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Edition 10

MAY 2012

The global electronic drumming e-zine

Kenny’s e-conversion Aronoff joins the DTX stable

Kat’s new kick Best of both? Messe debuts

Š2012 Avedis Zildjian Company Photo By: Tina K

play by your rules

Paul Kodish; Apollo 440, Jean Michel Jarre, Maximum Roach, Pendulum, Bad Company, with his touring rig for The FRESH:LIVE Project.

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is published by


ABN: 61 833 620 984 30 Oldfield Place

Brookfield Q 4069 AUSTRALIA Editor & Publisher Allan Leibowitz Sub-Editor

Solana da Silva Contributors Carl Albrecht Simon Ayton Marcel Bach

Philippe Decuyper John Emrich

Huston Singletary Cover Photo

Kamal Asar (Vic Firth) Design and layout ‘talking business’

Support digitalDrummer If you like what you’re reading, please make a donation.

Copyright: All content is the property of digitalDrummer and should not be reproduced without the prior consent of the publisher. In this age of electronic publishing, it’s obviously tempting to “borrow” other people’s work, and we are happy to share our information — but ask that you work with us if you need anything from this edition. Any reproduction must be fully acknowledged and include a link back to our website. digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012

Roland’s launch of the TD-30 at NAMM in January was no surprise. Indeed, enthusiasts had already worked out the name of the new flagship module long before its debut. The instrument maker’s launch of two new ranges at MusikMesse, on the other hand, was not even on the radar for most observers. In fact, some were even dismissing rumours just the day before the wraps were removed. Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, the fact that the company has totally revamped its line-up from entry-level to flagship in a couple of months is impressive. And the advances in the new line-up are equally noteworthy, especially when you compare the TD-11 with the TD-3 kit that was my entry into e-drumming - and which was priced at the same level as today’s mid-market offering. It’s an exciting time for electronic percussion, not just because a major player has a bunch of new gear out. We’re also expecting the start of shipping by Mark Drum, Italy’s first foray into the edrum race. Like 2box, this new entrant is aimed at the middle market – around the $2,000 or €2,000 level. We are yet to review the Mark Drum kit, but from my brief exposure at NAMM, the kit is no slouch. Hopefully, we’ll be able to deliver a considered verdict in our next issue. We’re also looking forward to testing a kit from growing Taiwanese player, XM. To date, we have reviewed the budget snare and cymbal offerings. The snare performed reasonably well (without positional sensing) and the cymbal represents a great-value crash when paired with a mainstream module. Of course, the gear can only really be judged when teamed with its own module – something we aim to do very soon. Our featured artist this month is the legendary Kenny Aronoff – a real hard worker and inspiration to many. Kenny has been lured over to the e-side by Yamaha and has done some impressive clinics for the Japanese music giant. My interview with Kenny also sparked our story about the demise of the drum training DVD, a topic also close to the heart of one of the most ripped-off trainers, Thomas Lang, who is fighting back with his new interactive training programme. That brings us to a question about the editorial focus of digitalDrummer. It is becoming increasingly clear that our readers don’t use the mainstream drumming media – and that means we can safely expand our focus from e-drums to broader percussion coverage. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we’ll be starting to review acoustic kits and cymbals. But it does open the door to more coverage of performance skills, accessories and training materials. If there are topics you would like to see covered, please let us know.


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The global electronic drumming e-zine Edition 10

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May 2012


Sales are upbeat

E-drum sales are catching up to acoustics as they grow faster than acoustics. Which begs the question: Why is the e-drum market growing faster?

Mid-range revamp at MusikMesse

A look at some of the gear which made a debut at the second major international trade show of the year, MusikMesse.

Best of both - or too compromised?

ddrum has set the standard for external triggers. Does that success translate to the maker’s first hybrid kit?

Progress with Gen16

It’s been nine months since our first look at Zildjian’s Gen16 AE cymbals. So what’s changed since then? Allan Leibowitz revisits the acoustic/electronic offering.

Stick around

We did a head-to-head comparison of sticks in February 2011, but nothing stands still, and there have been some new offerings since then – plus some missed last time around.


Kenny’s e-conversion

Drumming dynamo Kenny Aronoff is best known for his work with John Mellencamp, but the classically trained percussionist has played with many of the biggest names in rock, from Elton John to Bob Dylan. Aronoff has joined the Yamaha DTX artist roster. He talks gear and technique with Allan Leibowitz.


Forget the DVDs: training goes interactive

Video piracy may be threatening the traditional drum training DVD, but it’s also spurred some innovation in the industry, with artists finding new ways to provide customised training.

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How I use e-drums

German drummer Marcel Bach uses e-drums to augment, rather than replace, acoustic drums in his recordings and performances.

Adding percussion

In February, Carl Albrecht stressed the importance of drums and percussion working together. This month, he explains how to make that happen.


Product reviews

We look at the new upgrade for BFD Eco and Platinum Samples’ Rock Legends Quick Pack.

Demystifying MIDI

The MIDI In and Out on your drum brain could open up a new musical world for you once you understand the protocol, as Huston Singletary explains.


E-drum guru John Emrich is back to answer more questions on topics from choking to updating VST products.


Check it out

In the first part of his maintenance guide, tweak-meister Simon Ayton went through some set-up checks. This month, he puts the pedal to the metal – and other bits.


Adding a zone

What’s the best way to mount a rim sensor for a dual-zone snare? Is there any point in having more than one rim sensor and what size piezo should I use?

My monster kit

Our monster kit this month hails from Milwaukee in the USA and what’s different about Brian Knox’s kit is that it is powered by a 2box module.

digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012


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$ales are upbeat According to NAMM, electronic drum sales last year accounted for around $75million, compared to acoustic sales of $175million. But e-drum sales are catching up as they’re growing faster than acoustics. Which begs the question: Why is the e-drum market growing so fast?

Today’s software gives the edrummer convenient, affordable access to a massive range of drum sounds recorded in professional studios at hyperdetail levels. It all still fits inside a studio apartment, travels on the road easily, and, with the addition of headphones, allows one’s relationships to survive furious practice sessions at all hours. SKoT McDonald, FXpansion

First, electronic percussion gives acoustic drummers another voice and allows them to express themselves in ways they never thought possible. Second, can a drummer play their acoustics in their house, late, after work, with a baby sleeping in the next room? Ben Kraft, Kraft Music Electronic percussion is growing because it reduces the acoustic sound level and, as the playing quality of the


products is improving, teachers are accepting and also recommending the products for practising. I also think that entry-level players want better products and are upgrading. Bengt Lilja, 2box

PHOTO: Alexey Lisovoy |

The market for electronic percussion is growing faster because ‘traditional’ acoustic players and electronic drummers/percussionists are using electronic percussion, electronic percussion is attracting new markets and, of course, electronic percussion is generally more expensive. Rene Troostheiden, 682Drums

Drum virtual instruments now allow for much easier recording and capturing of a MIDI performance and then using a variety of great sound libraries, which really opens up what people can do with their recorded drum sound. And, flexibility in sound choices and volume control for live playing have become important for many players. Plus, playability continues to improve on electronic kits and will only get better as new technology comes out. Derek Senestraro, Sweetwater

Sales of electronic percussion are growing faster than acoustics because they can be used live, in the studio, and in practice situations more often and with less hassle and maintenance. They also get better every year because of technology, making them more attractive as time goes on. Acoustic drums will never go away, just like acoustic guitars are still around, but I see electronic drums becoming dominant over time. Erik Hamm, RMC Audio Direct

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Mid-range revamp at MusikMesse

Allan Leibowitz looks at the new releases at the second major industry showcase of the year.



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NO-ONE WAS REALLY expecting anything new from Roland after its big splash at NAMM, but the Japanese instrument maker did indeed have something up its sleeve at MusikMesse – a total revamp of its mid-market offerings.

The Frankfurt show saw the debut of the TD-11 and TD-15 modules, both of which feature the SuperNATURAL sounds and Behaviour Modeling Technology of the flagship TD-30. The new modules take the form factor of the TD-9, but add another USB port which transmits MIDI, obviating the need for a MIDI/USB adaptor.

The TD-15 features 500 instruments and 100 usercustomisable drum kits. Ten multi-effects are provided for processing drum sounds, and instrument tuning, muffling and effects are controlled by dedicated front panel buttons. There are 11 trigger inputs and the module forms part of two new kits: the TD-15KV and TD-15K V-Tour Series VDrums sets. The TD-11, available as a standalone and as part of the new TD-11KV and TD-11K VCompact Series V-Drums sets, features 190 instruments, 50 drum kits and 10 trigger inputs. Both modules have Coach and Quick Record functions. The KV kit configuration for the higher-end module consists of two new PDX-100 mesh-head V-Pads for the snare and floor tom, two PD85 pads for the rack toms, and a KD-9 Kick Trigger Pad. The cymbal line-up consists of a VH-11 one-piece hi-hat, a CY-12C crash and a CY-13R/C ride, all mounted on the new MDS-9V rack.

The more compact TD-15K version has two PDX-8 meshhead pads, two PDXpads and a KD-9. A CY-5 fixed cymbal is paired with an FD-8 hi-hat controller, with the same CY-12C and CY-13R/C cymbal array provided. The kit is housed on a MDS-9V rack. digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012

The new TD-15 KV kit and the TD-15 module


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Triggers on the TD-11KV kit consist of two PDX-8 and two PDX-6 mesh pads, a KD-9, a CY-5/FD-8 hi-hat combo, a CY-12C and a CY-13R/C cymbal, all on the new MDS-4V rack. The TD-11K has three rubber PD-8A toms, a mesh PDX-8 snare, KD-9 kick, CY-5/ FD8 hi-hat and two CY-8 cymbals on an MDS4V rack. The kits are scheduled to hit stores in the northern spring, with the modules available separately a little later. After showing some new products at NAMM, Alesis debuted a new kick pedal at MusikMesse. The Pro X Kick has a double-chain drive system and a four-sided beater with easy height adjustment and memory lock. There’s an offset hoop clamp for easier attachment.

