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For drummers today, electronic drum sets offer a range of distinct advantages over acoustic drum kits.

First up there’s the volume. Electronic drum sets allow drummers to practise for hours on end without waking the neighbours.

Then there’s the sound selection. Even a beginner standard electronic drum set will ship with a multitude of different drum and cymbal sounds to cater to all styles of music.

You can also plug most electronic drum sets into a computer to use for recording in the studio.

This eliminates hours and hours of acoustic miking, mixing and mastering that goes hand in hand with regular drum kits.

On top of all that there are the convenient practise options and built in features such as metronomes and song templates to groove over.

Best Electronic Drum Set: The Definitive Guide

Electric drums have been with us for years. They have a long and chequered past, from the early basic analogue iterations to the sophisticated digital offerings of today.

But who makes the best electronic drums nowadays and which electronic drum set should you buy?

In this article we will discuss some of the top rated electronic drum sets on the market today and their pros and cons.

The article is split into four main sections, which are graded on price ranges, from beginner to high budget professional level.

With beginner and lower end electronic drum kits you’ll often find that they come with additional items such as drumsticks and drum stools.

As the price increases it’s common to see these items left out. There are several reasons for this.

One is that by not offering these extras, the drum companies are able to keep the price down to a minimum and that is music to the consumer’s ears.

The other reason is that most purchasers of mid to high end electronic drum kits tend to already have some experience playing and have their favourites in this regard.

This could refer to a drum stool that you can’t play without or a bass drum pedal that suits your technique like no other.

Best Beginner Electronic Drum Kits Under $500

Beginner electronic drum kits are largely aimed at youngsters and tend to be quite lightweight.

You won’t find any fancy features and most are not designed to last several decades.

With that in mind let’s take a look at some of the best beginner electronic drum sets out there.

Roland TD-1K Electronic Drum Kit

A great offering from Roland specifically catering for beginners to the instrument.

This kit comes with 4 drum pads and 3 cymbal pads and is a good electronic drum kit to learn on.

It’s extendable, meaning you can buy more parts, such as drum pads, and increase your kit size.

The feel is good overall and it’s quite sturdy yet not too heavy.

It comes with 15 built-in drum sound banks which should keep most entertained.

The quality of the drum samples here is quite high and better than most on the market.

The basic TD-1K comes with rubber pads but if you want a more natural feel to your snare you can purchase the TD-1KV which comes with a mesh snare head.

Like most beginner range electronic drum sets, this kit comes with beaterless bass pedals and floating hihat pedal.

In this respect you get maximum positioning but lose out on the realism of proper acoustic kit hardware.

A great feature of the TD-1K is its ability to take an MP3 input for play along purposes.

This saves you a lot of bother should you wish to practise along with your favourite tracks.

The ‘Coach Mode’ will also help budding drummer improve their speed, timing and accuracy. The Roland TD-1K usually retails for in or around the $500 mark.

Pros

  • 15 drum kit sound banks

Cons

  • More expensive than many counterparts
Alesis DM Lite Electronic Drum Kit

One of the top rated electronic drum kits in the beginner section is certainly Alesis’ DM Lite.

The kit is solid and compact and comes with 4 LED drum pads and 3 LED cymbal pads.

These pads light up when you strike them for a cool dynamic feel.

It’s a small enough setup to fold away which is a huge benefit to most who are new to the instrument and struggling with space.

The pads are very playable and give a strong rebound with the supplied sticks.

There are 10 drum kit sound banks to choose from giving you a selection of different kits ranging from rock to pop to jazz and more.

The foot pedals are not connected to the hardware rack and sit alone. This makes for easy positioning but lacks in the feeling of a real drum kit.

The bass drum pedal has no beater, rather it works like the hihat pedal with an internal sensor.

It’s features like this that will eventually drive the consumer to upgrade to a higher level setup, but for beginners who are getting to grips with basic coordination, they work just fine.

Included in the drum brain is a ‘Learn Mode’ and a ‘Play Along’ function which is great for getting to grips with the fundamentals.

Combine this kit with a professional tutor and that should be enough for anyone to form a reasonable beginner skill set on the instrument.

It’s certainly one of the best portable electronic drum sets and also one of the best entry level electronic drum sets.

