Monday, February 13, 2012

Gear Up: Electronic Drums

It's inevitable, I guess. Acoustic drums will go the way of all the earth, then drum machines will replace all of the humans, robots will play guitar and sing - all musicians will be out of work. (It IS 2012, after all.)

Yeah.....blah, blah, blah. We've actually been hearing this type of doomsday proclamation since the late 1970s, and here we are more than 40 years later, and guess what? I played a gig last week. On my acoustic, real wood kit. With two other human beings. And we got paid. Hmmm.......

So what is all the fuss about electronics?

I'll let you make your own decisions, but here are I few of the benefits and drawbacks I see with the way of the future. 

The bad stuff:
  • They've gotten good, but they still don't feel or respond like real drums - and especially cymbals. 
  • Cables and inputs and plugs, oh my! Seriously, I've always been grateful that when I show up for the gig, I don't have to plug anything in. The electronic drum kit changes all that - and it ain't good. I can't wait for the whole thing to be wireless, power included.
  • Again, they're not as bad as they used to be, but electronic drums just look fake. I'm not all about vanity, but you still lose a certain degree of legitimacy if you show up to a high level gig with "fake" drums. 
  • Can you say, "expensive?"
The good stuff: 
  • They've gotten good, really good. Seriously, have you played one of these things lately? Mesh heads, drum-like shells and realistically raised rims have changed the world. They're getting closer to real drum feel all the time. Not only that, but the different strokes (rim shots, clicks, pings, etc.) have become a real possibility. 
  • The cymbals are, erm.....better. At least they're round, they're seated on a cymbal stand so they can move a little, and sticks bounce off of them. You also get bell, flat and edge sounds. 
  • The selection of sound samples has exploded, and the quality has improved immensely. You can choose the size, material, configuration, heads, tuning, atmospheric pressure (okay, made that up) and more. You have thousands of sound options at your fingertips, and they all sound great.
  • Volume control. Honestly, this should be the top of the list. Not only can you protect your hearing, you can play as hard as you like and not wake the baby - let alone the neighbors. Throw on the headphones, and you're a drumming hero that nobody can hear but you. 
  • Triggers, loops and other instrument samples have changed the role of the drummer. Simply put, you can be more than just the drummer. 
Like I said, you have to make your own choices. And when it comes to which brand or configuration to choose, well, that's a subject for another post. 

For now, check out the ol' Rabb-meister.


  1. I do a lot of project work on my e-kit. We use the real thing for final recordings, but the electronics are so quick and easy for just getting ideas and concepts down.

    1. I'm starting to do some of that myself. Thanks for the word!

  2. I love my V drums just for jamming. Not a serious pro, so I don't really care about all that other stuff. Just fun to jam with my ipod.


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