The Electric Drum Sound
From the moment I first played electronic drums at the percussion section of my local music store I was hooked, and I barely new how to play drums then. But today, after many hours of practicing the acoustic drum set, my opinion is still the same, electronic drum sets are great.
Not to be confused with drum machines, electronic drums (also referred to as electric drums) are intended to simulate acoustic drums not only in sound, but also in how you play them. Good electronic drum kits live or die by the quality of the acoustic drum sounds they produce, but you can also choose to make them not sound like drums at all. One of the more amusing sounds of the Roland V Club electric drum set, for example, is a hip-hop kit, consisting of record scratches and sounds of people trying to sound like beat boxes. (I’m sure you know what I mean.)
How Do Drum Pads Simulate the Feel of a Real Drum
A typical drum pad for electronic drum sets is made of either a rubber or a mesh surface coupled with a trigger, whose function is to measure the vibrations inevitably created when the surface is struck, and translate them into electric signals. The rubber electronic drum pads feel like rubber practice pads, and the mesh pads are like strained rigid cloth, and feel closer to a real drum head. Some pads might have additional triggers, usually connected to the rim separately.
The mesh pad is a brilliant invention patented by Roland. You can think of a mesh pad as a drum head with holes in it. The holes prevent the vibrating drum head from creating large vibrations in air pressure. And since vibrations in air pressure are exactly what sound is, those pads keep the acoustic noise levels down. But, and here’s the brilliant part, they still feel almost like conventional drum heads.
The more advanced electric pads can sense the location they’ve been hit, and relay that in formation to the sound module that alters the sound accordingly. As you may know, acoustic drums sound differently depending on the distance from the center in which they’re struck, and this capability simulates that effect.
Cymbal pads are usually shaped like a real cymbal (or a slice of the cymbal) and are made of a rigid rubber coated material. The V Tour electric drum set has a nice dual trigger cymbals with a second trigger for the bell. They also have a sensor, that detects when you squeeze, or “choke”, them to stop the sound.
What Do You Get With Your Electric Drum Sets
A complete set of electric drums will typically come with four drum pads, one hi-hat pad, two cymbal pads, a hi-hat pedal, a sound module, and a bass trigger or pad. You will have to buy the bass drum pedal separately. The omission of the bass pedal might be a little annoying, but it also gives you the ability to get the bass pedal of your choice. Some electronic drum kits don’t include a sound module, and that’s also to give you the option of picking the module separately from the physical pads. But if you intend to buy a complete set, make sure it also includes the sound module.
Lets look at some top selling electric drum sets currently available:
Roland V Tour – A very popular entry level electronic drum set. This model is a successor to Roland’s popular V Club set. The sound module is easy to use, has large buttons, and includes a metronome. The cymbals are dual zone (dual trigger) with choke capabilities. The V Tour includes mesh pads greater realism.
Roland TD3S V Compact – Another entry level kit from Roland that’s very affordable. This electronic set is cheaper than the Roland V Tour, but still pretty good.
Roland V Stage – Another great electronic drum set from Roland. It’s a step up from the Roland V Tour drums, and includes four large mesh drum pads, a realistic hi-hat assembly, and a more advanced sound module. If you have more in your budget, get this one!
As you might tell, I’m quite found of the Roland kits. But that’s not to say that Roland is the only company that makes good e-drums. To see a more complete list of electronic kits, visit an online store.