RockJam Roll Up Electronic Drum Kit Review (RJ760MD – MIDI with Built-In Speaker)

In this article we will be reviewing the RockJam RollUp Electronic Drum Kit with MIDI capability. These little portal drum sets have been really gaining traction over the last few years. They are a quick, simple and quiet product that you can have a lot of fun drumming on.

Although they are not the most sophisticated electronic drumming items available in the world, they are a simple option that can work great for kids and adults that are looking for a casual drum playing option.

Let’s dive into the RockJam Roll Up Electronic Drum Kit in a bit more detail:

Different versions

Please note that there are two main RockJam roll-up electronic drum set models. The version that we’re talking about in this article is the one with MIDI and built-in speakers. There is also a cheaper option, which comes without these features.

(With Built-in Speakers and MIDI Capability)

Features

This is a compact roll-up kit that comes with nine pads and an in-built speaker. There are multiple different drum kits to choose from and you can also record and listen back to your playing.

The pads are actually sensitive enough for hand-playing without drumsticks, which is a great feature. Even many pro sample pads are not that sensitive enough for hand playing.

This kit also comes with two pedals, one with simulates a hi-hat and the other simulates a kick drum pedal. Therefore, you get everything you need in order to start playing.

MIDI

You can connect this specific model of the RockJam roll-up drum set to your computer or other music gear via MIDI. This can be done using the USB slot on the back of the kit.

If you are interested in doing this but don’t have any experience in it, then you should read up a little about music DAWs and Drum VSTs for your computer. There are many free versions of each available online.

Using Headphones

You can connect headphones via the standard 3.5mm jack at the back of the RockJam drum kit (the same type as most phones and laptops). The roll-up drum set can then be played very quietly.

Play Along to Music

You can add music into the mix using the ‘mp3’ 3.5mm jack at the back of the RockJam drum kit. You can use any standard 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable (you might already have one of these to connect your phone to your car’s speaker system).

Pros

  • Very portable and compact: You can roll this out and pack it away in no time.
  • Easy to play: Learning how to play this is a no-brainer, and the options are very easy to use.
  • Built-in speakers: You do not need to hook this into an external amplifier in order to use it.
  • Headphones: You can plug headphones into this for very quiet playing. This is particularly useful for kids (although make sure to keep the volume low to protect their hearing!).
  • MIDI capability – you can hook this up to your computer or MIDI interface to trigger external sounds and make it interact with other music production gear. Very useful!

Cons

  • Does not include a built-in battery, therefore it needs a power supply.
  • Does not have the same sensitivity of rebound possibilities that you would get with a more fully fledged electronic drum set.
  • Does not have the presence of a full electronic drum set.
  • The onboard sounds are not amazing. However, there is a lot of scope to hook this up to some great drum sounds via music production software on your computer via MIDI.

Can you learn to play drums on the RockJam Roll Up Drum Kit?

You can learn some basic beats and it can help with your drumming co-ordination. It’s not an ideal option for adults that are serious about playing drums as the small playing surface and lack of rebound while playing can limit your learning.

However, it’s great for kids as a quiet playing option and it is very useful for adults that are looking for a quiet drum practice option. It is very useful for apartments and places that you cannot make a lot of noise.

Summary

The RockJam RJ760MD Roll Up Electronic MIDI Kit is a very nice option for those considering a fun and casual drum playing option. I think this particular model is significantly stronger than the cheaper RockJam model that does not contain built-in speakers or MIDI connectivity. Paying a little bit more gets you some much more useful features.

The RockJam Roll Up Kit is one of the best of its kind out there. You won’t get top of the range drum playing from any roll-up drum kit, but you get very good quality for something in such a low price range.


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Alesis DM6 Review – Is It Worth The Money?

The Alesis DM6 has been on the market for many years now and it has served as one of the best-selling budget electronic drum sets. It is still competitive in many aspects of electronic drumming if you’re looking for an entry level kit.

Note: Newer Versions Available. The Alesis Nitro and Alesis Nitro Mesh kits.

Be sure to check out our reviews of those if you’re looking to buy a new set online.

