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The state of electronic drums for rehearsal

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by fourstr00, Feb 28, 2021.

  1. fourstr00


    Mar 21, 2002
    Chicago Area
    I’ve been using COVID as a reason to revamp the rehearsal space: tuning the piano, upgrade the PA, replace the lights, acoustic treatments, etc. The last bit is the drums, which is a poor-quality Royce, damped to its wit’s end. The rehearsal space is in my basement so volume is always a concern.

    I’m kicking around the idea of either swapping out for a nice cocktail kit with smaller drums or maybe a mid-grade e-kit. The e-drums would be more useful, since I could practice drums after hours and the drummer could use sticks at full throttle without volume wars. In theory...

    What’s the state of e-drums today? Would drummer’s actually enjoy using a mesh head set, or would they roll their eyes every time we play? Is the feel at least in the ballpark of an acoustic kit? Is the high hat even remotely realistic?

    Thinking about an Alesis Command Mesh, if that matters.
  2. I don't know much about drums, but I played and also rehearsed in my home with a drummer who uses an e-kit almost exclusively. I'd say they are pretty close to ideal for situations where you want to keep the volume down and also minimize the headaches that go along with mixing drums in a smaller room where all that sound is coming off a stage. The modern drum sounds are pretty convincing.

    As for whether a drummer will be happy with them? It depends on the drummer. The guy I know is a pretty accomplished drummer but he's generally happy because he gets what he needs out of them for specific situations. They aren't as responsive as real drums and there's a "getting used to it" factor involved.

    Other drummers I know would probably never play that kit, because it would feel weird to them. My guess is that you'll meet a fair amount of resistance from the average player, unless that person is already familiar with how an e-kit feels to play. A lot of drummers assume they are only suitable for home practice with headphones.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
  3. Zoffy


    Jun 7, 2020
    Sacramento CA
    Though I am a bass player, I started out on drums and played a regular acoustic kit for over 40 years; I also collect vintage Tama Superstar drums. I have a set of Roland electronic drums with mesh heads and I love them. It's not the same feel or response as an acoustic drum kit, just like playing an acoustic guitar had a different feel than an electric. Good points include being able to play pretty silently (I can play at three in the morning if I want), and being able to access different sounding kits. Bad points are the feel of the cymbals (I can't think of any other bad points).

    Just my two cents...:thumbsup:
  4. Hummergeist

    Hummergeist Commercial User

    Jul 21, 2020
    Ableton Live tutorials and product reviews for Computer Music magazine.
    A drummer who has time to get used to them will appreciate them more than somebody who just walks into the studio cold. So if you have a regular drummer, should be nice. If it's the difference between playing and not playing at all, especially. Those Alesis ones have MIDI as well which could open up a whole other world of sample sounds, software and hardware control, and some drummers like that as well because it makes them feel like they're in the driving seat.
  5. DrThumpenstein

    DrThumpenstein Living for the groove Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2015
    St Louis, MO
    We practice at our drummer’s house and he uses his electronic drum kit. We are all grateful, because he’s a pretty big, hard-hitting dude, but we can still keep the volume reasonable in the basement studio. He’s using a mid-range Roland kit. Another nice feature is having whatever percussion instrument we might want at his fingertips to spice up a song.

    His kit responds nicely to dynamics and technique. He frequently practices at night and other times when headphones are a considerate way to practice regarding his wife and kid. He’s a really good drummer and particular about gear, but he’s pretty satisfied with his setup.

    Not all drummers are comfortable with e-drums, though, so I’d second the notion that it will depend on the drummer in the end.
    longfinger, LBS-bass and fourstr00 like this.
  6. The latest electric kits seem pretty amazing, I think I want a Pearl Mimic Pro for my home studio, but the prices are astronomical.
    SteveFromBerlin likes this.
  7. I wish all drummers would at least rehearse with e-drums or at least Mesh heads. Ive been in bands going back years where they used Rolands and it was always great. Volume under control, singers not screaming, easy to record everything. Drummers not complaining about having to move the gear as much. It's even better when they take them to gigs.

