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Wanting to get into e-drumming please help!

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  • Wanting to get into e-drumming please help!

    Background Information:

    I'll try to keep this short but I'll start by saying I have liked the sound and versatility of electronic drums for quite some time, but never really had a reason to use them. I've been playing acoustics for about 12 years.

    I am finally starting a new band and really want some retro-type sounds (like the 80's song "Always Something There to Remind Me" or Def Leppard's Hysteria album). I would also like to have some really fast double bass that cuts through the music, but still want to avoid that card-board clicky sound so prevalent with triggers (Perhaps it's the equalizer setting death metal drummers use?).

    Furthermore, I am playing in an 80's metal tribute at a club every saturday. We play 80's metal like Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, Guns N Roses, Etc... There's been some complaints at the club that the drums are too loud, especially because the club was not originally built to handle concerts... it's more of a typical dance club. I'm used to playing very hard, and have softened my playing considerably. However, it is still too loud. I have been entertaining the idea of either switching to an electronic kit or stuffing my drums full of padding and triggering them, to get a similar effect. I would also like the ability to sample sound bits during our show and to get sounds like the "reverse snare" popular in the 80's.

    As far as I see it, there are about 5 options for me when it comes to electronic drums:

    1) Buy an electronic kit, keep it completely separate from acoustics
    2) Trigger my acoustic set
    3) Buy an electronic kit, use the module for both the electronic and acoustic kit (with triggers)
    4) Buy a few electronic pads to use on my acoustic kit, plus a modulator (similar to danny carey?)
    5) Convert my extra acoustic into an electric

    So here's what I understand (and don't understand) about each option

    Electronic Kits:

    The first option for me it seems would be to buy an electronic kit. I don't really know where to start, but I've played on them at guitar center for years. I know the high end Roland kit costs about $6000 and has the mesh heads. I don't think I need anything that fancy, because I already have 2 acoustic kits. However, I want something that I could use for semi-professional recordings if need be. Please let me know what to look for and what to avoid. Keep in mind I have been drumming for 12 years and have recorded professionally. However, budget definitely is an issue. I assume the TD-3 might not be good enough for what I'm looking for? Even the price of the TD-9 scares me but I'd wait a few months to buy it if worth the extra $.


    I understand the issues with triggers that people have, and I would like to say I've spent years building up my double bass power and have no intention of losing it. However, the ease and possibilities of triggers really appeals to me. As most of you know, sound guys at small clubs are often terrible... if the club even decides to provide one.

    I am a little bit in the dark about triggers. As I understand (correct me if I'm wrong), a small sensor is placed on top of or below the drum head, that 'triggers' a sound when it is vibrated by the stick hitting the drum head. The sound is triggered from a module that has the sounds programmed individually for each drum head. So if you wanted to, you could get the snare to sound like a bass drum or a chicken or sam kinison or whatever. Obviously, the ACTUAL sound of the snare is still there, but the trigger just plays on top of the acoustic sound.

    So in theory, I could quiet my drums down with various muffling and would have in essence an 'electronic' kit that looked like an acoustic? If I were to buy an electronic kit, would I be able to use the same module that came with the electronic kit for my acoustic 'triggered' kit? Or are they two separate entities and need to be purchased separately?

    Also with modulators, are they programmable in the sense that I can input my own sounds into them? for instance if I wanted to hit my snare and have it sound like a recording of my dog barking or something could i do that? If so, how would I go about doing it?

    Hybrid Kit:

    How would I go about adding a few electronic 'pads' to an acoustic kit? my understanding is that I'd need a module plugged into the pads, which would program their sound accordingly. I would need some sort of mounting hardware to incorporate them with my drumset.

    General Questions:

    Are electonic drums changeable mid song? For instance what if I want my snare to sound like a piccolo for most of a song, but at the bridge I want it to sound like a drum corp snare?

    What do I need in a module? I am not overly concerned with dynamics as I am not trying to hide the fact that I am triggering electronic sounds.

    Can I both mic and trigger the drums? It seems like a good option for the bass drums, as very fast sections will rely mostly on the triggers and will sound clear, where slower sections the mic will pick up alot of boominess and sound big. Is this within reason? I'm in a difficult position because I like a lot of very fast metal, where drummers sometimes play 20" kick drums... but I'm also a huge arena rock fan, where drummers can play 30" kick drums sometimes. I'd like to find a way for my drums to sound epic at some parts and quick and responsive at others. The drummer from Arch Enemy seems to accomplish this and I know he uses triggers.

