How Much Would a Gig-Worthy Portable E-Drum Set Cost Me?

Old Drummer

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Forgive my ignorance of electronic drums, but when I look at them, I get confused fast. I see top of the line kits costing thousands of dollars, only to be warned that buyers shouldn't plan on hauling them regularly to gigs. (Doesn't that defeat one of the purposes of drums?) Then I see kits for a few hundred dollars that I suspect might be toys. It's hard for me to know what to ask about e-drums, but off the top of my head I'd want to be able to hit rim shots, have some dynamic control with my hands, be able to choke cymbals, and maybe even be able to splash the hi-hat with my foot. You know, I'd just want to be able to play them roughly like I do acoustic drums--plus be able to haul them around (ideally easier than I can with acoustic drums).

My standards aren't incredibly high. I've got a set of Gretsch Cats now with a mixture of Agop, A. and K. Zildjians (and mostly low end hardware). Some of the bells and whistles of e-drums could be fun to play around with, but they are not what attracts me to e-drums. Neither do I plan on recording. Attracting me is the volume control, especially to practice quietly in an apartment, and ideally the easier portability. But I wouldn't want to lose features I already have with acoustic drums.

What realistically would I be looking at in e-drums to get something comparable to what I have in acoustic drums?

Thanks.
 

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electrodrummer

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(a) What's your empirical budget (so we have an area - otherwise your question is like "how much will a compact car cost me, it needs to have wheels and four doors")
(b) What's your location (country on the planet)
(c) What you you tried? - You need to go an hit some things to decide what's gonna work for you - they all feel different.
(d) What do you define as "portable" - all drums are portable - all ekits (apart from those with silly big pads/shells to appease 'it's got to look like an acoustic' drummers )

Important note - electronic drums are not acoustic drums. Completely different instrument, just share some playing techniques. In the same way that a Korg synth is not a Steinway Grand.

As for "rim shots" - yup most kits. Yamaha kits, uniquely, will also give cross-stick, offering three-zones on pads (rim-shot + cross-stick + head)
"have some dynamic control with my hands" - anything should do this - hit harder get louder sound. You can also adjust velocity curves, ie. the rate the loudness increases.
"be able to choke cymbals" - most kits beyond the known toys, or entry-level models.
"be able to splash the hi-hat with my foot" - any reasonable, non-entry level kit from, say, Roland or Yamaha.

So (a)-(d) and let's round it down - then we can get to specifics.

(in the meantime, some people will probably shout out specific models ;) )
 
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Old Drummer

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(a) What's your empirical budget (so we have an area - otherwise your question is like "how much will a compact car cost me, it needs to have wheels and four doors")
(b) What's your location (country on the planet)
(c) What you you tried? - You need to go an hit some things to decide what's gonna work for you - they all feel different.
(d) What do you define as "portable" - all drums are portable - all ekits (apart from those with silly big pads/shells to appease 'it's got to look like an acoustic' drummers )

Important note - electronic drums are not acoustic drums. Completely different instrument, just share some playing techniques. In the same way that a Korg synth is not a Steinway Grand.

As for "rim shots" - yup most kits. Yamaha kits, uniquely, will also give cross-stick, offering three-zones on pads (rim-shot + cross-stick + head)
"have some dynamic control with my hands" - anything should do this - hit harder get louder sound. You can also adjust velocity curves, ie. the rate the loudness increases.
"be able to choke cymbals" - most kits beyond the known toys, or entry-level models.
"be able to splash the hi-hat with my foot" - any reasonable, non-entry level kit from, say, Roland or Yamaha.

So (a)-(d) and let's round it down - then we can get to specifics.

(in the meantime, some people will probably shout out specific models ;) )
Thanks. It sounds like any non-entry level kit would work with Yamaha having the edge for cross-sticking. OK, I'm looking at non-entry level Yamaha. To your questions:

(a) I'm intentionally not asking about my budget (which if you must know is zero). I want to have an idea of how much it would cost me to buy an acceptable kit. For example, if asked what an acceptable compact car will cost, I'd immediately focus on the Chevrolet Spark or Aveo, maybe the Nissan Tilda and a few others, and give those prices because I consider them all acceptable compact cars. Granted, there's also the Mini Cooper and I believe BMW makes a compact car, so they could be mentioned too, but unless there's a strong reason to privilege them, their costs are so much higher than the others that they're unnecessarily expensive. I'm looking for the minimally acceptable kit, although am open to suggestions about why paying more might be worth it. Or, to put it more narrowly: Would I break even, take a loss, or profit by selling off my acoustic kit and going electronic?

(b) I'm in Costa Rica, which while relevant to me, isn't really relevant to the question. Anything would be imported and carry the corresponding taxes.

(c) I don't remember what I tried, though I believe it was a low-end Yamaha kit in a showroom. It was OK, though I didn't really land into it or think to check things like rim shots (though I do believe I checked a foot splash on the hats and that didn't happen). I'm a bit too timid to launch into an extended solo in a showroom, though suspect I could adjust to almost any feel. Heck, I practice rudiments on a chair cushion. I did notice what seemed to be a slight delay between the strike and the sound and would guess that a set too physically small might be cramped for me, but I'd imagine that I could adjust to almost anything.

