Finding Your Best Pair of Drumsticks – How to Tell the Difference

drumsticks
Drumsticks come in many different sizes and shapes. A quality set of drumsticks is one of your most important assets as a drummer.

Junk drumsticks can be unbalanced, made from poor materials, and break easily. They can also be inconsistent across even the same models, which means that you may not get the same playability from different pairs.

I’m going to start by recommending some of the best all-round drumsticks. After that, I’m going to go in-depth to help you understand what different drum stick sizes mean.

Recommended drum sticks

Vic Firth American Classic Extreme 5AN with nylon tips

One of the most renowned producers of drumsticks, Vic Firth created the Classic Extreme 5AN type with nylon tips.

The Vic Firth 5A has become a very popular choice for drummers. The Extreme 5A sticks are a bit longer, and add a bit of extra reach to your playing.

These sticks are made of hickory, so their density mixed with a pinch of flex provide an articulated sound, appropriate for different drumming styles. Hickory is a well-known shock absorber, so they have a healing effect on drummer’s hands.

Note: On electronic drum sets I prefer to use this model. On acoustic kits I personally prefer the wood tip (Extreme 5A)

Zildjian 5B Nylon Black Drumsticks

The Zildjian 5B Nylon Black drumsticks are made of hickory. Similarly to the previously mentioned ones, these are a very good model for beginners.

The nylon teardrop beads on the tips of these sticks are also very useful for electronic drumming.

Also, its color and ornaments make give this model a pretty cool look.

Promark Select Balance Rebound Balance Drumsticks 535, Wood Tip

The third member of the holy trinity of drum producers, Promark brings to us the Rebound Balance 535 drumsticks.

Made from hickory and additionally adjusted to have the same weight, these sticks offer a consistent drumming feel that doesn’t wear out the player.

Drumstick sizes

In a nutshell, there are four main types of drumsticks that I recommend rookie drummers should choose from: 5A, 5B, 7A, and 2B.

The numerical part

As you’ve noticed, each of these types contains a letter and a number in its name.

The number in the type of a drumstick represents its thickness. The lower the number, the thicker the drum stick is and vice versa. For example, a 7A drumstick is much thinner than a 2B drumstick.

Further, there’s also the letter part in drum stick types. These letters originate from the period when drums entered the mainstream.

The letter part

The letter ‘A’ originally stood for orchestra drumming. These A-drumsticks were used by big band and large orchestra drummers, due to their thinness and softness, which recommended them for lighter drumming sessions.

However, they are now commonly used across many different styles. In fact, 5A is generally still my preferred stick size.

The letter ‘B’ comes from the word band. Logically, these drumsticks were meant to be used by band players, which is still the case today. They’re generally larger than the ‘A’ size drumsticks, and are used by players that want more power in their playing.

Finally, there’s another sort of drumsticks – the ‘S’ type. Their first application was in street bands, which is where the initial letter comes from. Since playing in the street requires loudness and power, they’re the thickest and bulkiest of all these three types.

Choosing sticks by materials

Drumsticks are made from a variety of materials. Each of them has some special features regarding different drumming styles and sounds. Here are the most widespread drum stick types based on materials they’re made from.

Wood

The most popular drum stick material with the longest tradition, wood is perfect for drummers who need to play it fast.

As for the types of wood for drumsticks, oak, maple, persimmon, and hickory are the most wanted ones, each for different purposes.

Oak is a dense and hard wood meant for powerful, ‘heavy’ drumming.

Maple, on the other hand, is the lightest type of wood with low density, which is why it’s a great choice for fast playing needs.

Hickory is harder and heavier than maple, but softer than oak. Being such a middle-of-the-road wood type, it’s the most widespread wood in drumsticks. Also, its elasticity plays an important role in reducing the level of hand fatigue. Because of that, it’s a reasonable option for drumming beginners.

Finally, persimmon is the most exquisite of all the drum stick materials, and it’s usually produced for special drum stick uses, like concert stick sets for snares. It’s a durable, heavy, and dense wood that produces deep, dark sounds. As such, it’s different from other presented woods for drumsticks.

Carbon fiber

The greatest advantage of carbon fiber drumsticks over the wood ones is their durability. They usually last much longer than their wooden counterparts.

However, you might want to leave this drum stick type for later stages of your playing, since they’re more costly than wooden sticks. Plus, there are a more limited number of models.

The types of drum stick tips

In addition to the density of the material and length of drumsticks, their tips are of great importance when it comes to the quality and type of sound.

Nylon drum stick tips are the best choice for drummers who need a bright, resonating tone. Compared to wooden tips, they can be less harsh on playing surfaces (as the tips don’t splinter), which is why they’re a great option for drummers that play on electronic drum sets. Another plus on their side is long durability and wear-out resistance.

Wood tips are the most widespread type of tips. They usually provide a neutral combo of proper articulation and rich sounds on different elements of drum sets. Still, different types of wood tips will produce different sounds, which we’ve talked about in the previous paragraph.

Swizzle drumsticks have a dual tip. On one side there’s a regular drum stick tip, while the other side of the tips is enriched with a small synthetic ball. This combination enables you to get a smooth and warm mallet sound on tom drums or cymbals.

On Stage DA100 Drum Stick Holder

It’s always awkward dropping a drumstick on stage. Though it doesn’t have to be the end of the world!

When you’re on stage, you might need more than one pair of sticks by your side. Since it’s important to store your sticks properly after the gig, you should get a drum stick holder.

The DA100 drum stick holder can hold 8 pairs of sticks. Thanks to its C-shape clamp, you can place it easily on any drum stand, or other pieces of drum sets.

Also, you can easily take your sticks from it or leave them inside thanks to the extension part as you’re playing, due to the 45° angle at which it’s mounted. The cup can be easily taken off and cleaned so that your drums are always kept in a clean holder.

Conclusion

The type of drumsticks you use will depend on your drumming skills and playing preferences. Starting out with more neutral sticks and moving onto more unique ones that provide some special features sound like the most reasonable option.

It’s also important to learn more about the tips of sticks and whether they match with your drum set.

If you’re unsure, I’d recommend starting with a 5A model drumstick and working from there. It’s important to note that the information in this article about drumstick sizes should be taken as a guide. The actual implementation of these sizes varies based on the drumstick manufacturer. Therefore I recommend that you try numerous different drumsticks to help you figure out the best pairs for you.

Hopefully, this article has provided you with some valuable information that will help you choose the best drumsticks for your needs.

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Best Earplugs for Musicians – Protect Your Hearing Before it’s Too Late

musicians - hearing protection
I’m a musician that suffers from tinnitus. I suffer from constant ringing in my ears on a daily basis. However, I’m not the only one. It’s a very common complaint among musicians.

As a musician, if you’re not careful, you WILL be in the same boat unless you protect your hearing.

Hearing damage and tinnitus can really affect your quality of your personal and professional life. It is something that you can learn to accept, however the most important action is always to limit any further damage.

Hearing is a musician bread and butter. That’s why every musician has to take all the necessary measures to protect their hearing throughout their career.

However, exposing your ears to loud music during rehearsals, gigs and concerts could damage the way you hear and perceive music. Because of that, getting equipped with the best possible earplugs is a must in every environment in which music volume keeps extending 80 dBA for a longer period of time.

