Photo Credit: Mark Latham
Guest Blog Post by: Electronic Drum Advisor
Acoustic drum sets are very difficult to replicate electronically in both presence and sound. However, they do not always contain enough variety to meet the sonic expectations of modern audiences.
This poses a problem for modern bands. Full electronic drum sets are often ruled out as an option for many valid reasons, but what about getting the best of both worlds? This is where Hybrid drums come in.
Hybrid drums are the fusion between acoustic and electronic drums. Drummers simply augment their current drum kit with electronic elements such as triggers, pads, and drum modules.
These setups can get very interesting, particularly when you interface the electronic drumming elements with other music gear and DAW software on your computer using MIDI.
This article also explains the benefits of hybrid drumming for live sound, particularly when it comes to the punch of your bass drum for smaller live performances.
Using electronic elements in your drum set
Hybrid drum kits do not often come as one big package. The items are generally purchased and organized separately. This is all about creativity and personalization.
Electronic drum pads are a great and simple option to start implementing electronic sounds. You can place pads such as the Roland SPD-SX or Yamaha Multipad right next to your drum set and hook it up to the PA system.
These types of pads can produce a very wide variety of sounds, such as claps, percussion, bass notes, synth loops and much more. You can also import your own custom sounds or hook the pads up to other gear or production software using MIDI.
Another fantastic option is through the use of drum triggering technology. These simple items attach to drum heads and can trigger external sounds on other music gear. You can usually even connect them to your sample pads.
One of my best tips is to mount a dual-trigger to your snare drum. This makes the snare rim a separate triggering surface that you can use to produce a clap or other effect sound.
Trigger bars and pads are useful for electronic elements that you can place in convenient locations around your drum set. These can be great for discrete electronic additions to your kit.
Triggers and pads require a sound source. This can be done using an electronic drum module, a drum trigger module, a sample pad, or other music gear.
If you already own an electronic drum set, you could use the ‘drum brain’ from this as your sound source.
Combining elements in the live mix
Acoustic and electronic elements can be combined nicely in your live mix using hybrid drum setups. For example, you can set up microphones on your acoustic drums while also amplifying sounds from your pads and triggers.
If you are mixing two sounds together, it is useful to blend the electronic sound in. For example, a good quality drum trigger modules allow you to alter the pitch of the electronic sample to match the sound of the drum head.
The most practical use for this is the kick drum in live performances. Drummers that need a serious punch sound out of their kick drum are often disappointed by small venue sound systems. Blending a triggered, club-style electronic kick sound can often achieve very impressive results.
Many metal drummers have been using triggers on their drum heads for years. However, this has caused some controversy because drummers have been using them to compensate for lack of power when executing fast double-kick strokes.
The best music genres for hybrid drumming
Genres that contain strong electronic elements such as pop and dance are perfect candidates for hybrid drum sets. Drummers can trigger samples and effects that are relevant to the style.
Hybrid elements are especially interesting for experimental acts and live electronic music producers. The modular nature of these items often fit very nicely with these setup types.
However, more subtle uses of hybrid elements can be used across a wide variety of music styles. For example, drummers for wedding and cover bands could opt to trigger their drums instead of using microphones. This could improve their live sound, as well as making sound check and pack down a whole lot easier.
Using a full electronic drum set
The majority of drummers do not consider electronic drum sets as an option for playing drums live. However, top-end sets can actually simulate standard drum sets extremely well. They also work great in spaces where an acoustic set is simply not an option.
If you are in doubt, try out the current top-end electronic drum sets such as the Roland TD-50 or the Yamaha DTX900 in a local music store. These resemble nothing like the kid’s toy image you might conjure up when thinking of an electronic drum set.
These might set you back a lot of money, but they are the closest we currently have to electronically simulating a full drum kit. Check out this guide on Electronic Drum Advisor to explore these options.
There are some disadvantages of electronic drums over regular kits. The cymbal pads can sound a little fake and the kick pad can lack the presence of a 22-inch bass drum.
However, combining what’s great about electronic drum sounds with your acoustic drum kit is the best of both worlds.
Using electronic elements can improve the range and quality of sounds for your live performances. You can start with a few small items and then expand the sound of your kit from there.
This guest blog post was written by Electronic Drum Advisor.