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redbandit599

Electronic Drum Kits - any advice?

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Hi all

Our drummer is considering switching to an electronic kit. I can see quite a few advantages, he's a big unit and beasts the kit so volume can be a challenge.

He's looking at an Alesis DM10 or DM10x.

Anyone gig with a drummer who uses an e-kit, any thoughts? How do you amplify it? PA or seperate cabs etc?

We are a hard rock/classic metal sort of band.

Cheers

Jason

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If your bass is going through the PA, then he should do the same. If you're using your own rig, he could get his own rig. It really depends on how the PA & backline is spread & how much you want to spend.
The DM10 seems a rather good kit.

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The Junkyard Dogs uses a decent Roland V-Drums kit for gigs where volume is an issue, i.e. we use e-drums to play more quietly.

Our PA could easily cope with putting the e-drums through it but we prefer not to.

Instead, the drummer goes through a stand-alone StudioMaster PAX12, a powered wedge chiefly intended for on-stage foldback.

That means that he runs out of headroom far sooner than he would like (this is a good thing) and once he runs out of knobs to twist to 11 he simply can't get any louder.

Once he stops getting louder, so does the band.

Works for us ...

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Thanks both. We only put vox through the PA and run on backline, so a stand alone cab seems to be the easiest option.

Any drawbacks to an e-kit? I can't really think of any myself.

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Cheap ones are not very good. Hand muting a cymbal on most kits results in a double hit.

My band use an e-kit & an acoustic kit, but as we're an electronica band the e-kit has more advantages than the acoustic one.

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We alternate between using an acoustic kit and electonic. The electronic is great but everybody in the band needs to appreciate the differences in using one. We are all used to standing next to an acoustic drummer where you hear and feel the [s]noise[/s] ....er music they are making :rolleyes: . When you use an electronic kit the sound comes from a different direction / area and may not be as loud on stage as they are used to.

Ideally we have found that the drums are best coming through the FOH PA as this can handle the full range of frequencies. You will also need to feed some back through the monitors for the rest of the band. It doesnt need to be much but enough for good cues and level. If its too much you both defeat the advantage of reduced stage volume and are also working against the vocal foldback. The monitor mix can get mushy. For the drummers foldback we take an aux from the mixer to their headphones so he can hear the kit and vocals as loud as he wants :)

If the drummer is providing his own backline then it needs to be full range for a good sound. It also needs to be positioned behind him. If its to the side or infront he will think its too quiet and keep turning it up!!!! :o

If you can, get the full band set up in a decent size rehearsal room with the line up as if you are playing a gig. This will allow you to trial run all connections and level so that the sound coming out front is the sound you want it to be. Then when you do gigs it should only be little tweaks needed.

One thing we found was that the pre-set sounds that were great in a pair of headphones on their own didnt sound that good out front. Through the PA they became quite bass heavy and boomy. I set the PA up in band formation and got the drummer to tweak his sound module until the levels etc sounded good in a band context. Once I was happy I turned the PA speakers around so that he could then hear what would be going out front. When he heard the difference between what he got in his headphones against the PA sound he was back to being a happy bunny again :D

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[quote name='redbandit599' timestamp='1399895113' post='2448672']
Any drawbacks to an e-kit? I can't really think of any myself.
[/quote]

1. Drummers hate them.
2. They're much harder to fix when they go wrong. A couple of G-clamps and some gaffa tape simply won't work.
3. You can't use brushes, and mallets aren't good either.
4. Giving a drummer something with knobs, switches and functions can backfire ...

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having looked into them in some detail before i got my lad a second hand kit he can fit in his bedroom! The general concensus on drum forums is that only Roland and Yamaha make kits good enough to actually gig. But what would i know, I play bass!

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And Jobeky. And ddrum. And some others.

It's about what pads/drums/mesh heads/cymbals the drummer feels comfortable playing (the hi-hat particularly, in my experience, as it's the most technically challenging thing for edrums to replicate), and about where the drummer is comfortable getting sounds from. VST is so, so, so much better than the modules that come with kits, but you are open to computer failures, glitches, etc.

It depends on budget, technical know-how, whether a computer can be involved, whether you want them to look like real drums (Jobeky, for example) -- could the dummer play edrums but real cymbals? Is that a possibility? Etc.

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I play in a band that regularly uses a Roland V-drum kit.
It works for us, with all the caveats mentioned above.

It does seem though, depending on the musical genre and perhaps the venue too, some people are a bit 'sniffy' about e-drums. 'not very rock n' roll, are they mate' was heard in one pub.

Final plus point, I've never heard of anyone complaining of damaged hearing caused by standing next to e-drums.

Edited by Len_derby

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[quote name='redbandit599' timestamp='1399843616' post='2448336']
Hi all

Our drummer is considering switching to an electronic kit. I can see quite a few advantages, he's a big unit and beasts the kit so volume can be a challenge.

He's looking at an Alesis DM10 or DM10x.

Anyone gig with a drummer who uses an e-kit, any thoughts? How do you amplify it? PA or seperate cabs etc?

We are a hard rock/classic metal sort of band.

Cheers

Jason
[/quote]

Most kits will be physically thrashed to bits by heavy-handed drumming. The pads won't hold up, so if he's as bestial as you seem to suggest, build frequent pad replacement into the budget. Very expensive.How do I know this..? I've many drummer friends and acquaintances who try to give me their worn-out pads..! There are a couple of high-end kits that can stand (moderate...) abuse, but you're well above £2-3000. I'd give the DM10 about 3 months, the DM10X perhaps 6. Roland or Yamaha will last longer, sound better, but cost (much...) more.
Just my tuppence-worth...

