Roland, Yamaha, Samson, and Alesis are among the top manufactures of electronic drums. They each have their own pro’s and con’s, however in most peoples opinions, Roland remains in the top seat for several reasons.
I’ve had the pleasure of playing several different types, brands, and styles of electronic drums in the past, and I couldn’t agree more that Roland has the edge. In their newer models, they feature drum shells, which make it appear as if the person playing them is playing on an acoustic set. The kick drum is bigger than the other included drums, making it extremely easy to play with a double bass pedal. The drum heads provided on the top Roland sets are not only mesh, but they’re extremely durable for even the hardest of players, making them good for nearly any style of music, including rock and metal. They feature fully customizable, rubber rims, making it even better than acoustic sets, in the fact that every rim shot can make different sounds, such as a click, cowbell, or even a second drum! The cymbals (which is where most other companies lack) are made of a strong plastic/rubber feeling material, and will pick up as many beats as you can dish out per minute, without the lag of most others. They even have 3 different sounds per cymbal, which include the crash (on the edge of the cymbal), the ride (hitting with the tip of the stick), and even the bell has it’s own sound! But don’t stop there, the cymbals included with the top Roland sets can even be choked!
The control module (also referred to as the “brain”, or “computer”) consists of multiple inputs and outputs to assist with recording, or running to a live soundboard. This is evident with most electronic drum companies. Electronic drums are only as good as the computer processing the sound, using “triggering” beneath the heads, and with most brands, their “top of the line” sets can keep up with average playing. The control modules feature a wide array of fully customizable sounds, and are completely customizable. Often times the tuning of the drums can be adjusted, as well as the percussion sound itself. Meaning you can make your floor tom sound like a kick drum, a snare, cymbal, and so on. The same is true with the other remaining pads that make up the electronic drum set.
Acoustic sets can also be turned into an electric set (otherwise known as a “hybrid” drum set). To do this, you need drum triggers, a control module, and lots of wiring. In cases of using this setup for volume purposes, they even make mesh drum heads to reduce the volume to nearly nothing, while not sacrificing the feel of the stick coming off the head, or “stick bounce”. A company named “Ddrum” is one of the leaders in acoustic drum triggers, and while other companies produce them too, a majority of the drummers who’ve tried them, will recommend Ddrum. This is my personal favorite kind of electronic drums, because at one show, you can keep the volume down as low as the sound guy wants it, allowing for more present, yet not ear-piercing vocals, and at the next show, with very little work changing the heads, you can play a fully mic’d, outdoor concert. Win-win situation!
Whatever the case may be, there are budget-friendly electronic drum sets available as well as higher priced kits (Ranging anywhere from $600 all the way up to $7000) to fit your needs as a drummer. Personally, go to your local Guitar Center, or a local drum shop that has electronic sets on display to play with, and just mess around with the kits in your budged. You may decide that the cheaper sets fit your needs just fine, or if you dare, shop around on the internet, get a control module, some triggers, and cables, and get the best of both worlds.
Either way you go, I think you’ll appreciate the electronic drums, and what they’re doing to the music industry. Allowing drummers to have every sound effect and drum they would want, without the massive setups, and no longer sounding and looking like electronic drums.