Pros

  • Nice size for tight spaces

Cons

  • No drum stool
Yamaha DTX400K Electronic Drum Kit

In the world of music, Yamaha are one of the big players.

They produce for practically every instrument and electronic drums are no exception.

The DTX400K is Yamaha’s beginner kit with value and quality being of utmost importance.

Again we have 4 drum pads and 3 hihat pads. These can be assigned to any one of 169 different drum sounds. That’s 10 kits in total.

As with others kits in the beginner range, the DTX400K comes with beaterless pedals.

This kit can easily be connected to your Mac or PC so as to record with MIDI through USB.

The rack is easily adjustable and does a good job of keeping every drum just where you need it.

The response from the pads is quite good too, if a little hard, but that’s to be expected with a sub-$500 electronic drum set.

As well as 10 different drum kits to choose from you also get warmup features and a groove exercises to sharpen your drumming skills.

The DTX400K is an impressive drum kit overall but does reside on the higher end of the beginner price range.

It’s a good deal more expensive than the Alesis DM Lite which offers the better bang for your buck.

That said, the DTX400K is a good electronic drum set for beginners.

Pros

  • Mac/PC connectivity

Cons

  • Pricey
Best Electronic Drum Sets Under $1000

Moving on from the beginner selections, we now look at affordable electronic drum kits that are aimed at drummers with some experience.

As you will see, the range of features will increase and overall quality and build improves as you move up through the more expensive kits.

If you’re not a total beginner and you’ve got in or around a grand to spend then you should consider some of these kits.

Keep in mind that some electronic drum sets might offer features that are of no use to you, whether that be practise modes or MIDI compatibility.

You can make a checklist of the features that are important to you and compare and contrast the different brands and models.

Here are the top 3 contenders for the best electronic drum kit under $1000.

Alesis DM10 Studio Kit

With the DM10 Alesis offer us a ten piece professional electronic drum set for well under $1000.

The whole setup comprises of 4 cymbal pads (hihat, ride and 2 crash cymbals) and 6 drum pads.

Each pad is mylar, although you can get mesh should you wish to fork out a bit more cash.

The brain on the DM10 is impressive, with over 1000 different sound samples to choose from.

It’s also possible to connect the DM10 to your favourite DAWs in order to expand your sample selection.

The kick pedal has been upgraded to a real pad for use with a pedal which makes the overall playing experience more akin to a proper acoustic drum kit.

Unfortunately it doesn’t normally ship with what Alesis considers extras, such as a drum stool, kick pedal or sticks but the build of this kit is one which you will have no problem playing in live or practise situations.

You can also choose from an aluminium rack or a chrome rack depending on your preference.

Pros

  • Over 1000 sounds

Cons

  • No kick pedal included
Yamaha DTX450K Electronic Drum Kit

A step up from the DTX400K, this kit has a few extras that the previous was lacking. The main difference is the inclusion of a standalone bass drum pad for use with a pedal.

Yamaha have also been kind enough to include one of their own pedals (FP6110) with the deal which will save you time and money.

The HH65 remote hihat is also an improvement on the DTX400K and allows for more nuanced control with several settings such as half-open, pedal and splash hihats.

The hihat can be one of the most expressive and dynamic parts of any acoustic drum kit so any improvement here is warmly welcomed.

The snare pad is a TP70S which is a 3-zone pad. This extra responsivity means it’s easier to get a more human feel to your playing.

The DTX450K connects to any desktop computer allowing you to download backing tracks and playalong files.

This step up won’t cost you an arm and a leg either. For a couple of hundred dollars more than the DTX400K you can get this edition. Throw in an extra $20 to get the drum throne too.

Pros

  • Kick pedal included

Cons

  • Lightweight hardware compared to competitors
Roland TD-11K-S V-Compact Series Electronic Drum Kit

Roland’s TD-11K-S retails just under $1000 and is an impressive leap on from the earlier mentioned TD-1K.

First up we have the inclusion of a mesh snare drum head. This mesh head is far more responsive than the usual rubber pads and feels more real to play.

This 8 piece drum set (3 cymbals, 5 drums) is one of Roland’s most popular and it’s not hard to see why.

Along with the mesh snare, you also get a real standalone bass drum pad for use with the included Roland bass drum pedal, or any pedal of your choosing.

The feel from the bass drum is better than most competitors in the sub-$1000 bracket and we put this down to Roland’s ‘Natural-Feel’ kick pad.

