I’ve been playing the drums for many years now. Since a few years, I own an electronic drum kit too. It’s completely different from an acoustic drum kit and I’d love to tell you all about the differences and why I play both kinds of kits.
The biggest difference
Well the obvious main difference is the processing of the sound. If you play an acoustic drum kit, you hear the sound of the kit when you hit a skin or a cymbal. It will vibrate and that vibrance is what produces the sound. An electronic drum kit works different. You don’t hit a skin or a cymbal, but a so called pad. This hit will activate the triggers underneath the pad which will then be converted into an electronically amplified (digital) sound. You can connect the electronic drum kit on to headphones or an amplifier, which will produce the sound of the hit.
There are a lot of reasons why you should play an acoustic kit. One of the reasons I use an acoustic set, is that it looks way better on stage than an electronic one. But that’s far from all. With an acoustic set you have more control over the over the timbre. You can get a huge variety of sounds out of an acoustic drum by using different techniques and the way you tune it. Most electronic drum sets just sound the way they do, however you play. Also the sound itself has a different vibe. If you listen to an acoustic and an electronic drum kit, you can most likely hear which one is which. An acoustic drum kit has the real sound of the drum kit you are playing on. An electronic drum kit tries to imitate this (this is definitely getting better and better), but it will never feel like an acoustic drum kit. It’s also possible to play with your fingers, hands, with rods or brushes on an acoustic set, in addition to drum sticks. The dynamic range is way bigger. Another big pro is that you can expand your kit very easily without any problems. Just add a drum or cymbal and combine it however you like it. And of course you don’t need any power, headphones or an amplifier.
Sounds good right? But are there also cons? Yes there are, but not really that many, in my opinion. First of all: the volume! I started to play on an electronic set because of the volume and the size of an acoustic set. On a regular acoustic set, the volume is pretty loud. When you live in a terraced house, it’s not really the best idea to play the drums in the late night hours. Of course you can get some netted drum heads, which will definitely lower the volume. But there is also the size. An acoustic set is pretty big. If you don’t have a lot of room, an electronic one will take up less space. Also your sticks wear out faster on an acoustic drum kit, but that’s just a minor issue. And last but not least, this type of drumkit requires a little more maintenance. Consider, for example, replacing and tuning your heads.
So the main reason why I got an electronic drumkit, was the volume control. An acoustic set can produce a huge amount of volume, if you just want to play without making every note a ghost note. With the electronic kit; I can plug in a headset or just set the volume really low, so I can practice my techniques without being a pain in the ass for my neighbours. Another advantage is that these kind of kits allow you to change the sound of the entire drum kit with a touch of a button. You can choose whatever you think sounds best or fits the song you play, best. You can even add sounds that are not even produced by a drumkit. If you want to hear a dog barking when you hit your snare; go for it! They usually have a built in metronome and you can play over the headphone, while you are playing a song too. So you can drum along with your music. And one of the advantages is also that it takes up less space. An electronic kit is way smaller than a normal kit.
So an electronic kit does have its advantages, but nevertheless it still has some big cons. For me it’s not the case whether you like the one better than the other, I just simply use them for two different things. One is for practice at home, other is for rehearsal with Maidstone and live gigs with Maidstone. I play them both, but use them as two different tools. If you are wondering which one you should choose, just ask yourself the question: what am I using it for? Just take a look at what you think are the pros and cons.