With many new drummers learning from home, the demand for electronic drums has skyrocketed.
Electric drum sets have come a long way. Ten years ago, a handful of drum companies had a monopoly on the market due to high development, manufacturing, and distribution costs. It seemed that even starter sets were beyond the budget of most aspiring drummers.
When newbie drummers buy their first set, they are generally not looking to spend thousands of dollars. Most want to pitch in at the lower end of the cost spectrum and test their commitment to the hobby first. For many years, this was unattainable with electronic drums. Still, with the internet facilitating more aggressive pricing, digital learning, and a simple, practical need to keep the volume down, electronic drums have become big business for drum manufacturers and the retail drum market as a whole.
Helpful related articles:
Whether you are picking up a basic starter package at a consumer electrical store or buying a high-end model online or at a music retailer - there is more brand and model choice than ever before, and that has to be a good thing for hobbyist drummers. But, are electronic drums any good? We think so, but you need to choose what's right for you. To help, we have compiled this list of the top 5 Pros and Cons of electronic drums.
5 Pros of Electronic Drum Sets.
1. The sound is easier to control.
Without a doubt, volume is the primary concern for most aspiring drummers and those in the same household. If this is the case for you, then electronic drums might be the way to go. You can plug your headphones into the module, or practice at lower volumes through a monitor or speaker system. Not only will your family and neighbors thank you for it, but it will significantly increase your available practice hours.
2. You can mix in music and play along to songs!
One of the greatest feelings for beginner and hobbyist drummers is the ability to play along to your favorite music. It's a lot of fun, and it can help keep you motivated through some of the more challenging times in your learning experience. It can be difficult playing along to music with acoustic drums because it is hard to hear the music over the volume of your drums - unless you crank it way up. Or, you find yourself playing quietly to compensate, and that's not ideal either. Headphones are fine, but it's almost impossible to get a good balance of drums and music. Most electronic drum sets have a mix-in function on the module so that you can play along to music while hearing your drum part, and all at a sensible mix.
3. There's usually an onboard metronome.
Due to the volume, it's challenging to hear a metronome while playing an acoustic drum set. Since metronomes are essential tools for developing timekeeping, this can be a problem. You cannot hear a metronome effectively without headphones, and when using headphones, the metronome still needs to be at a high volume which can be uncomfortable. Sure, you could follow the flashing light that most metronomes give you, but it's another distraction and is not ideal. With electronic drums, you can adjust your drum set and metronome volume so that they work in harmony, giving you the freedom to focus on your playing.
4. There are multiple drum sets and play-along songs.
Depending on the model of electronic drum set that you choose, you may have many different pre-set drum kits (some of which may be customizable) and play-along songs. The latter can be tremendous fun because they sometimes have the option of muting the original drum track and playing with or without a click track. Naturally, the more advanced (and thus, more expensive) drum sets offer the widest spectrum of pre-set drum kits, editing, and other customization. The other noteworthy point is that the drums and cymbal sounds are better today than ever before, with higher-end sets even providing snare drum buzz and tom decay. Drum Ambition members can check out our glossary for an explanation of these terms.
5. They can save some space.
As electric drums and cymbals are typically undersized and mounted from a rack system, a certain degree of space is saved when compared directly with an acoustic drum set. The bass drum on an acoustic drum set is responsible for a lot of the space needed, often taking 16-20+ inches in depth before you even add a snare drum and a seat behind it. With the additional clutter of tripod legs for hefty cymbal stands, acoustic drums will eat up more bedroom or practice room space than their electronic counterparts. With that said, some high-end electronic sets are becoming larger with more realistic-sized pads and cymbals and can take up a comparable amount of space.
5 Cons of Electronic Drum Sets.
1. They don't feel like acoustic drums.
No matter how good electronic drums have become, they do not feel the same or have the same response as a real drum or cymbal. This may or may not be an issue for you, but beginners who rarely play acoustic drums can find it a tough transition. Acoustic drums are highly responsive and articulate, and learning to control these nuances is all part of building drum set control and becoming a musical drummer. If you play solely on electronic drums, you may be missing out on the authentic experience of playing the instrument. Many are willing to forgo this for the primary benefits listed above. Electronic drums allow you to get away with certain things that acoustic drums make you work harder for, such as drum rolls and dynamics.
2. They can often be hard to position correctly.
Most of the pads and cymbals on electronic drums are undersized and rack-mounted, so they can often be difficult to position. The positioning of your drums is critical, as developing good technique and control depends in part on an efficient and ergonomic setup. Having drums and cymbals placed at awkward heights or angles can be challenging to play and force you into bad habits.
3. They are not particularly portable.
If you are looking for a low-maintenance instrument to carry around to rehearsals and shows, then you might want to consider the guitar! Drums and all of the hardware, pedals, cymbals, and stands that we have to hike around can be pretty cumbersome. We do it because we love the instrument and because it's well worth it! With electronic drums, you have to throw a rack, wires (often, lots of wires), and a monitor/speaker system into the mix.
4. Good models can still be expensive.
Although, as we have discussed, the price point for electronic drums has never been so reasonable, the fact is that high-end drums are still very expensive. If you want electronic drums that have the most capability within the module, larger-sized pads, and cymbals, and as close to a "real feel" as possible, then you are looking at $3500+.
5. They are not acoustic drums.
This seems like an obvious point, but as I have mentioned in other articles, nothing beats the feeling of playing a "real" acoustic drum set. The reality, however, is that acoustic drums can be far from practical in many situations, and you must decide what is right for you based on your circumstances. Although it's tempting to shop online and hope for the best, I would recommend visiting a specialist music store, talking with sales professionals, and most of all, trying both options for yourself. Remember, if you decide to go down the acoustic drum route, there are plenty of reasonable solutions for noise reduction if this is your primary concern.
We are here to help!
If you have any questions about this article, please feel free to email [email protected].