Is it a bad idea for a beginner level student who learns from her teacher, on acoustic drumkit, to then use an electronic multipad to practise on ?

While decent acoustic drumkits are out of my budget (posted a separate question about it, and used drumkits are hard to come-by where I am located), I noticed that electronic multipads (like from Alesis, Kpad etc.) are rather inexpensive, and small/light enough that I can get it internationally shipped without going broke.

Also, if one does go electric, how essential is it to get the hihat controller and bass drum tigger/kick accessories ? I guess, without they it'd be incomplete, right ?

  • 2
    You might instead consider a practice pad kit. It won't sound good but will help you with moving the sticks around better than a multipad and they are very affordable. One example: guitarcenter.com/Remo/5-Piece-Practice-Pad-Set.gc – Todd Wilcox Nov 3 '15 at 16:18
  • This is a great question to ask your teacher. Also, you may be able to get in some practice time on an acoustic kit at a high school or college in your area. And consider putting together a "suitcase drumkit." At this stage, you mainly need to learn snare technique and independence of your two hands and your two feet. – aparente001 Nov 5 '15 at 4:13
  • Thanks all for the wonderful suggestion. After scouting around, I managed to pick up a minimally used acoustic set from an instrument dealer. Checked it with her teacher and he is quite satisfied with the quality, as a beginner level set. The teacher's concern with entry-level electronic pads with the significant difference in "feel". – icarus74 Nov 27 '15 at 15:26

Practicing with multi pads is not a bad idea, it's a great idea. You can actually just practice on a cheap, portable, (affordably ship-able) practice pad to learn stick control for rhythmic accuracy, relative dynamics, and hitting a small target (this is important because eventually you'll want to hit a specific point on a drum head to get a certain sound, or hit the bell of a cymbal). You'll eventually need to find a way to practice on a real drum so you can learn how hard you should really hit and where, and the stick rebound from a real drum is a bit different, but a practice pad helps you learn a lot without costing much, causing you to go deaf, or your housemates/parents/neighbors to choke you, and practice pads really don't teach you many bad habits that are difficult to unlearn. In fact, it's often easier to play some things such as rolls on a real drum, so practicing on pads is sometimes better than practicing on drums.

The biggest down side is that practice pads are boring, so if you can afford to get something with similar benefits but is more enjoyable to play, that can certainly help you stay motivated and that's where multi pads or electronic drums fill a great niche. A multi pad is great for teaching accuracy and acquainting you with some of the different sound interactions you can get on a full drum set.

If you can afford it though, a full electronic drum set can be nearly as responsive as real drums, they can have many, many different sounds (vintage big band drum set, heavy metal set, hand drums, etc.) that make them very interesting and flexible, and of course you can work on playing kick and hi-hat with your feet. Electronic cymbals are still a poor substitute for the real thing, so to get the full experience you should try to play real drums eventually, but for some electronic drum sets are good enough.

As for the question about hi-hat and kick controllers, if you stick with this you will eventually need a way to practice all the parts of a set. That said though you may be surprised at how far you can progress with just a single practice pad. If you're highly motivated, you can work on foot skills by tapping your toes while you play the pad with sticks for months or years while you save up for some kind of complete kit.

  • There's good information in here, and it doesn't seem to quite address the question of electronic multipads. As an example, the most popular and famous multipad is the Roland SPD-30. – Todd Wilcox Nov 3 '15 at 18:34

Jay Huggins' answer makes a lot of good points. I like to add something that might be important to you as a parent to know.

Having followed lessons for around 16 years I'm not ashamed to say that the first part of learning drums is the most boring part. That is, if you do it the way you should: basic rhythms, rudiments, the like. Only after you've mastered those basics you can move onto standards. There's too many people who try to play a song, before even being able to play straight eights in tempo. So a good approach would be to get started with a pad. Doesn't even have to be electronic!

I used to take a Play Doh like substance with me everywhere, roll it out in a circle of around 6" (15 cm), and you have your pad! (Note that Play Doh might be too soft and would get holes in it too quickly. Unfortunately I don't know the brand of the actual substance I used any more.) This is great for rudiments, and basic rhythm practice. Most kids have a smartphone these days, so if she could install a metronome app on her phone, get some ear buds and the Play Doh like stuff and you're set for less than $25 (£16/€25)! This gives you a head start to start saving for a bigger set (acoustic or electronic).

Another approach would be, as you said, to get an electronic pad. In one of the rooms at my school we used to have them, a "snare", hooked onto a "bass drum" and a "ride cymbal" (in quotes, because they were electronic). It also had a built-in metronome, and audio-out for headphones or ear buds.

Whichever approach you choose, as Jay Huggins said it is a great approach - at the start of her lessons. She might not like it, and it gets boring quickly, but I guess it's something you have to get through when learning any new instrument. When she's getting better, and she really uses the equipment you got her, you can start thinking about saving for better equipment. For the first two to three years for instance, she should be able to manage perfectly without a whole kit. If she gets bored, or wants to practice on a real set, maybe you can arrange with the tutor a free moment for her, e.g. once a month that she can do whatever she pleases on the acoustic kit at practice.


What kind of a budget do you have? It's easier to give recommendations when we know what you have to spend. And are you looking at an electronic pad simply because of the price or is it also for the noise?...are your neighbors/family/etc going to be ok with loud drums?

The most awkward part of learning the drums is getting your hands and feet cooperating together so not being able to work your feet is going to limit your progress. Even a dirt cheap acoustic kit that sounds horrible is going to suit you better than an electronic pad for this.

Another option is to go with an inexpensive electronic drum kit, such as the Behringer XD8: http://www.proaudiostar.com/behringer-xd8-8-piece-usb-electronic-drum-set-b-stock.html?utm_source=Google_Shopping&gclid=CPDjpp-5rMkCFdgKgQodnqIEjg

I had to transition from an acoustic kit to electronic due to the noise, so I picked up a used Roland V-drum kit off ebay for a little over $600 a few years ago and it's been great for quiet practice.

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