In this article, you’ll learn some important points about hearing protection. I also suggest some good earplugs that will keep you safe during exposure to louder sounds.

I personally wear either a set of in-ear monitors while playing gigs or a set of musicians earplugs like below.

Rehearsals, gigs, concerts

Many amateur musicians underestimate the loudness they’re exposed to during gigs. No matter if you’re a musician or just a gig-goer, think how many times you went to bed with a ringing sound in your ears after a gig.

The situation can be just as bad in rehearsal studios. And this is exactly where you could significantly damage your hearing if you don’t protect your ears properly.

Best earplugs for durable protection

When you’re choosing earplugs for your ears, you need to check the ergonomic features of the given set as well as the level of protection they ensure.

By comparing these elements, we’ve chosen the following earplugs as reliable protective agents for various musical contexts.

1) Eargasm High-Fidelity Earplugs

The Eargasm High-Fidelity Earplugs are a wise choice for all sorts of music events. Also, they’ll protect your hearing from noise in everyday life, from your work environment, to public transportation sounds.

The ergonomic requirements are met with the soft silicone material that has hypoallergenic features. Since they fit softly into ears, these earplugs can be worn for a long time without any pain or itching.

The manufacturer has anticipated that people have different ear sizes, as well. That’s why every Eargasm set comes with two different types of shells. These add-ons will help you adjust the thickness of earplugs to your ears. Still, if you have significantly smaller ears, think about getting the smaller version of the Eargasm ear plugs.

As for the sound quality, these plugs provide a high-fidelity sound, just like their name says, by eliminating the noise, only to sharpen the quality sound from the source. Unlike cheap foam plugs, these earplugs won’t hush the music or lower the quality of the sound.

To top it all off, the aluminum case comes with waterproof rubber, so that your earplugs are always protected from dust, moisture and unwanted rubbish.

2) Etymotic High Fidelity Earplugs

The Etymotic High-Fidelity Earplugs is a set of reliable and durable hearing-protective plugs that keep your ears safe from noise in different contexts.

From gigs and studio rehearsals to concerts and city noise, you’ll relieve a great deal of hearing stress with these earplugs. Also, you can use this plugs for motor shows or other similar events with strong sudden noises. However, it’s not recommended for high-level sudden noises, such as shooting practices. Musicians who like shooting or hunting should check out these earplug sets for those purposes.

Further, the Etymotic earplugs will provide you with the natural sound, as it’s produced at the source, but reduced for about 20 dBA. As a result, you still hear high-fidelity sound, but it’s adapted to the sensitive interior part of your ears.

As such, it also isolates the sound of your own instrument and makes you hear its fit with other instruments in a much clearer way.

It has the easy-fit design, which ensures that this set of earplugs easily adapts to various ear types and sizes.

3) Earasers Musicians Plugs (Medium)

Earasers Musicians Plugs (Medium) are a reasonable all-round solution for different noise environments.

With more than 40 years of tradition in manufacturing music equipment and top-notch sound features, Earasers suits various ear types.

No matter if you’re a music fan who often goes to concerts, or a musician, this set of earplugs will protect your hearing while retaining the sound quality.

The Earasers earplugs don’t muffle music and keep the sound genuine, as well as reduce the level of harmful noise. This is achieved by filtering out the unnecessary buzz and isolating the pure sound of music.

To cut a long story short, these Earaser plugs ensure a high level of protection and high-fidelity sound, thanks to the special V-filter.

As such, these earplugs help musicians concentrate on the tones they play, as well as to feel them more precisely when played with the rest of the band.

4) Mute Audio M-Series M7

The Mute Audio M-series M7 earplugs keep your hearing safe and ensure that you get top-notch sound quality.

Their high-quality noise filter funnels only the clear tones to your ears and removes all the unwanted noise and unclear frequencies. By doing so, it simultaneously protects your hearing and enhances your music performance. The M-series M7 earplugs are especially popular with session musicians, producers, and DJs, since all these three groups spend a lot of time in noisy environments.

What’s more, these people often have to wear headphones in such surroundings and the M-series M7 are easily placed under the headphones.

As fort the ergonomic features, these earplugs are made of silicone, so they easily adapt to different ear types and shapes.

Also, you can easily maintain them with soap and water, so that they last for a long period of time.

They come with a small, soft case that can be easily stored and barely takes an inch of space.

Day-to-day hearing protection

Apart from music events, sound engineers, producers and musicians need to take good care of their hearing in other situations, as well.

For instance, if you’re passing by a construction site, the level of noise might be unbearable. Similarly, long traffic jams can also leads to honking, revving and other high-intensity sounds that could put your hearing at risk.

Because of that, you should always keep a pair of earplugs with you in everyday situations. I always have a set of earplugs attached in a handy case on my keyring. That way you’ll be able to insulate your hearing from the outer world in case the noise becomes too intensive or threatening to your hearing.

Conclusion

The modern world is polluted with noise. Cars, construction machines, loud music in cafes and in the streets, as well as loud concerts and gigs all pose a threat to our hearing.

We should all make an effort to protect ourselves from such loud sounds. If you’re a musician who makes a living through hearing, it’s essential that you always stay cautious and keep your hearing safe from any potential outside risks.

I hope the advice in this article will make this easier for every musician who reads it.

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The 4 Best Drum Thrones to Save Your Posture

drum thrones

Drum thrones may seem like an afterthought for drummers, but they’re actually one of the most important parts of your drum set.

Excellent posture is a pillar of your health as a drummer. Excess slouching and bad form can be quick ticket to ending your drumming career.

In this article, I’m going to explain what you should be looking out for. I’m also going to list and explain my top 4 recommended drum thrones. These are applicable to both acoustic sets and electronic drum sets.

Drumming for long periods of time while sitting on a junk drum throne is like running a marathon in bad running shoes. It can really cause you problems and injury in the long term.

In the next few paragraphs we’re going to talk about the key characteristics of ergonomic drum stools, and present some specific thrones.

The 4 Best Drum Thrones

EDITOR'S CHOICE - Our top pick as the best drum throne for comfort and posture
A light and affordable drum throne (Circular seat)
Great quality drum throne. Great for players with lower back problems.
A good, affordable drum throne (Motorcycle style seat)

Drum Thrones – What to look out for

A classic beginner drummer mistake is not putting any thought into their seating. Often times, players will just grab any stool or chair lying around the house. This is bad for a number of reasons:

  • These are not designed for the ergonomics of drumming

  • They are often not height adjustable, therefore the drummer may not be at the correct angle for the pedals or may be out of reach of the cymbals.

  • They often won’t include back rests that will work properly for drumming

Drum thrones can be a little on the expensive side. However, I’ve listed out some options below that are actually very reasonable. They are a serious investment into your drumming career.

This is what you should look out for when choosing a drum thrones:

  • Quick height adjustability: It’s very important to be able to make small changes to your height to ensure that you are in correct alignment with the kit. This feature is particularly important if you share a drum set with other people.

  • Seat shape and cushioning: Memory foam and comfortable seat materials help a massive amount when playing for a long period of time. The shape of seat is mostly a personal preference.

  • Back rest: This is not vital, however if you suffer from back problems then these are well worth considering.

ROC-N-SOC Nitro Throne

One of the most popular drum stools on the market, the ROC-N-SOC Nitro Throne delivers a bicycle-like shape for better posture.

