Yes, you read the title correctly. There is an advantage to playing digital or hybrid drum kits. Some drummers don’t often like to admit that, but it’s true… or at least it can be. Let’s take an honest look at the issue.
We all love to play our “real” (acoustic) drums. There’s something so “organic” and powerful about that contact with an acoustic instrument. Every musician feels this… the connection and vibration we feel from real drums, acoustic guitars, pianos (not keyboards), etc. But there’s world of sound, texture, and color that electronics makes available to us that would be very difficult and maybe even impossible to create with only acoustic sources. If you keep an open mind, the world of electronic/digital drums opens up unlimited possibilities to your creativity.
In many churches I know the drummers must play digital drums just to deal with the challenges of small venues or bad acoustics. You also might be dealing with playing with an orchestra & choir, so acoustic drums just don’t work. I’ve been there. The latest digital kits from companies like Yamaha, Roland, ddrums, and others are pretty amazing options. My favorite is Yamaha DTX series. The feel of the pads and the new sampling technology makes them unbeatable in the digital drum market.
The key with all of these types of kits is working on your setup to be totally comfortable with the feel, and liking the sounds you choose. Take the time to dial everything in to the best of your ability. There are so many sample and effect options that it can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s worth the time to build your favorite kit. Be patient… and just do it. I’ve been impressed that the DTX series has awesome kits ready to go without much editing.
Job number two – Working on the sound mix with your house engineer! This applies to any electronic setup you use. Especially when you blend acoustic and digital sources together. We call this a “hybrid kit.” Be sure your house engineer is aware of what you’re doing and how the sounds work together. Triggered sounds can easily get lost if the engineer is not paying attention to the total sound of a drum kit. And when adding electronics to acoustics they have to be extra careful to incorporate those sounds into what they already hear from the real drums so it sounds like one full set up.
The “hybrid drum kit” is what I enjoy the most. Using drum-triggers on my kit, a kick pedal trigger, and a multi-pad set up allows me to incorporate a little bit of everything along with the feel and power of acoustic drums and cymbals. I’ll use a trigger kick pedal just to the right of my real kick pedal for any electronic bass drum or low sound needed. I may even use a snare trigger to add extra snare samples to either one of my snares. Placing other pads at different places around the kit is also an option (See photo – the pad to the right of the floor tom.) And last but not least, the multi-pad. I usually put it to the left of my hi-hat… but it could also go over the kick drum if I use only one mounted tom. If you look on YouTube at various worship bands, this has become very popular.
As always, let the music determine what you need to use. There are so many options in this world of modern drum technology that it’s easy to forget that it still about serving the music and the people. Don’t just become a “tech geek” to show off your creative chops. Keep that as your prime directive and you’ll be good to go.
Blessings as you continue to grow in all that the Lord has made you to be.