Basics to Building a Hybrid Drum Kit in 2020
Many of today's drummers rely heavily on integrating technology with their drums; namely a drum trigger and strikable pads. For those interested in expanding their drum sound we’ll cover some of the basics below.
Electronic vs. Acoustic Kits
There are many advantages and disadvantages to both an acoustic drum set and an electric drum set; and it mainly comes down to what your intent is. Many drummers start off with acoustic drum kits because they’re usually more affordable and easier to find for sale at used shops. The obvious drawback to an acoustic drum kit...noise. Every neighbor will know the day when an acoustic kit enters the home; which is why so many also consider an electric drum set which nearly eliminates any noises from being heard. Acoustic drum kits still have a great amount of advantages but if we could choose one; it would be that a well-tuned acoustic kit sounds and feels more natural than an electric drum kit does.
Electric drum kits on the other hand, can be loads of fun to play with and offer an array of additional features. How much do electric drum sets cost? Well that’s a great question...most drummers will be spending upwards of $800-$2500 to get a good reliable kit that will last for years. And unfortunately, a huge drawback to electric kits is that they will fail at some point and the less money spent on more economy electric kits will only shorten the life-span vs. an acoustic kit can last generations if it’s well taken care of.
There’s a compromise though, it’s building a Hybrid drum kit. Mixing the two types of kits together can start opening up worlds of creativity for your style.
As of this writing in 2020, drummers in the music industry heavily rely on technology to perform well on stage. You’ll usually see mostly an acoustic kit being used with various electric hardware dispersed about the kit that allow the drummer to tap into electric capabilities.
The most used hybrid drum hardware are snare drum triggers, bar trigger pads and/or electric drum pads placed off to the side within sticks reach. You may even spot a laptop off to the side for more advanced technology use-cases.
To get started with a hybrid drum build, the first thing you need is a good acoustic kit. When working with drummers on this, I always recommend getting used to replacing drum heads often (6 months), because drum heads wear down and start to have impact on your desired sound. Next, decide what type of additional elements you’d like to add to your kit that only an electric kit can do. Many drummers add shaker or tambourine loops, or even create their own to play in the background of a song or section of a song. To trigger a loop, you’d want to choose either a bar trigger pad or a electric drum pad which will give you the option to start/stop loops and tracks.
Additionally, you may want to add a layer to your acoustic sound overall - in this case, adding an acoustic drum trigger to your drum(s) can get the job done. Imagine hearing a hand clap, or beefy snare sound play simultaneously with your acoustic snare. This would be done by adding a snare drum trigger to your arsenal.
While getting to this point is a ton of fun, the downside has always been for these sorts of drummers is the sheer amount of gear and setup time required to make sure everything is working well before, during and after each session.
DremTrigger vs. other drum triggers
We’re not going to say that Dremtrigger is the end-all-be-all hybrid solution for every drummer; but we will point out that dremtrigger solves many of the points for those currently using a hybrid drum kit.
Think of dremtrigger like the utility knife of electric drum gear. While nearly every electric drum device will require an external drum module to power, control produce sound - a single dremtrigger is a drum module + a drum controller + a drum trigger + electric drum pads in one single handheld device. Since it’s so small, it can easily be tossed into a bag and taken to any stage or rehearsal and setup in seconds.
2 Trigger Pads
Trigger pads are one of our personal favorite add-ons to any hybrid kit, but often the choice comes down to just one pad or up to 9 pads. Many drummers find they only really use a couple of the pads on their 9-pad machine and so another difference with.
We know drummers are on the go and not even setup location is within proximity to a power outlet; so adding a rechargeable battery made a lot of sense to reduce any of the worry and hassle to get power.
It’s true, there is a laser as a trigger on Dremtrigger. What this means is this drum trigger will detect any strikes on the drum head and fire whatever sample that was chosen. The laser also doesn’t come in contact with the drum, so the drum is free to resonate and sound as it should without any interference.
Stand-alone and MIDI
Dremtrigger can operate two ways depending on what plug you decide to use. With the USB port, Dremtrigger is a MIDI drum trigger that can be quickly used with programs, like Ableton to pretty much anything you want. The other way Dremtrigger works is as a stand-alone unit. Dremtrigger has 16GB of memory which allows users to store and organize their own samples or track directly on the device for a more portable experience.
This covers a lot of ground when it comes to hybrid drums; but overall, everyone has a slightly different approach to how they set up their drum kit. Our advice, don’t overwhelm yourself since there are so many options one can go with. Keep it simple and increase in complexity as you go. Become a master of each add-on before moving on the next. Give yourself time with each add-on and allow yourself to explore all the capabilities and nuances they bring to your sound. But overall, have fun!