Electric drum sets have come a long way. Twenty 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. Top electronic drum brands like Yamaha, Roland and Alesis have now changed this.
Are electronic drums any good? We think so, but you must choose what's right for you. To help, we have compiled this list of the top 5 Pros and Cons of electronic drums.
From volume control and the ability to seamlessly play along to songs, to great onboard features and space savings - the advantages of digital drums make them very appealing to beginner drummers.
Volume is the primary concern for most aspiring drummers and those in the same household. Electronic drums might be the way to go if this is the case for you. You can plug your headphones into the module or practice using a monitor or speaker system at lower volumes. Not only will your family and neighbors thank you for it, but it will significantly increase your available practice hours.
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 can help keep you motivated through 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.
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.
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.
When playing acoustic drums, you cannot hear a metronome effectively without headphones. 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 to work in harmony, giving you the freedom to focus on your playing.
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 most comprehensive range of pre-set drum kits, editing, and other customization.
Electric drums and cymbals are typically undersized and mounted from a rack system. When compared directly with an acoustic drum set, a certain degree of space is saved.
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.
It's not all good news though and there are definitely some negative points that you'll want to consider to balance your opinion.
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.
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 partly 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.
If you are looking for a low-maintenance instrument to carry around to rehearsals and shows, you might want to consider the guitar!
Drums and all of the hardware, pedals, cymbals, and stands we have to hike around can be pretty cumbersome. We do it because we love the instrument, and 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.
Although the price point for electronic drums has never been so reasonable, high-end drums are still very expensive. If you want electronic drums with the most capability within the module, larger-sized pads, cymbals, and as close to a "real feel" as possible, you are looking at $3500+.
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. Remember, if you decide to go down the acoustic drum route, there are plenty of reasonable solutions for noise reduction.