An Introductory Guide To Electronic Drums

Electronic drum kits are great tools for drummers tight on space and cautious of volume. Photo courtesy of

I’ve gotten a few questions recently about electronic drum kits that spurred me to write a post about them.  Electronic drum kits solve a lot of problems for drummers that need to be cautious of space and volume in their practice areas.  The technology behind these kits has also advanced greatly since I first picked up the sticks.  While I am nowhere near an expert on electronic drum kits, I did some research and found a few videos that might help you or at least point you in the right direction if you’re interested in an electronic kit.  I hope these offer some answers to questions you have about electronic kits.

The first video I will show you comes from XLN Audio.  It features a great overview of the three types of pads you will expect to find on an electronic drum kit.  Check it out at

The three big electronic drum companies that I came across are Yamaha, Roland and Alesis.  All three companies make great products at a wide range of price points.  I’ll start off with Yamaha.  Here is a brief article introducing the latest Yamaha models at

Yamaha is now using a numbering system to designate different series of electronic drumkits based on the brain used in the configuration. All the kits in the 500 series feature the redesigned DTX500 Drum Trigger Module, which includes 427 drum, percussion, and effects sounds, along with fifty preset drumkits and twenty user-editable kits. The module also features onboard practice tools, play-along and recording functions, MIDI out, and twelve trigger inputs compatible with the full range of DTX-PADs and cymbals.

The entry-level model is the new DTX500K, a five-piece kit based on the DTXPLORER. While the DTX500K doesn’t include a DTX-PAD, it does include a Yamaha bass drum pedal. The DTX520K features a three-zone XP80 8″ DTX-PAD snare, a three-zone PCY100 10″ crash cymbal, and the RS500 rack system. The DTX530K includes the same drum pad configuration but adds the RHH135 vertical motion hi-hat system and three-zone PCY135 13″ ride and crash cymbals. The top model in the 500 series, the DTX560K, features three XP70 7″ DTX-PAD toms.

In the intermediate 700 series of instruments, all models feature the new DTX700 Drum Trigger Module with 1,268 drum sounds, DSP effects, and 128 keyboard and melodic sounds drawn from Yamaha’s MOTIF-XF synthesizer workstation. Additionally, drummers can import audio samples into the module’s 64MB of Flash-ROM. Fully computer compatible, the DTX700 module includes a USB port for storing and loading files and a USB-to-host port for sending MIDI in and out to the included Cubase AI Digital Audio Workstation software.

The DTX700K uses the same pad, cymbal, and rack configuration as the DTX560K. The DTX750K includes three-zone DTX-PADs for the snare and toms, two crash cymbals, and a larger PCY155 15″ ride cymbal, plus the RS700 rack and drum hardware. The DTX790K uses larger DTX-PADs for all drums, including a large kick pad, and each drum has a control knob.

List prices: DTX790K, $5,752; DTX750K, $4,825; DTX700, $3,467; DTX560K, $2,637; DTX530K, $1,800; DTX520K, $1,507; and DTX500K, $1,055.

I found a video from Winter NAMM 2009 at the Yamaha booth that offered a demo of another Yamaha electronic drum kit.  Find it here at

Modern Drummer also offered an overview for two of the latest Roland V-Drum models.  Check it out at

Roland’s TD-9KX2 ($3,199, right) and TD-9K2 ($2,299, below) kits include an updated TD-9 sound module, which contains more than thirty new expressive sounds and dozens of new kits. The update also adds the ability to play MP3 files via USB flash media. Ambience effects and EQ can be added to quickly create custom kits, which are automatically stored to the internal memory. Users can archive a library of custom kits and settings from the TD-9 via USB flash media.

For practice, the TD-9 features the unique Scope function, providing real-time feedback of beat placement. The onboard Quick Record/Quick Play feature allows drummers to record and play back performances.

Both the TD-9KX2 and TD-9K2 feature Roland’s patented multilayer mesh heads for the snare and toms, with rim triggering available on all pads. The new KD-9 kick pad includes a cloth-designed bass drum head, and the new lightweight CY-13R ride (with three-way triggering) and CY-12C crash offer a more natural playing feel. The TD-9KX2 also includes the VH-11 hi-hat, which mounts on a standard acoustic hi-hat stand.

Roland also had a great video from Winter NAMM 2009 featuring a demo of the Roland TD V Drums.  Find it at

Here is a performance from Omar Hakim featuring the Roland V Drums.  Enjoy it at

The last company offers the most affordable electronic drum kit and is called Alesis.  See a brief overview of an Alesis kit at

The ultra-compact and affordable five-piece DM6 session kit includes the DM6 drum module, a new ProRack II drum rack, five drum pads, three cymbal pads, hi-hat and bass drum pedals, drumsticks, and a drum key. List price: $599.

I found a video demo of the Alesis DM5 electronic drum kit for you.  Check it out at

I hope all this information offers some answers to questions you may have had about electronic drum kits.  There is still a lot more research out there, and there are always used deals at big box retail stores, newspapers, and other online resources.  I hope you enjoyed the post because I had a great time making it for you.



Leave A Reply (3 comments so far)

  1. Cal Talbot

    Hello; hey man, you left out one of the nicest electronic kits going and it’s made by Pearl. It’s an electronic kit that can be changed into an acoustic kit in minutes. It also “looks” like an acoustic kit however, you can switch the electronic drum heads over to acoustic heads and the cymbals look acoustic as well and actually are real cymbals with a different finish and triggers on the under side of the cymbal for cymbal mutes by hand. Check them out, they are awesome and probable on the Pearl drum site. There’s also Pintech and Simmons and other “new” electronic drum kit makers out there that you can find searching the web.

  2. Yes I know the ones you are talking about. I just got to check them out at the NAMM show this weekend. They are pretty cool and these are what Tommy Lee is using currently for his latest incarnation of his over the top drum solo extravaganza! The only down fall I saw was they are essentially plastic, so when you are playing them if it is a quieter setting or a smaller room with ambient live mics, you will hear the “tic tic” of the sticks hitting the plastic. No worries in a loud setting. All in all they were definitely pretty cool if you are looking to go down that road.


  3. Gail

    Great realistic sound effects and options. Like the ability to choke the cymbal.