How to Buy an Electronic Drum Kit on a Budget
Sticking to a budget is hard, no matter what type of instrument you’re trying to buy. For electronic drum kits, the idea of keeping costs low can seem virtually impossible. That’s why this guide covers some of the best ways to avoid spending a fortune on a new kit – so you can focus on the music and not your bank balance.
Look for a Smaller Sample Library
This is easily one of the quickest ways to cut the costs of an electronic drum kit right away. While there are a few exceptions, most of the time a larger sample library is going to mean a more expensive kit. While it might seem nice to have access to 400 different drum kit presets, most people are never going to use 90% of those sounds. Whether you’re recording at home or planning on playing live shows, you’ll quickly learn that you don’t actually need that many distinct sounds to create some amazing music.
Focus on a kit that has at least 10 drum set configurations preinstalled, since that will typically cover a good range of rock, hip-hop, and electric sounds. If the kit doesn’t mention drum presets, but instead only lists the total number of sounds, aim for around 150-200 samples. You might also want to check for a lower number of user presets or configuration options as well.
Go with Fewer Pieces
Another great way to keep costs down on your new electronic kit is to focus on models with fewer total pieces. Just like you would expect with an acoustic kit, skipping that second crash cymbal and those extra mounted toms can translate in some major savings. It’s pretty standard to see eight piece kits, so anything with more than that is probably going to break your budget right away.
One approach you can take to cutting pieces is to look for a kit that supports a kick drum, but doesn’t come with the kick pad. As long as the module supports a kick, you can buy it separately later on, preferably when you find one on sale. Also, try to find a kick pad that functions with a traditional kick pedal, as you might have one at home already or be able to find one much cheaper, used or new.
Stick to Rubber Pads
Many high end electronic drum kits will feature drum pads with heads made out of mylar that are made to resemble acoustic kits, since that’s what is used on non-electronic drums. Mylar has more kickback and can give drummers a more authentic and responsive experience, but they almost always increase the price of the kit significantly. That’s because the drum pads require a special type of configuration to be able to capture each strike on mylar and transmit it back to the module accurately.
To avoid these high price tags, look for a kit that has rubber pads. Rubber is the most common type of pad on electronic kits, so you shouldn’t have to search too hard to find them. They might not be as responsive as other heads, but they are going to do a great job of dampening the sound. This can be a huge benefit if you’re playing at home and don’t want to make too much extra noise with your playing.
Focus on Simple Modules
Finally, you should avoid kits that have overly complex modules that include a slew of built-in features. They can do some really amazing things when you’re playing, but in most cases they aren’t completely necessary. These are like the “nice to have” features that you might find on a car that don’t actually affect the way it drives. The quality of the sample sound, output options, and basic pad controls are the most important.
Things like tone controls, metronomes, and multiple preset quick-change buttons are typically found on higher-end modules, so think about whether or not you really need them before you commit to a purchase. Also, some kits may include training tools or other features that you won’t need, so keep those in mind as well.
Always check to see what is included with the drum kit to see if there’s anything that you’re expecting to get but isn’t included. Sometimes a kit can seem like an amazingly cheap deal because it doesn’t include a module, or something equally important. Be thorough and realistic, and you’ll definitely find a great kit that stays well below your budget.