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Digital / Electronic Drum Kits

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by mattsk42, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. Hey all! I have determined I want to learn drums.

    I live in an apartment, and don't plan to play them in a band.

    Even if I did play in a band, after being a sound guy for stuff, I would much prefer to do digital/electronic/whatever anyway.

    So, what are some good drum sets to look into. I don't want to go super cheapy because I want to have semi-good resale value. Also, I want to TRULY use them if I get good at playing.

    I see the Roland something or another is popular. I'm looking to spend under $800 for sure.

    Any tips?
  2. Back when I was looking at sets, the two that I were deciding between were the Yamaha DTXpress IV, which was just coming out. And the Roland TD-6S(I believe). Roland has stopped selling that model, but the TD3 is sort of similar to it, although with slightly less features.

    I ended up saving several hundred dollars getting my drums off E-Bay. I'm a fairly experienced drummer, and I spent 3 or 4 months saving/researching, so I don't know that I would recommend going E-Bay/used to everyone, but if you find a set in good condition and a seller with high ratings it might be safe to go for it.

    You could also try Craigslist, since you might be able to try out the drums and make sure they work.

    However, what I would probably recommend to you is to get the drums from a real store with a return policy. If you figure out that drums aren't for you, you can return them. If you end up with broken stuff out of the box, you can get new stuff easily.

    As far as resale, your return will go down fairly quickly over time, since it's pretty much guaranteed that Yamaha/Roland will keep pumping out new gear. The really high end electronic drums will probably maintain their value for a little while, but we're also talking about $3k-$6k as an initial purchase.

    As far as durability goes, I've never had any problems with pads dying. As long as you don't get stuck with something defective(pretty unlikely), or smash them by playing way too hard, they will probably last you for years. So, aside from sticks, you should have zero maintenance cost :)

    As far as sound quality, I think they generally sound pretty good. There is a noticeable difference in quality between the low/mid/high end gear. At the same time, we're not stuck with 80's drum sounds anymore. If I recorded my TD-6S, you probably wouldn't notice that they're not acoustic. With some other instruments, it would probably be pretty much unnoticeable. The high-end gear sounds really good, but at that point you're shelling out $2-3k just for the sound module.

    I used to use mine in my apartment and didn't have any noise problems(I live in a tiny house now, so I actually have no room for my e-drums). They are also quite neat if you do sequencing, since most of the modules will output MIDI signals(make sure you check if this is important to you), and you can record those with whatever MIDI software you have. You could then load up higher quality drum sounds, or fix any bad notes that you might have played...and of course record a bass-line over it.

    Let me know if you have any more questions.


    Edit: I don't think Yamaha has mesh heads on their low/mid-range models, but I would recommend at least getting a kit with a mesh head snare drum. They feel much more like real drums than the rubber heads. They're probably better for your wrists as well. The toms aren't as important(and mesh head drums cost $$), so I would probably just go with a mesh snare. My set has a mesh snare and rubber toms, and I've been pretty happy with it. You can also buy most of these components individually, so if you get a fantastic deal on the Yamaha DTXpress 4, you could pick up a mesh head snare from somewhere else(I think GC even sells them), and swap it in, or augment your kit. Just make sure to check that everything is compatible with whatever set you have.

    Also, GC generally has several electronic drum sets out that you can demo. Go and check them out and see which ones you like and which ones sound good to you. I should warn you that if you play the $6k set you will be spoiled forever :)

    I think these are over your limit(but you might be able to talk a salesperson down to something reasonable):

    Yamaha DTXpress IV: http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Yamaha-DTXpress-IV-Electronic-Drum-Set?sku=444815

    Roland TD3:

    Roland TD6:

    But this one isn't(you might want to check some reviews though):
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    The Roland pads with the mesh heads perform very well, and have good resale value. When I bought my set, used, I was irked because the price didn't seem like such a good deal; but when I flipped it a year later, I actually made a few dollars extra.

    I only ditched it due to a big relocation, I plan to buy those same pads again at some point.
  4. Diggler


    Mar 3, 2005
    Western PA
    I got my son a DTXpress III and he likes it. It sounds good too... as a matter of fact, my band's drummer (who has an allergic reaction when you mention electric drums) heard what triggering can do when we tried triggering his kick drum with the brain at our last gig. He came over last night to listen to the sounds of the brain and is going to buy a whole set of triggers for his kit.
  5. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    I got an alesis dm5 kit. They're dirt cheap. No where near as nice as the roland/Yamaha options, but about half the price, and pretty functional, with plenty of room for expansion. I looked on it as a starting point, rather than as a done deal - for not much cash I got everything I needed, but unlike the cheaper/low end stuff it's all standard fittings/connections so I can add more/nicer pads, sounds, brain, rack etc as/if I need them. For the price I could upgrade most of it and still come out ahead.

    I added a mesh snare (koby - cheap and good if you're in the uk), which really helps.

    I'm NOT a drummer - i just got one for fun, and didn't want to annoy the neighbours.