    As far as whether drummers will like them or not, that varies by drummer. I've experienced drummers who love it, drummers who hate it and some that get through it. The biggest thing to deal with is lag. One band had a guitarist with a studio in his garage. He had waaay too much money and spent it on all kinds of toys. He insisted on running the drums through a DAW using drum software (I forget which) then into the PA and the drummer noticed a little lag that became frustrating. He thought they sounded and played better direct but the guitarist was a bit of a control freak. I still play with this drummer and he has since added mesh heads to his home acoustic kit.

    Definitely avoid the rubber padded ones..
    red_rhino and longfinger like this.
  8. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    As a drummer I’ll say this about the drawbacks since the positive aspects of it (volume, floor space, etc.) are obvious:

    They will not feel like you’re playing acoustic drums, even on high end Roland models. They may be good enough for this purpose but always expect a little pushback from your drummer. This feel difference can be a problem for some players who rehearse on an e-kit and then transition to an acoustic kit for gigs.

    I have had absolutely horrible results with anything but Roland. Alesis being the worst of the bunch in terms of missing triggers, double triggering, and false triggers. This points to the next drawback which is that a reasonably sized Roland kit that your drummer will actually want to play is going to be fairly expensive. I used to play a TD-25KV that was alright, but the price tag wasn’t.
  9. Bassndrums73


    Mar 13, 2018
    Electronic drums don’t come close to sounding like real drums. If you’re ok with fake sounding drums then go for it. It really depends on what you want to hear in your recordings or in the band you are playing live with. More people accept a fake sound all the time and it requires a lot less work to record. If you can’t do without real drums and cymbal sounds an electronic set will not get you there. A friend of mine had a Roland TD-50 set which is about as top of the line as you can get and they still sounded fake. He sold them and not is miking up a DW acoustic kit.
  10. Ellery


    Mar 25, 2015
    I bought my wife an Alesis Crimson and she loved it, until after maybe two years the head module started glitching out, now it barely works at all. Alesis customer support is horrendous, never buying Alesis again! :sour:
    SteveFromBerlin and mikewalker like this.
  11. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    'My' Drummer uses a Roland TD-30 with a high end trigger set.
    I play that sometimes. I'm not good, though.
    The snare, hihat and ride are the problem.
    An accomplished drummer can do so much more with an acoustic set. E-drums constantly improve and
    the triggers are getting more and more complex, but it's not quite there yet.

    The rest of the band misses nothing. We run in ear monitoring and that makes using e-drums a lot more convenient.
    Gigging with that kit is also a breeze. You carry in the whole thing in one go, then bring the chair, bassdrum and hihat machine and you're done.
    The drumkit does not set the minimal volume, too - which opened up some gig spots for us where a regular live volume would have been a bit too much.
    longfinger likes this.
  12. As a bassists I’d love to find a drummer that’s actually willing to use an e kit. Guitarist I play with uses a fractal with a power amp and a cab. Would love to have a silent stage setup and not have to deal with all the burdens of acoustic drums and live cabs like having to pay for a rehearsal spot so the cops don’t get called, not being able to record regularly without spending a fortune because acoustic drums really need to be recorded in a sound controlled room

    problem is most drummers around here act like electric kits are made out of the covid virus or something
    cchorney and Huw Phillips like this.
  13. vvvmmm


    Dec 6, 2016
    I love e-drummers, and I think we got some really good results on the couple I've recorded.

    That said, don't rule out a hybrid kit; ex., a real hat and ride, say. If bleed from the sticks hitting the pads is an issue, you can always record the cymbals separately (it works for Grohl).
    danster, mikewalker and MattZilla like this.
  14. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    This. You have to adapt to each situation, whether it involves an instrument, or not.

    The better you adapt, the more the awesomeness oozes out of you...

    ... at least, that's what I've heard.
  15. The quality of the sounds is an interesting issue. The various kits on our drummer's e-kit pretty much all sounded like you would expect drums to sound when they are well-recorded and played back in a studio. They didn't sound raw, like what you would anticipate coming off drums in a full acoustic situation. The nice thing about that for us was that there wasn't really any processing required that would have normally been needed for our style of music if we had just been micing a kit.