As such, it also prevents your legs from exhaustion during gigs. In turn, it improves your playing ability and enables you to play longer music events.

The seat on this throne contains a nitrogen gas shock absorber, which provides a comfortable sitting position for drummers, regardless of the drumming style. The biggest advantage of this spring-like system is that it gives the drummer that bouncing feeling, which amortizes the pressure on their back and feet.

The ROC-N-SOC throne can be adjusted so that it fits drummers with all sorts of leg lengths. The height range is 18’’-24’’.

Also, the legs on this throne are double-braced, which adds to the stability of the entire structure.

Finally, the dimensions of this throne are 24.5 x 20.5 x 16 inches, with the weight of 14.7 pounds. It’s easily stored when you’re traveling to your gigs and simply installed.

Mapex Double Brace

The Mapex Double Brace throne delivers a slightly different approach to drumming ergonomics.

An ample round seat takes the central part of this stool. It’s a thick cushion that will keep your posture correct during shows.

This drum throne has double-braced legs. As a result, they can handle drummers of different weights and various playing styles. With that firm base, this throne is good to endure long drumming sessions.

When it comes to adjustments, there’s a tube collar lock in the middle of a steel tube that serves for setting the height of the throne. The height scope gives a lot of room for adjustment for drummers of all sizes and needs.

This is a light throne, practical for various gigs and stages, the Mapex Double Brace throne is a nice option for long and comfortable drumming performances.

Tama 1st Chair Ergo-Rider (with Backrest)

The Tama 1st Chair Ergo-Rider drum throne is a great pick for drummers who play long gigs or practice sessions, and those who have problems with their back.

The first thing you see when you take a look at this drum throne is the backrest. Its height and the vertical angle can be adjusted, which can really help to get the playing position to just right. Also, the rest is foldable with the seat, which is a practical feature for drummers on tour.

Thanks to that special feature for the back, this throne ensures great ergonomic value for every type of drummer.

As for the seat itself, it’s a blend of a traditional round shape and a saddle form. This hybrid seat delivers a great match of comfort and the drumming freedom of movement.

The special cutaway addition at the front gives an extra support and comfort for drummers in fast music genres. For instance, it’s a great perk for drummers who play the double bass drum.

The size specifications of the Tama 1st Chair Ergo-Rider throne are 20.8 x 19.8 x 13 inches. It weighs 20.7 pounds, mostly due to its double-braced four legs.

Gibraltar 6608 Heavy Drum Throne

The Gibraltar 6608 Heavy Drum Throne is a valuable combination of price and value.

It ranks pretty high when it comes to ergonomics and durability.

The seat is filled with top-notch memory foam, which easily adjusts to various sizes and types of drummers.

Three double-braced legs ensure stability of the entire structure.

The Gibraltar 6608 throne comes with handy height-adjustment features – you just fix the memory lock when you find the right throne height for your drumming needs.

What also makes this throne so attractive is the vintage motorcycle design of the seat. If you play drums in a hard rock or metal band, it might be a great music accessory for your music image.

Extra Ways to Improve Your Drumming Posture

In addition to choosing your drum throne, I would highly recommend that you put some time into doing some basic exercises that can help improve the strength of your lower back and hamstrings.

The following bodyweight exercises can make a big difference. You can sometimes even notice the difference just by trying these every other day for a few weeks:

  • Plank

  • Bridge

  • Squat

  • Single-leg deadlift

If you would like to learn more, check out these articles on back exercises and hamstring exercises.

Conclusion

There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to drum thrones. If you don’t have any problems with your back, the ROC-N-SOC Nitro throne comes as a great blend of comfort, ergonomics, design, and value. It’s an affordable stool that should serve you good for a long period of time.

But if you have any issues with your legs or back, the Tama 1st Chair is a great solution. Although it is a bit more expensive, it will support your back and legs by keeping your posture in alignment.

Picking any of the above is a great investment in your drumming health. Even if you don’t have a big budget, it’s really worth getting a decent drum throne, which is specifically designed for drumming.

Write a comment below if you have any questions on drum thrones. I’d be delighted to answer them!

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Soundbrenner Pulse Review – Feel the Groove

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Locking in time is an incredibly important part of performing music. Playing to a click through in ear monitors is a great option, but it can feel very intrusive in certain musical situations. Enter the Soundbrenner Pulse!

Is it important for musicians to use metronomes? In my opinion, absolutely, they can seriously improve your ability as a musician. Check out this article for more opinions and information on using metronomes.

This wearable gadget might change the way you play and feel the music. This a wearable smart metronome that helps you keep the rhythm through strong vibrations.

Check Price

The smart metronome gadget was designed for musicians of any skill level, from beginners who want to improve their skills to those who already play professionally. The Soundbrenner Pulse makes practicing the rhythm while playing any instrument much easier, thanks to its sleek design and the strong vibrations.

Imagine playing your instrument and feeling the rhythm instead of hearing it! That is the exact experience you will have when using the Soundbrenner Pulse smart metronome gadget!

Soundbrenner Pulse Features

This intelligent metronome has advanced features that can significantly enhance your playing experience. For starters, you can wear this metronome anywhere you want. It comes with two different bands, which means you can place it on different locations while you’re playing.

Depending on the instrument you’re playing, you may want to change the location of the gadget. Thanks to the two different bands, you can adjust its size according to your needs. Switching the bands is quite simple and each of them will ensure comfort and stability while wearing the metronome.

The metronome itself is very easy to use. It helps you keep track of the rhythm by sending out accurate pulses in form of strong vibrations. The vibrations of the Soundbrenner Pulse are seven times stronger than regular smartphone vibrations.

Another difference between regular phone vibrations and the Soundbrenner Pulse ones is the fact that the metronome’s vibrations make absolutely no sound. You no longer have to listen to clicking sounds when following the rhythm.

With the Soundbrenner Pulse metronome, you will feel the rhythm instead of listening to it. This will improve your focus and allow you to concentrate on the music and play more effectively.

Is it really important to play to a metronome? In my opinion, absolutely, it’s extremely important to improve your musical ability. Check out this article for more opinions.

Using this device, strong vibrations are easily felt against the skin, as the pulse is much stronger than regular phone vibrations. You can set the tempo of the vibrations according to your liking by twisting the wheel on the metronome.

Triple tapping the metronome will also allow you to adjust the tempo of the pulse. The advanced customizability of the device will guarantee you a better performance when playing the instrument!

To make this smart metronome device even more effective, you can combine it with its smartphone app. The Metronome App by Soundbrenner is available for both iOS and Android devices.

The Metronome application will allow you to create your own rhythms and save them into set lists. Each list can be organized and customized according to your liking. Besides creating custom vibrations, the app will also let you choose different LED colors.

Speaking of which, the Soundbrenner Pulse smart metronome doesn’t create any audio along with the vibrations but it does light up with each pulse. You can customize the color of the LED light on The Metronome App, as well as completely turn off the light feature.

Some musicians prefer to keep the LED lights pulsating while using the metronome while others find it more effective without the light feature. Either way, this completely depends on your personal preference of using the device.

Feeling the metronome

The strong pulsations will keep you playing with great precision, no matter what instrument you’re on. However, besides helping a single player track the rhythm, the Soundbrenner Pulse is a perfect solution for bands.

