Why don't many Pro Drummers use Electric Drums?

dboomer

Senior Member
I built my first set of electronic drums in 1971 and have been playing ekits on and off since then. Obviously they have come a long way. It’s a bunch of trade offs. So pick and choose.

Yes, there are more dynamic levels in an acoustic drum. MIDI allows only 127, but not all ekits are MIDI from the pad to the sound engine. If you record the MIDI then you get 127. OTOH, if you run your drums through a compressor you might even get less dynamic range. And of course if you are amplifying an acoustic set you no longer have “real” drums anyway.

So the trade off is how many sounds you can get from a single acoustic say snare drum vs how many snare drums can you have at the push of a button? You’d need a big truck :)

Assuming you have an absolutely great acoustic kit and cymbals that are tuned up perfectly the first mic you put on them completely changes the sound. Just take a look at the frequency response of that SM57 you mic your snare with. And once you dial in the kit sound you really want, you never have to do it again as opposed to a new sound check and questionable sound man every night. Most of the sound guys I run into remark how good the ekit sounds. Mine happens to be a 2Box. But if your ekit experience is on a cheap kit (less than $5k), yes I agree, it probably isn’t terribly satisfying. And if you don’t have some big bucks monitoring system, likewise.

I’m left wondering those who admit it is far easier to play mesh pads than drumheads. That's a plus in my book. But just lessen the tension if they bounce too good. Cymbal bounce is another thing. I have never found a cymbal pad that you could play a jazz ride pattern and keep up playing Giant Steps at a tempo of 280.

No getting around ... ekits look like toys. Oh well

But in my book there is a place for both, just like there is a place for a 9’ grand piano and for a Fender Rhodes or an electric and and acoustic guitar. Maybe just like why I own 20 cymbals and use different ones for different gigs.

In the end you should just make yourself happy and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks anyway.
 
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1.21 GigaWatts

New member
btw- I am not a professional drummer; I was just throwing-out my answer to the "age old" question. ?

Personally, I play Yamaha DTXplorer drums waay more often than my repurposed/recovered red velvet CB700 kit (w/Paiste, Zildjian cymbals, Gibraltar kick, hardware, etc.).
I run my e-drum brain outputs to a 15" Hartke bass amp and a Roland V10 drum monitor; adjusted for their respective highs and lows. I think it sounds killer! I never spend time tuning or looking for "my sound." The adjustments I do make, I can save!
When I get friends over to jam, the noise levels are more easily monitored with the e-drums, which allows us to play after 8pm! Great for recording the room mix with a Tascam DR-05.
 

sonic

New member
I have been playing acoustic drums for years, (Yamaha and Gretsch) in function bands playing mostly covers of pop and soft rock stuff. We get some very good and well paid gigs but have had two problems, 1) volume (nuff said) and 2) drums that sound "like the record" particularly on modern stuff. I have always used e-drums for practise but have been averse to using them for gigs because of how they look, then I discovered A to E conversion kits and the new Roland VAD series. In the end I chose the Roland stuff because I am lazy! All the e-drum issues of looks, bass drum creep and fragile plastic bits on racks have gone. As for sound, the new modules have some pretty good ones out of the box and if you are really adventurous you can trigger software like EZ drummer for round robin samples (I do not do this though). For too long, guitarists, keyboard players, bassists and singers have whinged about it "not being real" to which my answer is "you try playing acoustic guitar, double bass, upright (or grand) piano and projecting like an opera singer of old with no effects or amplification" and see how you go on! Both types of kit have their place, pick the right one for the right application. BTW the next time your guitarist asks "but what if the power goes down" ask him/her what he/she will do!
 

sonic

New member
Well, I use both acoustic and electronic, acoustic for a Motown covers ban I am in and a concert band (30 piece wind band). I am also in an 80's covers band where faithful re-creation of the "sounds on the record" are very important, the "80's acoustic kit" on my TD27 comes in very handy (with a few tweaks). I would struggle to replicate the drum sounds on "Dancing on the Ceiling" or "Sweet dreams are made of This" on my acoustic kits. I do theatre work as well where the huge sound palette on an E-Kit as well as volume control is very, very useful!