Visitors to the Pearl stand would have been curious about the pairing of Zildjian’s Gen16 AE cymbals with the ePro Live kit, but company insiders say this is not an indication of any change in the ePro configuration. Pearl Europe also distributes Zildjian, and it seemed a good way of showing off both ranges.

Pearl’s Tru-Trac set, Roland TD-11 module, a joint ePro Live/Gen16 AE demo, Alesis’ new Pro X Kick and drum-tec’s new kit finishes.

Pearl, meanwhile, used the show to promote its TruTrac Electronic Drumheads which are now sold as standalone sets. German e-drum specialist drum-tec showed its Diablo series with two new finishes: red and silver sparkle. A five-piece kit comprising 18” bass drum, two 12” and two 10” pad will cost €1,399. As a 2box agent, drum-tec is now also selling its shell packs with 2box modules and cymbals as an alternative to Roland components. Additional reporting by Wolfgang Stoelzle


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Best of both...

or too compromised? ddrum has set the standard for external triggers. Does that success translate to the maker’s first hybrid electronic/acoustic kit? Allan Leibowitz plugged in and powered up...


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THE DICTIONARY DEFINITION of a hybrid as “a combination of two different things” suggests that the pairing might produce something superior to its constituent parts. Indeed, I had great hopes for the ddrum Hybrid kit, anticipating that blending of a respected acoustic drum line with those terrific electronic triggers would be a winner.

I’m afraid the “d” in ddrum stands for disappointment – and not just one.

I’ll qualify that by saying I have no qualms about the hybrid as an acoustic kit. Even though it’s not quite in the league of the maker’s top-end offerings, it has a cannon-like bass, a respectable snare and some good-sounding toms, especially the 14” floor tom, an optional piece that has real presence. It’s on the electronics that the kit fails to deliver on the ddrum reputation.

Disappointment one: All the drums, including the snare, are single-trigger. Despite the fact that ddrum external trigger packs include a dual-zone snare, this kit comes with a single-zone trigger in the 13” snare. All the toms are similarly singular, as is the bass – but obviously that’s a non-issue.

Disappointment two: The kit ships with mylar heads throughout. So, if you have opted for the sixpiece, before you can play it as an e-kit, you need to go out and buy a bunch of mesh heads: 20”, 16”, 14”, 13”, 12” and a 10”. Before you’ve sat down behind the kit, you’re up for around $275 if you choose Hart heads or $100 if you go with basic Billy Blast heads. Disappointment three: The drums have XLR connections but the kit ships sans cables, so you’ll also need to buy six of those (there goes another 60 bucks).

Disappointment four: Not only are there no rim sensors, there are also no rim protectors, so before you can practice at home, you’ll probably need to fork out another $60 on those unless you want a DIY solution – or you’re sure you won’t go anywhere near the rims. Okay, so your bargain $699 kit (the recommended retail is around $1,200) has now passed the – ker-ching - $1,000 mark. Disappointment five: Before you put your credit card away, you’ll still have to buy basic hardware like a snare basket and cymbal stands as the kit only includes the shells and tom mounts.

digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012


Trigger guards protect the sensors.

Disappointment six: The ultra-modern hardware looks great, but prepare yourself for a battle when you switch heads. The lugs are among the trickiest I have ever encountered, and it’s even harder for the tension rod which also carries the sensor protector, a metal tab that sits on top of the hoop. Okay, so is it all bad news? Well, if you’ve decided to save your pennies and think you can play electronically using the mylar heads, there’s more bad news. The triggering is – let’s say “challenging”. In stock settings on a Roland module (of course, the kit does not include a brain), the triggering with the supplied heads is awful and quite a bit of tweaking is needed to achieve a level of triggering that will still not delight.


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One of the stylish and attractive toms (above) and the good-looking but tricky lugs (right). But, slip on some mesh heads, and the triggering improves dramatically, even without fiddling with module settings. Okay, so the “d” also denotes “delight”.

There’s excellent responsiveness on the snare and even some positional variation, even though the trigger is side-mounted. There is a good dynamic range on the snare and all the toms – plus the reassuring feeling of playing on real-sized drums.

The bass drum triggers fantastically in almost any trigger setting and is among the most responsive and realistic-feeling e-kick drums I have tried. I would, however, have preferred the jack to be a little higher – it’s quite close to the bottom of the drum.

Another positive is the look and feel of the kit. All the triggers are inside the drums, so it all feels finished and neat. The black shells and red hardware highlights look impressive and funky, and the sizes are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing. The toms - 10”x7”, 12”x7”, 14”x12” and 16”x12” - are particularly well-proportioned and the bass drum looks like a serious instrument. The kit is well built, with poplar shells – eight-ply for the snare and bass and six-ply for the toms. The black powder-coated rims look and feel substantial and the lugs (and there are plenty of them) look great, even if they are not the easiest to adjust. The two rack toms come with quality Iso mounts and the floor tom legs and mounts are simple and elegant.


The bottom line

If you’re a full-time e-drummer, the acoustic qualities of this kit will be of little interest, and you’ll base your decision on the triggering. And if you do that, you’ll probably be disappointed by the absence of rim triggers, on the snare at the very least. So you could achieve the same result with any acoustic shell pack and a set of ddrum external triggers which would at least ensure a dual-zone snare – for just a couple of hundred bucks over the kit price. If you’re an acoustic drummer, there is plenty of choice in the same price range – even among the ddrum stable, so there’s no compelling reason to choose this product.

If you’re an acoustic drummer who may need to play electronically, you can achieve the same results with any acoustic kit and a bunch of clip-on triggers – again, even within the ddrum stable. So, in this case, the whole is not really greater than the sum of its parts, and for me, there are just too many compromises in this hybrid.


Bass drum: 20”x20” Snare: 13”x6” Tom tom: 10”x7” Tom tom: 12”x 7” Floor tom: 14”x12” Floor tom: 16”x12” Electronics: Internal single-zone triggers Shell-mounted XLR jacks Hardware: Tom arm and clamp for mounted tom

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More fun than function

KORG RECENTLY EXTENDED the Wavedrum range with the addition of the Wavedrum Mini, an electronic percussion pad with a built-in speaker.

The Mini is a scaled-back version of the Wavedrum – measuring just over 20 cm across and 5 cm deep. It’s also scaled back in basic functionality, with 100 sounds (half of its big brother’s) and 100 patterns – again, half of the full offering. The quality of the sounds is nowhere near as rich as the big brother, but on the plus side, the Mini is totally portable as it’s battery-powered (a mains adaptor is supplied) and even has a strap to attach to your thigh if you don’t have a stand or table to rest it on. The Mini is also self-contained, with a built-in speaker.

The Mini forgoes the rim triggering of the full-blown product, but it does come with an external trigger – the sensor clip. This velocity-sensitive attachment clips onto anything from a table to a shoe, turning that surface into an additional drum.

The head is nowhere near as realistic as the larger Wavedrum and where the pro product can be played with sticks or hands, the Mini is designed for hand drumming only. It’s designed to be played with hands, fingers and palms and the tones vary according to how hard you hit, where you hit and which part of your hand you use. There’s a bit of a learning curve, especially with some of the melodic instruments, and it’s not as easy as some of the other multipad triggers with their designated zones, for example. To make it more complicated, the variations change depending on the instrument sound selected. So, for example, open and slap techniques on conga or djembe settings produce effects similar to “the real thing”. The real beauty of the Mini is its easy-to-use multilayer recorder. At the press of a few buttons, it’s easy to overdub instruments onto one of the included patterns. And if you don’t want the pattern, you can simply mute it. Either way, it’s very easy to build complex patterns. And there’s no limit to the digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012

number of layers you can add. The Mini also allows you to create phrases up to 25 seconds long and overdub them ad nauseum.

The one shortcoming, however, is that your creations are only temporary and cannot be saved. Once you exit, they’re gone – and that can be disappointing when you’ve laid down an intricate and effective track that will be lost forever. Of course, you can record it using the stereo output.

There’s no doubt that the Mini is fun, but I don’t think it can be classed as a professional instrument. Many of the included sounds are weird and quirky and some of the patterns are a bit obscure. The small built-in speaker really doesn’t do justice to the sounds, and you really do need to connect the Mini to some decent headphones or a drum amp to get the full benefit. The Mini triggers reasonably, but not in the same league as the full-blown version. And, of course, there’s a lack of connectivity, with no way of bypassing the sound engine through MIDI, for example. So if you wanted to add the Mini to an existing set-up, the only option is to use the stereo output feed. That’s also one of the criticisms of the full-blown version.

The bottom line is that the Mini is a relatively inexpensive device that will enable anyone to be bashing away and producing sounds within seconds of unpacking. The fantastic looping/overdub capabilities are appealing, but I can’t see the Mini surviving any serious gigging. It also lacks the sample richness and playing feel of its bigger brother. However, for home use or amateur playing, it’s maxi fun in a mini package.

The specs:

Sounds: 100 Patterns: 100 Effects: 10 Outputs: Phones (Stereo mini), Output (1/4”) Speaker: 10x5 cm; 1.3 Watt Power Supply: AA batteries; AC adapter Accessories: AC Adapter, sensor clip, strap Street price: $299


The Kat steps up

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Alternate Mode, the maker of the drumKAT and trapKAT, has added two pedals to its line-up, and Allan Leibowitz put them to the test.

THE EKIC IS an inverted-beater arrangement reminiscent of the Roland KD-7, Pintech ErgoKik or Hart Hammer Kick. However, the strike surface is much larger than the discontinued Roland version and different in design from the other rivals. It uses a neoprene-type material – the same nuBounce material used on the malletKAT and trapKAT. The design is simple and elegant, and the sensitivity is fantastic. Obviously, the feel takes a little getting used to, but you can use your own pedals, so the action will be predictable and familiar.

