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Posted on Nov 21, 2013 in Featured Slider, Tools, Worship Ministry | 9 comments

Electric Drums: Gold or Fool’s Gold?


Cracked me UP…

 

I‘m coming to believe electric drums are, in fact, fool’s gold to the average blue collar worship leader. Blue collar worship leaders serve in small-to-midsize congregations and face many obstacles that a quality electric drum set could overcome. So in that sense, they’re true gold. For instance:

  • Small room or bad acoustics? Electric drums get it under control.
  • Can’t afford a nice drum room and mic set-up (aka, one that actually helps)? You can get some great sounding electric drums for reasonable prices these days…especially if you scour your local Craigslist ads.
  • Have more than one drummer and they all play crazy different? Electronic modules allow you to program and save settings for multiple users.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Perfect volume every week. No more complaints from the peanut gallery.  No giant, ugly drum cage to mar your stage. Right? Wrong. Because electric drums are fool’s gold.

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A few years back, I was faced with the kind of dilemma we all love to have in the form of two great drummers. Two great drummers who were as opposite in style as you could come by. One knocks the snot out of them with a hammer, the other taps them slightly with a feather. They both do a really nice job.  But one week we couldn’t hear the drums well and the next week a little too well.  Everyone says a drum shield by itself does little good and I wasn’t interested in paying a fortune for a drum room + we’d had bad luck trying to mic acoustic drums in the past.

So I found a great deal on a set of Roland TD-4 V-Drums via Craigslist. The guy was extra-willing to negotiate with us since we were a church (I find that to often be the case).

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We programmed them uniquely for each drummer using the TD-4 Percussion Sound Module. Each of them had a certain snare, a certain kick, certain crash sounds they liked and the module let us customize a lot.

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Honestly, a drum set had never sounded better in our seats than they did coming crisply through the mains like that. And the volume was just right every week. But it wasn’t meant to be.

To the guys’ credit, they gave it a solid try for almost a year before deciding they just couldn’t take it anymore. Mostly, it was the cymbals. Didn’t feel right, didn’t sound quite right. They make fancy electric cymbals that feel and sound real but those each cost more than our whole set did. So we had to go a different route (read about how we built a drum cage for less $) and we handed our electric set off to the youth group who’s room is an acoustic nightmare. It helped them tremendously but, a year later, even their drummers are ready to throw in the towel.

So that’s why they’re fool’s gold. They look like they’ll fix all your problems.  But if the drummer won’t play them, what is that actually worth? Nothing, my friend, absolutely nothing. And can you blame them? I wouldn’t want to play an instrument I didn’t enjoy, either.

Has anyone had a lasting, positive experience with electric drums or do you agree they’re just worship leader fool’s gold?

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

9 Comments

  1. Real drummers hate edrums

  2. We have a set Roland V-drums that were donated to the church by the previous worship leader and while I can see certain advantages to them, I just don’t think I’ll ever appreciate them like the real thing. I do play drums, but it’d be a stretch to call me a drummer, as it is just an instrument that I can fill-in on. Even I can tell there is an occasional latency in the drums triggering and the cymbals are just not close to the real thing. Our church, before I came here 4 years ago had long before committed to the silent stage concept (all in-ear monitors) and that was a difficult transition for me as all I’ve ever know were floor wedges, side or over head monitors. In those early days here we at least still had the acoustic drums so I could “feel” the rhythm, but now the only instruments that are acoustic is…well, the acoustic guitar and the percussion section (where we still have one glorious authentic crash cymbal). It requires having a really balanced personal monitor mix to even enjoy the music. I mean that in all sincerity. Thankfully, we do have control of our own monitor mix via the Behringer X32 board we now use. That has been a huge improvement.

    • It really feels like the worst solution for a lot of bands and especially drummers but the best solution for a lot of churches. Tough call!

      We’ve toyed with the in-ear stuff, too, but haven’t committed completely yet. Our experiments have proven it’s a tough transition for some of our band members, too. So you’re not alone on that! :)

  3. I’ve been playing Roland drums at our church for over a year now and for us its absolutely awesome. When I began playing at church we had an old gilapie of a set (which is still in the youth room) but it has never graced the platform after I found a Roland set on craigslist. The volume control is deffinetly a plus, and I can understand the dislike of the cymbals but I love everything else about them. I love being able to change the sound of my set per genre of music, or type of music. We have several servicesengagements out of the building every year and we find it so much easier to transport that acoustic drums. I have since upgraded to a Roland TD-8 with dreams of a newer model but will never go back to a full acoustic set. Side note, we are hoping to move to an x32 soon and do personal monitor mixes as our sl2442 is dying.

    • I should add I have all mesh triggers and the td-8 is one of the older flagship models so it has alot of functions even new models don’t have.

    • Great to hear from a drummer who may be the exception to the rule! :)

  4. We just canned our V-drum set, and went to an acoustic set. We’re starting out with the idea that a good drummer can and should adjust the dynamics to the venue they’re playing in. It was based on this video on Youtube.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x50muKPdo2M

    We will probably do a cage eventually.

    • Thanks for sharing this! I agree that it would be nice if all good drummers could just adjust and I’m sure many can. But I’ve also met some really good drummers (especially older ones who’ve been doing it a long time) for whom changing their dynamics really affects their ability to play effectively. It just throws them off and makes them really uncomfortable.

      In such cases & if at all possible, I’d personally rather put the people first and show them I value them and their contribution enough to work out a solution or at least meet them halfway. Every musician & every ministry environment is unique, that’s for sure! I pray things work out great for yours!

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