When electric drums first came on the scene, they completely changed the way we thought about drums. Nowadays, many beginner drummers gravitate towards electric kits as they are much cheaper, quieter, and more portable. They are especially common now that electronic music is bigger than it has ever been.
With that said, electric drums certainly are no alternative to acoustic drums. There is something special about hopping on a real kit with wood and metal. That feeling is one that has yet to be replicated.
We’re going to be taking you through these two types of drum kits so that you can have a better understanding of what you might want for the music you are trying to make. Drum roll, please!
- 1 What Are Electric Drums?
- 2 Benefits of Electric Drums
- 3 Disadvantages of Electric Drums
- 4 What Are Acoustic Drums?
- 5 Benefits of Acoustic Drums
- 6 Disadvantages of Acoustic Drums
- 7 Electric Drums or Acoustic Drums? Which Drums Will You Choose?
What Are Electric Drums?
Electronic drum kits are essentially a grouping of drum pads in an acoustic drum format that utilize samples to make sounds.
The pads are typically made out of a rubber or nylon material so that they create little to no sound on their own.
Electric drums, like a keyboard, must be plugged into some sort of amplification device or a pair of headphones for them to be heard. This is why many professional drummers use them for practice or in situations where noise is not suitable.
Benefits of Electric Drums
Low Volume Control
The beauty of electric drums is that they are practical for spaces that require low noise levels. A good electric drum kit will typically come with a headphone jack, meaning you can isolate your sound. They’re perfect for shared spaces, such as small practice studios or apartments. Even if you need to amplify your drum kit, you’ll be able to control the level of amplification.
Easy to Record
With electric drums, you can simply plug them into an interface and record! You can even couple your electric drum kit with MIDI-triggered samples, which means you can trigger real samples on your recording device with a human feel.
You’ll be able to easily record drum videos for Instagram or YouTube with professional sound quality.
Not only is it far easier to set up an electric drum kit, but they can also be stored away in a pinch. Roland's V-Drums TD-4KP set, for example, only weighs about 30 pounds in total, which is just about as much as a large bass drum on an acoustic kit.
Plus, it comes apart quickly and can be folded away to fit in a closet when it is not in use.
Great For Electronic Music
The great thing about electric drums is that you can use them to play samples. Higher-end electric drums will allow you to input your own samples in correlation with each pad, giving you the ability to create just about any type of drum kit that you can imagine.
Perfect for Practicing
Electric drums are ideal when it’s time to practice. They typically come with built-in metronomes so that you can practice your timing, which is especially important for beginner drummers. Some drum kits, such as the Roland TD-1K, come with coaching features, which teach you how to play certain rhythms while critiquing you on your accuracy.
No Need to Tune
Tuning drums can be a huge pain. This is especially true if you live in a humid environment where the wood on your acoustic drums becomes more malleable. With electric drums, there is never a need to tune!
Disadvantages of Electric Drums
Though higher-end electric drum kits come with the ability to alter and add samples, not all do. Many beginner electric kits only come with a handful of preset samples, which can become pretty old after playing them for a while.
Electric drums are a bit like electronics in that their value decreases pretty significantly as time goes on. Thanks to the increase in digital technology over the past decade, there is always something new and innovative to pick up, meaning you’ll be playing dated tech within a year of buying a new electric kit.
Strange Feel Can Produce Bad Habits
If you are learning on an electric drum kit, the transition to an acoustic kit won’t be very easy. This is because pads react very differently compared to acoustic drums and cymbals. The drum sticks and beater won’t rebound like they do on an acoustic kit. So when you move over to an acoustic kit, you may find yourself choking the sound.
Practicing on an electric drum kit might also introduce bad habits in terms of dynamics. When a piece of the kit sounds too loud, many players will often turn it down rather than learning to play it softer. This might translate to a forced, static sound when you sit on an acoustic kit. Beyond that, it is difficult to develop a quiet playing technique on an electric kit.
What Are Acoustic Drums?