I had a couple of niggles while setting up the review sample. Firstly, the supplied reverse beater was a bit short and struck the top of the playing surface rather than the centre. This was mainly the fault of my old Pearl pedal, which had limited beater angle adjustment and it shouldn’t be an issue with newer pedals, nor with Alternate Mode’s pedal. The second problem was

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that the lip of the eKIC was a bit thin and the pedal clamp didn’t quite have enough to grab onto. Again, easily fixed with a strip of neoprene.

Other than that, the performance was flawless and the eKIC is a solid, well-made trigger, certainly worth its $79 sticker price. The eHAT is an electronic hihat pedal designed to replace the FD-6, 7 or 8 and their counterparts. It’s available as a separate controller that will fit under a hihat pedal or a bass pedal ($155) or an integrated

unit attached to a quality bass pedal ($199).

Unlike the Roland products, Hart’s EPEDAL or Pintech’s Hyperhat, the eHAT has three inputs rather than one. The first one is a standard mono 6.5mm jack input for continuous controller hi-hats. The second one is a stereo input designed for Alternate Mode’s DITI MIDI controller. Then, there’s an additional velocity-controlled trigger output that can be used for a chick sound – or anything else you care to assign. In fact, it can even be used as a bass pedal.

The eHAT works flawlessly as an FD-whatever replacement, producing a good range of open, semiclosed and closed responses and excellent chick sounds in an older TD-6V module. Paired with a TD20 in VH-11 mode, it showed great sensitivity, with a broad range of variations between open and closed and a fantastic chick. As an experiment, I tried simultaneously connecting the third output to the TD20’s kick input and got a combined hi-hat pedal/bass trigger in one – although that would take some practice to perfect, unless you really want to punctuate the chick with some bass. In short, the complete kit is a bit more costly than the pedals it’s meant to replace, but it’s a sturdy, well-built piece of gear with far more sensitivity than anything else out there and would be a great substitute or addition to any set-up.




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Progress with Gen16 Russ Miller’s ride mods (inset) and a couple of the new crash and china cymbals (opposite)

It’s been nine months since our first look at Zildjian’s Gen16 AE cymbals. So what’s changed since then? Allan Leibowitz revisits the acoustic/electronic offering.

SINCE MY FIRST test of Gen16’s preproduction samples, the minor technical issues have been largely addressed, units have been shipping and, according to Zildjian, selling beyond expectations. A number of pro drummers have become endorsers of the range and the blue lighted cymbals are being seen in action on all continents.

which seemed to have minimal processing and a bunch with way too much processing. Well, the first 10 new shapes are an enhancement of the previous “under-processed” presets – and they are a real improvement. There are some beefier tones which make a significant difference, especially to the hihats.

Let’s start with the new presets. Previously, there were few real differences between the sound shapes. There were basically two types: some

The new software is a significant step forward. It automatically checks the firmware of the DCP (digital cymbal processor) and updates it to the latest version.

The biggest leap for the range has been the release of new firmware, including sound editing tools, and, more recently, a bunch of new presets for the module.


More recently, the developers released five new shapes especially for crashes – and these really add body to what were previously quite thin sounds.

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But that’s just the beginning of it. The DCP Access Tool is an enormously powerful tool which allows users to edit the presets – almost like instrument editing on a drum module.

But shape editing is more involved than merely altering the virtual size or tone of an e-cymbal. There are around a dozen editable parameters for each cymbal shape. They include input gain (basically, input level), high-pass filter (reducing lowfrequency bleed), input limiter (controlling attack and release), pitch shifter (changing the tone), exciter (adding harmonic distortion), three-band parametric EQ, comb filter (introducing subtle tonal variations), expander (noise gate) and reverb send. All the parameters can be changed in real time and previewed live, which is just as well since most users will have little idea about what they’re changing, despite the good help information accompanying the tool.

New cymbals

Since our initial review, more cymbals have been added to the range and are now available. Personally, I’ve tried the 14” hats which are beefier than the 13” initially reviewed, and a 20” ride which I actually found “deader” than the 18” original sample. I have also tried a 12” splash and a 16” china, both of which are very effective with the right DCP setting – and there are really only a couple of presets that work well with each.

Besides the availability of the full range of cymbals, there is also more information on how best to use the AEs. Gen16, for example, is now including dampening pins with its cymbals. These plastic pins serve to reduce some of the natural overtones of the cymbals and are being augmented by some users with strategically placed pieces of gaffer tape, especially on the bell area. It might not look too digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012

flash, but it sounds a whole lot better, and even Gen16 demonstrators like Russ Miller have tape on their bells.

Other drummers are adding rivets and chains to create more shimmer, and thanks to the perforations, these are easy to add – and remove. And just a couple of small nuts and bolts can make a huge difference and breathe life into a ride. For added impact on the hi-hats, a number of drummers have added clip-on tambourines which work really well with the pick-ups.

State of play

The folks at Zildjian seem committed to the Gen16 concept and there is talk of industry partnerships which will see even more innovation in the line.

Work is continuing to create more shapes which will be available for free download – and already users are sharing their home-brew presets on forums – but probably not quickly enough for some users.

The tweaks and tinkering mean that the Gen16 AEs are certainly gigable and by putting them into the hands of some of their younger endorsers, Zildjian is getting the cymbals seen and heard. The company is also benefiting from the feedback of its professional users, and their suggestions are making their way into the product. Sure, the Gen16s are still not perfect. They’re still not really quiet enough for silent practice, although the gaffer tape takes them down a few decibels. Yes, the DCP editing is more complicated than Roland’s COSM, for example. And yes, the module mount is not quite as stable as we’d like. But the AE cymbals are still fantastic under the stick (or mallet, brushes or rods), and the sounds are getting better all the time.


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Stick around PHOTO: GEARPIX

We did a head-to-head comparison of sticks in February 2011, but nothing stands still, and there have been some new offerings since then – plus some missed last time around. So Allan Leibowitz had little choice but to pick up sticks once more‌


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The company shtick: The US-sourced Hickory and European Hornbeam woods are dried slowly and naturally in the open air until immediately prior to production ... After drying, the wood is cut and graded, ensuring only that of the highest quality is used to produce Pellwood drumsticks. Pellwood drumsticks are finished using a fine layer of anti-skid lacquer, ensuring the natural structure of the wood is not compromised and allowing for a comfortable and natural experience for the drummer. Sample tested: Hornbeam 7A Extra Slim Length index*: 100 Weight index*: 95

Playability: The oversized yellow nylon tips are certainly distinctive. The sticks are well balanced, with a fairly central fulcrum, thanks to a relatively short taper and broad shoulder. The anti-skid treatment provides a good grip without being tacky. The combination of the grip and balance give an excellent feel on mesh heads, with an easily controlled bounce. The controlled feel also translates to rubber, both for pads and e-cymbals. For a lesser-known brand (outside of the Czech Republic), Pellwood has a very extensive range which should meet the needs of any drummer.

Regal Tip E Series

The company shtick: 50 years ago, Joe Calato invented the nylon tip and gave to the world of drumming its most significant drumstick development of the 20th century. For years, Joe has been determined to develop a nylon tip that would produce a darker, mellower cymbal sound, more like that of wood. Well, he’s done it again! The new E Series stick bridges the gap between wood and nylon: the sound of wood with the durability of nylon. Plus the rebound is incredible. Even “dyed in the wool” wood tip players owe it to themselves to pick up a pair of E Series sticks and give them a ride! Sample tested: E Series Jazz Length index: 100

Weight index: 100

Playability: What’s new about the E Series is five ridges in the nylon tips which give the sticks more bounce. The Jazz sticks are elegantly tapered, with a centre of gravity just slightly rear of the mid-point. The sticks are beautifully finished, down to the fine chamfer on the butt. On mesh, they perform perfectly, with just enough rebound. Similarly, on rubber pads and cymbals, the control and rebound are excellent. The E Series is currently limited to four relatively light models, well suited to e-drumming, but the same technology is also found in the EX (extreme metal) series which are made with black nylon versions of the E tips for heavy hitters. digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012


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Xcel Drumsticks

The company shtick: Xcel Drumsticks are coveted the world over for their distinguished craftsmanship, durability, and long-lasting performance … Xcel Drumsticks feature a distinctive, patented secondary striker, which is a feature so important that it now comes standard on all Xcel sticks. The striker, placed just below the tip, lends a brighter sound, better ride and bounce, and provides for less wear on the stick … Xcel Speedsticks feature a patented, distinctive “weighted end”. The weight brings the centre of balance back to your hand, helping to achieve maximum artist performance ... Xcel Powersticks feature a unique “oval hand grip” which provides the musician with less strain, less slippage, and gives a lighter, more comfortable grip. Sample tested: Speedsticks – Hickory 7A Length index: 99 Weight index: 94

Playability: It’s never fair to lump innovative designs in with traditional sticks because there’s clearly a bit of a learning curve involved. The Speedsticks have added weights on the butt ends which move the centre of gravity far back on the stick – too far for my personal style. On a personal note, the Powersticks, with their swollen bulbous grips, were even more unwieldy for me, but would no doubt be a dream come true for someone else. The most “normal” product in the range, the regular 7A with an additional striker, was the easiest to play, with a good balance and rebound. Now, if only I could master putting that additional striker to work for me, I can see how it would increase efficiency and speed exponentially. So, the bottom line is that these are seriously innovative sticks that will help some people incredibly, but for the rest of us, the learning curve is probably more than we would invest in a casual purchase. The good news, however, is that they are very reasonably priced, so if they don’t work out, you won’t have lost your shirt.


*The length and weight ratios were calculated by dividing the measurements from one stick by those of its partner, so that 100 represents perfectly matched sticks.