It’s less springy than most kick pads and absorbs the beater in a more realistic way.

The rest of the drum and cymbal pads are the standard rubber feel but with a nice kick and snare you’re halfway there to feeling like you’re playing on the real deal.

The array of sounds is impressive too. Roland have always strived to offer the best when it comes to sound samples and the TD-11K-S is no exception.

Pros

  • Mesh head snare

Cons

  • More expensive
Best Mid Range Electronic Drum Kits

For those with a bit more spending power we’ll now look at some of the best intermediate or mid-range electronic drum kits available to buy for under $3000.

Anything in this price bracket is considered on the higher end and professional.

KAT KT4 Electronic Drum Kit

KAT Percussion are perhaps not as well-known as the other big players on the electronic drum kit scene but they are steadily making an impact.

Previously part owned by Fender, they were recently taken over by DW.

The KT4 is an eye catching drum set, most notably on first impressions for its all white look.

This makes a stark contrast to the typical black pads we associate with electronic kits. Looks aside the KT4 is an impressive kit with quality abound.

A 9-piece setup with 4 cymbals and 5 drum pads, the KT4 is built on an extremely robust rack for maximum solidity.

The hihat stand is separate and standalone, meaning no more awkward footboard issues. It’s a 3-zone hihat too, so you can get a range of sounds from bell to edge.

The snare and tom pads are 11 inch dual zone pads that can be customised for realistic drum response.

You can choose from any of the 780 drum sounds and 50 kits and there’s even an effects section where you can play with EQ and reverb.

You also have 44 banks in which to save any new kit configurations you create.

Pros

  • Great value at well under the $1500 mark

Cons

  • No kick pedal
Roland TD-25KV Electronic Drum Set

For around twice the price of the KAT KT4 you can get Roland’s TD-25V electronic drum set.

It’s one of the top electronic drum kits on offer by Roland and features many improvements on the TD-11K-S.

Each of the 4 cymbal pads is multi-zoned, meaning they respond differently to where they are struck.

You can get different sounds from any cymbal by playing on the edge or closer to the center bell.

There’s even a cool choke response so you can stop unwanted crash cymbals from sustaining at the end of songs or in staccato passages. Likewise the drum pads are equally as impressive.

The snare has what Roland call ‘positional sensing’ which allows for nuanced playing such as ghost strokes, rim shots and even the use of tradition jazz brushes.

It really is an impressive feat Roland have managed to pull off here.

The hihat is more realistic than most electronic hihats yet bizarrely Roland has opted to leave out the hihat stand here, meaning that you will have to supply your own.

Installation is pretty simple though, you just attach the TD-25KV hihat to your existing stand and you’re good to go.

The 18 preset drum kits might sound limited but there are many more available to download when you connect to your Mac or PC.

The sounds are of the highest quality and you can personalise your own kits with the multi-effects Roland have included.

Pros

  • Mesh heads

Cons

  • Hihat stand not included
Yamaha DTX562K Electronic Drum Set

For well under the $2000 mark you can come home with Yamaha’s DTX562K electronic drum set.

This kit comes with 691 high quality drum samples, 3 multi-zone cymbal pads, 4 silicone drum pads, upright hihat stand, bass drum pad and Yamaha’s RS502 drum rack.

It’s an impressive package for the money and certainly is worthy of the ‘professional’ tag. One thing that is missing though is a kick drum pedal.

Perhaps Yamaha felt that anyone purchasing a kit of this value would most likely have their own preferred pedal anyway so decided not to bother including one.

The silicone pads are nicely responsive but not as easy to play as standard mesh heads.

The array of sounds is impressive, with the ability to download more when you connect up through the USB.

Playability is fairly effortless and the cymbals respond admirably to a variety of strokes.

One thing about the DTX562K though is the drum pads end up feeling a tad small. The playing area of the two toms and floor tom in particular feels a bit cramped.

On the other hand this could be used as a way to increase your accuracy but it feels a bit like a toy kit in this respect.

Extra features on the DTX562K are a built-in metronome, groove and practise exercises.

All in all a strong contender for the money.

Pros

  • Value for money

Cons

  • Small sized tom pads
Best High-end Electronic Drums

Now we come to the high end, high budget, all frills, no-expense-spared end of the electronic drum set market.

