Why don't many Pro Drummers use Electric Drums?

Brandtwi

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

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Most drummers detest electric drums live at gigs is the sentiment I'm going with. I can't even stand seeing/hearing them live, forget about playing them. They're just unsatisfying to me in every way.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
As cool as today's e-kits are in some situations, you rarely see them on the concert stage for a few reasons. From a hardware standpoint (heads, shells, mounts, triggers, etc.) they just aren't sturdy enough for most concert level drumming. And because they're completely electronic, if there's a cable or trigger failure, that pad/drum is gone. The original Simmons kits were quite robust by comparison, and they had problems as well. Imagine playing along, and your kick or snare completely disappears? That's obviously unacceptable in any live performance.

Some pads are more reliable than others (Roland's mesh pads are the most fragile) but I'm not sure that any are foolproof.

On a techno gig where the drum sounds might need to be 'synthetic', there aren't too many options, and those drummers have a somewhat tenuous relationship with their electronics.

Bermuda
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I think that there's A LOT of triggering happening in studios that we (or just I) don't know about. In addition to what the others have stated, in my opinion, an e-Kit just doesn't have the "stage presence" that an acoustic kit has.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Because they get the good gigs where you can play the real thing. :)

IMO electronic drums are still generally are shit if replacing acoustic drums is the goal.

On a more serious note, professional drummers use elecronic drums and triggers all the time, when it's appropriate.
 

Brandtwi

Member
Just to be clear, I am talking about top of the line Rolland kits that cost about $8000
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
For the same reasons that electronic drums are still in the vast minority for drummers, period.

- As Bermuda alluded, there's far less danger in an acoustic drum becoming totally unusable than there is with an electronic drum.
- Cost is a factor. A really top-shelf drumset suitable for touring, with all the hardware and cymbals, might be a couple thousand dollars, as opposed to the $8-10k for a flagship Roland.
- They simply aren't as satisfying to play or watch being played. There's something to feeling the air move through a drum, whereas the stick just stops on a rubber or mesh pad. And if the drummer can't get into his/her performance, how is the audience supposed to get into the performance?
- Most popular music still does not depend on wholly synthetic sounds, and in the instances they are needed, a drumpad module or a trigger on a drum usually suffices.
 

Mastiff

Senior Member
I think there is an irrational bias against e-kits. I was just commenting to my wife how ridiculous drums are that I need to try and sound isolate myself to practice, then wear ear protection to keep from losing my hearing, then thinking about mic'ing the drums so I can get the mix right through the hearing protection. ...and still can't (won't) play past 8pm due to not wanting to annoy the neighbors.

Having said that, I've owned some very nice Roland mesh head e-kits and it is absolutely not the same. Especially cymbals, especially hi-hat. And as mentioned the hardware is flimsy as hell and it feels like the whole thing could collapse any second.

But maybe if people weren't so biased against them, quality would improve and cost would go down?

And, are we trying to make music or mimic an acoustic kit? You absolutely want the dynamics, but that is technically solvable. Electric guitar players don't even try to sound like an acoustic guitar most of the time.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Just to be clear, I am talking about top of the line Rolland kits that cost about $8000

Much of the cost stems from R&D (and marketing) it doesn't necessarily represent advances in hardware. When a V-kit is played like a regular kit, triggers get faulty or break. And there are still cable issues, just like guitar and bass and keyboard players encounter.

The modules are nice, but still have a couple of failings.

While the cymbal samples are nice, the pads don't behave like real cymbals, compounding the sound as you ride it. Many drummers with e-kits use live cymbals, which helps the overall vibe of the kit.

Also, because of the parameters of triggering, you can only get up to 100% of the sample. That seems to make sense. But with an acoustic drum, you can play along at 100%, and then lay into the drum with both sticks, and get 120% out of it. E-kits don't let you do that, and those dynamics are an important part of a convincing drum sound.

Depending on the gig, an e-kit might be just fine sound-wise (I always recommend using real cymbals.) But there are other considerations for live bands, which is amplification. Unless the band has a capable p.a., and capable monitors, you'll need your own amp. A powerful one if you expect to approximate the volume and punch of an acoustic kit. Figure an extra $600-1000 for that, plus dragging it around, plus making sure there's space for it next to the kit (so you can hear it too.)