The Alesis Nitro has 385 cymbal, drum and percussion sounds. This large quantity of sounds is paired with 40 pre-made kits altogether.

The Alesis Nitro also comes with a learning mode within its module. In comparison with the Alesis DM6 kit, this is a significant advancement, especially for the newbies in the world of drumming. You can either choose to drum along to one of the drumming patterns in the module or add a pattern of your own. The module also tracks your accuracy and improvement.

The Alesis Nitro Mesh set shares almost most of the features and elements with the Nitro kit, expect with updated mesh drum heads. These elements provide a more dynamic and realistic drumming feel than rubber pads.

Similar Electronic Drum Sets to the Alesis DM6

The Alesis DM6 USB entry-level kit
Upgraded version of the Alesis DM6
The Alesis Nitro Kit with upgraded mesh heads

The DM6 drum set

The DM6 drum set contains 8 drum pads altogether. There are three 8’’-single-zone tom drums, three 12’’-cymbal pads, one kick pad, and one dual-zone snare. The latter supports both rim hits and regular sounds.

alesis-dm6
Image curtesory of Alesis

What’s important to mention here is that this set also comes with a bass drum pedal, hi-hat pedal, and a pair of low-budget sticks. While the former will meet most of your drumming needs, the sticks aren’t the brightest stars in the drumming sky. You might need a better pair of drumsticks, so read more about some better sticks here.

The DM6 Alesis drum set also includes an AC adapter and a rack for the drum pads. The rack is made of aluminum, which is a great choice of the manufacturer because it’s easily carried to gigs and it holds all the elements in a safe way.

This set generally does not come with a pair of headphones. If you don’t want your family or neighbors hear you playing the drums, you might want to get a pair of electronic drum headphones.

Performance of the DM6 kit

The surfaces of the cymbals and pads provided by Alesis are natural, player-friendly pieces that ensure pleasant drumming feel. Also, thanks to the realistic vibrations you get when you play this kit, you can reach good natural dynamics.

This is important for people who have just started playing the drums. Since some electronic drums might sound artificial and confuse beginners, it’s important to start playing the drums with a realistic set. The DM6 offers good value for money in this regard.

The DM6 module is quite a good one for the price, which contains a plethora of pre-recorded drum kits. In line with that, drummers can count as much as 108 great cymbal, drum, and percussion ready-made sounds.

The biggest drawback of the DM6 is that it contains only rubber heads. This is quite expected for such an entry-level kit, but newer entry-level sets are now coming with the option of mesh heads, which can be quite a big advantage in terms of expression and realism of playing.

Connectivity and extension of the drum module

alesis_DM6_module

The tones you play are sent out in form of MIDI-signal, which is pretty useful if you want to use your DM6 to generate drum tones for a MIDI interface. The kit contains a USB connection, which can transfer the MIDI information. The module does not contain standard 5-pin MIDI connections.

You can connect this Alesis kit to your PC or smartphone via MIDI connection through the USB cable and experiment more with the elements of drum production. Also, the DM6 can be connected with different players, so that you can play this electronic set along with your preferred songs.

If you’re a more experienced drummer or simply want to spice up your drumming practice, you might want to add another pedal to the drum bass. The Alesis DM6 supports such an appendix.

Double Bass Drum Pedals with the Alesis DM6

alesis_DM6 module backIt is technically possible to extend the kit to simulate double bass pedals. If your physical double bass drum pedals don’t fit on the stock bass drum pad with the kit, you can replace your kick drum pad with a bigger one.

If you’re looking to use 2 pads, there is no option to directly extend your set-up to include a separate 2nd bass drum pad input. However, a splitter can be used to separate the line into 2 separate pads. Alternatively, you can use the hi-hat pedal as the other bass drum pedal, but it won’t feel as natural as using a kick drum pedal.

Getting the sound right

You need either a set of headphones or an amplifier in order to hear the Alesis DM6 kit. It has separate outputs for each. Please keep in mind that the main output is a small 1/8” connection. If you want to connect to an amplifier that use standard 1/4″ cables (the ones that look like guitar cables), you may need to purchase a 1/8” to 1/4″ converter.

If you are looking for a drum amp, check out our article on electronic drum amplifiers to find out what’s the best choice for you.

