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  • Seeking advice on electronic drums

    Hi all. As I mentioned in my recent Intro post, our church is currently experiencing some growth, both in numbers attending, but also in terms of space, as we extend and enhance our buildings. Our new worship space is around 60% bigger than the old one, but with far better acoustics. This has given us a real issue with the volume of our drums, which is affecting both our other musicians and the congregation. We have explored the "ask them to play more gently", "play with brushes" type options, but have found it's just not a reliable solution. So, given that we now have this awesome new sound desk, with about 3,000 channels, I've pretty much decided to invest in an electronic drum kit. So, I'm hoping to get some practical advice on what kit(s) we should look at.

    I'll preface by saying a few things: 1. I'm not a drummer, nor do I play or read music (I'm just a guy who loves the Lord and can sing in tune). 2. I'm based in Australia, so there may be a difference in availability and price of gear. 3. For various reasons, I can't involve my main drummer too much in this decision. It would be great if I could, say, narrow it down to two kits, then give him the final say.

    What I'm looking for is an electronic kit that:
    1. Sounds like real drums, at least, as far as that matters for congregational worship.
    2. Will "feel" ok to our drummers
    3. If this is feasible, a kit that can be readily switched for right and left-handed players (if this can be done mid-service, it would be a great benefit).

    We're not interested particularly in how many "voices" the kit has or how well it lends itself for recording, for example. We just need a drum kit that sounds and feels like "drums" and would be suitable for an auditorium that seats around 250.

    I've done a little resarch locally and it looks like the brands I'll need to choose from are Alesis, Roland and Yamaha. Our budget is not huge - around $1,000 to $1,300 - which, here in Oz, might get us, say, a Yamaha DTX500K, Alesis DM-10 studio, or nearly stretch to a Roland TD11K. On the other hand, if we can spend less and still meet our criteria, I'd be very happy (and so would the Church Board). I'm wondering, for example, what advantages an Alesis DM-10 studio would have, for congregational worship, over the cheaper Alesis DM8 PRO or much cheaper Alesis DM6 USB, or the Roland TD11K over the Roland HD3?

    Any advice you can give would be very much appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Marc H

  • #2
    I really don't have anything about specific models, but I do have some expereince with electronic drums in church.

    First, there are two major components to a electronic drum system. The drums themselves, and the control module, which has the different sounds of the drums. Most times, they are sold together, but not always. The Roland units seem to get the best reviews on having "authentic" drum sounds.

    Second, for the "feel" of real drums, you will have to spend some money. Look for two things: the "feel" of the drum heads, but also the ability to have different "zones" on the cybmals, hihat, and snare drum. This gives the drummer the ability to get differing sounds from each, depending on which "zone" they hit the drum/cymbal at. A drummer will love you for that, as this is what makes them sound like real drums!!

    Other than that, I don't have much more to offer. Good luck with your search!!!

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for your advice visionman. I'll be sure to take those things into account.

      On doing a little more research and phoning around, I'm starting to think that the left / right-handed thing might be a problem for us: our main drummer plays left-handed but our up-and-coming new teenage player is a right-hander. With the acoustic kit, it's relatively easier to switch these around, but with the electronic, the components are clamped to a stand and, presumably, plugged or wired in, which might be difficult to re-arrange. Does anyone have any experience in this?

      Thanks,

      Marc H

      Comment


      • #4
        Mark,

        I found this page talking about adjusting certain Rolard kits for use by left handed players. I'm sure they make it sound easier than it really is, but at least it's possible! As long as your not planning on switching drummers mid-service, it could probably work!

        http://www.roland.co.uk/blog/can-you...handed-playing

        Comment


        • #5
          Hey man welcome to the forums!

          I have dealt alot with acoustic vs electric sets in many of the churches I've been involved with... I have also helped many different ministries with their acoustic circumstances. I would like to first say, getting an electric drum set will improve your sound, but not just that electric drums sets would improve the sound of pretty much any church regardless of how big the budget is for acoustic treatment and good p.a. equipment.

