Some percussion kits also come with pedals that emulate a bass-drum, a double bass or a hi-hat pedal. Some of the most popular percussion pads today include the Roland Octapad SPD-30. Another popular and extremely portable percussion pad is the Korg Wavedrum Global Edition.