Learn to play drums without waking the neighbours
If you’ve decided to take up the drums, you may find that starting out with an acoustic kit is simply not viable, whether due to noise constraints, space constraints or even budget. Thankfully there are whole host of electronic drum kits designed for beginners that you can play through headphones, take up very little room and definitely don’t require a huge financial investment.
Acoustic kits, although they sound awesome can be very loud, take up an awful lot of space and be a little daunting (or annoying) for some as everyone down the street can hear everything you’re trying to play. Learning can be a little awkward sometimes if you’re nervous about people hearing your mistakes, but even though that shouldn’t put you off, being able to isolate the sounds and play the drums via some headphones make electronic kits a good choice for the beginner who wants to be able to practice any time day or night.
Remember, as a drummer our job is to make everyone sound good. You can have a great drummer with a terrible band, but if you have a bad drummer, it doesn’t matter how good the band is, the whole thing will sound terrible, so there’s a lot responsibility when it comes to playing drums – which is probably why you’ll find drummers practice all the time to get their timing right, build up their stamina and hone their skills. Practice makes perfect, but unfortunately hitting an 18” kick drum in the middle of the night might not be appreciated by the person who lives next door to you, so the electronic kit is a great way to practice on and of course, learn with.
There are plenty of electronic drum kit options out there, and picking one can be tough if you don’t know what you’re looking for, so we’ve compiled the best beginner electronic drum kits to get you started on your road to becoming the next Dave Grohl, Samantha Maloney, Sheila E or Travis Barker.
When it comes to choosing a good beginner electronic drum kit the Alesis DM Lite is probably the option most will recommend, as it is a low cost but very high quality instrument for those who want to dip their toe into the world of drumming without too much financial commitment. Although it has been aimed squarely at beginners, this is by no means a toy as the high quality kit features 4 LED drums pads and 3 LED cymbals that light up when you hit them for a good visual reference – it also looks cool too. In this bundle pack you get pretty much everything you need to start your career as a drummer minus a stool.
The pads are strong and sturdy, yet won’t hurt your wrist when you’re playing them thanks to the rubber construction, and the 10 built-in drum kits will keep you busy whilst you find out what style of drumming you prefer. The pedals are quiet making them neighbour friendly and the dual ¼” outputs to connect to an amplifier mean that you can play gigs or rehearse with a band easily. The “Learning Mode” and “Play Along” functions allow you to hone your skills and improve playing technique but also gives you the option to play along to some pre-loaded tracks – perfect for learning how to interact with a band. The entire kit comes fully assembled, making it a very easy to use starter electronic drum kit and it’s smaller size makes sure you’re not taking up too much room.
The Roland TD-1K digital drum kit is another great beginner option as it also falls into the low cost bracket, but does not scrimp on quality. The Roland world of electronic drums is getting bigger and bigger as many professional musicians choose this brand for the coveted Roland V-Drums sound. Acoustic drums are painstakingly sampled to get the most realistically sound possible. This means you get a variety of beautifully sampled drum sounds that respond really well to how you hit them offering realistic expression. In fact, you get 15 kits to choose from ranging from classic rock sounds to drum and bass to keep you busy too.
An interesting feature with the TD-1k is that you have a mix-in jack that allows you to hook up your MP3 player or smartphone so you can jam along to your favourite songs. For the learners out there, you’ll really benefit from the tutorial features on board as they really help you get the most out of your practice time and help you develop technique. The coach mode also helps you build up your speed, stamina and accuracy which are all vital aspects to being a drummer. You can also benefit from using Roland’s free V-Drums Friend Jam series applications which offer even more jam tracks and great features to help you learn how to play. This kit is also expandable, meaning you can add extra pedals, extra cymbals or swap out a pad for a mesh head if you like. However, if you are looking for a more realistic feel, especially on the snare, we recommend upgrading to the TD-1KV which comes with a Dual-zone PDX-8 mesh-head snare for unparalleled realism and acoustic feel, which will help you get used to an acoustic snare should you choose to change to an entirely acoustic kit.
For those who want a vast range of options and the ability to customise their kit, the Yamaha DTX400K is packed with some seriously impressive pads with space to upgrade and expand as well as 10 kits made up of 169 drum sounds that you can program to your needs. Straight out of the box you have 10 pre-loaded kits ready to go with some of the sounds actually sampled from Yamaha’s own acoustic kits, with accent articulation that responds beautifully to how you play it.
The on board ‘Brain’, offers control over a metronome, tempo adjustment as well as volume and gives you access to 23 snares, 21 kicks, 36 toms, 31 cymbals, and 42 percussion instruments. However, the really cool part comes in the form of being able to expand or change anything up at will. You’ll be pleased to know that each sound can be assigned to any pad and the USB connectivity makes sure you are able to control your sounds through your favourite DAW on PC or MAC – perfect for those who have a particular drum sound in mind. Again, the beginner will really benefit from the fact you have 10 on-board routines, warm ups and groove exercises to get the best out of your practice sessions.
Ok I know we only said 3, but we thought it best to add another option and quite frankly one of the best beginner electronic drum kits out there – the Alesis DM Nitro. This kit is the successor to the Alesis DM6, and a step up in terms of quality and playability. For those who are serious about learning drums, the DM Nitro is one of the best (and low cost) options you could choose from owing to the fact it is an 8-piece kit with 40 ready to play drum kits built in as well as 60 built in practice tracks with sequencer to capture every performance, should you want to listen back. That’s a LOT of options and a great way to learn!
To offer that “real feel” playing experience, Alesis have made sure to include a dual zone snare sensor for those rim shots as well as the coveted cymbal choke detection which offers unprecedented realistic response for a beginner/practice kit. The thick 8″ pads are comfortable to play whilst you smash through 385 drum and cymbal sounds and learn how to play or hone your skills with the dedicated learning mode. This electronic drum kit should definitely be on your list to try out. Designed for both beginners and intermediates alike, and a very budget friendly option you could even gig with.
So there you have it, 3 (+1) of the best electronic drum kits for beginners that will really help you learn this awesome instrument at your own pace without costing you a fortune. To see a complete range of electronic drum kits for all levels of playing, visit the Dawsons website.