THE DANGERS OF GOING FROM ACOUSTIC TO ELECTRONIC DRUMS

Joe Morris

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
What made me think of this thread is another one that is posted here about the best dampening for drums. You know to keep them quiet if you live in an apartment or something. Plenty of people were saying just go to an electronic kit for practice. Well I know I have had an experience that I will share with you later but I am wondering exactly what the post says.

What do you think the dangers are? Especially playing wise. The sound differences are obvious and of course they make some killer sounds for drums. I am talking about the playing difference. Let me know what you think and then I will throw my 2 cents in.


Joe
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
You bring up a good point but I think it's one of those "in one ear and out the other" kind of conversations. People ask if it's a good idea and end up doing it anyway even after those of us who actually owned them and played them give their two cents. Part of me wonders why people even ask.

I was one of those people who owned the state-of-the-art (at the time) Roland TD-10 V-Drum kit, after already spending 30+ years learning how to play acoustic drums, and then jumping on the MIDI/electronic bandwagon back in the '80s (Octapads, then the Zendrum), and I don't care what anyone says, an eKit is not the same as an aKit. There's a certain technique you learn on acoustic drums that you cannot duplicate with electronic pads. And the Roland at the time was the one that could get the closest, and now looking back on it, I don't think it lived up to its expectations. The dynamic range will never match that of an acoustic drum, and the feel will definitely never match. The other point I liked to make is that after you've invested in an eKit, you could have bought a nice aKit and a small PA with mics if you're concerned about being louder in a band situation!

You can play an eKit if you want, just learn how to play and make pleasing sounds on an aKit first.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Agree with Bo, I find it better to practice on pads than on e-kits. They also have the advantage of being cheap, they take up less space and there's no mucking around with electricals. As Bo said, decent ones cost the earth new so you might as well buy a real kit. The cheap ones are awful and will mess with your technique (I know through experience). A good Roland or Yamaha second-hand is one option but I still prefer practice pads.

Pads are not exciting but they do one thing that e-kits don't - they give you a true reward (or punishment) for your efforts. No wallpapering. Triggers can be sensitive but they are still crude when compared with the subtlety of an acoustic response.

Practice pads + imagination = a good practice tool. Of course, a regular kit is best but, as an apartment-dweller, that's not possible.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Agree with Bo, I find it better to practice on pads than on e-kits. They also have the advantage of being cheap, they take up less space and there's no mucking around with electricals. As Bo said, decent ones cost the earth new so you might as well buy a real kit. The cheap ones are awful and will mess with your technique (I know through experience). A good Roland or Yamaha second-hand is one option but I still prefer practice pads.

Pads are not exciting but they do one thing that e-kits don't - they give you a true reward (or punishment) for your efforts. No wallpapering. Triggers can be sensitive but they are still crude when compared with the subtlety of an acoustic response.

Practice pads + imagination = a good practice tool. Of course, a regular kit is best but, as an apartment-dweller, that's not possible.
And you know, I've talked so much here about getting a cheap acoustic kit and putting mesh heads on them. They really are much quieter than an eKit with hard pads. Nobody ever listens to this drummer.... ;)
 

?uesto

Silver Member
I just moved into my apartment, and I have my DW Practice kit in my room, and my drums in the living room. For the drums, I just have t-shirts and towels, and then a ball of socks over my bass drum beater. I'm yet to receive a single complaint. They feel awkward, but you can still get a tone out of the drums, and not move anything, buy anything, and most importantly, buy anything. You don't have to buy anything.

Electronic Kits have their place, and I guess apartment living is one of them, but it also depends on what you want to/are willing to do with them. I have a friend who records, so they're great in his place for doing simple loops and stuff. But we jammed one day, and they did not deliver.

It's also important to note, that unless you're spending $1,500 on electronic drums, they will fall apart on you. Some will last longer than others, but Yamaha and Roland kits in that price range are the only things worth dropping dough on.
 

last man to bat

Senior Member
I've thought about this too. I have an eKit in my house as my studio is about 5 miles away and I use this kit for practice, but short of the mechanics of my limbs moving it falls far short of an acoustic kit.

Pros:
I can work out fills and transition parts for the band.
I can practice co-ordination exercises - swing - latin etc.
I can practice at night
User friendly click track
It's compact

Cons:
The feel - sticks come of the the eKit in a completely different way to an acoustic
Dynamic range isn't there (as Bo said)
Nailing some things on an ekit need to be nailed all over again on an acoustic.
The obvious sound differences - an acoustic snare/ride/hats etc. have so many different voices that an ekit just cannot reproduce, so when practicing all the subtleties get lost.
The ekit made my doubles very lazy so when I came to playing the acoustic the doubles just didn't happen.