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e-conversion PHOTO: YAMAHA 24

Drumming dynamo Kenny Aronoff is best known for his work with John Mellencamp, but the classically trained percussionist has played with many of the biggest names in rock, from Elton John to Bob Dylan. Currently touring with John Fogerty and a recent addition to Chickenfoot where he is filling in for Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, Aronoff has joined the Yamaha DTX artist roster. He talks gear and technique with digitalDrummer editor Allan Leibowitz.

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PHOTO: ZILDJIAN digitalDrummer: Let’s kick off with your use of electronic percussion. What gear are you currently using?

Kenny Aronoff: I’ve got the top-of-the-line Yamaha DTX900 kit in a complete copy of my acoustic kit set-up: a 12” tom, 10” tom, 14” tom and 15” tom. I have two hi-hats – a traditional hi-hat and a remote cable hi-hat on the right, two crash cymbals and a ride. I’m currently using stock Yamaha sounds, but I am going to make samples of my acoustic kit at some point. digitalDrummer: And what are you using it for?

Aronoff: I’m using it mostly for clinics and gigs. So far, I’ve done around eight clinics for DTX and they’ve been really, really successful. In the clinics, I play everything from pop to rock songs to R&B, culminating in an up-tempo jazz piece I performed and recorded with The Buddy Rich Big Band called Straight No Chaser by Theloneous Monk. It’s a real trip to see a drummer playing jazz on a DTX kit. I’m also using the kit live on my tour with John Fogerty. I use one pad for samples and I also use the DTX M12 multipad. I have a trigger on my kick drum to add a brighter sound. Basically, I have a few sources of kick drum: an acoustic, a sample copied from my ancient ddrum brain and a kick drum sound from the multipad. And those are fed through a buttkicker (I’m currently experimenting with a Porter & Davies BC version) and then there’s a wedge behind me. The next step will be to use the DTX for recording because more people want MIDI files, and it’s perfect for that. digitalDrummer: And how did the tie-up with Yamaha come about?

digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012

Aronoff: I was doing a sample session for Zildjian Gen16 and, between sessions, I saw this DTX kit. I hadn’t seen one before and I tried it and was so blown away, I said ‘I have to have one of these’. Ironically, the artist relations person for DTX, Bob Terry, was there and I recognised this guy and it dawned on me that I’d known him in the ‘70s in Bloomington, Indiana, when we were both starting out. So, we’re going to do a lot more clinics this year, and I’m going to get my samples in there and it’s going to be incredible. digitalDrummer: Had you had much experience with electronic percussion before this encounter?

Aronoff: Yes, I used to use the ddrum brain out of Sweden, and I used their pads and stuff, but not to this degree. I was using it mostly for triggering and samples, but it certainly didn’t have the playability of the latest DTX gear. digitalDrummer: When you’re using e-drums on the road, how do the sound techs react to the gear?

Aronoff: They’re mostly blown away by it, by the sounds and the performance. And it’s easier for them because you get a clean sound from each drum and no ringing from one to the next. But then again, it’s a different sound. With an acoustic kit, you get the ringing from one drum to the others, that’s really cool; that’s what makes that sound amazing. That’s what I love about acoustic kits. If you play a snare over and over again, the sounds of the first hit are still there when the later ones are played. But with electronics, you hear a pad and then it’s cut off when you hit – every time you hit, it cuts the previous sound off. So they’re different instruments, but they both do a great job.


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digitalDrummer: So do you think the music industry is taking e-drums seriously?

Aronoff: Oh yeah! It’s not a joke any more. It’s for real. A lot of people use them in churches and all over. It’s convenient, it has a soft stage volume and for apartments in cities all over America, it’s incredible.

digitalDrummer: Turning to your career, you’re very much in demand, touring with Chickenfoot and Fogerty, recording and playing on film scores. What do you prefer – being in a band or being a free agent?

Aronoff: I like to do it all. I like to mix it up. I like being part of a band. It gives you an identity and colours what you do. But I like to do the other stuff in addition – clinics, sessions and I have my own studio now, too. I’ve got a killer set-up – great mikes, my Tama kit, a Gretsch kit, my DTX kit, an old Ludwig kit. digitalDrummer: Just to pick up on that clinic work: you’re obviously prolific in the training area, with clinics and DVDs and the like. But it seems that so many drummers are now moving into that space. Is the market becoming saturated?

Aronoff: It is saturated and DVD sales are actually dropping because of Youtube and video downloading. You don’t have to buy a DVD any more. There’s always going be a drummer with great technique like a Thomas Lang and he’s such a great educator and people will always buy his DVDs, but in general, people don’t need to buy DVDs. Just go to Youtube and click on my name it’s endless what you find, so you can just watch me there. And it even has samples of instructions from my DVDs … digitalDrummer: Is that frustrating?

Aronoff: Yeah. You know, I’ve been asked to do other DVDs, but there’s no point. It’s a lot of work and the return is not that great, so I’m not going to do it. It’s better for me to spend my time doing other things.

digitalDrummer: Kenny, to move onto a different topic: a lot of our readers are gear nuts who are more interested in the equipment than in drumming. What’s more important: the gear or technique?

Aronoff: I guess it’s all about musicality and expression and it all comes back to the drummer first. Equipment comes second to the musicianship and technique of a drummer. You can have great equipment and not even know how to play a groove, 26


nn t Ke



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let alone how to play with other Ch musicians. It’s like being an intellectual and not being able to have a conversation.

ou eck

digitalDrummer: And what about talent versus practice? Can you make it without talent, by working hard and practising?

Aronoff: I believe that practice is the most important thing. If you’re super-talented, you’ll go further. If you’re not as talented, you will still get better, so practice is where it’s at. It may just take longer. digitalDrummer: That’s encouraging for all of us. But to get back to e-drums for our last question, you’ve identified one shortcoming of current technology. What other innovations do you think are necessary to make e-drums as good as “the real thing”? Aronoff: The biggest shortcoming at the moment is the cymbal, and that’s where Zildjian’s Gen16 AE comes in. The cymbal is the weakest part of the current drum kits and there’s a need to make it sound right and feel right and that’s why the Gen16 thing is amazing. It feels like a cymbal and they’re working very hard to make it sound like a cymbal. I think it’s amazing that they’re doing it: the biggest cymbal company in the world realises the need. That, right there, answers a lot of questions. Why would Zildjian make an electronic cymbal? That’s telling us that there’s a market out there; there’s enough people out there buying stuff and that market is so strong that they’re willing to invest a lot of money into trying to be the leader in that market. Interesting, huh? digitalDrummer: Absolutely. Kenny, thanks for taking the time to talk to us and for sharing your thoughts. Kenny Aronoff: That’s great, man. Those were good questions. Thank you.

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Missed a review?

Using the search function and the archive option, you can search the past three back issues* for any content, including our reviews and head-to-head comparisons.

Here is a summary of our reviews to date:

January 2010

Reviews: Yamaha DTX M-12 Korg Wavedrum Roland TD-8 Comparatives: Amps and Powered Speakers

April 2010

Tu Mesh Comparatives: Auxiliary triggers E-cymbals (crashes)

August 2011

Reviews: Diamond Electronic Drums 12� snare Crappy Triggers external triggers Jman cymbal conversion kit Comparatives: Mesh heads Headphones

July 2010

Comparatives: External Triggers Racks

October 2010

Reviews: Roland HPD-10 JamHub 682Drums e-conversion kit Comparatives: Double pedals Notation software

February 2011

Comparatives: Drumsticks E-cymbals (stick noise) Cymbal VSTs

May 2011

Review: DrumIt Five 2box kit

Reviews: Gen 16 AE cymbals Native Instruments Abbey Road IV The Classic Addictive Drums Virtually Erskine Comparatives: Drop-in trigger kits Mesh heads In-ear monitors

November 2011

Reviews: Pork Pie thrones Studio Drummer Comparatives: E-snares

February 2012

Reviews: Midi Knights Pro Extreme Drum Triggers kit Comparatives: E-rides Mesh heads

*For reviews prior to Aug 2011, click here.

Your definitive guide to e-drum gear

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Forget the DVDs: training goes live Video piracy may be threatening the traditional drum training DVD, but it’s also spurred some innovation in the industry, with artists finding new ways to provide customised training. Allan Leibowitz looks at some of the new offerings.

YOU ONLY HAVE to Google “free drum training” to find a wealth of instructional videos, most of them ripped off from commercial DVDs. Among those who have become victims of their own popularity is this month’s profiled artist, Kenny Aronoff. In his interview, he notes that a simple search of his name on YouTube reveals a range of material from his DVDs. And is that frustrating? You bet! “I’ve been asked to do other DVDs, but there’s no point. It’s a lot of work and the return is not that great, so I’m not going to do it,” he says. It’s even worse for the big daddy of drum training DVDs, Thomas Lang. Only a few of the 500 YouTube videos returned for the search “Thomas Lang DVD” are officially sanctioned promos. The rest are simply copied from DVDs by drummers eager to share Lang’s wisdom with the broader


community, like latterday Robin Hoods. (There is much more illegally copied training material in the 8,350-plus search results for “Thomas Lang” on the video site, not to mention the 10million on Google.) Rob Wallis, co-owner of Hudson Music, one of the biggest drum training publishers, sees piracy as “a very big problem”.

“It has cut into our business tremendously and the outcome is (that) we cannot afford to release nearly the amount of titles we used to release. In the end, it hurts everyone - the public cannot get the information they’d like to get from their favourite artists, artists cannot earn money from products to help supplement their income, and we cannot release the content we’d like to.” While Hudson hasn’t yet had artists pull the plug on DVDs, Wallis does concede that piracy “has

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Technology allows Thomas Lang to provide feedback to his online students. certainly (forced) guys to think what is the best way to deliver the information and I guess some guys may stop and think ‘Why put in all the work and effort if sales are going to be small?’”.

He points out that DVDs typically take nine to 12 months from start to finish and “involve a great deal of time from the artist as well as the people on our side that put the productions together”, noting that Neil Peart’s “Taking Center Stage” production took a little under two years to produce. According to Drum Channel founder Don Lombardi, piracy is “nothing less than shoplifting or stealing”.