Keep in mind that if you’re using the electronic drum sets for bigger gigs, then this would generally be connected to a PA system instead of a drum amp. The output from the DM6 module could just be connected to the main mixer.

Conclusion

A decent electronic drum set, the Alesis DM6 is a fine value for money. It’s a reasonable choice for drumming beginners, and a nice option for seasoned drummers. If you can still get your hands on one of these, then they can make for a nice entry-level kit.

However, if you’d still like to treat yourself to an updated electronic set with more options, the Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit would be a better choice.

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Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit Review – Are The Mesh Heads Worth It?

 

alesis-nitro-mesh-kit
Image courtesy of Alesis

Alesis have become a real contender in the electronic drum set market. They have hit hard in the last few years with numerous new kits aimed at low to mid price points. The company is now continuing the very popular Nitro series, with the new Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit.

During our original Alesis Nitro review, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the kit. I had originally expected it to be absolute junk at the low price point.

The Alesis Nitro Mesh kit is quite similar to the standard Nitro kit. However, it comes with a big upgrade: the use of mesh heads instead of rubber ones for the snare and tom pads.

The Alesis Nitro Mesh is not far off the price range of the Nitro Kit. So it’s still a very affordable instrument.

Similar Electronic Drum Sets to the Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit

The mesh head version of the Alesis Nitro Kit
The Alesis Nitro Kit with rubber heads
A previous generation version of the Alesis Nitro Kit

Key Features of the Nitro Mesh Kit

The new Alesis Nitro Mesh set comes with a familiar overall design:

Tunable Mesh Heads

One of the most important novelties that come with this kit are the new heads for the snare and tom heads.

Please keep in mind that the kick pad is still made of rubber. However, that’s not a major surprise. Also the cymbals are still made of rubber, which even very common in high-end all-mesh electronic drum sets.

These heads include a more natural feel to cheaper rubber heads. They are also tunable, which means that you can customize rebound and sensitivity. This is very much a matter of preference for drummers, so it’s great to have the option to tweak it how you want.

nitro-mesh-head
Mesh heads contain woven fibers and sensors. They feel much more like a regular drum head than rubber heads. They are also tunable, to allow for changes to the feel of the rebound.

These heads are also quiet, which is a great benefit when practicing in a house or apartment.

These mesh heads are actually quite similar to the heads on higher end Alesis products. However, the main difference is that the pads are smaller than high-end mesh pads. Though, they’re still very playable.

Hardware

alesis-nitro-mesh-kit-side

There are eight drumming elements, including drum pads, kick pad, and cymbal pads.

There is an 8” dual-trigger snare and 3 single zone tom pads (also 8-inches in diameter). These are not massive pads, but they’re still pretty easy to play on.

The cymbal section consists of three familiar pads – crash cymbal with choke, hi-hat, and ride cymbal. The hi-hat comes with reasonable foot control. It doesn’t use an actual hi-hat stand, but you could really expect that with a kit in this price range.

All three cymbals feature 10 inches in diameter.

These are all mounted on a four-post aluminum stack.

Finally, the kick tower (thankfully) allows you to use a bass drum pedal. I think this is a much better option than kits that have a simple foot-switch kick.

The kit usually comes with drumsticks. Though if you’re serious about drumming, I’d recommend investing a few bucks in high-quality ones.

Software

This kit uses the same Nitro module. So you will know what to expect if you’ve already tried out the Alesis Nitro kit.

It’s a decent module. It’s easy to use and allows for easy drum kit switching and recording.

It has preset songs that allow you to drum along to. The module is MIDI compatible, which enables you to connect the kit to your computer for external sample triggering and recording. You can connect the kit to a PA or amplifier for gigs and practice.

Recording

Most electronic drum kits include recording feature and this one is not an exception. Moreover, there are actually three ways of recording with this unit.

The first way would be the simplest one. Just hit the “rec” button on your module and record your playing. Though you can’t export sounds caught in this way, it is a great tool for listening to your playing, hearing mistakes etc.

The second method would be via audio output. Just connect the module with some recording device and you’ll get pretty decent sound quality. It is a very simple method. Even your smartphone could work.

