I’m looking for a cheaper alternative to the timpani, that may be used in a middle school band.

Any Ideas?

Thanks in advance.

  • 3
    I've seen Rototoms used for this en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rototom
    – Legorhin
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 15:52
  • 2
    Electronic drums can be set up to sound like timps, with a small amp. The feel won't be the same, but for rehearsals, they'd suffice - and be cheaper and take up less room!
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 15:54
  • Tympani have pitches. There's not a lot of alternative drums (contained airspace with membrane surface) that will sound like them. Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 14:59

2 Answers 2


A midi drum kit should do the trick. You'll need a proper VST too though.


One option is a keyboard with timpani sounds. Roland, for example, has some options that sound great and will even play a roll for a held key (not sure about glissandos with the pitch wheel). You could also trigger the keyboard with a drum pad via midi to preserve more of the visual aspect of drumming for a performance if you want.

Electronic drums could possibly work too, but since timpani are tonal, the interface for finding pitches on a keyboard will be less problematic and error prone.

  • A friend of mine has a device that looks like a xylophone that can be programmed with sounds, among which are timpani. It's pricey though, might be out of reach for a middle school band budget. And there's still the issue of the feel, but there's not much that can be done about that.
    – Duston
    Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 13:31

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