He laments that seeing copyrighted material appear on the Internet “is unfortunately part of the business model we live in”. “It’s great to get additional exposure by promoting trailers online, but when people post complete shows with no regard to the financial ramifications for the artist or producer, it has to become an additional expense for companies to monitor the web, to keep people from stealing their intellectual property,” he says.

Lombardi says at Drum Channel, piracy is not a defining issue as to whether or not an artist wants to do a DVD. “Artists are often as involved in giving as they are in getting. I think more concern falls for the

digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012

manufacturers and distributors who need to recoup their financial dollars in producing a DVD,” he explains. He adds that DVD sales are decreasing year after year, but “the desire for information seems to be growing as the entire world becomes your potential audience”. While DVD sales form part of Drum Channel’s operations, much of its content is distributed online through its subscription offerings. This approach, says Lombardi, allows Drum Channel to “better protect the privacy and monitor the artists’ content”.

Lang, meanwhile, doesn’t mince words about piracy, especially the people who upload huge chunks of his latest offerings, also describing it as theft and saying he tries to get the material taken down, but it just keeps reappearing.

But he believes that the glut of stolen training material doesn’t really help drummers. “Since it’s out there for free, you can browse a thousand different things and end up with nothing at all,” he says. Clinician and trainer Johnny Rabb, with almost 1,500 YouTube appearances and a number of training books and DVDs to his name, also finds piracy frustrating. “The torrent sites have illegally allowed my books and DVDs to be downloaded for


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nothing. If I would have even been compensated a dollar per download, I would not be so bummed out,” he says, also identifying teachers who copy and distribute bits of his books as culprits. “I want to share information, but I do this for my living and it is very difficult with everyone just passing things around for free.” Rabb predicts that DVDs will be phased out “very soon”, in his case replaced by online delivery.

Lang also believes that “DVDs are the past”. The present is interactive, and Lang is redirecting his efforts into a new offering - a subscription-based online drum academy, the Thomas Lang School of Drums. It’s is an interactive online programme which gives students around the world direct video access to the legendary drummer. At the core of the programme is a growing library of video exercises (there were almost 500 when digitalDrummer spoke to Lang), all filmed with multiple camera angles and slow motion and accompanied by PDF notation.

What differentiates the programme from DVDs or stolen video lessons, however, is the interaction with Lang. Students work through the lessons at their own pace, and can ask questions at any time on dedicated forums or directly to their teacher in a video exchange. Students are asked to film their progress and send their videos to Lang, who watches them and responds with personal videos. All of this is shared with the “community”. And because the videos are shared, he says, students will actually practice before they send in their questions. “They don’t want to embarrass themselves in front of me and all the other students in the global classroom,” he points out.

Subscriptions start at $20 per month and Lang believes students who pay for the service put more into it – and get more out of it.

And for electronic drummers, there will soon be specific curriculum elements covering technique and more. “Electronics have become such an important part of what we do as drummers and a modern extension of our instrument,” he notes. “The sticking and technical approach is similar (to acoustics), but the


Rabb is offering a lesson a day.

musical and pattern approach is very different because you can produce sounds on an electronic kit that you cannot produce on acoustic drums. And because of the nature of those sounds, you have to adjust the way you think about playing the drums. For example, if you play a reverse cymbal, you have to start on a ‘one-and’ to make the reverse sound develop fully into the next beat. Then there’s the melodic and harmonic aspects if you play, for example, a marimba on an e-kit. There is the programming element and the sound modification, a mix and audio engineering element – so many different levels and components.” Rabb, meanwhile, recently launched his own unique offering, It’s a lesson-a-day subscription site “where I can share all my concepts of drumming in quick and easy videos”, he explains. “Students will be able to digest the content and immediately add it to their own playing. “I wanted to have a place where I can post my concepts and lessons for interested drummers to learn. It is basically an online library of endless lessons.

“I will also critique each member and offer communication to help each individual improve their drumming and musical skills.”

Before going live, Rabb already had over 400 videos in the can. The site is a big commitment, but Rabb is not doing it all alone. “I have already got some great content for the site from John Toomey and Mike Adamo. John is a fantastic player from Nashville. He has a DVD we produced together called Six Way Independence. Mike Adamo is the author of The Breakbeat Bible. It was a pleasure to work with both drummers and get their take on drumming captured in a lesson format.

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“There will be a solid drum team on staff (and) my goal for the site is to offer multiple teaching styles from many professional drummers,” he says.

Wackerman has been teaching via Skype for a couple of years. “Some students only take one lesson, others take them weekly or once every two weeks.”

All students need is a Skype account, a webcam, a couple of external mics and a simple mixer. “Once they have a basic set-up working, they contact me and we set up a time. It works surprisingly well,” he says, adding that time differences are not a big issue. “So far, I’ve taught drummers from all over the US and Europe. It’s a matter of finding a suitable time for both parties; it hasn’t been a problem so far.” Like Lang, Wackerman enjoys the personal touch. “I like connecting with players all over the planet and this approach enables me to reach many more people. “The students who do this are serious about advancing. Besides their dedication to practising their craft, they have taken the time to set up a distance learning environment so they can experience a one-on-one private lesson, even though we are separated geographically.

“As this is a personal, tailored lesson, students are able to work on exactly what they need to help them achieve their goals quickly.” The bottom line for Wackerman is that Skype lessons are “not that different than coming over to

Wackerman uses Skype to reach out.


While some artists shun the Skype lesson approach, the VOIP method is proving successful for another big-name drummer, Chad Wackerman.

my drum studio in LA. You just have to make your own coffee”.

And while YouTube has been a burden for big-name artists and trainers, it has provided a cheap and easy distribution for start-up trainer According to founder Michael Purvis, rather than finding ways of extracting payment in a world of free content, he opted for free access to his material. “I’d rather spend my time and energy giving and helping (drummers), than to be worrying about the smallest percentage that are only here to rip us off,” he says.

The service provides a “‘linear’ learning system that allows newer players to ‘stack’ their skills, and more experienced players to easily add new layers to their playing”. While much of the content is free, Purvis does use the site to promote some pay-for-use offerings like his Paradiddle Possibilities system.

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How I use e-drums German drummer Marcel Bach uses e-drums to augment, rather than replace, acoustic drums in his recordings and performances. I’M CURRENTLY WORKING on a number of things, most of them involving teaching. I work as a drum lecturer at the Westfälische Music School in Münster and also as a private teacher. I really like to educate young drummers and also coach semi-professional drummers to offer them new ideas. Teaching doesn’t really allow me to fully express my musical creativity, so over the past five years, I have become more involved in the solo drumming scene. In 2008, I was honoured with the 26th German Rock and Pop Award for the best drummer, which was obviously a highlight. Since 2006, I have also been playing in clinics and workshops and participated in nearly every drum festival and music fair in Germany along with Dom Famularo, Benny Greb, Carmine Appice, Will Calhoun, The Drumbassadors, George Kollias and many more. 32

I approach drum solos like songs – carefully worked out. I see them not just as drumming, but as music generated with drums. I always want the solo parts to have a rhythm and groove while using a lot of styles from swing to blast beats with different dynamics, and when I play live, I include the audience with different hand-clap patterns. I think that’s why I can play 45-minute solos and still keep audiences interested.

Besides teaching and solo drumming, I am part of the German indie-rock band Strand where I can play straight rock grooves, a great complement to all my solo stuff. This year has seen the publication of my second drum book in Germany, “Schlagzeug Play-Alongs Vol. 1”, following the 2010 release of “Schlagzeug Training”, a popular title among advanced drummers. I am already working on the next book

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and have joined the new coaching website, I’m also writing play-along tracks for a new drum-coaching app for iPhone and android and am just about to start a workshop series in the German drum magazine Drumheads. And I’m currently promoting my latest CD, “30 years – a drum solo record”.


My recent involvement with e-drums dates back a couple of years when I was endorsed by Alesis in 2010. I use many of their electronic percussion products, but mainly their flagship DM10 module in combination with the DM10 Pro kit and Surge cymbals or their newest product, the DM10 X kit. For some applications, I use T-drum triggers to connect my acoustic kit with the DM10 module.


: JO




I sometimes use pure electronic drums for recording; for example, in a recent reggae project. I’m impressed with the ability to infuse the drum tracks with a human feel, and enjoy the wide range of sounds available through electronic kits.

I am increasingly using one of two different hybrid kit set-ups. The first is based on an acoustic snare, side snare, two toms, crash, ride, two hi-hats and foot-cowbell combined with electronic bass drum, three electronic toms and a Surge crash and a Surge ride. I like the combination of massive electronic sounds with acoustic sounds and use this arrangement for solo drumming.

The second set-up I use is also for solo, band or recording situations. Here, I put triggers on my acoustic drums to get a more powerful sound, added ambience or more kick sound for the bass drum. The combination produces natural sounding but more spicy drums. In some of my solo parts, I also select additional percussion, keyboard or guitar sounds. I use my Surge cymbals in this set-up to add cymbal-like artificial effect sounds. For me, electronic drums aren’t intended to sound like or replace acoustic drums. I mainly use them to get new sound possibilities and that means a huge expansion of my creativity. digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012


I use my complete Pro or X Kit plus a few added acoustic elements for drum clinics when demonstrating the newest Alesis product.

Equipment Electronic drums

Alesis Pro kit Alesis X kit Alesis DM10 module Alesis Surge cymbals Acoustic drums RMV Exclusive RMV Concept RMV drumheads

T-drum triggers Paiste cymbals Duallist pedals Agner “Marcel Bach” signature drumsticks Drumsigns custom bass drum heads 33

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In February, Carl Albrecht stressed the importance of drums and percussion working together. This month, he explains how to make that happen. .