The device features multi-player synchronization, which allows you to connect up to five Soundbrenner Pulse gadgets together. The metronomes can be connected via the smartphone app.

Once you connect multiple devices to one smartphone, you can control each of them through the app to ensure complete synchronization between multiple players. Bands are especially satisfied with the Soundbrenner Pulse, as it helps them stay synchronized and play with solid precision.

While connected, each Soundbrenner Pulse gadget will send out synchronized vibrations to keep the band playing precisely. Each player can adjust the LED color of their device or fully turn off the blinking feature.

We recommend using the metronome with the smartphone app in order to be able to customize your library of rhythms, set custom accents and organize and adjust your beats. It is also important to mention that even though the metronome itself doesn’t make any sounds along with the vibrations, the rhythm audio is present in the app. However, the audible rhythm on the app can be adjusted easily by using the volume buttons.

In terms of the more technical info, the Soundbrenner Pulse metronome features great connectivity and supports all major DAWs via MIDI. The BMP range of the device goes from 20 to 400 BPM.

Furthermore, the wheel on the metronome that allows you to adjust the tempo can be locked to prevent accidental changes.

In case of any problems or concerns, you can contact the customer support service. The polite Soundbrenner customer support staff will help you solve any issues you may have with the device.=

Conclusions

As the world’s first smart vibrating metronome, the Soundbrenner Pulse is an innovative and unique device. It features a very customizable and advanced metronome application that will improve your skills and help you play more precisely.

The device features comfortable and changeable wrist bands and a sleek, modern design. The wheel on the device is an easily accessible solution for quick changes of the tempo and rhythm settings.

Musicians across the world who have tried out the Soundbrenner Pulse metronome are more than satisfied with its efficiency. Besides the comfortable design, what made them stick to this metronome is the new sensation of feeling the rhythm instead of listening to it.

Whether you’re a beginner player or a professional, you will find this wearable metronome a very convenient solution for keeping the rhythm while playing. Furthermore, what makes the Soundbrenner Pulse metronome even more attractive is the fact that it can be fully customized to your liking

Everything on the device is customizable, from tempo to LED lighting. You can even switch between two different wrist bands in case you need to place the metronome on a different spot.

If you use the metronome along with the application, you will discover a lot of new features, such as keeping a rhythm library, adjusting and organizing your beats, as well as choosing subdivisions and changing time signatures.

On top of it all, even bands can benefit from this advanced metronome, as they can use several of these gadgets to keep the band members playing in sync. You can connect five Soundbrenner Pulse metronomes using the smartphone application and control them at the same time through one phone.

Altogether, the Soundbrenner Pulse is definitely worth the price. It is a convenient and compact solution for rhythm tracking, something new and unique on the market! If you’re looking for more advanced gadgets to improve your playing skills, this smart metronome is the perfect choice for you!

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9 Key Drumming Styles – Diversify Your Playing and Listening Skills

drumming styles

Drumming can mean a lot of different things. Most people who don’t know too much about different drumming styles use this term to describe each and every musical use of drums. Those who possess deeper knowledge of these instruments can recognize different playing patterns.

The purpose of this text is to introduce various drumming genres to drumming beginners. Also, ordinary fans of drumming will find out more about music genres and drumming styles.

1) Heavy metal

This music genre is popular for some amazing drumming styles and sounds. A powerful rhythm section is what makes a difference in this music genre.

As for drumming itself, one of the key trademarks of every subcategory of heavy metal are strong rim shots. While they’re widely used in both hard rock and heavy metal, the latter can hardly work without it. Hitting the rim of the snare drum and its center at the same time produces that specific heavy metal drum sound. Here you can learn more about this technique.

Another widespread drumming hack in heavy metal is choking the cymbal. Here you simply hit a cymbal and mute it with your hand. The purpose of this technique is punctuating the rhythmic pattern and delivering the staccato playing mode.

Cymbals are generally played more open in heavy metal, to accentuate the beat and get the metal sound. What you can do to get an even more amplified metal effect is to install a pair of X-hats and use them together with your hi-hats.

As you keep making progress, you can add another bass drum to your kit. In this video tutorial featuring Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy you can learn the basics of double bass drumming.

2) Funk

If there’s one music genre that would be nothing without a smooth rhythmic groove, it’s definitely funk. The interplay between the bass guitar and drums is what gives this music genre that playful, seductive rhythm.

The major characteristics of funk drumming is playing on the beat. The predominant drum sounds here are the drum bass, open hi-hats and somewhat irregular snare patterns. These three elements are key when you want to play genuine funk grooves. The drum section in every funk band uses a wide scope of dynamic details, since versatile dynamics can bring different moods on stage. For funk bands, that’s an extremely important element.

As for the tempo, funk songs usually don’t require lightning-speed drumming, but it does demand exquisite playing refinement and precision.

For all these reasons, funk is something that rookie drummers should leave for later stages of their drumming training.

If you want to drink from the well of funk drumming wisdom, pay attention to Benny Benjamin, who was a Motown session drummer. This means that he played with every important funk performer in the 1960s. Also, he influenced numerous musicians that rose to prominence later.

Also, Bernard Purdie and his Purdie Shuffle is something every drumming funk-enthusiast should look up to.

3) Reggae

Before you get down to learn funk drumming, you can give it a shot in the reggae area. The patterns drummed in these two music genres are similar, the main difference being the slower tempo and lighter groove in reggaes.

So, in reggae you’ll also mostly rely on the open hi-hats, the snare drum and the bass drum, but with some unique rhythmic additions.

One of the trademarks of reggae drumming is the so called 7. Instead of playing the snare drum when the rhythm is on the downbeat, you play the bass drum. By doing so, you emphasize the beat that usually isn’t stressed.

Also, a reggae drummer will use the hi-hat to play some irregular patterns. Together with snare drum fills, these are the most recognizable sounds of reggae music.

Although it’s a downtempo music genre, reggae has its own drumming originality. So, don’t expect to master all the techniques at once, but regular playing will get you there. Plus, it’s a great entrance to funk and R&B drumming.

As for most prominent reggae drummers, the works of Topper Headon from The Clash and Carlton Barret from Bob Marley’s Wailers will be more than educative for every new reggae drummers. Also, Stewart Copeland’s (The Police) backbeat drumming patterns could be useful for reggae drummers.

4) Ska

Another music genre originally from the Caribbean, ska is the next of kin to reggae. It combines some elements of pure rock drumming and some rhythmic syncopation typical for reggae.

While ska songs usually tend to have the usual 4/4 rock rhythm, this pattern is enriched with reggae one drops and a lot of open hi-hat kicks. The latter is an element rooted in funk music.

Since ska bands usually have loud guitars, trumpets and horns, ska drummers need to kick their kits clear and loud.

As you can see, ska might sound cheerful and laid-back, but drumming in this music genre is no cakewalk. It requires meticulous precision and a lot of practice to become a top-notch ska drummer. For starters, listen to Lloyd Knibb, one of the pioneers of ska drumming.

5) Rock and roll

One, two, three, four… and you play the rock. The basic rock & roll drumming is among the simplest drumming forms. There are four beats in a bar. The first and third are on beat, played on the drum bass. The second and fourth are offbeat, played on the snare drums. You play transitions on toms and cymbals.

