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Fazor
2009-Jan-02, 06:04 PM
Just a random question to the other musicians of the board. I was curious to any opinions regarding electric drums. I play guitar and piano, but would like to get into a bit of drumming for the guitar tracks I record.

I'd perfer acoustic (traditional) drums, but I have a small house and a g/f that hates loud noises. An electric set seems like it'd be good for learning on (quieter, and much easier for my pc recording setup) but I don't want drums that sound like midi music either (I could just do that with a standard PC keyboard).

I know that electric drums don't sound as good as acoustic drums in that sense, but can they still be passable? The music I record is modern rock, not techno/industrial or heavily sythesized.

Would they be worth it, or should I buy another instrument to learn instead? :)

novaderrik
2009-Jan-02, 08:07 PM
Def Leppard has been using electric drums since the drummer lost his arm, and they get it to sound somewhat not electronic. of course, he has half a "real" drum set that he augments with the electric stuff..

Fazor
2009-Jan-02, 08:16 PM
I've seen that, and I've seen sets they call electric which appear to be acoustic drums fitted with "triggers" that let you drumm electronically, but trigger hammers to hit the drum head (It's been really really busy today, that's just what the pics looked like).

One of my customers that has a band happened to come in today, and so I asked him. He suggested these triggers but I really didn't get to talk to him about it before someone else came in. But if that's how these triggers work, then it doesn't help the "I need it to be semi-quiet" aspect.

Though, I suppose maybe I have the idea backwards, and triggers really just mute the drum but signal the electric "virtual" drum to produce a sound. Hmm...

kleindoofy
2009-Jan-02, 08:25 PM
... opinions regarding electric drums ...
If you want to do crappy-eighties-retro-pop, then they're great.

If you want to be a musician, then they're not. ;)

Fazor
2009-Jan-02, 08:30 PM
If you want to do crappy-eighties-retro-pop, then they're great.

If you want to be a musician, then they're not. ;)

Kinda what I was suspecting. I just don't have room or ability to get a full-size acoustic set (ability as in, again, my g/f would kill me).

Nicolas
2009-Jan-02, 09:35 PM
Wait a minute. What are you talking about here?

Drum computers (http://pds7.egloos.com/pds/200803/25/73/e0044073_47e90d9ae545d.jpg) in which you need to program a rhythm or electronic drum kits using pads (http://www.andertons.co.uk/and_news_files/images/roland-td12k-drum-kit.jpg)you have to hit with a drum stick, just like when you'd be playing a real drum kit? (there is also a variant with only some hit pads: http://www.audio-depot.com/images/PerformancePad_lg.jpg) The trigger thing you brought up got me confused about what you want, as that would be a drum kit playing without a drummer sitting behind it. Essentially a drum computer with a real drum kit as sound creator (output), whereas the electronic drum kit uses a sort of drum kit as input.

Nicolas
2009-Jan-02, 09:40 PM
Def Leppard has been using electric drums since the drummer lost his arm, and they get it to sound somewhat not electronic. of course, he has half a "real" drum set that he augments with the electric stuff..

Somebody on another board I frequent once had to set up the drum kit for Def Leppard. When he asked -obvisouly without paying attention- his standard question for setting up drum kits "are you left- or right handed?" his manager looked very angry, but the drummer himself just rofl'ed totally.

He said it was his most embarrassing day at work ever. The fact that the drummer could laugh about it saved him from a depression I think. :)

Fazor
2009-Jan-02, 09:40 PM
or electronic drum kits using pads you have to hit with a drum stick, just like when you'd be playing a real drum kit?
That one.

Essentially a drum computer with a real drum kit as sound creator (output), whereas the electronic drum kit uses a sort of drum kit as input.
For whatever reason, that's what I envisioned when I read the name "Drum trigger" and saw the picture of one. It wasn't until later that I thought "Hey wait; from the way people are talking about them, I think the "trigger" is more a sensor that detects when you hit a "real" drum head, and then produces an electronic output.

I'm still not sure, haven't had time to read about them.

Fazor
2009-Jan-02, 09:41 PM
He said it was his most embarrassing day at work ever. The fact that the drummer could laugh about it saved him from a depression I think.
It helps that even without an arm, he's still an amazing drummer. I don't like their music or the band, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have talent.

Argos
2009-Jan-02, 09:45 PM
Edit: Ive been beaten. Forget it.

Nicolas
2009-Jan-02, 09:51 PM
So you mean things that you really have to hit, ok. Do you have space for an actual drum kit, or are you limited to just a plate with some hit-sensitive pads on it?

Next question: there's two parts: the triggers (drum kit shaped or just an array of pads) and the soud generator linked to it. Sometimes they're part of the same package, some you can buy separately. The better the triggers, the more realistic the drums as you play more expressively. The better the sound source, the better the sound, obviously.