I use IEM's fed directly from a mixing console and have no problem hearing myself, the rest of the band can hear me via a Yamaha DXR15 I use as a monitor.

Now the negatives, set up time is longer (unless you are mic'ing up every drum on an acoustic set) and I always live with the fear of a cable or the module failing mid gig (it never has) to the extent that I carry around a spare acoustic snare, kick drum, tom and cymbals "just in case" This last point is more about my paranoia than anything else, the only tech failures we have had recently was when the guitarists entire pedal board went bad half way through set 1, our keys players laptop has also played up but luckily solved via a reboot.
 

Erberderber

Senior Member
I think a lot of people here are missing a consideration. Some audiences (usually casual listeners) don't like the sound of live drums at a gig, especially small gigs. They don't like to hear the same boring old snare on every song. Some people say it's loud and annoying. I currently play in a cover band and use an unusual set up. I use a 22" bass drum, cymbals, some percussion, bongos and a Roland SPD-SX for all other drum sounds and loops. When you play a song like Purple Rain, Sweet Dreams or Radio Gaga, many people in a pub are not going to be satisfied with an acoustic snare. That big '80s electro snare sound helps people enjoy the songs they know and love. After all, we're supposed to be serving the song right? Thinking an entirely acoustic kit is always going to cut it is like expecting a string quartet to sound like Kraftwek.
 

Erberderber

Senior Member
Well, I use both acoustic and electronic, acoustic for a Motown covers ban I am in and a concert band (30 piece wind band). I am also in an 80's covers band where faithful re-creation of the "sounds on the record" are very important, the "80's acoustic kit" on my TD27 comes in very handy (with a few tweaks). I would struggle to replicate the drum sounds on "Dancing on the Ceiling" or "Sweet dreams are made of This" on my acoustic kits. I do theatre work as well where the huge sound palette on an E-Kit as well as volume control is very, very useful!

I use IEM's fed directly from a mixing console and have no problem hearing myself, the rest of the band can hear me via a Yamaha DXR15 I use as a monitor.

Now the negatives, set up time is longer (unless you are mic'ing up every drum on an acoustic set) and I always live with the fear of a cable or the module failing mid gig (it never has) to the extent that I carry around a spare acoustic snare, kick drum, tom and cymbals "just in case" This last point is more about my paranoia than anything else, the only tech failures we have had recently was when the guitarists entire pedal board went bad half way through set 1, our keys players laptop has also played up but luckily solved via a reboot.
I only saw your post after I'd written mine. I agree on recreating those '80s sounds!
 

Bozozoid

Silver Member
Any of you old enough to remember the near extinction of acoustic drums?. I thought it was over for me. I have problems plugging vacuum cleaners in.
 

someguy01

Gold Member
effective tuning, it really does do wonders.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
I think a lot of people here are missing a consideration. Some audiences (usually casual listeners) don't like the sound of live drums at a gig, especially small gigs. They don't like to hear the same boring old snare on every song. Some people say it's loud and annoying. I currently play in a cover band and use an unusual set up. I use a 22" bass drum, cymbals, some percussion, bongos and a Roland SPD-SX for all other drum sounds and loops. When you play a song like Purple Rain, Sweet Dreams or Radio Gaga, many people in a pub are not going to be satisfied with an acoustic snare. That big '80s electro snare sound helps people enjoy the songs they know and love. After all, we're supposed to be serving the song right? Thinking an entirely acoustic kit is always going to cut it is like expecting a string quartet to sound like Kraftwek.
With all due respect; I think you overestimate how much the average audience member cares about the sound of the drums - especially the snare. I don't think they care at all. If anything, the sound of the cymbals (and the volume they're played at) makes or breaks the drummer's sound.
 