What’s also great about rock & roll drumming is the diversity of tempos. You can start with a low-tempo track, like “Do I Wanna Know” by The Arctic Monkey, and move on to the mid-tempo “I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles. If you want to keep it simple, but sound original, dig into Ringo Star’s early songs via these video tutorials. People don’t perceive him as a drumming virtuoso, but he did some straightforward, yet exceptional drumming patterns for rock.

Also, unlike funk, where dynamics is important, in simple rock thrashing, you don’t have to pay too much attention to loudness. In a nutshell, kick it as loud as you can.

When you master those basic rock drumming patterns, you might want to spice things up and add some additional flavor to your playing. In that case, listen to Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham and his special rock grooves. Have a look at some of his drumming solos here.

6) Punk

More or less fast drumming while mostly interchangeably hitting the bass drum and the snare drum is the essence of punk drumming style.

Also, hitting the open hi-hat gives your drumming a special punk feel.

Logically, the first thing you need to start doing if you want to become a successful punk drummer is to increase your bass drum speed. Here you can learn more about the heel-hoe method. This technique will improve your drum bass efficiency.

The next stop on your path to punk drumming is the physical condition of your wrists. It’s crucial to work on your stick speed and control, as shown in this video lesson. If your wrists aren’t in proper shape, you won’t be able to stand to the challenge of punk drumming.

Finally, you need to listen to some great punk drummers, such as Bad Brains’ Earl Hudson or Tommy Ramone, the first drummer of The Ramones.

7) Swing

Sooner or later every drummer wants to push the envelope and try something new. In case of drumming, trying something new usually means delving into the past and learning from old masters.

This is where swing comes as an extremely interesting genre for drummers. If you think about the 1940s and remember the characteristic sound of swing, you’ll soon realize that the predominant elements are cymbals, or to be more precise the hi-hat and the ride cymbal.

As for the rhythmic pattern, most swing songs are rooted in triplets, which is a typical jazz ride scheme.

For starters, play swing slowly and softly, just to get the mood and the feel you should deliver on the stage. Billy Ashbaugh has put together a practical tutorial for swing beginners. When playing swing slowly, you’ll notice that it might be more convenient for the sake of the genre to play a dotted eighth-note and a sixteenth-note afterwards. This detail will keep the drumming pattern inside the swing area.

As your playing skills improve, you’ll be ready to give it a more swing (pun intended), which means that you’ll be able to speed up your drumming. More often than not, when you play swing songs at faster tempos, the triplet pattern transforms into a beat that consists of a quarter note and two eighth-notes.

You’ll learn all these little tricks of swing drumming as you keep improving and overcoming new challenges. Eventually, you’ll be able to play swing like old jazz masters, like Louise Bellson, whose drumming lessons you can see here.

8) Pop ballads

Pop music includes many different subgenres, but the term pop ballad refers to a specific type of somber, down-tempo songs; think Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” or Adele’s “Hello”.

Due to slow tempo and light rhythm power ballads, drummers need to be alert and precise to hit all their notes on time. When drumming along with a pop ballad, it’s not unusual to play the rhythm a bit behind the rhythmic pattern, i.e. after the beat. Of course, this means a wink-of-an-eye delay and not playing out of rhythm. Such laid-back drumming contributes to the specific ambience and introspection typical for this genre.

Since tempo is slow, drumming to pop ballads might be a bit tricky. That’s why you should use a metronome while practicing such songs. The natural intention when playing pop ballads is to speed up tempo. This could lead to terrible rhythmic mismatches in a band and, more importantly, the singer won’t be able to do their lines appropriately. You can practice power ballad drumming at 75 bpm with this drumming tutorial.

When it comes to the rhythmic structure of pop ballads, drummers often hit sixteenth-notes on the hi-hat cymbal, which serve as connective tissue that holds the band together.

While power ballads aren’t usually demanding from the technical aspect, they do require paying attention to details and being as precise as it gets.

9) Latin

The term Latin music comprises many different music subgenres from Latin America, from samba and rumba to calypso and bossa nova.

The major trademarks of Latin music are irregular rhythmic patterns that often depend on the current inspiration of the drummer. Basically, your rhythm will move from regular patterns to triplets and some arrhythmic fills.

Also, many drummers need to add a set of conga drums or bongos to their drum kit if they want to play Latin music genres in an original way. That’s why bands playing Latin music genres often add a hand percussionist, so that the main drummer can focus solely on their kit and major rhythms.

While playing along a metronome is a must-do in many genres, here it’s impractical. Due to a large number of rhythmic changes and irregularities, a metronome will just confuse you.

What’s recommended is to learn to play drums in some less demanding music genres and then approach Latin music in a natural, relaxed manner. That’s the best way to grasp the essence of this music type and start playing mambo like Tito Puente or samba like Steve Gadd.

The final word

Drumming styles may be different on many levels, but there’s one common thing for all of them: you have a drum kit with which you need to produce the rhythmic patterns typical for each genre. While there are more and less demanding styles from a technical point of view, each of them demands focus and practice.

Sometimes slower and down-tempo ballads can be more challenging for drummers than energetic, up-tempo numbers for dance floors. We hope that this guide has helped you get the gist of each drumming style analyzed in it. Now you should be able to listen to drum lines in these genres, or even play these styles with greater knowledge.

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Roland Octapad SPD-30 – A Real Drummer’s Review

Octapad-Roland-instrument

I’ve owned a Roland Octapad for over two years and it has become an essential part of my setup. This article covers my experience of using this instrument in comparison to other drum pads.

My aim in this article is not to regurgitate tech specs. It’s a perspective from someone with a lot of experience using the electronic instrument, and it will help you decide if this is worth the investment or not.

This instrument is an electronic pad built for drummers and percussionists.

Let’s get right into it!

Roland Octapad – Percussion Pad

Roland refers to the Octapad SPD-30 as a percussion pad rather than a sample pad. It has a large amount of built-in sounds, which can also be customized through the device.

Roland almost doubled the number of onboard kits in the Version 2 system update. If you own an Octapad SPD-30 with the old software, you can upgrade to the newer version by connecting the instrument to your computer via a USB cable. (Software updates are available on the Roland website).

The onboard sounds range from acoustic sounding drum kits, electronic hits, world music percussion, and musical sounds like bass synths. Therefore, this instrument can be used for a wide variety of genres.

 

Extending it to a mini electronic drum kit

This instrument also allows you to extend with additional pads, a kick, and a hi-hat controller. You can use it as a mini drum-kit.

The SPD-30 uses Roland’s V-Drum technology, and that’s noticeable when you’re using elements like the hi-hat controller. It feels as responsive as a quality electronic drum set.

I used this instrument with the Roland FD-8 hi-hat controller and it worked really nicely.

Octapad back - inputs and outputs

I also switched between a few different kick pads (both Roland and Yamaha brands). They all worked seamlessly.

Use it to make a hybrid kit

I love setting the Octapad up next to my acoustic drum set for live performances.

A great aspect about the extensibility of this electronic instrument is that you can hook up almost any type of drum trigger or pad to it.

For example, you can hook up an acoustic drum trigger to your Octapad. For example, using a kick-drum trigger you can complement your acoustic bass drum sound with an electronic kick.

This is a great option when you want to expand your drum sounds, or when the mic setup if your kit is less than ideal.