(d) By portable, let's just compare the ease of hauling and setting up an e-kit with that of a 5-piece acoustic kit with a hi-hat and a couple cymbals. Some years ago when I investigated e-drums, I believe it was Roland that was making a super portable kit that could be carried in one bag on a bus. That would be great, but I didn't believe it. At minimum sticks and a pedal would require a second bag. More realistic is to hope for an e-kit that can be toted by regular Uber rather than the more expensive Uber upgrade that acoustic drums can require. (Too many Uber drivers have compact cars.) Of course, if e-drums are merely the same hauling and setup hassle as an acoustic kit, it's a wash. I would though balk at more hassle.

Anyway, I'm asking about the minimum here, a Chevrolet Spark or something, just not a rickshaw. And as for e-drums being a different instrument, I get that intellectually, just don't know it from experience. A drummer in a band I liked played e-drums and I thought they worked well, and I saw another drummer in another band playing e-drums who I thought did well too. Obviously they work and even have some benefits. Most of the drummers I see though play acoustic. Well, I know those, and don't think I'd switch to electronic if there are losses compared to acoustic. However, if I could play about the same on electronic as acoustic while having more options, why not?
 

kb

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Yes, well, remember they won't make a sound without an amp and speakers. That's hundreds of dollars more, and many more pounds of stuff to carry.

I could be wrong, but it's my understanding that e-drums need a lot of power and big speakers to do even moderate size rooms....

Maybe all the gigs you do have a full PA and sound techs.....if they don't, I suspect you're gonna have to schlepp even more stuff than you do now....

Good luck!
 

Old Drummer

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Yes, well, remember they won't make a sound without an amp and speakers. That's hundreds of dollars more, and many more pounds of stuff to carry.

I could be wrong, but it's my understanding that e-drums need a lot of power and big speakers to do even moderate size rooms....

Maybe all the gigs you do have a full PA and sound techs.....if they don't, I suspect you're gonna have to schlepp even more stuff than you do now....

Good luck!
Thanks, this is one of the things I wondered about when I first looked into them. Yeah, most venues have PAs and sound men, but I think you have to buy an amp to be covered--then carry that too. Toting all this in a bus really looks unlikely . . .
 

Stickclick

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I have played gigs with a Yamaha dd-65 compact drum kit USA $ 220. But moving the kit, stand, amp and throne was about as much work as taking snare, stand, bass, hi hat, and throne. So next time I think I'll just take the acoustic drums.
 

blueshadow

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I have a decent Yamaha kit that I use at home with headphones and the sounds are great for that. I have used the kick tower on a gig or two with a real snare and hi hats and it was ok. I think for your situation you might do better with one of the smaller acoustic travel kits like the Tama Club Jam, I have heard them live without mic's in a small club and they sounded really good.


edit: There's a pretty nice Yamaha set up in the sale section for $1500 that would be great for silent home practice, I still think something like the Tama Club Jam for gigs would be better....you could have both for less than a gig worthy electronic kit I think.
 
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dboomer

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When I use electronics live the rig is probably $6-8k. You’ll need to budget for a substantial sound system to accurately represent a kit at the same sound level as an acoustic kit.

If you just want to practice then a lot less depending on what level you are willing to settle at.
 

electrodrummer

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Been gigging edrums live for over 30 years. Never taken a PA to a gig. Just the drums. Pads in a software case or LeBlonde type drum case. Rack folded. Module and stuff in a flight-case.

"Acceptable kit" ? £300 (forgive the GBP!)
Nicer kit? £700
Even nicer kit? £1500
More then everything anyone needs kit? £2500
Pointless kit? £5000+

Dunno what a Chevrolet Spark is.

Here's an ekit from Weds this week. Filled 1,100 capacity London Scala. John Grant and Wrangler's band - Creep Show. Probably £250 of "acceptable" :)
 

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Splat

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Gigged with a ddrum3 for drums and TD20 for cymbals and everything else. Kit size matters but unless you've got roadies, kids, or damn good friends it's really a hassle to haul all the required stuff. Too much stuff and too many variables (esp to go wrong) for small gigs IMO.
 

Old Drummer

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Thanks all for the input.

I'm now thinking that I asked an impossible question, since I don't know enough about these kits to make a remotely informed decision. My guess is that MasterBlaster answered the question I asked most directly. $1500 does look like about the amount a person in my situation would have to pay. However, it seems like either cutting that amount in half or doubling it might be in order, once a person has enough experience to know what they really need. There are also seemingly a lot of other variables to consider that only experience with the kits could clarify.

I'm therefore also thinking that the best strategy for beginners like me is to buy a cheap, portable kit (probably under $500) and not even plan on using it instead of acoustic drums. It could serve as an in-home quiet practice kit, something to fool around with, and a rehearsal kit. Where I live rehearsal space is scarce and costly. Having a portable electronic kit would be a way to play a bit in quiet living room rehearsals, rather than just watch the others. Probably a cheap, portable kit like this would work for some gigs too--though that wouldn't be the objective.

The downsides of this approach is that the e-drums are an additional cost and if I decided to use them seriously I'd have spend more for a better kit. However, it looks like this approach is better than spending a lot more for a kit when I don't know what I want and may not use it anyway.
 

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