Electric Drums Versus Acoustic Drums - What should you learn on?
If you starting out on the drums you're probably thinking how awesome it would be to get an acoustic drum kit. Of course you want to make some noise and get the authentic experience of playing the drums. But there are some disadvantages and benefits of playing an electric drum kit. To help you make a decision, or maybe you're a parent deciding what's right for your child, here are the key considerations in deciding between an acoustic and an electric drum kit:
How much sound can you make where you live?
I am sure you have started to think where you new drum kit will live and be played in your home. There is no getting around the fact that acoustic drums make a lot of sound (I don't want to use the term noise), and this often rules them out in apartment buildings, unless you have very tolerant neighbours. Even in houses, the sound can permeate outside into your neighbourhood. I used to get around this by having an agreement with my neighbours as to when I could play, and I never played after 8pm at night. So if you are reading this and thinking that the sound levels could be an issue, then electronic drums may be the way to go, simply because you can play using headphones, or at lower volumes through an amplifier.
How much space do you have for your drum kit?
While some of the smaller sized electric drum sets take up less space, you really need a floor space of 2-2.5 square meters to comfortably accommodate a drum set and the drummer. There’s nothing more restricting than being too confined, or being forced to sit too close to your drums due to space restrictions. This can affect your technique and posture, and is something to be considered when determining where your drums will live. The entry level electric drum kits do take up less space so if you're buying for your child and have limited space in the spare room then this may be a factor for you.
Is your budget a consideration?
The price of a decent entry level acoustic and electric drum kits are quite similar and we recommend budgeting for $1000. You can spend less than this on electric drum kits if you're on a budget but the playing experience is compromised. In general, the more you spend on an electric kit the closer you will get to the feel and sound of an acoustic kit. Electric drum kits over $1000 have silicon drum pads which make it a much more authentic playing experience.
But if you're on a budget a cheaper electric drum kit will get you or your child started on drums. We recommend getting one of our entry Yamaha and Roland drum kits in the price range of $600 - $700 to ensure you get sufficient quality as the cheaper brands really compromise the playing experience.
How important is the playing experience to you?
If you’re seriously looking to get into the drums then read on. Otherwise if it’s just your child's first drum kit or you’re just wanting to have a go the considerations mentioned should be enough to help you make the decision.
As a drummer who loves playing the acoustic drums there are compromises in the playing experience with electronic drums.
Unless you are looking at the top-end electric drum models, the drum pads themselves are often undersized, with the average diameter of a drum pad being 8 inches. As these pads are mounted on a rack system that comes with the set, the net result is that the drums are compacted together. While you might think that this might have some advantages with saving a small amount of space, the downside is that the playing position becomes cramped, and this can then affect your posture and how you approach the drums.
Another factor to consider, is the difference in how the pads feel. Pads that are made from rubber, plastic or mesh, just don't feel the same as hitting a real drum head. They're closer than they ever have been before, but pads on electric kits let you get away with certain things that acoustic drums will not. If there is work to be done on your technique, then acoustic drums will reveal those shortcomings, whereas mesh or silicon heads can let you cover up all manner of drumming sins. As a runner, I often parallel the difference between acoustic drums and electronic drums as training on a treadmill or running on grass. The treadmill is great - it’s comfortable, controllable and smooth. Grass is testing, makes you work a little bit harder, but achieves better results.
Drummers who regularly play on electronic drums can often have a hard time transitioning to acoustic drums. The articulation of the cymbals and the hi hats, the response of the drums and the dynamic approach to playing the kit as a whole can take some getting used to. The feeling you get when you hit a kick drum beater into a kick drum head - the air pushing out of the drum and hearing the low, punchy attack is a feeling that you can only get from a real kick drum, and its enthralling, thrilling and fulfilling!
Nothing beats the all-powerful feeling of BRINGING THE THUNDER on what many refer to as “real drums”, but electric drums provide a great alternative in situations where an acoustic set may be impractical. If your surroundings do not permit noise an electric drum kit is your only option.
Either way you want to budget enough to ensure you get a drum kit that will last your playing journey and provide an authentic drumming experience which provides so much joy.
Come into our store or give us a call for expert advice on which model of electric drum kit is right for you. There are subtle differences and benefits at different price points.