The Octapad is not a custom sample pad

A very important point to keep in mind is that the Octapad does not allow for custom sampling on-board. Therefore you cannot add your own WAV files to this device. Alternatively, you can always use the Octapad as a MIDI controller to a computer and trigger your samples through that.

If onboard custom sampling is a feature you really need, you should consider getting the Roland SPD-SX. However, that device does not have as many extensibility options and does not have phrase looping. The SPD-SX serves a different purpose.

Customising built-in sounds

Although the Octapad does not allow for importing custom files, it does include a lot of customization of the internal sounds.

For example, you can layer sounds together, change the pitch, add a bunch of different effects such as reverb.

You can also customize and create your own kits based on the built-in sounds on the Octapad.

How do the pads feel to play?

The pads are very sensitive. They can really nicely detect slight changes in your strike.

I think this is one of the biggest advantages that the Octapad has over its cheaper alternatives.

A drummer that is used to playing a high-quality electronic drum set or acoustic kit will be very satisfied with the response of the pads.

How loud is the device?

Octapad - audio outputsIt’s not silent. It’s more like hitting a rubber pad. This should cause absolutely no problem when playing with speakers or on stage.

However, when playing at home, it’s not as quiet as hitting a mesh pad for example.

The actual audio output of the device is great. There are stereo outputs or the option to output in mono.

Playing it on stage

Octapad SPD-30 - Phrase looping
The phrase looping menu on the Octapad

It’s a joy to play on stage. I’ve used this as a primary instrument on stage, as well as a secondary option next to my drum set.

The sensitivity of a pad can feel different when you’re playing live. You can often hit the pads a lot harder when your adrenaline is pumping. Thankfully, this instrument is sensitive enough to still differentiate between big strokes.

I’ve used cheaper options live, and the volume sensitivity for live performance fell down greatly on those.

Having an instrument like this really allows you to explore a much wider range of sounds. It can add a new sonic dimension to your live performances.

Phrase Looping

The Octapad allows you to enter phrase looping mode, which allows you to perform your own sequences with up to 3 kits at a time. I found the menu system very useful for this, as it’s easily possible to mute and delete pads on the fly.

You can also hook up an external foot-switch and customize what action it will perform. For example, you can set the foot-switch to automatically start the phrase looping mode.

Octapad - Pad lights

The lights next to each pad are extremely useful. The lights show you which pads are currently active in the phrase loop. Hitting a pad initially will add a note to the loop and will turn on the light. The lights also flash depending on muting of pads during on the phrase loop.

Build-quality

The quality of the Octapad is superb. My one has been through a lot and it’s still almost like new. It’s been dropped and even rained on a few times.

The pads have absolutely no cross-talk issues between them. If you clearly hit one pad, it’s never going to accidentally trigger another one.

MIDI capability

Octapad - USB capabilityThe Octapad can be used as a MIDI controller to a digital audio workstation.

As expected, you can also chain it up to other devices and sync the metronome. This is very useful if you’re using the phrase loop functionality while playing music from other electronic instruments.

What are the drawbacks of the Octapad?

Octapad - foot switch and midi input/outputs

The Octapad instrument is quite expensive, there’s no getting away from that. In fact, all Roland pads are expensive.

However, they’re absolutely top quality. Roland are generally the brand of choice for the professional musicians when it comes to percussion pads.

Once you get used to playing the Octapad, you’ll never want to play on a cheaper pad again.

For this price range, I personally found the lack of custom sampling unfortunate on this device. Though for my own use, I could live without it.

Octapad - module mount
Module mount attached to the bottom of the Octapad

What hardware should I get?

I use the Roland PDS-10 stand. It’s very sturdy and built for Roland pads.

However, you’re certainly not constrained by that option. You will need a module mount if you wish to mount the Octapad to a piece of hardware, such as a drum rack or stand.

I personally mounted my Octapad directly to my Roland V-drum rack, as the module mount fitted directly into the pad holders.

Summary – Roland Octapad SPD-30

I’m a big fan of the Octapad. It’s by far the best percussion pad I’ve tried to date.

It’s not completely perfect; its lack of custom sampling is a drawback in this price range. However, it’s not built for this purpose.

If you have the budget then I’d highly recommend you consider this instrument. It majorly beats cheaper models in almost every point of comparison. It can withstand constant touring. It’s a very good investment in quality.

roland Octapad

 

If you want to check out other models, be sure to check out my popular article on the best electronic drum pads.

Write a comment below if you would like any more information. I would be very happy to answer any questions you have on the Roland Octapad.

Thanks again,

Mike­

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Feel the Bass with the ButtKicker Concert

At first viewing, you might think a product called ‘ButtKicker’ is a complete joke. It’s really not, and I think you might be sold on this concept by the time you’re finished reading!

A principal element of drumming is the feel of the low-end bass. This can sometimes be lost particularly when playing on stage with an electronic drum set.

The ButtKicker is a one-of-a-kind transducer for amplified bass experience that you can attach to your drum throne (or other pieces of hardware).

I never quite forget the first time I went on stage and felt the bass response of the kick drum as I was playing.

Let the ButtKicker replicate this experience at all times, while practicing and on stage.

Getting tactile feedback on your playing not only adds to the buzz, it help you stay in the groove and locked in.

How does Buttkicker work?

Unlike ordinary subwoofers, which produce those low tones with a sort of sound pressure, the ButtKicker LFE relies on an effective response in contact with pieces of hardware.

Connect the ButtKicker to your mixer or sound system, and feel the vibrations! The ButtKicker vibrates and shake the piece of furniture it’s installed on in response to low frequencies.

The ButtKicker isn’t just used for music; it’s also used by many people in the home. It also provides you with a genuine bass/vibrating feel when you’re watching an action movie or playing a video games.

What’s the point of the ButtKicker?

Low end sound frequencies can be felt even more than heard.

Think about the last time you’ve been to a concert or festival. Low end frequencies can feel like they are shaking your entire body. Think about that big bass line or cutting four-to-the-floor dance track.

If you’re listening to music through a set of tin cans, this end of the spectrum is almost completely lost.

A very good subwoofer can provide this. However, not many people have the studio size or room acoustics for a good experience with a sub.

If you’re keenly listening to music nowadays, you’ll realize that good use of sub-frequencies are really on the increase even for low budget records. This is helped through better quality production technology and personal monitoring.

From a drumming perspective, hitting a kick drum moves a huge amount of air. It can really be felt as a physical presence.

The technical aspects

The ButtKicker is a 2-Ohm device that responds and vibrates to frequencies in the 5Hz-200Hz range.

The vibration is produced via the moving of a special piston that’s placed inside the ButtKicker. This piston has magnetic suspension and starts moving when it’s triggered by low frequencies.

The minimum power required by this device is 400W and it shouldn’t go beyond 1500W.

As for the amplification, this ButtKicker device needs to be connected to a proper amplifier. While it can work with many of them, it’s recommended to pair it with the BKA1000-N amplifier. It’s also produced by ButtKicker Company.

You can see how ButtKicker’s work in this video:

The pros and cons

The greatest advantage of the ButtKicker is that you’ll hardly find as a powerful bass-enhancing device as this one in that price range.

Another perk of this transducer is its durability and simple use. There are no special maintenance requirements. You just plug it into another device and enjoy the bass sounds.

As for the cons, it might not be the best choice for people living in an apartment, due to its vibrations. Further.

