Electronic drums are as important to many styles of music as are electric guitars. An electronic drum set produces unique percussion sounds, either synthesized or sampled, at the impact of a traditional drum stick.
While electronic drums aren’t for everyone (acoustical still has its place), they offer many distinct advantages that many musicians simply can’t pass up.
If you are already pretty well sold on investing in a quality electronic drum set, but you’re just not sure which one to buy – check out MusicAuthority’s buying guide for an in depth analysis of what’s on the market today and which sets might best fit your needs, wants, and budget.
For a look at the pros and cons of electronic drums as opposed to acoustic, read on!
Key Advantages of Electronic Drum Sets
The debate over which is best, electronic or acoustic, will probably never end – and we certainly don’t hope to settle that longstanding dispute in this article! What we do want to do is point out briefly what are the most important reasons that people who do buy electric drums, buy them. Here are the top 7 reasons:
1. Love of the sound
It’s always subjective to say which type of musical instrument “sounds better,” but many prefer the sound of electronic percussion. Those who use electric guitars and other electronic software and equipment in producing their music may feel that electronic drums simply “fit in” better.
2. Ability to Play Quieter
One major reason for using an electronic drum set is that you can adjust the volume quite easily for a softer play. This may be desirable for its musical effect or for the contrast with when you suddenly crank up the volume on the drums, but it’s often desired for practice sessions. You can even have “silent” practices where you hit the drum (making very little noise) while the electronic end of the equipment is turned off.
3. Sound Flexibility
Most electric drum kits include software (or it can be purchased separately) that allows the drums to simulate a wide variety of percussion styles. A simple adjustment of the settings can switch you from hard rock to jazz to classical to reggae. Electronic drums can mimic other instruments and sounds as well, such as pianos, gongs, police sirens, clapping.
4. Easy Portability
The fact is, electric drum sets are normally much lighter in weight and much easier to fold up, tear down, and transport than their acoustical counterparts. They are usually of more compact size and able to fit into smaller spaces as well – such as a small studio apartment room.
5. No Expensive Mike Needed
Acoustic drum sets generally need a complicated, expensive microphone set up to capture their sounds for high-quality recordings. But electric drums don’t. They are great for learning, practice runs, and compositions alike. The best electronic drums are fit for studio recording and live performance without a high-priced mike to accompany.
6. Great For Beginners
Electronic drum sets have a vast array of features and programs that are perfect for beginners and old pros alike. But it’s especially easier for those new to using drums in producing music to learn play along songs, samples, and instructional software that comes with these drum sets. The learning curve is a bit steeper for getting started with acoustic drums.
7. More Durable
Drumsticks and other instruments like mallets and vinyl brushes are used on drums repeatedly over the years, the drums can wear. But due to the rubber rims and hoops on most electronic drums, there is less chance of sticks contacting metal – which makes the drums last a little bit longer.
While electronic drum sets have many clear advantages, there are a few facts about them that some, at least, will see as potential drawbacks. You should be aware of these before making an investment. Here are the top 5:
1. Doesn’t Sound Like Acoustic
It’s not the purpose of electronic drums to simply mimic and reproduce the sound of acoustic drums electronically. Some people feel let down when this doesn’t happen.
2. May Cost More
Not always, but often, electronic drums can cost more than acoustic once you factor in all of the accompanying equipment, like a keyboard amplifier (if needed). But there is a big price range within the electric drums world, and you can get more or less complete kits that offer significant savings.
3. Non-interchangeable Parts
The drums, sensors, modules, and other parts from one electronic drum set may or may not be compatible with those from another brand or model. You have to check ahead for compatibility if that’s an issue for you.
4. Need For Amplification
Acoustic drums can be played in most places without any amplification and be clearly heard through the whole room or auditorium. But electrical drum sets will need some form of amplification (usually a keyboard amplifier) if used in gigs.
5. Government Regulations
Many times, if you go on tour with electronic drums, you have to worry about meeting specific regulations in order for the drums to be permitted on stage. Some countries will ask for paperwork on your set as you cross the border, and there’s a small risk that a venue will ask for a risk assessment before letting you play in their establishment.
Selecting Your Electronic Drum Set
If you find that the pros outweigh the cons for your purposes, and you start looking for a drum set to purchase, here are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself as you come to a final decision:
- Do I want a table-top unit or a full sized drum set on drum stands?
- Do I prefer built-in or removable triggers (sensors)?
- How much space can I devote to setting up my drums? How compact and portable should they be?
- Will the set be capable of playing quiet enough not to disturb neighbors?
- Do I want an out of the box kit or am I willing to buy kick pedals, hi-hat stands, headphones, drumsticks, and other accessories separately?
- Does the kit include any training apps and other help for beginners? What about advanced features that more experienced drummers will appreciate?
- Does the drum set model allow you to load your own customized samples into its module?
- Is the set put out by a highly respected manufacturer so you know you’re getting high quality and long durability?
Choosing whether to go with electronic or acoustic can be quite complex. It’s best to do your research and take some time to make sure you make a decision you’ll never regret. Reading this article was a good start!