Why Don't More Professional Drummers Use Electronic Kits Live?
Posted by mikewilliams34 on December 10th, 2018
For as many different drum manufacturers there are, we still don't see many professional drummers using electronic drums live. Despite how synthetic modern pop and rock music is, we are still seeing acoustic drum sets at major live performances. Many rappers even hire drummers and full bands to compliment their performance. Today we'll be examining why the electronic drum set is still more of a practice tool rather than a performance instrument.
Manufacturers cut corners to increase profit margins
Let's face it, electronic drum kits tend to have cheap, poorly made hardware. The money in many of these kits all goes into the drum module and the pads themselves. Unfortunately, this means that many manufacturers will skimp out on the hardware, leaving you with a product that isn't going to hold up on a long tour.
My first electronic kit was made by Yamaha. It wasn't a bad drum kit by any means but wasn't the top of the line either. The hardware was so terrible. It was a cheap aluminum frame with plastic fasteners for all the drums. There came a point when I wanted to sell it and moving it was a total headache. I can't imagine trying to do that night after night on the road.
Electronic drums are complicated to set up
Now I know that there are a lot of pieces to a traditional acoustic drum set, but setting up an electronic drum set can be a nightmare. There are tons and tons of cables that need to go into specific input ports on the back of the drum module that then connect to each individual pad.
At face value, you may be thinking, "well, sure, but drum microphone and XLR cables are similar to the drum module." This is true, however, the sound engineer at venues usually takes care of microphones and cables. By you setting up the cables on your kit, you are taking away from time that could be spent setting up other things for the stage.
Your world is completely reliant on the drum module
If your electronic drum set happens to fail during a live performance, you're completely out of luck. Not only will you have lost all your sound to the PA, but the audience also won't hear anything you're playing. Now that would give me stage fright every single night.
There can always be a point of failure with any technology, however. If the digital console at the front of house goes down, the entire PA goes silent. This isn't the best argument for acoustic drums, but it does indicate another point of failure that could at one time, fail.
New drum modules are often very expensive
In order to keep up with the times, buying a new drum module might seem like the right move. Surprisingly, it took a long time for drum modules to catch up to the USB boom of the late twentieth century.
My first electronic drum set didn't even have USB to connect to my computer. The only way I could utilize virtual instruments with my kit was to buy a MIDI to USB adapter, which wasn't always reliable.
They're just expensive overall
This may be the biggest point of all. I can't justify taking a ,000 instrument on the road to play in 300 - 500 capacity rooms, let alone buying one that high-end. I understand that the technology is incredible and keeps getting better, but manufacturers need to drive the cost even further if they want a larger consumer and professional market to explode.
Do you use electronic drums when playing live? What has your experience been like? I would love to hear from you drummers!Also See: Electronic Drum, Drum Module, Setting Up, Electronic Drums, Electronic, Drum, Up