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It's also easy enough to convert an old acoustic drumkit into an electronic kit, for practically no money, if you can stand a bit (but not much) of drilling, screwing and soldering. The trigger bits are just those cheap little round piezo things. My kit has mesh drum heads with a piece of yellow foam from a kitchen scourer jammed under the head, with the piezo under the foam. That's all that is required. The piezo is wired to a jack. The jack leads go to a trigger box (Alesis Trigger IO), and that goes USB into the computer.

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Thanks guys, some interesting points here. It's not so much that my mate is massively heavy handed but his a big fella with long levers! But the durability and issue re hand damping are worth highlighting.

Whilst I have your attention, and kind of related, have you or your drummers ever used those sticks made of nylon rods as another means of taking the volume down a touch? Any good?

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[quote name='redbandit599' timestamp='1399924232' post='2449074']...ever used those sticks made of nylon rods as another means of taking the volume down a touch? Any good?[/quote]

Drummers have a lot of techniques for keeping the volume down, including (but not only...) rods and brushes. Mainly, though they are a choice for the different sound they give. If it's solely a volume problem, a good teacher will be of more benefit. Rods are good (very good, indeed...) but that's not really attacking the right problem. Good drummers can also play most styles with sticks at most volumes.
Hope this helps...

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I love E kits. When drummy gets the urge to para diddle all over the rehearsals I can just turn him off.
They do look sh*t though.

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If your drummer is happy to give it a try then he's a keeper. just like a guitarist who is flexible.

My experience is that it is a very mixed blessing. Cutting down the stage volume cures all sorts of issues about balance and feedback. Having a single lead for the drums and a fully mixed sound to the audience is fantastic, suddenly we were consistently being complimented for our sound. Set up and knock down times tumble too.It's also great to have space in the smaller venues.

The downside, as has been hinted, is monitoring. Drums are unidirectional and no-one is ever struggling to pick up the rhythm or the cues. All speakers are directional and if you aren't in the path of a monitor you can't hear the drums. We did one gig on a bigger stage and this became a real issue. You've got to plan how each band member is going to hear the drums. we'd done two gigs without problems when this one bit us in the bum. Believe me it's hard to keep the band tight when the bassist can't hear the drums.

the other down-side is that the kits have at least a hundred sounds, Only one or two are any good, you really want a kit to sound like akit not special effects from the latest sci-fi film. Don't let drummists have knobs to twiddle.

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[quote name='Phil Starr' timestamp='1400049994' post='2450124']
Drums are unidirectional ...
[/quote]

I'm guessing that was supposed to be "omnidirectional"?

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[quote name='Happy Jack' timestamp='1400065122' post='2450323']
I'm guessing that was supposed to be "omnidirectional"?
[/quote]oops

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[quote name='Phil Starr' timestamp='1400049994' post='2450124']...The downside, as has been hinted, is monitoring...[/quote]

Absolutely right. The 'ideal' would be tailored iem for all, but that's not a cheap solution. Good foldback is essential.

[quote name='Phil Starr' timestamp='1400049994' post='2450124']...the other down-side is that the kits have at least a hundred sounds, Only one or two are any good...[/quote]

Can't agree here (depending on repertoire...). Many styles of music have very different drum sounds (reggae, Americana, Brit-Pop, Phil Spector; the list is very long...). In the same way as one chooses one's bass tone to suite the piece, having the luxury of changing snares and cymbals at the flick of a switch is a boon for the discerning drummer. Abuse of gadgets is abuse, whoever the 'musician', but the potential to match the sound to the genre is a great advantage. It becomes possible to reproduce 'live' without wheeling on a different kit for each number. Very useful, imo.

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Thanks all for your input. We had a practice last night and my drummer tried out some of those birch dowel rod sticks. They worked really well for him (and us) in just taking the volume down a bit (well, they were cheap ones and started to fall apart but he's now on the hunt for better examples.)

I think we'll try this for a bit for rehearsal (our singer is pregnant so we don't want to pummel her little passenger), great to have all the insight into e kits though, should he decide to go down this route we'll be well informed. Thanks again!

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If the only reason to get e-drums is because he's too loud then he'd be better off sticking with "real" drums and learning to play quieter. It seems very common for drummers to only have two volumes---"off" and "bloody hell do you have to hit it that hard?".

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IME all the space-saving advantages of having an electronic kit are negated by the amount of extra amps and speakers required to get a decent sound and feel both FoH and on stage.

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[quote name='uncle psychosis' timestamp='1400670886' post='2455934']
If the only reason to get e-drums is because he's too loud then he'd be better off sticking with "real" drums and learning to play quieter. It seems very common for drummers to only have two volumes---"off" and "bloody hell do you have to hit it that hard?".
[/quote]

+1 to this ^ (... [i]and the answer to the question is, of course, "No, you don't..!"[/i]...)

If the lad is busting up a set of rods in 1 practice session, there's scope for drum technique lessons from a decent teacher, or a promising career as a lumberjack in the Canadian North. :mellow:

Edit: Here's a tougher model that sound good, but it ain't the solution to his attitude; that needs fixing more than the sticks...

[url="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004749F7O/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_3?pf_rd_p=479289247&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B0046ZG6VW&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_r=1H44W3Z05NT7B2DPV1B1"]Nylon rods for rock...[/url]

Edited by Dad3353

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Cheers guys, to be fair to my mate his attitude is pretty spot on really, he's being proactive and has a few different types of rods for trial tonight including a set of the nylon ones. The ones he had initially fell apart more than broke really, the rods slipped out of the heat shrink handle. He hasn't broken a stick in years (thrown a good number at me though...)

I think we are getting there, and probably without the e-kit route coming in to play. :)

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