    I have seen several places that some modules can have .wav files downloaded to them, but I have also seen posts that say Roland modules cannot have user sounds put on them. How does a recording of my dog barking for instance differ from the VExpression packs sold online?

    Is it easy to have your own e-kit that sounds unique? or are all of you easily able to identify a recording when a drummer has used an e-kit on the recording and know what samples they used?

    What about adding extra toms? If you were to add a tom and wanted it to sound like a 10" tom for example, would the kits included with the module be able to have this? or are all of them set up for the standard 12" 13" 16" acoustic kit? This is important because I like larger kits.

    Sorry bout all the questions I'm sure some have been asked a million times but I went through ten pages here and am still not clear on everything. Thank you all so much for reading... and answering.

  • #2
    Wow - a lot of questions. I will take a stab at a few of them - in no particular order.

    You can change kits mid song, but sometimes the effects will hiccup. Switching from reverb to echo, or whatever, can be tricky. What is neat with eDrums is you could program the rim to play a piccolo and the head to play the drum corps snare and not worry about switching.

    You can trigger and mic at the same time, but it seems like waste. Usually, you would put mesh heads on your drums so they are silent and use the module to make the sounds. You can easily program boomy kicks or tight kicks, or anything between.

    The TD-9 module allows you to import wav files. But only to play back as a song. The Yamaha DTXtreme modules allow you to upload your own samples. The VEx packs are just patches made with the onboard sounds. They add nothing new to your module, they just do a really good job programming them.

    Simply tweaking and tuning a kit will give you a pretty unique sound. How many drummers use Tama drums and sound different.

    You can set your toms and cymbals to be almost any size. Ever want to play a 40" ride? You can do that. You want a 2" tom - you can get that sound too.

    I gotta go - but I will try to chime in again tomorrow.


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply Michael, please add more when you have time. It seems weird that you can't add your own sounds for the pads... is consumer demand not very big for that? I guess if you can program your drums to sound like any almost kit out there, it wouldn't be. My only concern is that one of the e-drumkits I want the most is the sound of the classic synth-drums heard so much in the 80's. Even casio keyboards have them, but I couldn't find the kit on the TD-9 at guitar center. I also would like some string instrument sounds or something like that but it's not 100% necessary.

      So what's the point of uploading your own songs on to the module? I like the idea of being able to play short sound effects or intro tracks to shows. Also maybe a backing track to aid with background vocals or something similar. Would I be able to accomplish that?

      I've heard from several die hard roland fans so far that it's all they want to play... so I might want to stick to that based on so many recommendations.

      Most importantly....

      I have an extra drumset that I could put mesh pads on and trigger. Since I already have that at my disposal, would that be better than buying the TD-9 kit? I don't want to buy one more expensive than that unless its REALLY REALLY worth it...

      How many of you use electronic drums with acoustic cymbals? I'd hate to have a few thousand worth of cymbals lying around.

      Sorry for asking so many questions but it's really helpful and hard to find people as into E-drums as on this forum. I hadn't even heard the term E-drums until 2 days ago.


      • #4
        Hi Jack,

        You do indeed have a lot of questions - but it's a good way to start rather than buying something you won't be happy with.

        As a guide, if you buy a full e-kit you will get the package cheaper than if you buy the components invidually, but you may end up with a few components that you don't want....but this is no different to building an a-kit...

        I support all the advice that Michael has responded with.

        One of the best things about e-drums is the number of kits you can have available at the push of a button (or press of a floorswitch). If you want 2 slightly different kits (e.g. one with reverb / one with delay) you can create the first kit, copy it to the next patch and tweak it a bit then switch between the two with a floorswitch or button press.

        If you want more / different sounds to those in the module you can add a sampler and MIDI map to the sounds you want or use a PC and one of the s/w kit systems such as BFD.

        You can use your 2nd kit with mesh heads and triggers, but I'd suggest replacing it with a mesh head e-kit instead to get the best response and have a lighter/smaller kit to lug.

        Welcome to the forum btw


        • #5
          Originally posted by Jack Hammer View Post
          My only concern is that one of the e-drumkits I want the most is the sound of the classic synth-drums heard so much in the 80's. Even casio keyboards have them, but I couldn't find the kit on the TD-9 at guitar center.
          Just to give you a demo of some of the electronic drum sounds on the TD-9, I have recorded a few and put into one mp3 on supload.com:
          TD-9 electronics sample
          I just used the quick record feature an switched through the different kits. The last one on the recording is a little different, it is a dance kit that I made.
          Please forgive the bass drum, it does a little double-hitting...haven't got around to tweaking the triggering.
          Last edited by Colquhoun; 06-02-08, 01:13 AM.


