Electronic drums solve many problems, the most important of which is overcoming noise issues when playing at home. If you’ve owned your kit for a while, you might find that you’ve reached the limits of exploration, but that doesn’t mean you need to upgrade your entire kit.
With a few simple additions and reuse of some of the functionality of your existing module, it’s possible to turn a regular five-piece electronic kit into a larger setup, put more sounds at your fingertips, and get more from your configuration. In this guide, we’re going to take a look at a few easy and (mostly) affordable electronic drum upgrades.
1. Add a mesh head snare
Since the snare is the most dynamic, versatile, and played voice in your kit, it makes sense to pay your attention to it first. A simple and affordable upgrade is to replace your rubber snare pad with a version equipped with a mesh head. Not only will the acoustic noise when hitting the pad be reduced, but you will also be able to strain your head, allowing you to play more expressive techniques such as buzz rolls and ghost notes with greater realism. For many brands – Roland, Alesis, 2Box, ATV – you can opt for direct brand replacements for your module. Yamaha kits feature rubber pads from Yamaha’s own Cellular Textured Silicone (TCS) pads rather than mesh pads, but it is possible to add mesh pads from the above brands or third party pads.
2. Acoustic conversion
One of the most common “complaints” about electronic drums is that the diameters and depths of the pads do not always match our. acoustic drums. A six-inch playing surface is unlikely to give the same sense of realism as playing on a larger pad, positioned similarly to an acoustic kit. However, there’s nothing stopping you from converting a single drum set – or even a full set of drums – into an electronic kit. Roland’s KD-A22 Kick Conversion Kit gives you everything you need to convert an acoustic kick drum to an electronic kick drum, while brands like Jobeky and Pintech offer internal trigger and head solutions for converting. all of your kit.
3. Easy triggering
If you don’t feel like making more complex changes to an acoustic drum, you can try using a acoustic drum trigger such as the RT-30 series from Roland, Yamaha DT50 or DDrum Acoustic Pro. “What about the noise, though! This is where mesh skins come in. Equip your acoustic shell with a Remo Silentstroke, Roland PowerPly, Evans SoundOff, or any other mesh skin of your choice, and you’ll turn your drum shell into a quiet one or two zone trigger pad for your kit. If you change your mind, you can always return the drums to their original acoustic state with a simple change of head.
4. Use the stereo inputs
Many kits offer connections for dual zone pads, and unless you are using these tom rim sounds, you can best use them by splitting the input on your module and connecting additional single zone pads for more toms or auxiliary sounds that only require one playing surface. You will need a splitter cable with a stereo jack connection, which splits into two mono jacks, and you may also need to make some adjustments fast in your module so (check your manual and settings) to tell it that you want to receive two mono pads rather than a single stereo.
5. Add triggers via MIDI
This electric kit seemed like such a brilliant convenience, until you joined a Dream Theater cover band. But, just because you run out of trigger inputs on your module doesn’t mean you can’t build a Megatron from an electronically configured. If you’ve ever looked at the MIDI input jack on the back of your module and wondered what it’s for, this is a particularly useful jack. Using an additional trigger-to-MIDI interface such as the dDrum DDTI, a sample pad such as a Alesis Strike Multipad Where Roland SDP-SX or even an affordable second e-kit module will give you everything you need to connect additional electrodes in your kit. The MIDI output of the second module is then connected to the MIDI input of your main brain, allowing you to play a whole additional set of sounds from your secondary pad setup.
6. Incorporate smaller pads
Once you’ve split or expanded your trigger inputs, you’ll need something to connect to them! Smaller pads such as Roland’s CY-5 cymbals and the single-zone BT-1 bar trigger make great peripheral triggers for expanding your kit with digital splashes, cowbells and more, and thanks to their smaller sizes, you can easily place them among your main ‘shells’.
7. Use plugins
Tired of your on-board sounds and not able to import your own samples into your module? Why not turn your kit into a realistic MIDI controller for software like Toontrack Superior or EZ Drummer, Steven Slate Drums, GetGood Drums, BFD or one of the many other sampled drum kit instruments available. You will need a computer to host the software, but the improved sample resolution of these types of packages provides stunning realism. It’s one of the easiest ways to produce professional-quality drum recordings, and because the sounds are all captured in world-class studios, often by the producers in your record collection, you can be. Peace of mind knowing that you are getting some of the best drum sounds available.
8. Integrate samples
As you probably already know, your drum module contains drum audio samples that are played back when you hit the pads. What you might not know is that your plug-in might be able to import samples to its internal memory via USB or via a USB flash drive. Not all kits can do this, but recent versions of Roland (TD-17), Alesis (Crimson), and Yamaha (DTX6) all offer sample import capabilities. This means that not only can you create your own custom sounds and play them right from your plug-in, but you can also purchase ready-to-use preset samples. Check out sites like Splice and i want this sound for one-shots adapted to the drums. Or, if you just want to give it a try, take a look at our Radar example section for thousands of free sounds.
9. Improve your hi-hat
Can a single pad controlled by a remote pedal give the impression of playing a real hi-hat? We would say “not exactly”. Check out the hi-hat options for your kit and see if it’s possible to add a traditional stand-mounted pad option. The mechanical movement of the pedal and clutch assembly can really add to the experience, and you will be rewarded with a spare cymbal pad that you can recirculate in your setup or sell to finance your new purchase!
10. Game of Thrones
The most obvious difference between playing acoustic and electronic drums is the volume level, and that’s probably a big factor in your decision to use an electronic kit in the first place. While this is a necessity for most of us, the lack of “feedback” we receive when we hit an electronic pad is one of the reasons electronic drums don’t look so realistic. The air movement and vibrations that come from our acoustic kits are just not there. But, what if you could get a tactile response from an electronics kit without increasing the overall noise level?
Well, you can, and you are sitting on the solution. Porter and Davies’ BC line of drum stools use a built-in transducer and external amplifier to pump the low frequencies of the sound you plug into it through your throne and directly into your body. Above all, it is only you who will notice it, because it does not work like a traditional speaker in your PA speakers. The result? You will feel the body vibrations of the sound, giving you that “mic kit on stage” feeling, without anyone else knowing. They don’t come cheap, but once you feel it through your trap, you’ll never look back. Specifically, the Porter & Davies BC-X tops our guide to best drum thrones.