In a mix, they can sound convincing if you've got good equipment. At least you're playing them "live", so there's no sequenced feeling to them.

I for one go for a very simple drum computer (Boss dr-550), but I'm on a tight budget and I don't know whether I'd be a good drummer :).

Fazor
2009-Jan-02, 09:51 PM
Well, it's like I did for guitar. When I thought I might like to learn, I bought a cheap-o "beginner" guitar. When I decided I wanted to continue, I bought a good one. (Then another. Then another. Then another. Then another... argh!).

Figure, if you buy a cheap-o and like the insturment, sure you might have wasted < $100. If you buy a good instrument but don't like it, you've wasted a lot more. Plus I think the porta-pad electric would be very simple to record w/ PC.

Nicolas
2009-Jan-02, 09:53 PM
or electronic drum kits using pads you have to hit with a drum stick, just like when you'd be playing a real drum kit?
That one.

Essentially a drum computer with a real drum kit as sound creator (output), whereas the electronic drum kit uses a sort of drum kit as input.
For whatever reason, that's what I envisioned when I read the name "Drum trigger" and saw the picture of one. It wasn't until later that I thought "Hey wait; from the way people are talking about them, I think the "trigger" is more a sensor that detects when you hit a "real" drum head, and then produces an electronic output.

I'm still not sure, haven't had time to read about them.

Yes, they're triggers that send data to a sound bank. They're not mechanical things hitting the drum kit for you. Well, I'm sure it exists somewhere, but they're rare. Just like you also have "robotic" grand piano's, but that's not what people talk about when they want an electronic piano.

Fazor
2009-Jan-02, 09:53 PM
I for one go for a very simple drum computer (Boss dr-550), but I'm on a tight budget and I don't know whether I'd be a good drummer :).

That's the way I'm leaning. Just won't do it if all you get is techno MIDI voices, as I hate that. Ugh.

(for the record, I don't hate Techno. That's just not what I play)

Nicolas
2009-Jan-02, 09:55 PM
Well, it's like I did for guitar. When I thought I might like to learn, I bought a cheap-o "beginner" guitar. When I decided I wanted to continue, I bought a good one. (Then another. Then another. Then another. Then another... argh!).

Figure, if you buy a cheap-o and like the insturment, sure you might have wasted < $100. If you buy a good instrument but don't like it, you've wasted a lot more. Plus I think the porta-pad electric would be very simple to record w/ PC.

It would be simple indeed. Just a cable, no mikes involved. But as I said, half of the quality is the triggers, half of the quality is the sounds linked to them. And then there's the guy playing it too of course.

Oh, one more thing: if you really want to learn and enjoy it, make sure there's no option switched on that "does the timing for you", ie shifting your trigger times to the beat. Let it be honest with you. When you're off beat; it needs to sound off beat. It will sound way more natural.

ktesibios
2009-Jan-02, 09:55 PM
I've seen that, and I've seen sets they call electric which appear to be acoustic drums fitted with "triggers" that let you drumm electronically, but trigger hammers to hit the drum head (It's been really really busy today, that's just what the pics looked like).

One of my customers that has a band happened to come in today, and so I asked him. He suggested these triggers but I really didn't get to talk to him about it before someone else came in. But if that's how these triggers work, then it doesn't help the "I need it to be semi-quiet" aspect.

Though, I suppose maybe I have the idea backwards, and triggers really just mute the drum but signal the electric "virtual" drum to produce a sound. Hmm...

Yes, you do have it backwards. Triggers are usually piezoelectric transducers (basically contact mics) which produce a signal when the drum is struck. This signal is then used to "trigger" the playing of a sampled drum sound. The amplitude of the trigger signal can control the loudness of the sample playback or in some cases can be mapped onto another control parameter to allow for more freedom of expression.

If you want playing to be as quiet as if you were playing on practice pads, you'll have to muffle the drums yourself, as trigger sensors don't usually muffle them heavily. Stuffing the drum with rags works pretty well for this.

What they do is to allow a player who has a normal kit also to use electronic drum sounds without having figure out how to fit a bunch of drum pads into that kit.

There have also been electronic drum "brains" which could accept audio from miced conventional drums as a trigger signal. Getting this to work reliably, without missed beats and false or double triggering, can be pretty difficult- back in the late '90s when I was doing a lot of recording the only one I encountered that worked well enough to replace conventionally recorded drums was the Forat F16, and accomplishing that took quite a bit of parameter-tweaking.

As for sound, modern drum brains usually have a library of sampled sounds available. These are often quite well-recorded and could easily fool the casual listener into thinking they're hearing an acoustic drum performance.