  6. Hey thanks for the great insight, it's helped a lot.

    I was thinking to get about what was suggested if I can get the money together. If I can't, then just the basic, then slowly upgrade. How can you tell which is upgradeable or not?
  7. Diggler


    Mar 3, 2005
    Western PA
    For the most part, e-drums have two parts. The brain and triggers. You plug the triggers (the 'set', the pads) into the brain and it triggers the sounds you tell it to.

    For the most part, you can swap out drum brains on your kit, or substitute different triggers because they all work on the same principle. A piezo senses a strike and transmits an impulse to the brain where it's interpreted then passed out to your headphones, amp, whatever.

    A caveat would be to check on things like chokeable cymbals, three-zone snares, etc.
  8. Our drummer has a roland TD-3 set, nothing fancy, but it is pretty cool :)

    One of the best parts is, when recording demos, we just use the MIDI out, and there are tons of great drum VSTs out there. While granted, it wont always sound as good as a properly mic'd up good quality drum kit, its a damned sight cheaper!
  9. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    If you don't ever want to play on a real drum kit, an electronic kit is fine.

    I find that if you start out on an acoustic kit, the learning curve to translate it to an electronic one is small compared to the learning curve of going from an electronic kit to an acoustic kit.

    The downside is that the more you want it to feel like an acoustic kit, the more expensive it will cost.
  10. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    Upgrading begins at the drum module or the brain. Rough rule of thumb:
    Once you are the store, check out how many spare inputs the module has. That determines how many more pads you can add later (along with space on your kit itself).

    I have a Roland TD3. Great kit. Dual zone snare and cymbals, great feeling mesh snare etc. I tried every sub $1000 set GC and Sam Ash carries and nothing compares to Roland except mesh head equipped Yammies. Everything else felt like toys. The module has one spare input which I will probably use to add an extra tom.
  11. Diggler


    Mar 3, 2005
    Western PA
    I disagree with this. The sounds on the modern drum brain are actually studio-recorded samples from the most quality sets you could imagine, and professionally processed out the ying-yang to get exactly the sound that it should be.
  12. While its true that they are well recorded samples, they always seem to be missing something, some dynamics always seem to be a-miss, and theres certain things that you just cant use, if you want to use anything other than sticks you start to limit the sounds your getting from the sample library. Also, more elegant use of say the inside and outside of the snare head etc, just cant be had with most e-drums and software.

    Possibly becomes less of a problem with more advanced gear, but either way, you are limiting yourself.

    Either way, if i was given the chance for my band to get pro recorded, it'd be with a real kit, not an e-kit. Im not saying an e-kit isnt good sounding, its just not as good overall as getting a real kit recorded (IMO)
  13. Diggler


    Mar 3, 2005
    Western PA
    That's probably true... if I were going to record and had all the time in the world, I'd probably go with a real, professionally mic'd kit as well.

    For a consistent, easy setup for a rock band, though, e-drums... or as we're planning on moving towards, a triggered acoustic kit... is hard to beat for repeatability.
  14. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Be aware though that not all brands of trigger are compatible with all brands of brain. Some use reverse polarity of the cabling, and there may be other differences. You'll need to check with a dealer of the given brands to find out which ones are compatible.

    Re: dynamic/tonal/quality differences btwn acoustic and electronic, I believe acoustic snare and cymbals cannot really be replaced with electronic ones (at a pro level) -and unless we're talking about electro music-, but the kick and toms can be done electronically just fine.
  15. Oh I agree, cant argue with the drummer coming round with his kit, and the setting up requiring no more than plugging in a MIDI cable! Been using Addictive Drums, and after quite a bit of tinkering about, have a setup saved which works fine for us every time. (not to mention it keeps the drummer happy because they sampled the piccolo snare he uses :rolleyes:)
  16. The Alesis is going pretty cheap used. Is there anything to look for in a used kit?
  17. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    If you really want to save money, you can make your own triggers. All you need is a piezo element that you can wire to the brain, and something that will contain it. There are guys who use Remo practice pads to convert into drum triggers.

    Do a Google on DIY, electronic drums and you'll find plenty of stuff out there.
  18. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    I'm not a drummer, but I've tried out a few sets over the last 5-10 years. I've always wanted to get a set myself. I've noticed a few things thing worth pointing out about the electric sets, and one is the pad sensitivity and how well you can fine tune it. It's adjustable within some limits on most sets I think, but on a cheap set I find it difficult to make ghost hits (like on the snare) sound good. It also has a lot to do with the pads. Rubber pads are much worse than mesh ones in this sense.

    I wouldn't buy a rubber kick pad either unless you freely can choose what kind of beater you want to use. The beater often bounces too easily on it and causes easily one or a few unwanted additional strokes. To avoid this, you need to really focus on your foot technique and set the sensitivity so any light to fairly light hits aren't heard. While this might work for one song, it might not work too well in another. Mesh pads are better, but I still think the beater bounces too easily on them...

    EDIT: Shouldn't this be in Miscellaneous?
  19. Diggler


    Mar 3, 2005
    Western PA
    For those who are new to e-drums, the sensitivity is usually adjustable by the drum brain.

    When researching what triggers to buy, I noticed some complaining about double-triggering by some of the triggers... I bet 90% of these cases could be fixed by properly setting the module sensitivity.

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