So I really found that the problem was relying on the ekit for too much. The ekit and I have a much better relationship these days :)
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
And you know, I've talked so much here about getting a cheap acoustic kit and putting mesh heads on them. They really are much quieter than an eKit with hard pads. Nobody ever listens to this drummer.... ;)
Ah, get over yourself Bo, lol! But dammit, you're right. Best suggestion/focus of the thread.

I'd like to add an observation. For me, it's not just the feel aspect of the pads that dictate the sticking & general playing response, it's also the sound. I recently played a Jobecky electro/acoustic kit. Although the head response is pretty much identical to an acoustic kit, I found the sounds, & especially the extraction of tone & timbre differences, steered my playing in a way I didn't like. From a practice pov, that wouldn't help in translating the newly acquired skill to an acoustic kit.
 

Mark_S

Silver Member
I was also one of those who brought an eKit a long time back probably around 2004. I went way overboard - I wanted the most acoustic kit feel and sound wise I could, so I spent over £3000 (around $5000 I think) on a Hart Dynamic Pro 6.4 with a DDrum4 SE brain and Roland TD-6 brain. I had these grand ideas about being able to practise all the time at all hours...

I was all excited at first of course so I set about setting it all up. It took ages to get the heavy steel rack together (why I didn't go with the aluminium is beyond me), but slowly it took shape until I had it all together and it looked pretty good.

Next came setting it up.. that was a bit of a pain, especially trying to get a decent rim click without triggering the main snare sound and vice versa.

I quickly noticed that it was still fairly noisy even with the mesh heads, but still an awful lot quieter than an aKit, so no worries there.

To cut a long story short, it didn't take me long to realise it just was not the same as an aKit. Whenever I went to reherse with the band I had to re-adjust to playing an aKit in so many ways, though it's hard to describe what the actual difference is.. basically the touch and the feel. Hitting metal cymbals is never going to be the same as hitting plastic or rubber ones.

Eventually the novelty wore off with the eKit and I wish I had spent the money on sound proofing a room instead or something. It did work well for a while when we started having band rehearsals at the house instead, but after that stopped it got packed away for years until I eventually got round to selling it. I don't miss it, only some of the good times I had here with the band coming round because I'm overly nostalgic ;-)

I'm fortunate that I've managed to partially soundproof the small box room on the side of the house that has no ajoining neighbours and not much sound leaks out onto the street. I'd advise anyone to try a similar route first before going for the eKit - it turned out to be a hell of a lot cheaper in my case.

Admittedly I think they've come on a bit since I had one, but I still stand by what I said. They are fine for what they are and can be fun, but IMHO I just don't think it can replace an aKit.
 

MattA

Senior Member
I don't know that anyone thinks that e-kits can exactly replicate a-kits. What I do like about them though is how I can use them in conjunction with my a-kit. An a-kit is what I jam and gig with but in my living situation, an a-kit is not an option for practice. I do use a practice pad as well, but if I can't have an a-kit to practice with, my e-kit does really well for what I need it for. I need and use it to learn and solidly practice my drum parts before jamming/gigging. I'm prepared to sacrifice the difference in feel to be able to feel confident with what I'm playing.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
My experience has been that I lost feeling for an acoustic kit after playing an e-kit.
You don't have to "Pull Sounds" out of an e-kit like you do on an acoustic kit.
Dynamics are also much different on the e-kit.
It wasn't a night and day thing but I noticed it every time that I went back to my acoustic kit after extended play on an e-kit.
I eventually sold my e-kit.

I wouldn't go as far as to call playing e-drums a "danger"
It is more of a slight adjustment factor.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
My experience has been that I lost feeling for an acoustic kit after playing an e-kit.
You don't have to "Pull Sounds" out of an e-kit like you do on an acoustic kit.
Dynamics are also much different on the e-kit.
It wasn't a night and day thing but I noticed it every time that I went back to my acoustic kit after extended play on an e-kit.
I eventually sold my e-kit.

I wouldn't go as far as to call playing e-drums a "danger"
It is more of a slight adjustment factor.
Exactly. In the end I played the e-kit with sound off so I knew what I was really doing, not what the triggers thought I was doing. But the pads on it were inferior to regular practice pads and the thing took up too much space in my living room.
 

macr0w

Member
I use to have a TD-8 Roland set.

They were "fun" to play for a while but I would end up packing them away and sticking to my acoustic set.

Then after a while I would pull them back out and play them for a while and think "well these are fun to play".

Then I would get frustrated with the response and the feel and pack them away again.