    Of course, there were some kits that were meant to mimic old drum machines, which would sound fake because they were sounds from the 80's and those all sounded fake, for example, an 808 kit. This gave us a little more flexibility so we could do songs like 'When Doves Cry' with more accuracy.

    So it might all sound "fake" if you're expecting it to sound like raw drums; it never sounds like that. An e-kit might not be the best option if you're playing punk, for example. And it probably won't satisfy a jazz purist, either.
  16. vvvmmm


    Dec 6, 2016
    Exactly right! They come at you pre-processed, because they have already been recorded, gated, EQ'd, sometimes compressed and effected.

    If I was a E-drummer I'd want to load a raw kit - mebbe one I recorded - but I've not seen anyone do that yet.

    I will say that I requested that the drummers use kits without added reverbs to make mixdown more controllable.

    And there's quite the difference in being able to break out the snare and kick separate from the stereo cymbals/toms submix.
    mikewalker, MattZilla and LBS-bass like this.
  17. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Agree that the cymbal feel is the weak point from the drummer's perspective. The one other bad point that I've noticed from every other band member's perspective -- and more often than not the drummers have agreed -- is that in order to get the volume level of the electronic drums to the point where an ensemble can gel with the groove (the way they're accustomed to with an acoustic kit) requires far more substantial amplification/reinforcement than most bands plan for. The small amps or mini PA systems usually touted as appropriate for a V-Drum rig don't typically have the clean headroom required to allow the group to "feel" the drums in a room; they don't pressurize the airspace in a room the way an acoustic kit does, and this can make it harder to feel like the rhythm section is fully integrated.
    31HZ, Zoffy and mikewalker like this.
  18. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    The few drummers I know who have e-kits only use them as an expansion of their acoustic kits. They’re typically in the metal-prog spectrum no matter what the other instrumentation is.

    I have better luck with stage volume and recording tone when sticking to jazz drummers with deep brush experience than with trying to get someone to use e-drums exclusively. The ability to rapidly tune the e-kit to each song really would be so useful. Too bad.

    The only reason I find to ever bring a rock or metal drummer in to the studio is for a that certain flavor of fills/turnarounds or for songwriting vibes.
  19. In rehearsals we would run four or five powered monitors (JBLs and QSCs) set in a square or circle at the center of the floor, and each of us would set up in front of one. The only person in the room with a traditional cabinet was me. This worked plenty well for practice.

    At shows the drummer would always bring a high-quality powered monitor with him and we generally played in rooms with PAs that had no problem handling what we needed for sound. I don't think you'd get a very good kick drum sound out of a small speaker of poor quality.
  20. funkinbottom

    funkinbottom Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2006
    Northern CA.
    A quick back story --- My son (drummer) wanted to get out of Seattle for awhile for various reasons, covid restrictions, his landlord remodeling house etc... We live in the redwoods in a small community, so my wife and I told him to just come stay with us for a couple months. He took us up on the offer.

    On to e-drums --- So my wife actually suggested an e-kit (cool wife) as opposed to him bringing an acoustic set. That was all I needed to hear, as I've kinda been wanting one for my little home studio. I bought the Alesis Nitro mesh. Not quite as nice as the command set but less $ and still the mesh heads. At first he was not really sure about the whole e-drum deal, but after a few times playing on them, he's starting to really like them. Now he's hinting that he wants to commandeer the kit when he heads back north.:roflmao:

    As far as sounds, there are a few good usable kits in the module that sound really good, but there's a bunch that don't. So I midi into the computer via interface and trigger my Easydrummer 2, or slate drums. Both are actual acoustic drums recorded in pro studio by pro engineers. I can dial up a DW kit or vintage Ludwig, Yamaha etc.

    As for drummers, I think most can overcome minor difference in feel/sounds as opposed to hauling and setting up a kit. I know a few drummers that live in apartments that would not be able to play at home otherwise. (plus the late at night thing in general) I have one drummer friend that now uses his e-kit for the majority of his gigs. A small amp and laptop, and he has just about any kit he wants to use.
    Benko and longfinger like this.
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