          • #6
            Thanks Colquhoun, that sounds about what I'm looking for. I went through the 50 different kits at guitar center and couldn't really find em but maybe I didn't look hard enough, i was in a hurry.

            Do any of you use your modules to trigger acoustic kits? what are the disadvantages of triggering an acoustic kit with external triggers versus a full conversion to an e-kit?


            • #7
              Originally posted by Jack Hammer View Post
              I have an extra drumset that I could put mesh pads on and trigger. Since I already have that at my disposal, would that be better than buying the TD-9 kit? I don't want to buy one more expensive than that unless its REALLY REALLY worth it...

              How many of you use electronic drums with acoustic cymbals? I'd hate to have a few thousand worth of cymbals lying around.
              It doesn't appear that you're overly concerned with the noise reduction properties of e-drums, so using acoustic cymbals would be perfectly logical. And triggering (or converting) your acoustics would definately be a cheaper way to go depending on your DIY skills. You'll definately find all the information you need here in these forums. That would be my choice if I were you, just pick up a module on e-bay.

              Originally posted by Jack Hammer View Post
              Do any of you use your modules to trigger acoustic kits? what are the disadvantages of triggering an acoustic kit with external triggers versus a full conversion to an e-kit?
              There are lots here who have done it both ways, and personally I see only advantages. From a visual perspective, stealth e-drums will alleviate any audience prejudice, and if the need arises changing back to full acoustic would be a snap. Plus you have the ability to change how your kit sounds at any time through prests on the module, which is the biggest advantage of all with e-drums...

              FWIW, the reason I got an e-set was to play along with my favorite songs incl. Def Leppard (Photograph is my all-time favorite), and I've been able to get my TD-3 to mimic the sounds really well. I haven't tried much of the synth-pop type of stuff, but I'm certain that with the right module, if you can think of it, there is a way to accomplish it.

              Sabre's Album


              • #8
                I'm thinking I might just go ahead and get an e-kit and use the module to trigger my acoustic kit. that way I'd get 2 drumsets in one... and I could add stuff as necessary. Although I might rather get everything done then get the e-kit later...

                How much does it cost to get a TD3 or TD9 kit minus the module? does it end up costing a lot more in the end?

                Does the acoustic sound of a drumset interfere with the triggered sound? I know it obviously would if I were to make the sounds completely different, but if I set a 12" tom to sound like a 12" tom, would it sound weird with a regular head versus a mesh head? I ask this because I like the idea of being able to play my drumset without having to rely on electricity and amplification.

                Do most of you hook your e-drums to the house P.A. when playing shows? or do most venues expect you to have your own amplification? That's another bullet I'd rather not bite.

                Sabre: What did you do to get the 'photograph' sound? I play that song live about every week.

                THank you all so far


                • #9
                  More and more questions and never enough time to answer them all.

                  To buy the pads without the module, you have to buy them piece by piece. There is no Module-less kit. And that can start to add up. It is usually cheaper to get it all together.

                  Playing an acoustic head while triggering is definitely going to sound like two drum sets playing together. For bigger and/or louder venues, this is not an issue. No one will hear your kit but you (and maybe the closer band members). In a smaller and/or quieter situation it would be a problem. That is why people use mesh heads. Or you could stuff the toms full of foam or another dampening material.

                  When playing in a decent venue, my eDrums go through the PA and back through the monitors. But for smaller gigs, I bring my own self-powered speakers. Some gigs that is my only sound source.


                  • #10
                    So I think it's pretty much come down to a choice between converting my extra kit to an electric or buying an entire e-kit... but I think I might do both... that way I'd have 2 because I leave one at the venue I play every week.

                    Do you guys prefer playing on converted kits or full e-kits? I was thinking I might convert a few toms but have an electric kick pad to save space. Not sure what to do about cymbals yet. most likely I'd dampen them and leave em acoustic for live shows.

                    There's at least one more thing I'm concerned about:

                    How many different sounds can you get from a module at one time? My extra drumset lying around is a 10 piece, and it would be awesome to get a different sound for 6 or 7 different toms plus a snare, bass drums, and maybe something else. Can the TD-9 only accommodate one extra cymbal and one extra tom? If so, what modules can do more? is it possible to hook up 2 different modules (like a TD-3 & TD-9 for example).