Acoustic drums are sets of wooden shells and metal cymbals that are grouped together into a singular percussive instrument.
A standard drum set is usually composed of a bass drum, a snare drum, a few toms (the number depends on the style of music that you are playing), a hit hat, a crash cymbal, and a ride cymbal.
Of course, other acoustic pieces can be included for additional sounds, such as splash cymbals, octobans, timbales, etc.
Benefits of Acoustic Drums
Can Be Used For Most Styles of Music
Though acoustic drums might not give you access to a world of different sounds, they are actually quite versatile. From rock to pop to funk to jazz to blues, acoustic drums are found in just about every style of music.
Built-In Volume and Projection
Drums are naturally loud instruments, making them perfect for live performances or high-energy playing. Of course, there are many drummers these days who are using hybrid kits to play their acoustic drums alongside samples, though there is nothing that beats the natural projection of an acoustic drum set on a big stage.
Acoustic drums have a very responsive touch and feel. Many drummers say that they can feel an acoustic drum kit vibrate through their bodies. There is nothing that compares to controlling such a wildly dynamic instrument.
While electronic drum kits have come pretty far in their ability to replicate acoustic drums, there are still many things they can’t produce very well, such as cymbal swells or ghost notes.
Provide Drum Knowledge
As a drummer, you’ll often find yourself playing on house kits at venues or friend’s kits when in the studio. Knowing how to tune and maintain an acoustic drum kit is a valuable skill when you end up on a kit that is not your own. This is especially true if you need to do a quick tune-up of a venue’s drum kit that has been beaten to death.
Disadvantages of Acoustic Drums
Because drums are so loud, they are one of the most difficult instruments for people to own and play.
If you have neighbors in close proximity or roommates in the house, playing your drums at certain hours might be impossible. Of course, you can integrate silencing pads, though the feeling won’t be the same.
Drummers these days are becoming famous by recording their playing and posting it on YouTube or Instagram. Just check out Eric Moore, one of Instagram’s top drummers!
Unfortunately, getting the right kind of sound when playing into a recording can be quite difficult, especially in a home studio.
Controlling the acoustics in your room is necessary to get a good drum recording, although that entails investing in sound dampening devices or acoustic panels. Plus, you’ll need to invest in an interface and an array of microphones.
Some people can’t have acoustic drums at home as they simply take up too much space. They aren’t nearly as portable as electric drums. You likely won’t be able to shove them in a closet when you’re done playing, and even if you can, you’ll have to spend 20 some-odd minutes taking them apart each time.
Tuning Is a Burden
While tuning your drums is a valuable skill, it’s also a huge pain. You’ll need years of practice to get it down to a science. Heads will go out of tune if they aren’t played for a good amount of time.
Wood can also stretch and shrink depending on the climate you are in. Having to worry about keeping your drums in tune all the time can interrupt workflow and motivation to practice.
A Solid Set Will Cost a Lot
We often listen to the drums on our favorite records and think,
“Man, how do those drums sound so incredible?”
While oftentimes it comes down to the way the drummer is playing or the mix engineer’s talent, a lot of the time it comes from the drums themselves.
It is more than likely that your favorite drummer has been playing for years, and they have amassed an expensive set of drums with punch, power, and clarity. It can be extremely frustrating and almost impossible trying to replicate that sound on a cheap kit with rattling cymbals and dead shells.
Electric Drums or Acoustic Drums? Which Drums Will You Choose?
If you are looking to take your drumming career seriously, we highly recommend purchasing an acoustic drum kit. While electronic drum kits are great for those who produce electronic music or those who are practicing, they will never be able to stand up to the feel of real acoustic drums.
While learning on electric drums might seem more practical, it can actually develop bad habits that might be hard to reverse after a certain amount of time.
On the other hand, if you are looking to get experimental or you just want to mess around with the idea of playing drums, electric drum kits are fantastic. You can play for hours on end without having the cops called on you too, which is pretty special.
The next step for you is deciding which drum set will work best for your needs. We hope that this article has given you the necessary information to make that decision. Happy drumming!