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Acoustic or Electronic? Which Drum Set is Beat for Beginners

04 September 2017 | MJ Mendoza

Drums are divided into two main categories: electronic and acoustic drum sets. While many professionals leave this argument on which is better to preference, many beginners are still confused on which is better.

According to renowned musician and songwriter Bernard Sumner "the drummer is the real backbone of the band and is the real underrated one"; and it's true. Most drummers are taken for granted (next to bassists) but they play a huge part in carrying the beat and rhythm of the music. It's not just about being noisy or playing the same beat at a given time, it's about giving music the life that it's supposed to have.

If you have just picked up your first drumsticks (believe me, it will be the first of many), then you would know about the ongoing acoustic vs electronic argument. Being a beginner, you would need to set your eyes on your first ever drum set and like with many professionals, you would ask: acoustic or electric?

Acoustic Drum Sets

Maybe the first drums you had ever played in your life, acoustic drums are the type of drums that do not require electricity or digital processing. It is a set of drums which comprises of a snare drum, a bass drum played using pedals, one or more toms, hi-hats, and one or more cymbals. These are the drums that you normally see in music shops or on gigs. From the best music brands in Malaysia, check out these amazing selection of acoustic drums that you can buy online.

Since you would be able to touch and feel the intensity of your play, in an acoustic drum set, players would fully grasp drum rolls, buzz rolls, cymbal swells, hi-hat techniques, and cross stick better than an electronic drum set. Because an acoustic kit is so sensitive, you can squeeze in tiny subtleties that would make your sound unique only to your playing style. It is also more affordable and involves lesser risk in buying second-hand sets.

A major set back for acoustic drum sets is that they can be really LOUD. If you are playing at home, avoid doing so during wee hours of the night when people are trying to sleep. In addition, the risk of hearing damage is also high. One more thing about acoustic kits is that they need to be tuned, and this is not something a beginner like you would know about. Aside from that, they tend to take up space and require patience to be set up and broken down. Much care is needed to properly maintain an acoustic drum set.

Electronic Drum Sets

Imagine a drum kit that can be hooked to a computer and is powered by electricity, this is exactly what an electronic drum set is. It has all the elements of an acoustic drum set except the "electronic" part. As with an acoustic kit, the sound is produced by hitting or banging on the instrument which triggers its sensors, but instead of hearing it directly from the instrument, you would need to hook it up with a set of speakers or headphones to play the instrument. If you are looking for the best electronic drum sets in Malaysia, you can check out the selection below from the biggest brands in the country.

Technically, electronic drums are a type of sampler or synthesizer similar to a drumpad. Because of that, you can fully customize your own set of sound without actually having to purchase a separate drum for it. Aside from that, most electronic drum sets also have built-in metronomes, and multiple drum kit sounds which allows you to experiment and can be a great way to learn. They are also easier to record since you can simply plug it in a computer. In addition, you can practice with ease and comfort without disturbing your neighbors with loud noises throughout the night and drumsticks tend to last longer since you're basically hitting rubber pads.

Because everything is basically electronic, you would not be able to get the same feel or even sound as the acoustic set. Moreover, most electronic drum kits can be uncomfortable to play with and some don't even have real drum pedals! Instead, you would have trigger pads which would prove unusable when fast tempos and can be insensitive to touch. Though technology is slowly wrapping its head around how to produce a more organic sound through electronic drum kits, acoustic drums are still preferred by many professionals worldwide.

The Verdict

Type of Drum

Pros

Cons

Electronic Drum Set

  • Less noise and better sound regulation.
  • Has built-in tools such as metronomes, and multiple drum kit sounds
  • Drumsticks last much longer
  • Is easier to record sound
  • Takes up less space
  • Doesn't produce organic sound
  • Can be uncomfortable to play
  • Drum pedals are sometimes replaced with trigger pads
  • Can be awkward on stage and live performances
  • Have little positioning options

Acoustic Drum Set

  • Enable players to insert subtle changes that cannot be made with electric kits
  • Allow beginners to learn about drum rolls, buzz rolls, hi-hat swells, and cross stick
  • Can be positioned depending on the player's style
  • No electronic amplification needed for live sets
  • Extremely loud with no control of its volume whatsoever
  • Can be a handful to record
  • Need to be tuned
  • Can be heavy and require tons of space
  • Needs extra care and maintenance


Acoustic drums provide organic sound and feel and can be inexpensive. Electronic drums, on the other hand, give less organic sound but can be used to hone a drummer's technique. For beginners, the verdict would be to choose an electronic drum kit. Electronic drum kits provide a lot of leeways which is great for beginners. Since you can explore, experiment, and learn basics just like you would in an acoustic, there are more advantages for a beginner to get an electronic drum. Furthermore, newbie drummers need a lot of practice which means, it can get really noisy. With an electric drum, you can practice as much as you want without disturbing your neighbors. It also doesn't put much strain on the drumsticks, making it last longer.

Undisputably, electronic drums are a testament to how far technology can go when it comes to music. It is a great instrument for new drummers to hone their skills and perfect their rhythm. However, as time goes by, your ears will search for a more "authentic" and "organic" sound that nothing but an acoustic drum can produce.

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