I ended up selling them on my local CL.
 

last man to bat

Senior Member
Exactly. In the end I played the e-kit with sound off so I knew what I was really doing, not what the triggers thought I was doing.
I end up doing this too Polly, but I fool myself thinking that something sounds good on just pads but when the kit is switched on it doesn't interpret so well, if you get my meaning.
 

Bertram

Silver Member
Last Year one of the music-teachers of the school wanted me to play some songs between breaks in a play. They have an e-kit because none of them can tune drums, and they're easier to move around. It's no big expensive kit, it's a Roland for about 700$. I can see the benefits of having those when playing such musicals and so on. There's no need for mics, only large speakers and a mixer.

I thought i wanted to bring my kit this year, but that's only if they have mics... and stuff. I don't want my kit to get beat up by small kids either, so i might just leave it home. I can't bring it back and forth everyday that's for sure. I might just use their electronic kit... Even though i hated it. I even think i can get a better sound out of my own.
 

PeteN

Silver Member
What made me think of this thread is another one that is posted here about the best dampening for drums. You know to keep them quiet if you live in an apartment or something. Plenty of people were saying just go to an electronic kit for practice. Well I know I have had an experience that I will share with you later but I am wondering exactly what the post says.

What do you think the dangers are? Especially playing wise. The sound differences are obvious and of course they make some killer sounds for drums. I am talking about the playing difference. Let me know what you think and then I will throw my 2 cents in.


Joe
The playing difference would be like comparing two different animals. Firstly, any flaws in your chops on acoustic drums will be greatly amplified on the e-kit, a weak hand on an e-kit will show up at times as mis-triggered hits and many would turn up volume or sensitivity of the pads which is the wrong thing to do. Obviously the right thing to do would be to work out the weak hand but a lot of people think well I can play this just fine on my acoustic so it must be the e-kit that needs adjusting so you'll get people hitting the pads harder and possibly causing some type of physical stress/tension or even injury over time.

The e-kit can be used for many things with positive results as long as the person in the drivers seat understands it's strengths and weaknesses and as well as understand his or her own strengths and weaknesses.

A weak hit on an acoustic drum will still produce a result, on the e-kit it may or may not so consistency between left and right hands is extremely important on the e-kit if anything it really emphasizes a drummers weak areas.

I use my e-kit for linear drumming exercises to the metronome, stick control exercises to the metronome, and learning or playing along to cover songs but practice everything on the acoustic kit as well, except for learning cover tunes.

If your sticking is very deliberate and controlled you'll eventually see less and less mis-triggered hits on the e-kit but some drummers will hit harder and tense up and that can be dangerous over time. The other danger is excessive use of headphones and cranking the volume too high on the e-kit.

So these are the dangers I can think of through use and experience.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm very curious about the dangers Joe speaks of. Danger to tendons perhaps?
E kits hold zero attraction for me. I don't like the way they look, sound, or feel.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I bought a Roland a few years ago for quieter practice. the two biggest negatives I have found are a) my hands and joints hurt after playing the rubber pads for a while, and b) my playing on the ekit didn't really translate to the acoustic kit. I still needed to practice on the acoustic kit to get the right sounds from it.

Ekits are useful in their own way, but I regard them as separate percussion instruments from acoustic kits.
 
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DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Danger? What is dangerous about it?

Yes, they require a different touch.

But going from a hard rock band one night to a blues trio on another night also requires a different touch.

Sure, there are cons to e-kits, but many, many pros use e-kits on sessions. There are numerous gigs out there that require use of e-kits. Calling them "dangerous" is a bit over the top.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Danger? What is dangerous about it?

Yes, they require a different touch.

But going from a hard rock band one night to a blues trio on another night also requires a different touch.

Sure, there are cons to e-kits, but many, many pros use e-kits on sessions. There are numerous gigs out there that require use of e-kits. Calling them "dangerous" is a bit over the top.
I think the dangerous part Joe is mentioning is just in the drummer's beginning stages when you don't learn how to coax a drum to sound good. You're just smashing a pad in any ol' way to get the same consistent sound. I've seen beginners go from eKits to aKits and you see it in their faces that getting drums to sound good seems to be more daunting then they've been led to believe.

And come on, Andy. You know what I mean. I have no ego here ;)
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
.

And come on, Andy. You know what I mean. I have no ego here ;)
Hey Bo, I was pulling your leg mate! I love you (but not in a manlove sorta way). I was referring to your statement that nobody listens to this drummer.

Anyhow, I think Ekits are extremely dangerous. You buy one, then spend $thousands in eternal multiple upgrades to get it to sound and feel like a $500 Akit. Getting that under my significant other's radar is more dangerous than I dare put in print!
 
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