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Erberderber

Senior Member
I think you overestimate how much the average audience member cares about the sound of the drums - especially the snare. I don't think they care at all. If anything, the sound of the cymbals (and the volume they're played at) makes or breaks the drummer's sound.
I think the audience are unconsciously affected by a sound that is almost the same as the one they hear on a song they know especially if it is electronic. I'm not a fan, but I've been in places where the opening bars of "shape of you" by Ed Sheeran come in and everyone just wakes up and says "I love this song". They do that because their senses are switched on by that glockenspiel sound or whatever it is. If it were played on an organ or a piano at a gig, it just wouldn't have the same effect. Take the Human League for example. I saw them at a festival in 2015 and they used a full electronic kit because an acoustic one just wouldn't provide the sounds their fans know and love.


I agree with what you say about people not really caring what you play as yes, some people may not have even noticed I was not playing a conventional kit at my last gig, but they enjoyed the songs because the drum sounds gave them that same mental trigger they get when they hear the original. Yes, an acoustic set is always going to be better than a full electric one on a big arena tour or large outdoor festival because of the dynamics, but drummers have those electric sounds with them for a reason. Just look as Shakira's drummer. If those sounds weren't important, he wouldn't have a rig as complicated as that.


 

Iristone

Regular Poster
My point is you can always use e-drums as complements to, rather than substitutes for, your acoustic kit. The same way players like Bill Bruford, Alan White, and Roger Taylor use on the first-generation analogue drum synthesizers.
 

pocket player

Junior Member
from alot of information i have read ,being a pro drummer usually means having his or her own sound & feel on the drums. do you get your own sound on electronic drums ? ,or do you get the sound of software ? Just MY Take on it. no disrespect to drummers who prefer electronic drums
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
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Doraemon

Regular Poster
from alot of information i have read ,being a pro drummer usually means having his or her own sound & feel on the drums. do you get your own sound on electronic drums ? ,or do you get the sound of software ? Just MY Take on it. no disrespect to drummers who prefer electronic drums
You can make your own sound if you’re not lazy to use only presets. And you can have your playing style. Just the way I would only call an acoustic one someone’s “own sound” if they deliberately create something, either with gear, technique or recording tools (or all of these). I see no difference.
 
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MusiQmaN

Platinum Member
Its very useful in Orchestra's and TV Shows with a lot of different styles.

Night of the Proms which tours aroujd the globe regularly, always used live drums.

First Roland and with a change to drummer Hans, Yamaha:
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Also drummers/bands like michael Shack, Bill Bruford, Massive Attack, Schiller, The Hans Zimmer Orchestra, and many more rely on full e-drums/percussion rigs.

They can take a proper beating if you know how to play with them, and use the proper tools like monitoring and such.
 
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Drumz

Member
With modern electric drums advances, why don't many professional drummers use an electric kit when playing live?

Wow! So much to unpack here.

As to why you don't see many actual e-kits (trigger pads) on stage in a professional setting, I think bermuda pretty much nailed it with his initial post.

1. The kits themselves just cannot hold up to the night-after-night punishment which a touring rig MUST be able to take. I have played everything from the cheapest to the most expensive pads made and they do not hold up to the beating.

2. The feel. They simply do NOT respond like acoustic drums. The dynamics are not there. You end up WAY overplaying because you are trying to get more sound out of them like you would with an acoustic drum. But it's just not there to give.

HOWEVER, that does NOT mean that electronic/digital sounds are not a part of the live/touring world, because they very much are. In fact, I would say that drum samples are used to supplement the sound of acoustic drums in nine out of ten shows you go to see. I'll give you one example. One of my favorite drummers from a technical standpoint is Gavin Harrison. And he uses samples to augment the punch of his kick drum and to give his toms the kind of low end power he likes to hear in his mix. And he's not alone. Most rock/metal drummers do it, as do many drummers in other musical genres. As I said, it is far more common than not. How is it done? Either through the use of triggers attached to the drums (which in my experience both live and recording is the cleanest) or by using the actual sound off the mic and capturing it as midi and using that note data to trigger. Total drum replacement is rare. Samples are usually used to add "more" to the acoustic sound.
 
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