The big giveaway- the "machine-gun" sound produced on rolls by the repetitive retriggering of the same sample seems to have been alleviated in the newer generations of drum brain. Unfortunately, no similar improvements have been made in drummer's brains (I'm an old sound man- drummers are my natural enemy).

Nicolas
2009-Jan-02, 09:59 PM
The joys of multi-sample machines: it sounds a bit more natural as not every sound from the same trigger uses the same sample to start from. Very important to further help reduce the machine-gun effect.

speedfreek
2009-Jan-02, 10:21 PM
How about something like this?

Roland TD-3K (http://www.roland.co.uk/drum_room_catdet.asp?ID=TD3K#)

Retails for around 600 in the UK

Fazor
2009-Jan-02, 10:34 PM
Much more than I want to spend, but I'd like it.

Frantic Freddie
2009-Jan-03, 05:27 PM
I've been asked why I don't play an electric kit & my answer is "Because I'm too good a drummer" ;)

Seriously,I got a Yamaha DD65 (http://drums-percussion.musiciansfriend.com/product/Yamaha-DD65-Digital-Drum-Machine?sku=500564) last summer to use at informal jams & camping.I have used it on one gig,a throw together on a slow night & it worked fine.For your needs Fazor it might just be the thing.If you don't like the sounds (I'm not crazy about the cymbal sounds,but that's me) it can be MIDIed into another machine.
I would recommend getting the HH65 & KP65 (I just ordered mine) for better control than the silly little pedals that come with it.

jimmy
2009-Jan-04, 05:29 AM
Yeah the DD 55 is also good. But it would be nice if you had real cymbals and hi hat. And the pads are pretty small, you have to be kinda accurate.

JustAFriend
2009-Jan-04, 04:39 PM
For the $250 range the Yamaha DD's aren't bad.

I pop'ed up to the $500 range and got the Roland SPD-S (http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/SPDS/), which has the advantage that you can store sounds on a CompactFlash card and thereby use REAL drumhit samples. Also functions as a recorder/sampler, too.

Frantic Freddie
2009-Jan-04, 05:21 PM
And the pads are pretty small, you have to be kinda accurate.


I've always said,when you play those you not only have to be a drummer,but also a marksman! :D

Cougar
2009-Jan-04, 06:43 PM
I for one go for a very simple drum computer (Boss dr-550).... I don't know whether I'd be a good drummer :).

Yeah, I've got a Zoom MRT-3B (http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=1713). Tones are quite good.

Jens
2009-Jan-04, 11:29 PM
I've also been interested in the same thing. I play bass and guitar, but always wanted to try drumming. However, it's hard in a big city to have a drum set.

One question I have is about the rebound or whatever you call it. Like, when you do a roll on a drum, you use the rebound. Is the touch of electronic drums similar to real drums?

Frantic Freddie
2009-Jan-05, 12:57 AM
I've also been interested in the same thing. I play bass and guitar, but always wanted to try drumming. However, it's hard in a big city to have a drum set.

One question I have is about the rebound or whatever you call it. Like, when you do a roll on a drum, you use the rebound. Is the touch of electronic drums similar to real drums?

No,it isn't.But it depends on what you mean by "touch".Even on my cheapie Yamaha the pads are sensitive to how hard you hit them.The top of the line stuff is a lot more responsive to things like flams & ruffs,but IMO they don't come close to a real set.

But if you're talking about the feel of the pads,again,no they don't feel like real drums,they're like a practice pad on the lesser-expensive stuff.But that's OK if you're used to a practice pad & they're easy to get used to.

Studioguy
2009-Jan-05, 02:58 AM
The real question in this is budget. If you can afford it, I know MANY professional drummers (the best in the world) who own Roland V-drum kits of one variety or another. Most of them use the kit to trigger MIDI notes that feed a computer based sampler where they've created their own libraries...by that, I mean they've taken expertly recorded samples of their own drums and built a "triggerable" kit. I've recorded hundreds of sessions with drummers who will play their V-drums when space doesn't allow for proper isolation for other instruments. The sounds aren't quite as good as well-recorded acoustic drums, but they're adequate for the purpose. In those cases, it's almost always demo stuff anyway. (I've never had a drummer whose actual performance was less than awesome because of the V-drums)

I'm not a drummer, though, so take my opinions with a grain of salt. I AM, however, a professional audio engineer and I know a thing or two about what sounds good. The stock sounds in the V-drum systems are pretty good and very versatile. They've been around for quite a while and many iterations have come about, so you can probably score a pretty good setup for far cheaper than retail if you dig around. One friend just bought a 9 piece setup as a spare for around $400 from craigslist.