Electric Drums: Gold or Fool’s Gold?
Cracked me UP…
— Worship Sound Guy (@WorshipSoundGuy) October 15, 2013
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.
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).
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.
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.”