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After years as a bass player I'm thinking of getting an eletric drum kit and learning how to play. (I want to play an electric kit because I'm often home late and want to be able to practise without disturbing the neighbours). I'm looking for bad habits, important differences and common pitfalls a new drummer might aquire or come across when starting off on an eletric kit that might trip him up when switching to acoustic later on.

(Keeping in mind that I'm talking about what seems to be decent entry-level kits priced at $1000 and above)

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2 Answers 2

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A couple of things come to mind:

  1. positioning - pads are generally smaller than real drums and cymbals, so if you set them up close together, you'll be surprised when you have to reach a lot farther on a real kit. I've spaced my Roland pads and cymbals farther apart so that the centers of the pads more or less match the centers of the drums on my acoustic kit.
  2. stick response of pads compared to real drums - I think rubber pads are a little harder than the mylar heads on acoustic drums, and seem to put more stress on your hands than real drums. However, mesh pads are very comparable to acoustic drums - I think they're easier on your hands and wrists than the rubber ones.
  3. dealing with dynamics - there's no volume knob on an acoustic kit - you have to control the dynamics with your hands and feet. Electronic kits let you change the overall volume of the kit and also the relative volume of the different instruments in the kit with a knob. This can often turn out to be a problem with the kick drum - sometimes students who learn exclusively on electronic kits have difficulty getting used to how hard you have to hit an acoustic kick drum for an accent or cymbal crash.

As yossarian says, there are some subtleties which I think would be harder to learn on an electronic kit, like rimshots, cymbal sounds and hihat sounds. One the other hand, I've played acoustic drums for 40 years and have a Roland TD9 electronic kit, and I'm amazed at how sensitive they are in those areas.

YMMV, hope this helps.

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I'm not a drummer, but I think the answer is a basic: technique. E-drums are not nearly as responsive as a real kit, it will be hard to get a good understanding of:

  • How to do a rim shot
  • How hitting a cymbal in a different place or with different velocity or a different part of the stick will really effect your sound
  • How using your wrist as a spring to bounce the stick back on to the snare after an initial hit will sound

I assume that the better the E-drums are, the better they'll cope with these issues. However, they'll never get all the way there, and it doesn't sound like you're looking at that class of instrument anyway.

BUT, I think you'll be just fine learning how to play drums on an electronic set. If you get serious about it though, you'll definitely want to get a real set to practice on as well. My drummer uses eDrums in his apartment and has his kit in our rehearsal space.

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