          High-end electric drumsets and on par with high-end acosutic drums sets, they didn't used to be, but we not in the 90's anymore haha electric drum sets are probably one of the biggest things to have imporved over the last 20 years for the music industry... that being said:

          Getting an electric drumset would help you have more volume control over the drums/// i.e. you can control the volume of the kick drum the toms the cymballs all serperately without bleed from other mics, you can better choose what sound you want for the specific building your in etc.

          This will help with stage noise(no other musicians have to worry about the drums being to loud), and also help with the sound of the drumset in the actual room you are playing in.

          High-end roland systems are good, but not great... you asked what feels the most real and sounds the most real? The Pear E-Pro Drums. They look identical to an acoustic set, and the heads can even be changed to acoustic heads if you want to play the set acoustically at some point. It sounds the best of any electric set, looks the best, and feels the best for the drummer.

          Every church that I have converted to electric sets and had previously used Roland or Yamaha systems said they would never go back. I currently am the Worship Arts Director at Church of the Open Door, we have 2 campuses and 3 venues, each of the venues had many sound issues that we tried to fix in different ways because of the acoustic sets, the final solution was electric drum set to the dismay of the drummers, but its sounds a thousand times better and they really liked the E-pro's for feel.

          http://www.e-prolive.com/

          In regard to playing left handed and right handed, if you don't keep all the chords linked together you can just switch the position of drums and cymbals however you want whenever. Not as fast as switching acoustic sets around, but still the same thinking.
          Last edited by Cody Patterson; 07-04-2013, 01:21 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Cody,

            Which e-pearl set do you recommend for churches? I checked them out online, and I read some pretty discouraging comments about them from users, mostly in regards to the cymbals. People said you had to tighten them down a lot, restricting their movement (thus, making them not behave like acoustic cymbals) or they would soon break. Also, several people said the sound of drumsticks hitting the cymbals was easy to hear over the sound of the drums, and the band. Maybe in a huge church where they crank the sound that wouldn't be an issue, but in a smaller church (100 or even less) that doesn't play at rock concent levels...do you think it would be an issue?

            I'm not looking to buy any drums just yet at my new church (startup, about 30 in attendance at the moment), but possibly in the future! Thanks!

            Comment


            • #7
              Check out what you can find used, also. Your local GC or even GC Online you may find a good used set in your price range.

              Generally speaking, the Yamaha and Roland are the preferred e-drums.

              I'll say up front (and I play drums on occasion and play with a couple very talented drummers) that an average sounding e-drum kit from Roland or Yamaha may not sound as 'natural' as an acoustic kit. But, if your acoustic boxed up in a fish tank stuffed full of cardboard and blankets and still bleeding over into every mic on stage, that doesn't sound very 'natural' either. So I don't get too hung up on that point.

              IT does bear repeating that the e-drums play markedly different than acoustic sets. Some sets have a hybrid cymbal setup that feel pretty close to natural, but your average e-drum have plastic with rubber overmolds that is about like hitting a Tupperware lid. That can get annoying for most drummers.

              I'd suggest taking your experienced drummer with you and having him check out a few systems to see what would work good for your situation.
              If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

              Comment


              • #8
                My advice would be to not waste your money. Teach your drummer to play with emotion and learn to play soft or loud when approbate. Electronic drums are a poor substitute and bring numerous issues to the table that you don't currently have.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Deuce View Post
                  My advice would be to not waste your money. Teach your drummer to play with emotion and learn to play soft or loud when approbate. Electronic drums are a poor substitute and bring numerous issues to the table that you don't currently have.
                  In some cases this can work. But not in all. Deprnding on the size of your space, the acoustics, number of people, stage noise, etc., it may very well be harder to "train" a drummer to play a regular acoustic set, if not impossible, than to help them adapt to an electronic set.

                  There's no doubt they are different. But really, not much different than teaching a piano player how to play on an electronic keyboard. Sometimes, it's necessary in order to properly facilitate worship for the congregation. And that is what it's all about. Most drummer's I've known have strong preferences for their instrument. That's understandable! If anyone asked me to give up my acoustic guitar for a "different" model, or even an electric, I'd probably shed a few tears! But if it helped the worship team better facilitate worship for the congregation? I'd do it in a heartbeat.

