Pondering Potential Percussion Purchases

In a world with thousands of striking, scraping, and shaking instruments, where do you begin when assembling an assortment of percussion for the church music department?

Recently, I received an email from a worship pastor requesting my advice about choosing percussion gear. Check out this abridgment of his inquiry:

Hi, Mark! 

I found your blog when researching percussion setups. My wife and I are worship pastors at a small-to-growing church in West Virginia. Over the last year, worship has really started getting exciting and we’re having more instrumentalists drawn to the church.

One thing I’ve always wanted to do is add a percussion set-up. I have no idea where to start. What instruments are the go-to must-haves?

Pastor J.W.

Perhaps you are in the same situation as this worship leader (desiring to acquire a basic array of percussion) or maybe it is time to expand your church’s collection of membranophones and idiophones.

Following the sub-theme of this issue (Budgeting For Your Worship Team 2017), I have compiled some information for purchasing percussion gear. These suggestions are based on the needs for “praise band” rather than a “church orchestra.” My recommendations include a number of my personal favorites along with approximate prices.

“They Increased My Budget”

The addition of an electronic percussion instrument can place hundreds of digital samples at your fingertips. You can dial up vintage drum machine sounds as well as accessing hundreds of acoustic percussion samples.

Both the Octapad SPD-30 ($700) and the SPD-SX Sampler Pad ($800) from Roland feature multiple playing surfaces and hundreds of preset sounds.

My personal choice for electronic percussion is the Handsonic.  Designed for hands, the Roland HPD-20 ($900) includes capabilities to dampen and bend tones.

A great way to dip your toe into the electronic percussion waters is with an app for either smartphone or touchscreen tablet. When a sample pad malfunctioned before a rehearsal, I  turned to my iPhone and tapped my way through two services with Korg’s iKaossilator app ($20).

Invest In Quality

A couple of sawbucks can buy a “clunky” triangle or you can shell out a few “Jacksons” and enjoy the beautiful shimmering tone that you really want to hear.  Go ahead and purchase the good stuff.

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An active freelance musician, Mark’s percussion work can be heard live and on recordings with Gateway Worship. A member of the Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Roster, Mark performs frequently as a percussion soloist. Mark’s compositions are published by Per-Mus Publications, HoneyRock, & Heritage Music Press.

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