                    If I were to trigger 2 kick drums, would they take up 2 different spots on the module, or could I combine them into one? having 2 kicks on stage is important to me most of the time.


                    • #11
                      I don't gig, I have limited room, and playing quietly is a big component for me.

                      I enjoyed playing the stock kit with rubber pads when I first got it, but converting acoustic toms seemed easy enough, and I enjoy playing it more now with 10" & 12" converted toms with mesh heads. If I had the room, I would LOVE to have an entire triggered acoustic kit, and wouldn't hesitate to undertake that project.

                      In your case, as a gigging musician, I would suggest nothing less than a TD-20 module. The TD-9 would not give you enough inputs for what you need to accomplish, and while you can piggyback modules to achieve more inputs, I think everyone would agree that the TD-20 module is the professionals choice for a starting point.

                      Some modules have over 1000 percussion sounds available, but the TD-20 gives you the ultimate control in the stock module sounds. In addition to that there are add on sound packs available that expand the possibities nearly endlessly. A TD-20 with VEX packs would be my suggestion.

                      Double kicks can be controlled through a single module input with the use of a splitter, but will obviously both have the same sound.

                      This is fun! You are asking some very interesting questions...

                      Sabre's Album


                      • #12
                        Haha thanks! I was first looking to get a kit around $600, then I was thinking I'd splurge on a TD-3. Now you're making me think about a TD-20! That's really scary I don't know if I can do that. For a live show I'd probably want to trigger at most 4 toms, 2 pads, 2 kicks, and a snare. If I can do that with a TD-9 I'll probably get it. Worst comes to worst I could just trigger the kicks, snare, and 2 pads.

                        Can you assign the hi-hat input to sound like a snare, kick drum, etc? I know Def Leppard's drummer did this cause he was missing an arm. It seems like the technology is there and it would be stupid if they didnt... but it's worth asking.

                        After this I think I'll consolidate any remaining questions into one reply to make it easier, then it should be go time!

                        I guess I can always take advantage of guitar center's return policy if need be.


                        • #13
                          I paid $600 for my gently used TD-3 kit with Axis pedal and Dixon throne. It sounded to me like you might think of triggering an acoustic set, and it also looked like you wanted lots of inputs, thats why I suggested the TD-20 module. You could buy just the TD-9 module and trigger your spare acoustic set for somewhere in the neighborhood of $1000 I'd wager. That said, you can most definately achieve more inputs if needed by piggy-backing modules, or by using a TMC-6.

                          It's been my experience that you can assign any sound to any pad.

                          TD-9 Percussion Sound Module inputs:
                          (Kick, Snare, Tom 1, Tom 2, Tom 3, Hi-Hat, Crash 1, Ride, Ride Bell, Hi-Hat Control), Extra Trigger Input Jacks: 2 (CRASH2, AUX)
                          Split the kick input or use a double pedal, and it looks like it should do the trick!

                          Sabre's Album


                          • #14
                            The TD-9 has two aux inputs, so doing what you want shouldn't be a problem. You can assign any pad any sound.

                            As far as pads versus converting a kit, it all depends on how good the conversion is. I have never had a problem pulling a Roland pad out of the box and playinging it. They trigger really well. (Except the CY-15 - which needed a shim) I have had troubles getting an a-to-e conversion just right. But guys like Jman do an impeccable job. Search for the DIY kits Jman and others have done to get an idea of the effort involved.


                            • #15
                              If money is an issue you could always purchase a Roland TD-8 module from ebay and covert your A drums to E's. Use your acoustic cymbals or purchase some e cymbals. The going price is about $500.00 for the module. I am currently using one. I have 3 electronic cymbals , and a hi hat, also electronic , 4 toms, a snare and bass drum. I still have 2 inputs I havent used yet. So you can have a nice size kit.
                              Plus you can add "v expressions" to the module, which models many different popular drummers sounds. Check it out.http://www.vexpressionsltd.com/
                              Which has alot of great reviews.

                              Good luck.
                              Roland TD-8 Mod, DIY burgandy Mapex drums 12" snare, 8" 10" and 12" rack toms, 14" rack floor tom, 22" Bass drum , 3 cy-15r cymbals, one for the ride 2 for the crashes and cy-14c for hi hat.

                              Songs i've recorded using my old TD-7

                              My drum kit