Next, its casing will be a bit heavy for some users. Still, once you’ve placed it on your drum throne, there’s no need to move it around all the time.

Conclusion on the ButtKicker

If you feel like you’re not getting enough feel from your drumming, think about trying out the ButtKicker. You might just be blown away!

Check Price on Amazon

Trying to explain the idea of a Tactile Transducer might be greatly lost on a non-musician or one with little interest in multimedia systems. However, It can seriously intensify the bass feeling for musicians, music enthusiasts, and even regular consumers of home multimedia features alike.

One of the main reasons that people opt for acoustic drum set over Electronic Drum Sets is the ‘feel’ of the kit. This is one step closer to the real feel of playing behind a kit, while still keeping all of your neighbors happy!

Until next time,

Mike

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Roland TD11KV Review – Mesh Electronic Drum Set

As a world famous electronic drums manufacturer, Roland does not fail to surprise us with the quality and functionality of its products. In this review we are going to present Roland’s TD-11KV V-Compact drum set.

As a compact electronic drum set, this kit can fit smaller spaces or even be taken on the go. It suits drummers with any skills, from a complete beginner to a full on professional player.

It is also important to mention that this electronic drum set is quite an affordable solution for budget saving. Yet, the set still provides the quality and all features you want to have in your electronic drums. Without further ado, let’s get into details!

Roland TD11KV Features

These electronic drums set provides a much more natural and realistic sound than most other products on the market. It features several different modes for practice, teaching and recording.

Therefore, it is suitable for new players who want to improve their drumming skills. You can either rock the drums freely or play along to one of the many professionally recorded backing songs. This feature will make you feel as if you were really playing in a band.

The set also features a fairly large LCD screen where you can easily control all the settings, chose your playing mode and switch songs and sounds. This easy interface makes the drum kit very user friendly.

The simple USB connectivity feature will allow you to connect the set to a computer and use different applications to alter and edit your sounds. You can also use the USB connectivity to backup your data on a computer or PC, as well as play it back in MP3 and WAV formats.

If you’re an experienced drummer, you know that the stability of the kit highly affects the quality of the sound and the overall result of your drumming. Therefore, it is important for a kit to be stable and secure at all times.

Luckily, the Roland TD-11KV kit comes with a compact yet very solid stand. The included MDS-4V is actually a custom stand for the V-Compact series of Roland’s electronic drums. It is one of the most compact stands that will save you some space while keeping your drums completely stable.

Besides the compact and secure stand, the kit features a stylish design that will nicely suit and room’s interior. The center of the kit is a joint bar that strengthens the whole setup and improves overall stability.

Key Playing Features

The Roland TD11KV electronic drum set features the SuperNatural TD-11 drum sound module. This highly advanced module provides natural and realistic sounds as well as great features for overall playability.

The set features mesh-head V-ads for snare and toms, as well as great V-cymbals and the CY-5 cymbal pad for hi-hat. The cymbal pad features a highly responsive 10 inch playing zone that allows for natural swing movement and a more realistic drumming experience.

The set also includes the FD-8 Hi-Hat controller that is in charge of providing smooth transitions and making the hi-hat sounds more realistic and professional. The great design of the kick pad provides a natural feel, just as if you were playing a real, full drumming set.

The kick pad is perfectly designed to provide a dynamic response at the right time. It ensures accurate triggering and provides a great drumming experience overall. The set also performs well when it comes to edge triggering.

Unfortunately, it does not include a kick pedal and a drum throne, which are necessary to complete the setup. Therefore, you will have to make that extra purchase but considering all the features and benefits of the set, it is well worth the money!

What New Players Should Know

In general, the set is very easy to set up and you can do it in under a few minutes if you follow the instructions clearly. Therefore, you don’t have to worry if you haven’t owned a drum set before.

The sound module includes a diverse library with a variety of sounds coming from different musical genres. Therefore, there is something for everyone within the library of the set.

This set features a special practice mode. This includes a quick record/quick play feature that allows you to replay your sound and focus on the quality you’re creating.

It also includes a Coach function that will help you build your drumming skills to a professional level. As a beginner, you will also want to start learning about editing and altering your sound to create more professional-like results.

With the simple USB connectivity feature, you can connect the Roland TD-11KV and transport your sounds to your PC, where you can further edit them in sound programs and applications.

Roland TD-11KV – Final Word

All together, this electronic drum set from the V-compact Roland series provides everything you need for a professional drumming experience.

The set is compact and it won’t take up much space at your home. The stable stand will ensure the best sound quality while the SuperNatural sound module and other pieces of equipment will do the rest.

Overall, this is a highly responsive drumming kit that provides a natural feel, featuring a great design and convenient practice features for beginners.

Mike

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Alesis SamplePad Pro – An Honest Review

I’ve used the Alesis SamplePad Pro for about 4 months, including live gigging. This review sums up my many opinions about the model and whether you should buy it or not.

Alesis entered the market as one of the first serious contenders to the major Roland and Yamaha sample pads. While doing so, they have finally offered a sample pad that’s affordable to a much wider base of musicians.

The overall result is a drum pad with some great features, but with a few annoying quirks. These quirks can range from unnoticeable to quite hindering, depending on how you’re planning to use the sample pad.

Keep in mind, I have a lot of experience in using high-end sample pads. This is my personal opinion when comparing the SamplePad Pro against the best.

Let’s get into the details!

Overview – The Features

Alesis SamplePad Pro
Images Courtesy of Alesis

The Alesis SamplePad Pro contains eight drum pads. This includes six pads on the main face of the device, and two on each of the top corners.

These are sensitivity to velocity, so they can detect some subtleties in your playing.

This sample pad contains many different in-built drum kits and sounds. These range from acoustic sounds, electronic hits, world music to musical synth pads.

Very importantly, it also allows for custom sampling via an SD card, which is a very big plus.

You can extend this device and turn it into a mini drum kit, including a kick, hi-hat controller, and two additional pads. This leaves you with a great number of possibilities.

In fact, I recorded live hits from one of my acoustic drum sets and loaded samples of that onto this device. It worked fairly nicely, though I wasn’t amazed when using an external hi-hat controller.

Lastly, this pad looks great. The individual pads light up when hit. To be honest, I totally expected it to look tacky, but the effect is a nice one!

What can the SamplePad be used for?

This is a very versatile device, it can be used as:

  • A drum pad for practicing
  • An addition to your drum-set (e.g. a hybrid drum setup)
  • A pad to internally hold and loop your own custom samples
  • A MIDI-Controller for other devices and DAWS (e.g. Ableton Live)
  • A mini-drum kit by extending with additional pads.

The features of this device in some ways even outnumber that of Roland’s devices, if taken individually (e.g. The Roland Octapad doesn’t allow for custom sampling, the Roland SPD-SX has limited extensibility). So this can serve as a great first step into using sample pads.

Drawbacks – The Quirks

Alesis SamplePad Pro end-front

I’ve talked a lot about the wide features of the device. Let’s get into the issues!

Cross-talk: This was one of my biggest concerns with using the SamplePad Pro. A well-known issue with this model is that hitting one pad may trigger another.

In my case, hitting the top left shoulder pad would trigger another pad on the device.

Alesis did release a firmware update to tackle this issue. To be fair to Alesis, this does reduce the issue.