Bermuda
 

MrPockets

Gold Member
It would be a disaster if a cord was broken, or the electronics crapped out on you, or something happened with the console and suddenly space laser sounds start happening.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Just to be clear, I am talking about top of the line Rolland kits that cost about $8000

Part of the problem right there. It's expensive, which makes it even harder to understand why it sounds like shit.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
It would be a disaster if a cord was broken, or the electronics crapped out on you, or something happened with the console and suddenly space laser sounds start happening.

My old SDS-9 kit took a power surge - on stage - and started making space sounds that it couldn't normally make!

Bermuda
 

trickg

Silver Member
My primary function as a drummer is doing contemporary praise and worship, so I've had to use e-kits in some low volume situations.

I absolutely detest having to use them.

For one, unless you go super expensive, there's no nuance in the sound. You might have some changes in volume based on how hard you strike, but there's no way to capture the infinite possibilities of a snare based on where on the head you strike, how much rim you use, the weight of the stick you want to use, or even the shape of the stick tip.

For two, I've had to deal with triggering issues now and again on some e-kits that have seen some hard use.

I deal with them when I have to because of volume considerations at some of the places where I've played, but I'd avoid it if I could.
 

electrodrummer

Senior Member
It would be a disaster if a cord was broken, or the electronics crapped out on you, or something happened with the console and suddenly space laser sounds start happening.

So - by that I assume you only play acoustic sets with no electric guitars, basses, keyboards or mics? ;)
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
So - by that I assume you only play acoustic sets with no electric guitars, basses, keyboards or mics? ;)

On this point; triggering samples or approximations is not the same thing as generating a sound through vibration of strings and pickups. Depending on the gear a string player uses,(how complicated/fancy) it is orders of magnitude less likely to screw up than the relatively complex e-kit setup... Especially if you involve computers beyond the module to get anything even approaching high quality, complex sound. As mentioned, the toms can be passable, but I just cannot handle the response, or sound of the e-cymbals on any of the platforms. Even the tiny microphone systems with the "quiet" holed cymbals. I'm not anti-electronic music, but you lose a lot with e-drums for performance in most styles of music. I feel the same about electric piano, but also feel they've come a bit farther on that in terms of playing feel... Some of the high end keyboards feel fantastic with the weighted keys and pressure systems. It's just the sounds... They don't replace grand pianos. Keyboards also don't mis-trigger, double trigger, sympathetically trigger or fail to trigger which are all problems I've had on e-kits.

On the thread as a whole: I'll also say in kind that there's a huge difference between coaxing/pulling great sound from a real kit and all the options that presents versus simply triggering a sound to play or "generate" based on approximate input data in steps.

My first two kits were e-kits, and I thought that was the way to go because at that point, it made me sound better than I was. I hadn't developed the touch and skill to make a real kit sing,(not to mention tuning as a youngster) so in my mind, the e-kit was an easy way to "cheat".

I still have my 3rd e-kit, a roland, but I don't plug it in 80% of the time. It's more useful to literally pretend I'm hearing the right sounds and response and use it as a glorified practice kit, the movements in the major muscle groups are still similar.

If you're not using them in some weird way to "replace" real drums... They're a great tool. They absolutely do give lots of novelty options like the monkey sounds, triggered samples, world music drum sounds and what not. You can approach them like a different instrument. It's especially nice to mix a few e-pads in with a real kit for new options also.
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..by that I assume you only play acoustic sets with no electric guitars, basses, keyboards or mics? ;)..


I agree with that..

I am definitely not a fan of electronic drums for a lot of reasons, but i am not seeing why cables and such things all of a sudden would be a issue, compared to guitar players/bass players/etc who also depend on a cable..

And then i am not even starting about effect-pedals..lol..
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..triggering samples or approximations is not the same thing as generating a sound through vibration of strings and pickups. Depending on the gear a string player uses,(how complicated/fancy) it is orders of magnitude less likely to screw up than the relatively complex e-kit setup..


I saw in my life many more guitar players struggling with cables/effect-pedals/etc than drummers struggling with an E-kit..

Basically i never saw a drummer struggling with an E-kit, except maybe with their module-settings or such things..But not with failing cables or things like that..
 
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