Adding percussion

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WHEN SETTING UP, I prefer the percussionist to be on my right side and the bass player to my left (the hi-hat side). This allows the percussionist to hear the kit clearly and to have a visual connection to my right side. For me, the right hand will be dictating a lot of the time-keeping (hi-hat and ride cymbal patterns). I’ve always found this helpful when setting up a drum and percussion duo in the band. When this set-up is not possible, I still make sure I have a good sight line to the percussionist, and I’m very careful about getting a good monitor mix. You have to hear well to play well.

Last time, I mentioned keeping a positive atmosphere. There should be no personal or musical battles on stage. Make sure you are communicating well with the percussionist or drummer. Commit together to serve the music and the other players to the best of your abilities. If you can’t agree on what you’re playing, always use the original recordings as a reference. Also, be sure the band leader is happy with what they are hearing. It is NOT about you! Never think about getting noticed or trying to “be cool”. If you are playing great music and striving to make the whole group sound great, you will automatically gain the respect of everyone. A great tool for checking out your sound is to record everything you play. As a percussionist, you can get a true perspective of what you sound like when hearing the recording. Be objective when you listen and decide if what you’re playing really works with the music. If not, be mature enough to make the proper adjustments. You might notice your shaker or tambourine patterns don’t line up or “groove” well. Listen carefully! Do you need to push your time

more or lay back to make the music feel good? Are you too loud or too soft? Do you need to leave out some ideas because there is just too much going on? Hearing a recording of yourself is one of the most educational tools you can use. Be brave and do whatever it takes to improve your work.

A common percussion mistake is to use the wrong style of grooves with the music you play. If you play real “Latin” percussion patterns in pop or rock songs, they may not fit. Even if you play them perfectly, they still may not work with the music. Again, the contemporary percussionist must know how to blend all of the styles they know and find just the right “musical” concept to fit with what the song requires. You might have to play some very strange combination of instruments or patterns to create the right vibe.

In my set-up, I use a set of three congas, a pair of bongos, two timbales, a djembe, a doumbek, a big low drum, an udu drum, a talking drum, several triangles, cowbells, woodblocks, aggogo bells, several wind chimes, assorted cymbals, gongs, and several cases of percussion toys. I even collect saw blades, seashells, metal and plastic pipes, and other weird noisemakers. With high-end electronic kits, you probably have all of these – plus some more exotic sounds – at the touch of a dial.

Developing your drum and percussion team into a great music machine will make you an honoured duo in your band. Stay humble and focus on making the music sound great and you will never be accused of being a two-headed monster. You can truly be proof that two heads are better than one.

Percussion (per-KUH-shun) instruments:

Instruments that are sounded by striking, shaking, plucking, or scraping. All instruments such as drums and bells fall into this category. The formal classifications of most Percussion instruments are either Idiophones (instruments that vibrate when struck, shook, plucked, or scraped) or Membranophones (instruments that have a stretched membrane that vibrates when struck, shook, or rubbed).

digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012


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Product review: BFD Eco 1.5 AS MORE COMPUTERS are capable of 64-bit processing, FXpansion has released an upgrade of its basic offering, BFD Eco. The v1.5 upgrade has native 64-bit support for Windows 7 and OSX. The upgrade is available by download only and is free for anyone who has bought Eco since January 1st.

In the upgrade, the interface is totally unchanged and FXpansion notes that anyone not anticipating a step up from 32-bit need not worry about upgrading. However, there is one minor inducement to undertake the upgrade: new kit pieces.

BFD Eco 1.5 comes with two new kits, four new cymbals and a new hi-hat. First up, there’s an Orange County kit (kick, snare, floor tom, mid tom and high tom). There’s also a Rogers XP8 set (kick, floor tom, mid tom and high tom) and a Trick snare. Additional cymbals include a Sabian AAX 14 crash, AAX 14 hi-hat, Zildjian K Custom 22 crash, K20 crash ride and Breakbeat 18 ride, all drawn for the BFD2 library.

In action

We reviewed Eco when it was launched and liked its ease of use and its tweakability, especially the ability to access the MIDI mapping. Of course, that is all retained in the upgrade. 36

The new kits are a useful addition. The Orange County kit has a beefy bass and snappy snare that are well suited to rocky numbers. I found the Rogers kit a bit more muted, but throaty and easy on the ears. Together, the new pieces are different enough from the v1 line-up to represent a significant enhancement to the Eco palette – although I don’t think there’s enough there to satisfy the eager enthusiast and you’ll soon be looking at the expansions.


If you’re an existing Eco user and intend to stick with this product, the upgrade is a bit of future-proofing at a modest price. It’s probably worth considering the upgrade simply because no further enhancements will be offered for the old version and any updates will only apply to the new one. But you’re not just paying for computer compatibility; you’ll get something you can hear right off in the form of a few new kit pieces. If you’re planning to move to 64-bit, the upgrade is a no-brainer. And if you’re shopping for an entry-level VST offering, Eco should certainly be among your options.

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Product review: Rock Legends Quick Pack

SPEAKING OF BFD Eco expansions, Platinum Samples has added a new single-kit pack honouring the Gretsch Rock Legend 125th Anniversary drum kit.

Platinum’s Rail Jon Rogut recorded the six-ply rocksized kit (pictured above) through a classic Neve 80 series console, Sontec Equalizers and a Fairchild 670 compressor, using a range of specialist microphones. It’s a huge download, at around 5 GB, dwarfing the Eco application it enhances (although it also tacks on to BFD2 – in more detail). The samples are available at 44.1kHz/24-bit with as many as 141 velocity levels in BFD2.

Remember, we’re talking just one kit here: a 22”x16” kick, 14”x6.5” snare, 10”x7” and 12”x8” rack toms, 14”x14” and 16”x16” floor toms (the high tom actually loads into a percussion slot on the smaller Eco kit), and Zildjian cymbals: A Series 18” Oriental china, K Series 19” dark thin crash, K Series 22” heavy ride and K Series 14” Constantinople hi-hat, so there’s a lot of detail and clarity. The large number of samples eliminates any risk of machinegunning or artificiality.

digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012

In action

The kit really rocks. There’s a thunderous bass, cracking snare and punchy toms, with shimmering cymbals. The haunting china and the sparkling hats are the stand-outs among the pies.

While there’s only one kit in the pack, there’s quite a bit of versatility thanks to more than two dozen presets that have it sounding like anything from a metal kit to a disco set-up. But for the purists, it’s hard to go past the two roomy kits or the “in your face” setting. The Rock Legends pack is a fantastic-sounding offering that can be used across a range of genres, even when triggered up in the pared-back Eco. With the added tweaking power of BFD2, it’s almost like sitting behind the actual kit. Price-wise, at $59.99, Rock Legends is a bit out of proportion to Eco, but it’s certainly in line with other expansion packs and is not unreasonable in terms of the quality and sheer size of the download. If you’re using Eco and add Rock Legends, I don’t doubt it will soon turn into your go-to kit.


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Demystifying MIDI The MIDI In and Out on your drum brain could open up a new musical world for you once you understand the protocol, as Huston Singletary explains. FOR SOME, THE first experience with MIDI produced a captivating and pivotal moment in their production and playing career, leading many into using the protocol for countless music productions, performances and recordings. For others, it may have been a bit more daunting and challenging.

MIDI was created to accommodate a common frustration among musical technology aficionados and creators - mainly the desire to synchronise multiple digital instrument devices. Dave Smith, the founder of Sequential Circuits, debuted the protocol in 1983 by connecting two popular synthesizers together with a simple MIDI (Musical Interface for Digital Instruments) cable, thus showing the world that this new single-wire protocol could 38


Let’s start by taking a look back at a brief bit of history of this fantastic technology. You’ll be surprised how simple it all really is in the end. We’ll follow by discussing why this technology is so important to edrummers today and how to save, recall, edit and archive your precious MIDI information.

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allow musicians to connect and synchronise multiple keyboards, sequencers and drum machines together to create unlimited flexibility with interchanging information in real time. Soon, almost every manufacturer building digital instruments was including this powerful interface portal on their products.

The traditional interface of these ports consists of MIDI In, MIDI Thru and MIDI Out. • MIDI Thru allows the signal to be routed and passed through one device to another, creating a chain.

• MIDI Out allows the user to control and send the signal from the host keyboard, sequencer or drum machine directly to an adjacent receivable MIDIequipped device with MIDI In. • MIDI In, of course, allows the device to be controlled with incoming MIDI data.

The MIDI protocol is basically a transmitting signal of messages consisting of both ‘on’ and ‘off’ in its most basic form. MIDI also transmits velocity information (how hard or soft one plays) as well as volume, pitch, vibrato, programme changes and dozens of other discrete parameters - up to 127 in all. These parameters themselves open up an enormous amount of flexibility to e-drummers everywhere, both in a creative studio environment and stage capacity alike.

Let’s look at some examples of how MIDI can raise the bar of creativity for e-drummers.

These days, you’ll find MIDI is most popular within the USB 2.0 format. Virtually every controller and interface device made in the last four or five years contains a “plug & play” USB port. This single connection allows both MIDI In and MIDI Out along the same singular cable and you’ll usually find one of these cables included in your electronic drum kit or keyboard controller package. The classic five-pin DIN MIDI interface is still fairly common among audio and MIDI interfaces because of its dedicated

Thru and Out port accessibility, but it’s nominally slower in transmit speed than current USB 2.0 or Firewire formats.

The advantage of MIDI via USB for e-drummers, aside from electronically triggering a variety of individual drum sounds, is that it allows triggering pattern phrases and programme changes within your electronic setup. One tap on a pad can change the entire sound bank of your kit, while scrolling through sounds and banks one by one via MIDI results in programme changes. This functionality and accessibility while performing is hard to beat and many e-drummers use a separate MIDI controller pad to input signal to change sound banks and phrases. All without missing a beat. Setting up this format is as easy as spending some time doing pre-production beforehand and getting familiar with your audio/MIDI interface and setup. Most computer sequencer DAWs and digital drum modules have menus for all the parameters you will need. These include global MIDI channel settings, separate MIDI channel accessibility, programme changes and velocity control (pressure and loudness).