Kits in this section range from around $3000 up to under $10000.

You can keep spending should you wish to add a vast range of features and upgrades too.

It’s worth noting that because we are dealing with digital products, there is a tendency for some of these kits to age and not keep their value.

That is one of the perils of buying any digital product.

The industry moves so quickly and the cost of manufacturing is constantly being lowered so that a top of the line instrument today might retail for a fraction of the price in a decade or so.

The same cannot be said to the same extent with acoustic instruments.

In fact, there is a school of thinking that believes that acoustic instruments actually age well and get better with time.

With all that as a preface, let’s dive straight in and compare some of the best digital drum sets.

Alesis Strike Pro Electronic Drum Kit

With their finest electronic kit to date, Alesis have released the mightily impressive Strike Pro 6-piece electronic drum kit.

Out of the box it’s an impressive looking instrument, coming in a pristine blood-red colour with sparkling chrome hardware.

Alesis may call this a 6-piece but in fact you also get 5 cymbal pads, namely a hihat, ride cymbal, and three crashes.

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If you‟ve just picked up your first set of sticks and are looking for a good place to start with learning songs, then this is the place for you.

It can be a daunting experience to try to figure out what is happening on the drums in many songs so this list will be structured in order of difficulty, from easy to not so easy.

We will assume that you are familiar with the names of each drum, the snare, the bass drum as well as the toms and floor toms including any array of cymbals you might have from hihat to ride cymbal and crash.

Most of the songs listed here use a fairly minimal setup so you can rest assured that you should have the equipment to play them in their entirety.

Terminology

Throughout the article we will often refer to different beats of the bar. Each bar is in 4/4 timing which means each bar will have a count of 4 pulses.

Get familiar with counting along with each song and say each count „1, 2, 3, 4‟ as they are happening. Complex musical terms will be kept to a minimum so as to make this list as accessible as possible to all comers.

Queen – ‘We Will Rock You’

First up is the infamous anthem by the British rock band „Queen‟. You‟ll be happy to know that this is by far one of the easiest beats to pull of on the drums.

Interestingly enough the original of this song was played at a far higher tempo, namely double time, and has a completely different feel.

This beat is made up of two bass drum strokes and a snare hit, as well as the addition of many, many hand claps. We are only concerned with the drums for now. Play two hits on the bass drum with your bass pedal. These hits should land on the first word which is „We‟.

Next the snare should be played on the word „Will‟. This beat continues in this fashion for the remainder of the song. An important note is to try to play this beat steady so that it sounds like three powerful beats – bass drum, bass drum, snare.

The Beatles – ‘Ticket To Ride’

Ringo‟s playing on „Ticket To Ride‟ is simple but very effective and you can play the main pattern with just a bit of practise.

The beat begins on the bass drum and uses snare and tom for colour. Use two hands on the snare and tom for each stroke to produce a crisp and powerful hit.

The pattern goes: bass drum, snare, bass drum, bass drum, snare, tom. And that‟s it!

Of course there is a lot more to Ringo‟s playing than that simple pattern but this is the bulk of the song. Take a listen to the original to hear how Ringo phrases each drum hit.

When you are comfortable with the basic pattern, then you can add frills like tom rolls and crash hits.

Primal Scream – ‘Rocks’

The drum beat in Primal Scream‟s infamous song „Rocks‟ is a very common and widely used beat. It‟s also extremely easy to master with a bit of time and concentration.

The main thrust of this beat is to play the snare on each beat. This means that when you count along to it with „1, 2, 3, 4‟ you should play the snare on each count too.

Next add the hihat along with each snare beat. You‟ll want to place your foot on the hihat pedal so as to control the hihat cymbals just enough to produce a nice sound. Pay attention to the sound on the record and try to imitate it.

When you are comfortable playing both snare and hihat on each count you can then add in the bass drum on each count too.

This gives the beat a full and rounded sound that compliments the other instruments in the band such as the bass and electric guitars.

Michael Jackson – ‘Billie Jean’

Michael Jackson‟s iconic tune „Billie Jean‟ features some of the most famous drumming of all time. The beat played in this song was performed by award winning drummer Leon “Ndugu” Chancler.

It is sometimes humorously referred to as the „money beat‟ as it is generally regarded as the beat that pays the bills for many drummers.

