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2017: The Best Electronic Drum Sets for Beginners
Save Mom's Ears -- Drum in Silence With an Electronic Drum Set
Electronic drum sets are an excellent alternative to the traditional (and loud!) drum set. Electronic drums have been used by pro drummers, for recording and in concert, for decades.
The idea behind electronic drums is simple: use the strike of a drumstick as the trigger for an electronic sound. The same idea has been used in electronic keyboards for decades. The sound, which can be a drum sound of any kind, is either digitally created or pre-recorded and then triggered by the stick hitting the surface. As you can imagine, the possibilities of an electronic drum set are essentially endless -- any sound from any set or recording can be triggered by the strike. The technology is now available to pretty much anyone. Affordable electronic drum kits for young people can do almost anything the pro versions can, and have the added benefit of being nearly soundless for everyone but the musician.
I put this guide together to introduce parents and teachers to the idea of electronic drums for kids, and to point out the bonuses of choosing an electronic drums over the usual acoustic drum set.
The Best Electronic Drum Sets -- PylePro Table-Top Digital Drum Kit
If you're looking for a good place to start in your search for a great digital kit, this is the place to start. An amazingly versatile kit for the price. It has prerecorded songs and kits, which means you can switch from one classic drum set to another with the touch of a button, or play along to pre-loaded songs or add your own.
I really like the tabletop size of this unit -- you could even take it on vacation and keep the kids busy for hours. It has edit and record features and a big, clear LCD screen to make recording loops and songs a piece of cake.
This unit is, of course, a table-top kit. This means that it's or table and easy to set up, which is a huge plus. This unit also connects to your Mac for nearly endless recording and playing options.
LED control display
Headphone & USB outputs
Kick, Hi-Hat & DC power inputs
USB port doubles as MIDI In/Out
Seven drum pads with touch sensitivity
Two different voice metronome system
215 percussion voices & 128 GM voices
25 preset drum kits & five user drum kits
Dimensions: 19.65" (L) x 14.5" (W) x 6.2" (D)
Powered by DC 12V adapter or six "C" size batteries
Drums Don't Have to be Loud
I wish someone had told me this sooner...
As a stay-at-home dad, and the father of two strong young boys who both loved to play the drums, I spent a lot of time in a house with thunder in the basement. They would practice all the time on fills, rolls, beats, cowbell parts, everything. Sometimes it was literally impossible to think, but it was important to us that our boys learn everything they could about music, and the fact that they were curious and motivated made a big difference too. So our tolerance level was high.
Turns out, it didn't necessarily have to be. We could have invested less money than we did in a traditional set and picked up an excellent electronic drum kit, and spared ourselves the noise. While I did love hearing them play, I think we would have like to have had the option of silent practicing now and then.
Electronic Drums in Action
The Alesis LED Light-Up Kit - Top Quality and Very Cool Looks
The Best Electronic Drum Sets -- Alesis DM Lite Kit with Light-Up LED Pads
I really like this kit for older kids, both for how cool it looks and for the features it boasts. Unlike the tabletop model above, this kit is mounted on a 4-post rack, which gives a much more drum-kit-like experience. It has 200 drum sounds pre-loaded, and a very cool drum coach feature that eliminates the need to drop extra cash on a teacher.
Like other kits here, the DM Lite Kit connects to your computer via USB cable for integration with recording programs and MIDI recording.
I also really like the pressure-sensitive kick drum pedal -- this means that when you hit it harder, it gets louder. My drummer idol, John Bonham, had a kick foot like an anvil. You can hear the power he transmits to the kick drum on virtually every Led Zeppelin track, but you can REALLY hear it on the intro to "When the Levee Breaks." With a pressure-sensitive kick pedal, you can make your own thunder by leaning just a little harder into that kick drum.
DM Lite Sound Module
(4) 7.5-inch LED illuminated Drum Pads: (1) Snare, (3) Toms
(3) 10-inch LED illuminated Cymbal Pads: (1) Hi-Hat, (1) Crash, (1) Ride
All required cables
Easy To Transport & Store
Instant Set Up
John Bonham Brings the Noise - "When the Levee Breaks"
The Best Electronic Drum Sets -- Yamaha YDD40 Electronic Drums
Yamaha makes everything from guitars to keyboards to amps, and everything they make is high quality. These basic electronic tabletop electronic drums feature 99 percussion sounds and tons of accompaniment options. There's also an AUX input that lets you play along with your iPod. A nice option for the beginners.
Practice in Silence
That's what you get with electronic drums -- silent practicing. The drummer smacks rubber or plastic pads, and the sound goes to headphones. It's pretty amazing when you compare the minimal sound produced by tapping the pads with the universe of drumming awesomeness that you hear on the headphones. Digital samples replicate the sound of real drums down the tiniest detail, because they recreate the sound wave produced by a real drum. It sounds like a drum kit is filling the room, when in fact the room can be filled with conversation, other music, or -- gasp! -- silence.
I'll say it again -- I wish someone had suggested I get my kids electronic drums fifteen years ago!
New Technology Means New Features
Newer versions of electronic drums, including basic models suitable for young and beginning players, have an away of cool features that kind of boggle the mind. For example, on some you can add in reverb to make it sound like you're playing in any kind of room, from subway station to cathedral to tile bathroom; you can also dial in delay, echo, pitch shift, tuning subtleties, drum make, size and model, and so on. The effects available depend on the model, so if this is important to you be sure to read the fine print on the Amazon listing.
Most models also allow you to play along to your iPod or computer, and to record your parts as well. Those that link to your computer often come with updates to the sound and effect bank, so you don't need to buy a new set every time the technology advances.
You can replicate virtually any sound of any drum ever made, add effects, record, play to music -- everything.
You'll Need Something to Sit On...
Most drum kits, electronic or otherwise, don't come with a stool (also know as a "throne"). You can certainly use your own stool or chair, or you can throw down for a good quality, inexpensive throne like this one.
For the Kiddies -- First Act FD213 5 Pad Electronic Drums
This is a pretty great toy -- perfect for kids ages 3 and up. Get them started out learning the coordination and musicality that early training brings with this cool kit. It has many of the same features that a real electronic drum set has, including pre-loaded sounds and rhythms, as well s recording capabilities. This is one cool gift for practically any little one.
Take A Quick Drummer's Poll
Have you ever played electronic drums?
Learn New Tech Skills
If you're like me, you came a long a little late for much of the digital revolution, at least in terms of affordable musical instruments and effects that rely on digital technology. But young people today are ready for the challenge, and electronic drums are an excellent way to offer experience in advancing tech. Depending on the model and the features, they can learn to record multiple digital tracks, handle compression and other effects, work with and understand the limitations of the medium, record and bounce tracks to your computer, make your own remixes, and more.
Last But Not Least, a Full-On Pro Kit -- The Yamaha DTX 450K
I couldn't resist adding this kit -- and there are several more Yamaha models like it -- as an example of the kind of electronic drum set us BIG kids might play. For the experienced drummer who knows what he or she needs.
NEW DTX400 Drum Trigger Module with 297 high-quality sounds
TP70S 3-zone snare pad for head, rim-shot, side-stick
Includes FP6110 Belt drive Kick Pedal and KP65 Kick Pad
Large 10-Inch Ride and Crash cymbals and 10-Inch Hi-Hat cymbal
HH65 remote hi-hat, allows half-open, pedal and splash hi-hat sounds