Another great feature utilising the MIDI protocol is creating and playing MIDI files via the General MIDI 2 format. It allows you to play back entire musical phrases and songs via separate MIDI channels but in a very clever and compact format. Even better, it allows you to save your MIDI-based performance as a file to archive or send to another musician to add to or play against. You’ll normally find this feature listed as “Save As MIDI File” in your device menu. The MIDI file format also allows you to back up your performance from your e-drum module to a computer via USB or Firewire. This makes working with MIDI-based drum modules and software a breeze. Although this format was introduced to consumers as a way to easily play back music and files, it’s actually a very streamlined and powerful way to save, playback and transfer your precious MIDI performances.


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E-drum guru John Emrich is back to answer more VST questions from readers, this time looking at choking and updating.

Question: Why is cymbal choking so complicated? Some VSTs struggle to do it, others do it better, but few do it as well as modules.

Answer: There are a couple of things to understand when dealing with cymbal chokes. The first deals with the actual technique used to grab the cymbal. Unlike an acoustic cymbal, one really needs to practise grabbing the cymbal pad correctly because you are aiming for a switch sensor. Once you have that down, we can look at what the drum module does. Internally, the module is stopping the sound. This also results in a MIDI message. That MIDI message is usually a CC message for aftertouch. I have done some experimenting and while the sound might cut off in the module, the MIDI message might not make it out of the module with enough amplitude to stop the sound in the VST. This happens sometimes when you grab the cymbal pad in such a way to only clip the edge of the sensor. Each module can also act a little differently in that the message can be sent upon contact or release of the switch. The bottom line is that you need to make sure that you grab it in the correct place with enough pressure to transmit the after-touch message. Yes, that means a little practice. Inside most VST drum instruments, you need to make sure that the programme is set for choking the cymbal sound upon receipt of the after-touch message. Some of the VST programmes have an adjustable fade time that can be applied to that choke function. 40

Question: Lately, there have been free updates to various VST programmes. If my system is stable, should I risk updating, or will that mean some of my tweaks and settings will be lost?

Answer: I always recommend waiting a week to update, unless you are having specific problems that keep you from enjoying the performance of the programme. This gives you a chance to make sure that it is working correctly based on what others report. Every company has released a dud at some time. There is a lot of programming that needs to be done and sometimes things slip through. The only time that I see people losing settings boils down to where they had the data installed in the first place. As a developer, I have spent a lot of time in forums, PMs, emails and phone calls, working with people to find out where they have put the settings and other operating folders. Nobody likes to be told that it was something that they screwed up, but most of the time, it comes down to folders being put in the wrong locations. The fail safe is to back up your operating files just before updating if you are worried about it. Most programmes store those files in the user’s documents area and there are small file folders that can be easily copied. It is a good idea to keep recent copies of those folders anyway because you might find yourself working in someone else’s studio and want to drop in your own MIDI maps and kit presets.

○ Send your VST questions to

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Check it out

In the first part of his maintenance guide, tweak-meister Simon Ayton went through some set-up checks. This month, he puts the pedal to the metal – and other bits.

digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012


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LET’S KICK OFF with hi-hat calibration. Make sure the rod through the centre of the hi-hat is tightened so it doesn’t spin. There should be a small plastic thumbwheel/lock-nut of some sort to help lock the rod in place, so check with its maker for the part. They are easy to lose and vital when using with triggers because you don’t want the hi-hat trigger pads rotating mid-performance as they generally have an ideal playing position which you want facing you at all times. You will also want to experiment with the ‘tilt’ thumbwheel control found on the base of the lower hi-hat (oh, that’s what that is!) which allows you to adjust how much ‘splash’ you’ll get from the hats when opened. Some trigger hi-hats work better with this unscrewed altogether so it has no influence over the lower hat or controller position. Be sure to experiment with this for the ideal feel and check the manual for set-up tips.

loosened off so that the top hi-hat sits on the controller under its own weight. The on-screen meter shows the position of the hi-hat relative to a pair of arrows. Turning the hi-hat adjuster nut on the top hat clockwise or anti-clockwise allows the hat to sit perfectly neutral or ‘zeroed’ as shown by the indicator lights on the screen. This ‘zeroing’ adjustment process is done automatically when using the Roland VH-12 hats on their TD-12 and TD-20 modules, so please see the manual for your kit on how this is done. Get into the habit of doing this every time the kit is moved and before you sit down to practise or record, just like you should do with an acoustic kit.

If your trigger hi-hat mounts on a conventional stand, make sure the legs are tight and there’s no wobble from the stand which can cause playing and trigger difficulties and distract you from the job at hand: drumming! When the hi-hat is fully closed, it should still be possible to push down on the pedal without it bottoming out on the metal base. If your drum module has pitch bend sensing on the hi-hat (like the Roland TD-20, for example), it’s possible to recreate acoustic cymbal-like pitch bending by applying foot pressure to the hi-hat when closed to great effect.

Make sure all the parts that ship with the hi-hat trigger itself are attached as designed. The rubber straps that are included with the Roland VH-12 hihat, for example, are designed to hold the bottom hat in place to stop rotation and protect the lead that connects to the top trigger hi-hat. It’s crucial that the hi-hat is adjusted so that closed sounds ‘closed’ and open sounds well … open… You get it. Sounds straightforward, but many miss this critical set-up step which results in an almost unplayable hi-hat.

See your manual for the exact process for your kit, but as an example, the VH-11 hi-hat that ships with TD-12KX and TD-9KX2 kits is adjusted by entering setup/trigger/hi-hat/advanced. The clutch is then


Making Contact

Kick Beaters: With as many different beater types as there are brands, it’s important to find the one that best suits your particular technique and matches the style of music you’re playing. Even though we are dealing with electronically reproduced sounds, the way it’s triggered still has a considerable influence over the sound.

Plastic and wooden beaters produce stronger attack transients, making it easier to trigger the loudest sounds in the module. A felt beater can help the feel if you are trying to reproduce more muted early funk and jazzy-type kick sounds as the felt moderates trigger velocities.

Beware though that as the felt wears, it can uncover nasty plastic edges on some plastic/felt beaters. This can easily tear and rip a mesh head which won’t be covered under warranty.

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This can be avoided by only using the supplied polished plastic beater or using a bass drum beater patch, of which there are many types on the market. These may reduce the sensitivity of the kick trigger slightly, so you’ll need to adjust accordingly in your module’s trigger sensitivity settings.

sticks you use on your acoustic kit away from your electronic kit! The burrs and ratty sides on your acoustic kit sticks can damage trigger cymbals, while the rough tips can ruin mesh heads in no time. Nylon-tipped sticks can be a better option on your electronic kit as the tips tend to be harder-wearing and keep their shape longer.

Cymbals: Every trigger cymbal out there has a unique design, so it’s important to have a look at the set-up section of the manual again just to make sure you:

• ► have the cymbal the right way round with the correct trigger surface facing you;

• ► are using the correct felts and stoppers in the correct assembly order;

• ► have the trigger lead connected so it does not hinder cymbal movement or cause false triggering by making contact with the underside of the pad. Sticks: The thicker and heavier your sticks, the harder it will be to reproduce ghost notes and buzz strokes as you’ll be triggering the loudest samples from the kit, more often resulting in a lack of playing dynamics which can reflect badly on your playing.

A good way to get the most dynamic range out of your kit is to adjust the velocity, sensitivity and curve settings of all the triggers to better match your playing and hitting strength. These settings will change depending on the type of sticks you’re using, so you should save your settings on USB or back them up via MIDI dump on your computer. See your manual for this process and also the detailed ‘Improvements Through Tweaking’ digitalDrummer article from the past.

Modules that feature a trigger velocity scale make things much easier. If yours doesn’t have this function, use your ears. Ideally, you want to adjust the sensitivity of the triggers using your most commonly used sticks so that a tap produces a trigger reading 1/3 of the maximum velocity, a medium stroke around the centre of the scale and a two-handed full stroke takes the velocity meter to the maximum - or just short of it - to allow a little room for when you really lay into the kit during a gig, etc. Use this same process for the cymbals and even your hi-hat foot volume. Yes, this too can be adjusted in many cases and can really make the difference to getting the most nuanced and natural hi-hat feel out of your kit. Another important point is to make sure you keep digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012


For example, V-Cymbals from Roland feature a vshaped slot underneath which stops the cymbal from rotating while still allowing it to naturally sway and take the shock of the hit. Also, it’s important that the v-stopper on which it sits is tightened onto the cymbal arm and that the cymbal goes on next, then the felt and stopper. If this is not done in the correct order, false-triggering will result, along with possible damage from the trigger cymbal making direct contact with the metal of the cymbal arm. Mastering your technique is only one aspect of playing. Mastering your set-up is the other and together these two elements allow you to truly master your instrument, so hop to it now!


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Adding a zone Do you have a DIY question? Philippe Decuyper will solve readers’ problems in each edition of digitalDrummer. Whether repairing existing equipment or building your own, Philippe will find the answers. Just email your questions to This month’s question: What’s the best way to mount a rim sensor for a dual-zone snare? Is there any point in having more than one rim sensor and what size piezo should I use?

AS MENTIONED IN one of my previous articles, piezo transducers are small devices which are able to change vibrations into electricity.

On a dual-zone snare, the head piezo receives the filtered version of the vibrations transmitted by the mesh head via a piece of foam. Then the module translates the electric signal produced by this piezo, depending on the vibrations it received, so a velocity value is computed on each hit. The rim piezo works similarly, but the interpretation of the produced signal is quite different. A rim piezo acts as a switch. If the produced electric signal is strong enough, your hit is considered to be a “rim” hit. The velocity value is still computed by the head piezo which also receives some vibrations, even on a “rim” hit. The head signal can be strong in the case of a rim shot or weak in the case of a sidestick hit. This is why it can be difficult to work on a good algorithm that can differentiate sidestick hits from rim shots.


