Cage Match: Real Drums vs Fake Drums Part 1

I’m writing this because I have to change my habits.

I’m trying to tell myself that this is a good thing, but my mind, body and probably my soul will not take this lying down. The deeply ingrained habits that I have developed over the years are being thrown in the garbage for the greater good. I’m taking one for the team, you might say.

What’s going on? I’ll tell you. After 25 years of playing acoustic drum kits, I’m now required more and more to play an electric one. My church has purchased a Yamaha DTXtreme III electric kit in order to bring balance to the force. In other words, an acoustic kit just does not work properly in the venue. It’s too loud, especially when around 50% of the congregation are older people.

So, in other words, I’m having to go from this:

My beloved babies

To this:

Pictured: major adjustment.

Now, before you think that this is a major rant against the evils of electric drums, it isn’t. What it is, is a major opportunity for me to work out the good and bad of both types of kit and tell you about it.

You see, when you do something one way for 25 years, you get very, very used to it. This includes the good stuff and the bad stuff about whatever it is that you do. You tell yourself, “that’s just the way it is,” and get on with it. Then, when an opportunity comes along to do it differently, and potentially better, all you can think about is all of the bad things about the new way. The old “don’t make ’em like they used to” mindset kicks in, along with the resistance to change.

You see, there is nothing cheap, nasty or wrong about the DTXtreme III. Gone are the days of the wacky shaped pads with rock hard playing surfaces producing dorky sounds from a brain with less memory than the average child’s toy.

Just like Granddaddy used to play.

It’s a quality kit, and has a lot of power and potential. I’m excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. However, my body is rebelling against the feel of the pads. My mind is rebelling against the “fake” response of the brain, the inconsistent sensitivity of the triggers and the slightly artificial sounds that emanate from the speakers. I’m having to get used to something that doesn’t sound quite right, or so I think.

The hardest thing I’m having to train myself out of is the (perfectly logical) association between how hard I strike the drum and how loud it is. This gets thrown out the window as soon as you jump on an electric kit. I considered myself to have reasonable technique, but I managed to bruise my knuckles on the first day I used it. What I’m getting used to is that electric kits have a volume control. You can pretty much turn the volume up and down as you please, and it doesn’t matter how hard you hit the kit.  Even though I knew this, I was still trying to hit harder to pull more volume out of the pads. I’m working on countering this by relaxing my grip a lot more, and cranking up the headphone volume a bit more to compensate for the lack of immediate volume. This is gradually working, but it will take time to completely take effect.

This is just the scene-setter. Stay tuned as I discover more about the wonderful world of electric kits…

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~ by Tim on December 6, 2010.

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