Electronic drums are an instrument that has grown exponentially in recent decades, both in terms of technology and popularity.
Its current configuration does not differ much from that of acoustic drums, but instead of having the classic drums with Mylar leathers, they have pads. The pads can be of different types depending on their use and cost, but mainly they are divided into two categories: Real rubber-coated disks or mini-drums to which a mesh skin has been applied, capable of reproducing the same rebound sensations of “normal” skin.
The rubber pad in all its derivations of shape and materials is used instead of the classic plates or in the cheaper electronic drums instead of drums. The pad with mesh leather instead is used to replace the drums of the battery. In more recent versions it has the tie rods attached to a shallow stem, which have the purpose of regulating the tension of the skin to be so adapted to the rebounding needs of each drummer.
“It is also possible to mount the mesh skins on the drums of the
acoustic battery, simply to reduce the volume “
HOW IT IS MADE
Inside each pad, there is a sensor (or trigger ), which when subjected to impact (ie when we hit the pad with the stick), generates an electrical signal. This signal is processed by a sound module, always present in an electronic battery, which turns it into sound through some algorithms.
Sound modules are the real brain of every electronic battery and often the most expensive part. They are connected to the pads with cables and today they have an infinite variety of sounds from which they can choose, and they are able to be connected with the outside becoming real sequencers.
THE FIRST ELECTRONIC BATTERY
Many associates the invention of the first electronic batteries in the early 1970s, but it was only in 1976 that Pollard Industries sold the first drum machine. It consisted of a sound module and one or more drums.
Although the company went bankrupt within a few years, its batteries caught the attention of many famous drummers and so in 1978 Simmons began its production of electronic drums, launching the SDS-5 in 1981. Battery with the characteristic hexagonal pads, the SDS-5 was used in many recordings and can also be seen in many video clips of the band of the time. His notoriety meant that even rock drummers (e.g. Terry Bozzio) decided to use it. His sound described as “terrible”, however, was so new and futuristic that even groups like Duran Duran and Rush made extensive use of it.
THE ENTRANCE TO THE GIANTS
The following years were a crescendo of research and production, Roland and Yamaha, in particular, produced their first models, with rubber pads, sensitive to dynamics and with sampled sounds.
“In 1997 Roland revolutionized the concept
electronic drum kit with V-Drum “
In 1997 there was a little turning point in the sector. Roland launches the TD-10 which presented two fundamental novelties: Mesh skins instead of rubber pads and no more sampled sounds, but mathematical models to produce sound.
ROLAND TAKES POWER
It was the first V-Drum, a term that still today is a symbol of Roland electronics. It was my first electronic drum kit and I can absolutely confirm the incredible variety of sounds and settings. The sound module of the TD-10 is still sought after on the market and its evaluation is still very high. One of the biggest “flaws” of this model is that the pads for dishes and hi-hat as they are today been not invented. I remember well when there were round rubber pads in their place, which made bounce and consistency very unreal. It was really frustrating.
Currently, there are many producers, from mass production to craft, the principle is not very complicated and creating pads is also possible for those who have a minimum of familiarity with electronics.
“It is possible to expand the module’s sound library
sound, simply by connecting a laptop “
THE TRUE FEELING
The search for sensitivity and sound as close as possible to acoustic drums is the main purpose of these batteries. Today they are used both by those who have volume problems, both for studying and for live and recording. Just do a bit of research on the internet to find videos, data sheets and reviews for all tastes, there’s plenty of choices, even the prices are now very variable and for all budgets. It starts from a few hundred euros up to 10,000 and even more, the important thing is to understand what is the use we want to do and the features that are fundamental for us, otherwise a lot of patience and as always, before buying it is essential to try.