Electronic drums have come a long way in the last two decades. Complaints of unrealistic sound and too mechanical a feel with electronic drums led manufacturers to design a whole new breed of electrics that not only sound like acoustic but look like them too.
Electronic drum sets come in a variety of sizes and styles. A basic set consists of the same components as an acoustic kit: cymbals, toms, a snare and a bass. The number and way they are configured depend upon the size of the kit.
If you’re used to playing nothing but acoustics, an electronic drum set might feel a little bit foreign at first. As already noted, electrics have come a long way, and today’s electronic drums feel much more like acoustics than those from 20 years ago.
Purchasing a quality brand, such as Roland drums’ electronic version, will ensure that you get a more "natural-feeling" set. This can help to make your transition from acoustic to electrics much easier.
Some drummers still balk at the thought of playing anything other than acoustic drums, even in cases where electronic drums might be more suitable. Drummers who have made the switch say that there are tremendous advantages to using them, some of which include these five:
- Easy volume control. It is extremely difficult to control the volume of an acoustic set, even with practice heads. Simply trying to tap more lightly to produce a quieter sound isn’t practical most of the time.
When it comes to using drums in a performance on a stage, the smaller the venue, the greater the chance that the drums will out-balance other instruments. Solutions like encasing the drummer and instrument in Plexiglas aren’t right for every situation, and doing so still only offers a limited amount of volume control.
Electronic drums, on the other hand, can plug directly into a sound system. The sound board operator can adjust the volume as needed according to the venue size for a perfectly balanced sound.
Volume control is advantageous during practice time, too. Instead of switching to mesh practice heads, you can simply plug headphones directly into your system. This way, you can have your volume as loud as you like without disturbing those around you.
- Ease of transport. Electronic drums are far less unwieldy than acoustics to disassemble, transport and reassemble at another venue. They are lighter and more compact. Unlike acoustics, they fit in most small to average-sized cars. Some models, such as Roland drums, are built with large, easy-turn screws for extra ease of disassembly/reassembly.
- Range of sounds and effects. Even basic electronic drum sets come with dozens of different sounds, samples and effects. Higher-end models may have several dozen or even hundreds. Many models, such as most Roland electronic drums sets, are capable of taking on extra, after-market effects packages. Players are able to experiment with numerous styles and effects this way.
You can also program your own sounds into your set. This includes more than just drum samples. Virtually any sound you can imagine can be programmed in and your drums become triggers for those sounds.
- MIDI capabilities. Players can expand their options even further by plugging into a computer’s MIDI jack. This allows a musician access to hundreds of MIDI files for use during practice.
- Suitable for smaller spaces. Acoustic drums take up a great deal of space and are often impractical for small homes and stages. Electronic drums are an ideal solution for those small areas. Not only do they take up less space, the volume can easily be adjusted to accommodate a small room.