Buying Guide: Best Electronic Drum Set Models and Features
It’s taken awhile, but musical purists (and those snooty and elitist “highbrow musicians”) are finally starting to come around to the realization that modern electronic drums are almost – not quite, but almost – just as good as the “real thing” when it comes to sound quality, and had in shoulders above traditional drums when it comes to just about everything else.
Today, more so than at any point previously, musicians are turning to the best electronic drums on the market today to take care of their drum kit needs.
Instead of having to buy thousands and thousands of dollars worth of big and bulky drum components, they can pick up streamlined and simplified electronic drum sets that are head and shoulders above traditional setups (not to mention almost always ridiculously less expensive).
Now, obviously, you are always going to have to deal with that subset of musicians out there that just refuse to give up on the past, clinging to how things “used to be” and refusing to take advantage of all of the major leaps forward and innovations that technology has brought to the table.
Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to spot those kinds of people and avoid them without any real extra effort on your behalf whatsoever. They are either the ones in the corner of the venue that you’re playing out at, sitting there with their arms folded and scowling at you while everyone else is dancing and enjoying the music that you’re producing, or they are wearing a beret and browbeating you about how you sold out and are half the musician that anyone playing traditional drums must be.
The best thing you can do is avoid those people at all costs, smile and nod when you absolutely have to, and then rock out on your electronic drum set just the same as you would have if you never ran into them.
If you’re just looking to get started with an electric drum set, and aren’t really sure about how to begin, this quick guide is going to give you all of the insider information you need to pull the trigger on a high quality purchase.
Types and Models
It’s important for you to understand that there is a world of difference between high quality electronic drums and entry-level electronic drums – and the difference is pretty much night and day. In fact, you’d have to be at least a little bit crazy to move forward with an electronic drum set that wasn’t built for professional musicians, that’s how big of a discrepancy there is between the two levels.
At the same time, there are a couple of different types of drum sets out there that you’ll have to pick and choose from, including (but certainly not limited to):
- Entry-level “drum machines” that are as simple and as straightforward as it gets
- Drum pads that are a little bit more robust, but still pretty basic
- Foundational electronic drum kits that offer you a starting point to build your ultimate set of electronic drums
- Cymbal pads, triggers, mesh heads, and other drum modules that can all be added to that foundational electronic drum kit so that you can customize it to your heart’s content
For all intents and purposes here, however, you should probably think of electronic drums as those “starter” foundational electronic drum kits. These systems always include transducers (pads or triggers that you will actually play just like you would with real drums) and the trigger interface or music module – the computer responsible for producing the music that you are playing, pushing it through an amplifier or sound system, and actually creating the sound that you are looking for.
There are a lot of different manufacturers out there responsible for producing exactly these kinds of equipment, many of them representing some of the biggest names in the music world. In fact, Yamaha (manufacturers of some of the best electronic instruments on the face of the planet – including the best keyboards money can buy) manufactures some of the best foundational electronic drum kits around.
Remember, electronic drums have come a long way from the early days of the technology. In fact, it’s almost impossible to recognize an electronic drum from yesterday when stacked up against the newest models being produced right now – that’s how much of a difference there is between the two!
Features You Should Look for in Your New Set
There are going to be a couple of different things you’ll want to look for, features you’ll want to focus on, before you pull the trigger on your new electronic drum set.
First of all, you’ll want to make sure that it’s the kind of system that can grow with you as your interests in the musical realm (and your skill level) continues to grow.
You’ll need to make sure that you are getting your hands on an entry-level piece of equipment that fits your budget for sure, but you’re also going to want to make sure that your new electronic drum set is going to have the flexibility and adaptability you’re looking for so that it isn’t obsolete 12 months downline.
Secondly, you need to make sure that all of the transducers on your drum set are of the highest possible quality, and that they are as sensitive as they come. Unlike traditional drum heads, these electronic pads are going to have a little bit less feel (something that most musicians recognize immediately), which means they need to be incredibly sensitive to reproduce exactly the kinds of sound you’re looking to pump out.
Lesser brands just aren’t able to produce mesh heads or electronic pads that can go toe to toe with a traditional or acoustic drum set up. More advanced pieces of technology, however, will definitely be able to pump out the exact results you’re after.
Thirdly, you’ll want to make sure that your new drum set is ready to adapt to your sound system, your music production of equipment, and any of the other pieces of sound equipment you have on hand.
You don’t want to have to run out and buy a whole bunch of expensive sound equipment basis just because your new drum set isn’t going to “play nice” with the gear that you already have.
People have definitely done this in the past, so it can be done, but it’s just not recommended!
How to Choose the Right Set That Fits Your Style
There are a handful of different things you’ll need to focus on and really pay attention to when it comes time to buy the right electronic drums for your particular needs..
For one thing, you’re going to need to think about exactly the type of music that you want to produce in the first place. The beautiful thing about these electronic pieces of technology is that they can be programmed to produce just about any sound profile you can imagine, but you’ll still want to make sure that the unit you end up buying is going to be able to meet your expectations and handle the workload.
Secondly, you are going to want to decide on the format or form factor of your new drum set. Believe it or not, some of the newer drum sets out there are little more than a powerful computer hooked up to pressure sensitive pads that you play with your drumsticks just like the real deal – the kind of “instrument” that you can throw in your laptop back so that you always have the chance to make sweet music!
Finally, you need to make sure that your new electric setup feels like the real thing, especially if you have played the drums in the past. It’s going to be a little bit of a transition to go from a traditional drum set up to an electronic-based one, but it’s going to be a lot easier (and a lot more comfortable for you) if you end purchasing a setup that feels (and plays) like the real deal.
If you’ve been in the music world for any amount of time, you know that most people weren’t crazy with electronic drums and what they brought to the table.
However, in the past few decades that these pieces of musical equipment (these modern-day instruments, in fact) have been available, so much has changed – to the point where they are some of the best instruments out there.
You’d have to be at least a little bit crazy to ignore all of the special features, big benefits, and flexibility that the right electronic drum set provides. Really, all you have to focus on his purchasing the right equipment, learning all of the nuances that this new system requires, and then playing to your heart’s content.
The odds are pretty good that you’re going to fall in love with an electronic drum set just like so many others have, especially if you walk away with a high quality piece of equipment that really brings out all of your musical talents and skills.