e-drums are to acoustic drums what a Strat is to a Martin D-45 or a synth is to a baby grand. E-drums and a-drums are two different beasts designed to do basically the same thing but in different ways with differing advantages and tradeoffs.
I started off in the 70s playing a Gretsch birch rock kit. I expanded it. Then got Roto-toms. Then I got into electronics, first with a Simmons SDS7 analog/digital, then some custom stuff I designed, then MIDI hit. I started using the Roland line, first with rubber pads and a TD7 module, later with a TD20 and custom made mesh pads. Presently I'm looking to get back to acoustics. Here are a few thoughts from 40 or so years of drumming...
The disadvantages of e-drums are:
1. They tend to have a more narrow tonal and dynamic range than acoustics. In other words, they're not as responsive (although the higher end kits are much better in this regard than the entry level kits). For many people this is not a huge issue, especially if you're using a lot of compression on your records or PA. If you're sloppy with set-up or have a cheap module, eliminating false triggering will further erode the dynamic range.
2. Off the shelf look rather like toys. Lots of plastic. This can be an issue if you're the sort of person who is testosterone driven and needs to have their "manhood" validated by appropriately sized inanimate objects. This is not an issue if you're not playing out with the kit. Also, there is a way around this and you can save money in the process. A popular DIY trick among e-drummers is the "stealth" kit. Basically, you buy a basic acoustic kit that looks nice and some cheap cymbals. Then you replace the heads with mesh heads and add triggers. To the cymbals, you add some clear sheet vinyl underneath to damp the sound and add triggers. You get a kit that appears to be a normal acoustic but it requires no mics. And of course, good mics are not cheap so you can save a lot there also. www.vdrums.com
is a great resource for DIY stuff.
The advantages of e-drums are:
1. Obviously, they are very quiet! You actually have a volume control
2. You can completely change kits by turning a knob. One minute you're playing a maple jazz kit, the next minute a birch rock kit, then a kit using all Roto-toms, then a kit made up of various ethnic instruments. And they never go out of tune.
3. Recording (and PA) is easy: No mics, just plug in and go.
4. If you don't make a stealth kit, they are small, light and easy to transport.
5. Because the sound of the drum has nothing to do with the physical size of the trigger, you have greater kit placement choices.
I posted a detailed blog entry about my drum gear journey a few years back here
. I hope you find it interesting reading.