Finally, there is a good old MIDI conversion. This module offers a lot of connectivity, so you can use either MIDI in/out or USB port. Just find some recording software and use your electronic drums as MIDI triggers.

Practicality Aspects

All these specs sound very nice, but let’s go through some common practicality issues:

How loud is this kit?

Considering that this kit is designed primarily for home practicing, one of the most important issues is loudness. Fortunately, the mesh heads which are pretty quiet.

Is this drum kit suitable for kids?

Simply said, yes. This is a budget kit and designers from Alesis appreciate the fact that most beginners are youngsters. Pretty much all kids over seven years should be able to play this kit, especially if we consider that drumming pads are adjustable.

The only potential issue would be reaching foot pedals, but that‘s the problem that all young drummers need to deal with, no matter the drum kit.

Storage

The Alesis Nitro Mesh kit is quite compact, including the aluminum racks and foot pedals. So, you shouldn’t have any problems storing it. It can also be collapsed in and stored in a corner of the room while not in use.

Is the Kick Pad big enough for double bass pedals?

In general, two beaters from double kick pedals should be able to fit. This depends on your model of double bass drum pedal. Please keep in mind, that you might not get as much sensitivity from your hits, as the beaters will be further towards the edge of the pad.

best_electronic_drum_sets

Final Verdict

The Alesis Nitro Mesh Electronic Drum Set belongs to the budget class of electronic drum kits. It delivers very decent quality with some much-improved mesh head surfaces compared to previous models.

Of course, it probably won’t satisfy the needs of very advanced players, apart from their basic practicing. However, these players usually prefer far more expensive kits.

All in all, it’s another move from Alesis to make quality electronic drum sets much more attainable for beginner and intermediate players.

Mesh heads are by far the material of choice compared to rubber heads. If you have the option of picking either the Alesis Nitro Kit or the Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit, I’d go with the mesh version!

alesis-nitro-mesh-kit

 

Images courtesy of Alesis

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Soundbrenner Pulse Review – Feel the Groove

soundbrenner-pulse-drums

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.

Soundbrenner Pulse snare

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.

Alternatively, you can also purchase a separate body strap for even more options on placements.

soundbrenner-drums-body-strap
Alternative soundbrenner pulse placement using a separate body strap.

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.

Soundbrenner Pulse vertical drum view
Note – requires a separate body strap to be worn as directed in this picture.

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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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.

 

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

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!

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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!

Best_Electronic_Drum_Pads

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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Singular Sound BeatBuddy – A Guitar Pedal Drum Machine

In one of our previous guides, we’ve discussed the topic of some of the best electronic drum machines. You can read more about them here.

Today we’re going to cover something different, a crossover of a guitar pedal and a drum machine. This is the Singular Sound Beat Buddy Guitar Pedal drum machine. You’ll see how to set its ready-made drumming options, as well as how to play it along other instruments.

Main features

  • A large number of songs, genres and drumming patterns that deliver great playing experience
  • Player-friendly visual metronome with moving lines that indicate the time signature
  • MIDI Sync compatibility
  • The option to add your own drumming patterns and rhythms, as well as to download more ready-made songs
  • Good sound quality

One of the greatest perks of using this device is the wide range of drumming options you can choose from.

For starters, it comes with 10 ready-made drum set sounds that cover more than 20 music styles. Singular Sound BeatBuddy will enable you to play your guitar or keyboard in all major genres, from pop, rock, blues and jazz to funk, reggae, Latin music, as well as metal and punk.

It’s important to mention that those pre-set drumming patterns were performed by professional drummers. So, when you’re playing your instrument along with any of these rhythms, you can pride yourself on having a professional drummer behind your back.

In addition to common rhythms and measures, such as 4/4, 2/4 or 3/4, this electronic machine can be adjusted to play some irregular beats, like 7/8, 5/4 and many others.

As such, it’s a perfect choice for various kinds of musicians, from buskers to singers/songwriters who play their gigs without bands.

 

Using it live

Most devices are easily used in the comfort of your rehearsal room. A real test for a device of this kind is its playability and usability in live events.

This is where the Singular Sound BeatBuddy Pedal has proven to be a reliable and practical option.