                  As others have said, electronic drums have come a long way in imitating acoustic sets. They aren't 100% there yet, but it's doable. Some drummers may have had bad expereinces with older electric sets. But that doesn't mean we should throw out all of them because of that!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by visionman View Post
                    There's no doubt they are different. But really, not much different than teaching a piano player how to play on an electronic keyboard
                    I would not assume that a piano player and a keyboardist are the same, in fact I know very few piano players that are really good at keyboard and all of the things it is capable of and vice versa.

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                    • #11
                      Depends is you're talking a keyboard/synthesiser, with their hundreds of different sounds and functions, or an electric piano, which has a couple extra sounds, but mostly is an....electric version of the acoustic piano. The good ones have a full 88 keys, and are weighted and touch sensitive, to imitate the "feel" of piano keys. But they aren't exactly the same.

                      Pretty much the same as electronic drums, IMO. Essentially the same as the acoustic version, just electronic, and a different feel...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by visionman View Post
                        Depends is you're talking a keyboard/synthesiser, with their hundreds of different sounds and functions, or an electric piano, which has a couple extra sounds, but mostly is an....electric version of the acoustic piano. The good ones have a full 88 keys, and are weighted and touch sensitive, to imitate the "feel" of piano keys. But they aren't exactly the same.

                        Pretty much the same as electronic drums, IMO. Essentially the same as the acoustic version, just electronic, and a different feel...
                        Exactly, I prefer the sound of an "acoustic piano" patch on a keyboard than I do playing a real piano! (To some people they think that is weird, but if I put my keyboard inside a regular piano and they couldn't see I was playing a electric piano they would say it was the best sounding piano they ever heard rofl). In other words, electric drums sets can sound great these day, people just have negative feelings about them from the past as well as because drummers don't like the feel usually.

                        And there is only one version of the Pearl e-pro I know of, but it has quickly become the standard at least in my area (Cleveland) for churches and live bands.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Electric drums: No. No. annnddd No! Build a drum room, and mic it up, or even put your drummer behind a shield with an overhead condenser. That is your absolute best solution.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by johnepettigrew View Post
                            Electric drums: No. No. annnddd No! Build a drum room, and mic it up, or even put your drummer behind a shield with an overhead condenser. That is your absolute best solution.
                            John,

                            My biggest issue with that is, unless you are a bigger church, not only is a full drum room, dampening, and miking (not to mention possibly having a buy a larger mixing board for those extra channels!) probably out of the price range, it just plain looks out of place on a smaller stage and/or in a smaller sanctuary.

                            Sometimes, and this applies to ALL worship musicians and singers, you have to adapt and do what is best overall to facilitate worship in your church. If that means setting aside your preferred instruments, prefered way of playing/singing, or whatever...then you do it. If you are called, you are called to serve, and that may mean being a little uncomfortable and having to adapt to something new and different. As leaders of worship, it isn't about us, our voices, or our instruments. It is about bringing people into the presence of God Himself. And we need to be willing to do anything necessary to make that happen.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by johnepettigrew View Post
                              Electric drums: No. No. annnddd No! Build a drum room, and mic it up, or even put your drummer behind a shield with an overhead condenser. That is your absolute best solution.
                              John,

                              My biggest issue with that is, unless you are a bigger church, not only is a full drum room, dampening, and miking (not to mention possibly having a buy a larger mixing board for those extra channels!) probably out of the price range, it just plain looks out of place on a smaller stage and/or in a smaller sanctuary.

                              Sometimes, and this applies to ALL worship musicians and singers, you have to adapt and do what is best overall to facilitate worship in your church. If that means setting aside your preferred instruments, prefered way of playing/singing, or whatever...then you do it. If you are called, you are called to serve, and that may mean being a little uncomfortable and having to adapt to something new and different. As leaders of worship, it isn't about us, our voices, or our instruments. It is about bringing people into the presence of God Himself. And we need to be willing to do anything necessary to make that happen.

                              Comment

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