The makeup of this beat may be simple but to perform it as well as the original takes time and patience. Let‟s examine the beat in more detail.

As you count along with „Billie Jean‟ you should notice that the snare drum lands on counts „2‟ and „4‟. This is quite a common feature and is often referred to as a „backbeat‟. The bass drum lands on count „1‟ and count „3‟. On first attempt it is a good idea to try to play along with the song using just bass drum and snare.

Try to lock in to the rhythm and focus on accurate placement of each hit.

When you are comfortable with this rhythm you can add the final ingredient, which is the hihat. The hihat is played as „1/8th notes‟.

This simply means that they will be played evenly twice for every one count.

It‟s important that you play the hihat clean and evenly here. Use your foot to control the pedal and tighten the hihat cymbals together.

You can hear that in the original song the hihats are nice and tight but not too tight!

Work on this beat and spend hours if you have to as it will form the basis for many other beats you will encounter on your journey as a drummer.

ZZ Top – ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’

The drummer on this track, Frank Beard, is known as the only member of ZZ Top for not having a beard! He‟s also known for his tasteful and complimentary drumming and this song is no exception.

The basic beat is similar in nature to the previous example in Michael Jackson‟s „Billie Jean‟. One major difference here though is that Frank plays the bass drum on all four counts of the bar.

This is sometimes called „four to the floor‟ which was originally an old jazz term for adding the bass drum to each downbeat.

A key element of this beat is the straight and consistent hihat sound. This beat sounds like a drum machine in that it is quite rigid dynamically. This is a huge component of the ZZ Top sound.

You can play the hihat closer to the edge of the cymbal in order to get a more harsh and cutting sound.

Later on in the song Frank plays some simple but tasteful fills on the toms. You can keep the bass drum pulse on all four counts going throughout these fills so as to keep the time.

Oasis – ‘Live Forever’

From Oasis‟ debut album „Definitely Maybe‟ this song is known for its iconic drum intro. It‟s also quite an easy one to play for beginners so let‟s get into it.

The beat is centred around the ride cymbal playing 1/8th notes. The concept of playing 1/8th notes is the same as in the previous two examples only in this case, instead of playing the hihat, we will play the ride cymbal.

Also instead of playing the snare on count 2 we will play a tom, preferably the floor tom.

Already this sounds like a completely different feel. Don‟t play the bass drum on each count here as the original pattern is a small bit more complex.

Take a listen to the song and you will hear that it is comprised of one bass drum on beat „1‟ and then two bass drums on beat „3‟. Each bass drum will land on a ride cymbal so use that to judge your timing. When you have the basics down you can add the additional floor tom hit just after the last ride cymbal.

Bearing in mind there are 8 ride cymbals to each bar, this would mean that this final floor tom hit will land just after the 8th ride cymbal.

As the song develops the drummer moves from playing the backbeat on the floor tom to the snare. This is because the volume increases as the guitars come in.

The White Stripes – ‘Seven Nation Army’

The drumming on „Seven Nation Army‟ by The White Stripes is ideally suited to someone new to the instrument. The song has three main sections and each section has a different drum part to be played too.

The first section is the verse and the drums come in eventually with a simple bass drum pulse. The bass drum is to be played on each count, „1, 2, 3, 4‟.

The second section is a simple build into the chorus. You can play this build using bass drum, tom and floor tom.

The rhythm is 1/8th notes so you will be playing at double the rate of the previous bass drum pulse in the verse.

This build is only short and eventually crashed into the chorus.

Listen to the guitar riff on the chorus and also to how the drum beat compliments it. The drums play a basic beat with snare on 2 and 4 and bass drum on 1 and 3.

At the end of each riff there is a tricky rhythmic pattern which is made up of two bass drums and one snare.

You can play each drum in this passage along with the crash cymbal. If you are having trouble with this beat, always take some time out to listen to the original.

Conclusion

Learning to play the drums is no different to any other instrument in that it requires some time and patience. The benefit from other instruments though is that it‟s way more fun!

Learning your favourite songs is a great way to build up your vocabulary on the kit and in time you won‟t have to think too much about the coordination side of things – it will become second nature to you.

Keep practising and remember, have fun!

The post Top 7 Easy Drum Songs to Learn as a Beginner appeared first on BarkingDrum.com - Drums, guides, reviews.

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