There are two key things to consider…

How should we attach it?

Our rim piezo must be able to vibrate in order to produce a strong enough signal. Obviously, gluing a piezo directly to a piece of hard plastic, metal or wood (shell or crossbar) will limit its bending capabilities. Furthermore, if something goes wrong, it would be difficult to remove and fix your rim piezo. This is why I usually use some double-sided foam tape to fix my rim piezos. In order to get a stronger signal, you can try to fix half the piezo to the shell via half a disc of double-sided foam tape.

Where should we place it?

There’s obviously a difference for right- or lefthanded drummers, but most of us tend to play rim shots on the bottom right-hand section of the snare and sidestick on the top right. In theory, we would probably like to get some homogeneity from our hits

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on the rim so it is triggered the same way wherever the hit occurs. In this case, the best place for our rim piezo is probably the crossbar. If the signal is strong enough and the rim sensitivity is correctly set on the module, everything should work fine. If the signal is too weak, you may be able to boost the signal by fixing the piezo on the shell itself, but at the expense of even triggering. Is it a big issue? I don’t think so…

Please keep in mind that your rim piezo is used as a switch. The difference between a hit on your rim at 20 cm from the piezo and another at 5 cm from the piezo will never be as important as the difference between any hit and no hit.

Two piezos?

By using two piezos, you will get a stronger signal, but I would avoid sending the strong combination of two signals (more voltage in series, more amperage in parallel). I prefer to limit the signal to what one piezo is capable of producing. How and where your rim piezo is fixed can have a huge impact on signal strength and I do prefer to use those variables to change the response.


My personal choice would be to attach a classic 2.7 mm piezo inside the shell at 5-7 cm from the rim in the top right part by using a piece of homemade double-sided foam tape. That’s because: ► Classic 2.7 mm piezo: it is small enough to fit the curve of a 10 inch shell with a piece of foam attached between the shell and this piezo.

►Top right: my sidestick hits are usually lighter on the rim than my rim shots and I’m right-handed.

►Double-sided foam tape and ‘not on the cross bar’: it’s easy to replace in case something goes wrong (no need to remove the mesh head). Also, I can experiment with different locations (it’s easier to remove double-sided foam tape than epoxy glue).

Half the bar: full effect

Many DIYers see the crossbar design as overengineered, especially for smaller toms.

This has prompted Oliver Keil to devise his “halfcrossbar” design which is one of the neatest and most economical designs we’ve seen. In addition to the usual trigger components (piezos, trigger foam, etc.), the build uses an Lbracket, a piece of aluminium bar and a project box for the jack connection and the rim piezo.

The L-bracket is converted into a mount by adding a layer of neoprene under the aluminium plate. A detailed, step-by-step guide to the build and full list of parts is available here, and the design wins Oliver some Stealth Drums DIY gear.

If you have a DIY question or suggestion,

send it to for your chance to win some

Stealth Drums DIY components. digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012


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Our monster kit this month hails from Milwaukee in the USA and what’s different about Brian Knox’s kit is that it is powered by a 2box module. Brian has shunned the stock orange pads in favour of converted acoustic shells and cymbals. Toms: Sonor 10”x8” (2), 12”x8” (2), 14”x12”(2) Kicks: Sonor 20”x20” (2) Snare: 12”x7” Keller shell with Roland PD-125 internals Cymbals: All Sabian B8 Pros. Ride and two crashes are three-zone 2box-compatible; splash and china are single-zone. Two-piece DIY hi-hat is twozone. Hardware: Roland MDS-20 rack, adapted for two kicks DW5000 pedals and hi-hat stand Roc-N-Soc throne 46

Module: 2box module with tom inputs split (tom 4 used for china and splash). The module has been modified using Sonor samples from Superior Drummer.

Brian’s story

Brian has been playing for 30 years and has been in Cobalt Fur since 1986. His e-drum adventure began in 1987 with a five-piece Simmons kit. In 2009, he built his current triggers to accompany a Roland TDW-20 module. His favourite music is metal and he cites Danny Carey and John Bonham as inspirations. Brian regularly posts videos of his band on his YouTube channel, ROCKSTARGATE67.

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For their own safety, digitalDrummer advises impulse purchase-prone readers to avoid this feature. digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012

If you have a monster, email

Brian (above), his DIY triggers (left) and a bird’s eye view of the kit (below).


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gear Guide



Electronic Drum DIY Kit E lectronic Bass Bass D rum D IY K it

--Light Light weight weight composite composite shell shell --Built-in Built-in rack rack mount mount for for internal internal amplifier amplifier -Module bay bay fits fits up up to to TD-20 TD-20 -Shock a bsorbing kick kick pad pad wall absorbing --Drum Drum s et ins truments p lug into into the the drum drum shell shell set instruments plug -The -T he whole whole band band can can plug plug in in for for silent silent practice practice -Huge improvement improvement in sound sound & stage stage presence p re s e n c e



Taking mesh heads to the next level The new three-ply

Ballistech II Mesh Heads are quieter, more respo nsive an d to ugher. Made to fit all acoustic drums in a

wide range of sizes - from 8” to 22”

Unlike any hea ds yo u’ve trie d before, the Ballistech II Mesh Hea ds play an d feel like tra ditio nal dru m hea ds.

Perfect for silent practice or e-drumming

Billy Blast Drums Available only from 48

ddmay2012v2_Layout 1 17/04/12 10:25 AM Page 49

gear Guide



Each one a masterpiece

The finest components and hardware, hand-crafted with painstaking attention to every detail. Fitted with top-of-the-line electronics and optimised for your module. Quality you can see, feel and hear.


The leading DIY acoustic-to-electronic cymbal conversion kit is now available in 2box versions. Stealth Drums’ popular kits can now be used for crashes and splashes and for the most responsive three-zone ride on the market. The kit contains all the parts you’ll need plus easy-to-follow instructions.

digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012


Simply the best DIY just got easier thanks to the new Quartz Percussions harness-mounted trigger system. The dual-zone model includes a 35mm trigger mounted on an adjustable harness and a 35mm piezo connected to a ¼” female stereo jack. Mono versions and column -type shape triggers are also available for the easiest conversion of toms and bass drums. The harness system builds on the success of the reliable and popular Quartz cone triggers, precision-made for perfect triggering. See us on YouTube or find out more and place your orders at


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gear Guide MESH HEADS

Coming in August

Roland TD-30 You’ve seen the coverage and heard the hype. Does the kit measure up? Read a comprehensive review of the new TD-30KV. The best heads for electronic drumming, made by Aquarian Drumheads, are now available in Australia. Featuring Hart’s proprietary heavy-duty mesh, providing virtually silent operation. It’s a noticeable difference that you can feel.

To order in Australia, click here

Multipads go head to head There is now more choice than ever before in multipads, and we’ll put the range up against each other, looking at triggering, on-board sounds, sampling, looping and ease of use. Steven Slate Drums 4


Silence and protect your rim and sticks Made of 70 durometer EPDM Rubberin the USA & spliced by hand in several stock diameters. Fits all drum rim (hoops) brands – “no‐glue” elasticity fit – Guaranteed! Linear lengths cut to order at $3.25/foot. Ready‐made for single drums or multi‐packs.

Order now through



Slate’s latest offering, Steven Slate Drums 4.0, has been out for a while. Rather than test it straight away, we have waited for the updates and final version - for now.

Profile: Danny Gottlieb New e-drum maker Mark Drum has enlisted jazz maestro Danny Gottlieb to show off its Yes kit. Gottlieb shares his views on the new kit and talks about some of his career highlights in an exclusive inter view.

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Give it up for the band ...

digitalDrummer is a combined effort, bringing together the expertise and experience of electronic drummers, industry professionals and skilled writers. Here are some of the people who made this edition happen ...


Carl Albrecht has been a professional drummer and percussionist for over 30 years, working on a range of Christian, pop, country, jazz and commercial projects. He currently lives in Nashville doing recording sessions, producing and writing, as well as continuing to do various tours and seminar events. His arsenal includes Yamaha electronic drumming gear.


Simon Ayton is the V-drums and percussion specialist for Roland Australia. He began drumming in 1983 and trained as an audio engineer. Simon’s drumming can be heard on more than two dozen albums and film soundtracks, ranging from metal to electronic and folk, and he is currently working on two new solo albums. He shares his intimate knowledge of module-tweaking and amplification.


Marcel Bach is a German drummer, educator and author. Winner in two categories of the German Rock and Pop prize (best drummer in 2008, best fusion/jazz/rock band in 2009), Bach recently released “30 years - a drum solo record", a 15-track CD showcasing his solo career. He is endorsed by Alesis. Find out more at


Philippe Decuyper, a.k.a. PFozz, is the founder of the Edrum For Free website. He has consulted to Toontrack since 2005, specialising in electronic drums, and is also the founder of eaReckon, a small independent audio software company which launched in 2009. PFozz will answer readers’ DIY questions in each edition. Contact him through digitalDrummer with your questions.


John Emrich specialises in live and studio drumming, music production services, drum programming, original scores and arrangements, sound design and jingles, remote recording and event support, digital editing and mixing, and product development. He has been responsible for many award-winning sample libraries for the BFD2 platform as well as sound development for drum modules.


Huston Singletary has been making electronic-based music for almost 20 years and is a credited sound designer for dozens of third party plug-ins as well as a composer, producer and clinician. His current role is lead clinician and trainer for Ableton. He has authored countless online tutorials and videos featuring instructions and tips for creating electronic music and e-drumming techniques. digitalDRUMMER, MAY 2012

Last - but not least - page

digitalDrummer May 2012 preview  

May 2012 issue of digitalDrummer, the free online electronic percussion magazine. To view the full magazine, visit

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