However, from using it, it feels like that the firmware update just automatically reduced the sensitivity of the problematic pads. When I manually increased the sensitivity again, the cross-talk issues still persisted for me.

Is cross-talk really an issue with this device? The answer is that it depends. You may have to avoid using the particular problematic pads if you’re looking for a lot of sensitivity in your playing. Otherwise, it will likely be fine.

Sensitivity: As a drummer, I do not think the SamplePad Pro measures up enough in terms of detecting subtlety, in comparison to the high-end Roland and Yamaha models. For example, if you play fast double-stroke rolls or rudiments with ghost notes, it just feels a little clunky to play.

Is that an issue? If you’re using this for more basic playing and drum beats, you should be fine. If you’re expecting this to respond like a snare drum for very fast playing (or an electronic mesh pad) then you might be let down.

Loading Time: Switching between kits on the device can take some time (particularly for bigger external samples). For live performances, this can be a bit of a hindrance. However, with enough planning, you can get away with it.

What is it like to play live?

I’ve used this for live gigging. To be honest, it wasn’t bad. At times, I didn’t think the sensitivity was amazing but it’s a nice cheap option to use along-side a drum set or for a producer’s live performance.

For long-term playing, I’m not totally sure about the build quality. It’s relatively sturdy, but if you’re very heavily gigging then you might need a higher-end drum pad. For more information about those, check out my popular article on the best electronic drum pads.

Conclusion – Is the Alesis SamplePad Pro worth it?

The Alesis SamplePad Pro is an instrument with big features at an extremely reasonable price. It can serve as a great entry into electronic drum pads.

The high-end sample pads by Roland and Yamaha are quite expensive and therefore out of the price range for many people. I believe the SamplePad Pro is one of the only real alternatives in that market that have come anywhere close to these models.

Alesis SamplePad Pro face - drum pad

 

However, keep in mind the quirks of this device before buying. In most cases, you can get used to them if you give it a bit of time.

The device has MIDI, extensibility, and custom sampling. If you get your hands on this, there is a whole lot to play with.

I hope you found this review helpful!

If you have any questions on the Alesis SamplePad Pro, then please write a comment below. I promise to answer all comments!

Thanks for reading,

Mike

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The Alesis Strike Pro Kit – Affordable High-End Electronic Drums

Image Courtesy of Alesis

Alesis have really been taking the electronic drumming world by storm in recent years. The Alesis Strike Pro kit further cements their position in the market, by offering a very advanced kit in a price range that was previously dedicated to very mid-level sets.

Most people that have played electronic drums sets knows how versatile they can be, both in terms of performance and music genres.

In one of our previous reviews, we talked about the Alesis Nitro kit. This is the entry level kit by Alesis.

However, today we’re going to talk about a much more advanced option: the Alesis Strike Pro Kit – a professional electronic drum set that consists of eleven elements.

We’ll see how they benefit the player and what makes this kit adaptable to modern drumming environments.

The Alesis Strike Pro features

This 11-piece set contains everything you need for professional performances.

Thanks to its mesh heads, all the pads in this electronic drum set provide you with a nice drumming feel.

So, what we have in this kit is the 14-inch kick drum pad and the 14-inch snare drum pad. The snare drum pad is the dual-zone one, so you can expect a high level of responsiveness from this electronic snare.

Then we have four tom pads. They come in four different sizes: 8”, 10”, 12” and 14”. The tom pads are also dual-zone pads, so you can rest assured that your tom fills and roll will resonate well with the audience at your gigs.

The cymbal department has three representatives in the Alesis Strike Pro kit: the 12” mobile hi-hat cymbals, the 14” dual-tone crash cymbals and the 16” ride cymbal with the triple-zone features.

This entire drumming regiment supervised by the Strike Performance Module. Every single element has to be connected to this device. What’s great about it is the 4.3 LED screen that enables smooth use of the module.

Of course, the quality of drumming depends on rack, as well. That’s why the guys from Alesis have provided a top-notch, 4-post rack made of chrome, as well as a double-braced stand for the snare.

Advantages of playing the Strike Pro

The main advantage of the Alesis Strike Pro kit is the fact that it gives you a traditional drumming sensation, while providing a wide range of high-tech options.

You don’t have to be afraid that your kick on the snare drum will might not be loud or natural enough. Since those pads have mesh heads, everything you play sounds genuine and real.

The cymbals represent a great match of natural bounce, player’s control and smooth feel.

Further, when you hit the snare, the cymbals or the toms, you get the sound of equal quality.

This is also due to the quality of the materials used for manufacture.

The drum shells of this set were made of top-notch wood. Because of these natural elements, they don’t lose any traditional drumming features, but quite the opposite – you get the feeling that you’re playing a premium traditional piece.

The Strike Performance Module

The Strike Performance Module is a handy playing-enhancing device that is a big upgrade to any lower end Alesis kits.

You can use the variety of 1600 samples and 100 drum kits. These options make this module a perfect electronic brain for your drumming sessions. It’s possible to pre-record the samples and kits you might need for your gig, or insert your own playing patterns or rhythms. There’s a slot for a memory card on the device, so there’s no obstacle to bring your own samples to your concerts or gigs.

Also, the software editor is another great perk of the Strike Performance Module. You can use this feature to record your own instruments or drumming kits, as well as for including imported music files for your playing sessions.

There are plenty of input ports at the back of this device, which is a great playing advantage. Also, the total of eight separate outputs provides a vast number of options for recording on different channels for recording or gigging.

Still, make sure that you always update the latest version of the module firmware. The guys from Alesis are doing a great job with innovative and practical updates and downloading them as they’re released will help you improve your playing experience.

The quality of the Strike Pro’s sound

The mesh pads, the wooden drum shells, the premium rack and the massive snare stand all contribute to the high quality of the sound you get when you’re playing the Alesis Strike Pro kit.

It’s important that you can adjust some settings on the Strike Performance Module and on the components themselves. By doing this, you’ll be able to get some more sophisticated sound nuances. You can learn more about these settings in this tutorial.

The pros

alesis strike pro cymbalTop-notch natural sound – The pads are enriched with mesh heads and the shells are made of wood, which all add to the high-class quality of sound you obtain from this kit.

Dual-zone drums – The snare drum and the tom toms are all dual-zone drums, which adds to the genuine drumming feel of the Alesis Strike Pro kit.

Durable metal stands – The rack and the snare stand are made of premium metal, which is a guarantee that they’ll remain fixed throughout the gigs of any duration.

Strike Performance Module – The trademark of Alesis, this device will raise the already great playing experience to a high production level.

The cons

alesis strike pro rackHi-hat adjustment – It’s been reported that it takes a lot of time to adjust the hi-hat settings and even then it might not be what you’ve hoped for.

Great set – but not the best on the market – The Alesis Strike Pro is a great piece of kit for its price range, but it still doesn’t measure up to flagship products by Roland or Yamaha. See our electronic drum set reviews article for more information. That said, it’s thousands of dollars cheaper!

The Alesis Strike Pro – the final verdict

This is a visually and sonically attractive electronic drum kit that can meet the production and playing demands of professional performers.

The Alesis Strike Pro is definitely is a great buy for professional drummers that are on a lower budget, since it’s a great value for money.

We recommend that you try it yourself and see why many drummers heap praises on the Alesis Strike Pro.

Mike

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