The credit for most of its reliability goes to the extremely well designed interface.

When you’re playing a certain rhythm on this device, a moving line will appear on the screen. This visual metronome will indicate the measure in which you’re playing. For instance, if you’re playing “Blackout” by Muse, you’ll set the rhythm to 3/4 and there will be three moving lines on the screen, showing the number of beats you’re playing in that time signature at that very moment.

Until the emergence of this device, the comfort of using pedal options on stage was the benefit that only guitar players had.

Today you can change the drum patterns and beats, as well as switch to different drum fills as you play, thanks to the hands-free design of the Singular Sound BeadBuddy Pedal.

As you press the pedal during your live performance, you can change the rhythm in accordance with the song you’re playing. What’s more, you can easily move onto other parts of the song.

Another great perk for live gigs is the option to scroll down the song lists and get to the song you’d like to play next in no time.

Guitar players can learn how to use the playing perks of this electronic drum machine here.

On the other hand, if you’re a keyboard player, you should follow this video tutorial.

Additional options

Apart from playing your instrument along the drum patterns that come with the Singular Sound BeatBuddy Pedal, you can insert additional songs to this device. The memory card can accommodate up to 3 million songs and 300 extra drum sets.

All these options can be downloaded from manufacturer’s website and imported into the device.

What’s more, if you have a drummer whose drumming patterns you’d like to add to this device, you can record it and simply import them to your BeatBuddy pedal. This is where you should use the BeatBuddy Manager tool, so visit their forum to learn more about the software.

The technical specs

This electronic device comes with the 24-bit sound quality, which matches the output reached in professional music studios.

As for the input options, there are 3 x 1/4’’ inputs. For instance, here you can plug in the BeatBuddy footswitch (we’re going to talk about that later in this article).

There are also 2×1/4’’ output options, as well as 1×1/8’’ output. The latter is meant to accommodate your headphone connector.

If you want to connect your BeatBuddy Pedal to another device, you can easily do it via the Mini-B USB connection.

Singular Sound BeatBuddy Mini

Before you get to use the Singular Sound BeatBuddy Pedal, you could try its younger and smaller sibling – the Singular Sound BeatBuddy Mini. This version is smaller and less expensive than its bigger counterpart. There are some differences that you need to be aware of.

The Mini includes 120 tracks, while the original BeatBuddy Pedal has more than 200 tracks. Also, the display on the Mini is much smaller, which makes the adjustment in live gigs a bit less convenient than the use of the big BeatBuddy.

Also, you won’t be able to import or edit new files to this device. The 16-bit sound output is different from the original 24-bit sound quality. Despite this reduction, BeatBuddy Mini still delivers great sound quality.

In general, it’s a practical and gig-friendly device. The visual metronome is still here, which is especially useful for musicians who are still struggling with tempo. The body of this device has one footswitch and two knobs. The former is used to change the drum patterns and add fills during the performances. Also, you can activate various transition patterns via the footswitch.

You set the volume with the left knob and change the songs, genres and tempo with the right knob.

The Singular Sound BeatBuddy Dual Momentary Switch

A great appendix to the Singular Sound BeatBuddy Pedal or its Mini counterpart, the BeatBuddy Dual Momentary Switch can make your playing experience more convenient.

This addition provides some handy additional options, such as drum pauses and emphasized hits.

You can scroll down the songs on your main BeatBuddy Pedal only by using your foot and the Dual Momentary Switch.

Its firm metal body and well-made buttons guarantee that it endure a large number of gigs and deliver great performance for its users.

Conclusion

The Singular Sound BeatBuddy Guitar Pedal will meet the demands of every home, studio, street or gig musician.

Be it a guitarist, a keyboard player or any other musician who can play along this electronic device, you can count on dozens of pre-recorded options.

A great advantage is that you can add your own drumming patterns to it. It’s made of solid and durable material, so you won’t have to worry about the durability of the BeatBuddy Guitar Pedal when playing live.

Together with the Singular Sound BeatBuddy Footswitch, you’ll get a firm drumming duo that delivers good sound quality at the stomp of a foot.

 

Thanks,

Mike

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