How Can I Tell If an Electronic Drum Pad Is Right for Me?

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Drumming and percussion is an essential element of music, and the advent of the electronic drum kit practically revolutionized its role in the modern musical scene. While a full electronic kit can be problematic for many drummers in terms of size and cost, drum pads offer a powerful, and often more affordable, alternative. Read on to learn more about drum pads, and find out if they might just be the answer to your drumming needs.

Difference between Pads and Kits

The biggest different between an electronic drum kit and a drum pad is the size, with pads being significantly more compact than a full kit. An electronic drum pad is usually going to be only a few square feet in size, and come collected into a single panel that could rest on a tabletop. The designated drumming areas are usually going to be a bit smaller than those on a full kit as well, though most pads retain the same standard drumming configuration for the snare, toms, and cymbals.

Benefits of a Pad

With all the drumming components centralized into one main panel, there’s no need for a rack or any external cables to connect components (though some pads do support foot pedals for the hi-hats and kick drum). Since pads are so much smaller than actual drum kits, the price is going to be significantly less as well. If you have a severe limitation on space, a drum pad would allow you to play while taking up a fraction of the space that a full kit would. Also, the size decrease makes electronic drum pads incredibly portable.

The Power of Portability

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One of the reasons musicians choose drum pads is so that they can play while in different locations, such as during a vacation or while visiting a friend’s house. Moving a full size drum kit is impractical, even though many electronic kits can disassemble into a smaller profile than acoustic kits, which is why drum pads are such a popular choice for portable playing. This is primarily because drum pads do not require any dismantling or lengthy setup, since all of the components are together in the main body of the instrument at all times. Drum pads are also a common choice for small performances or jam sessions, since they don’t monopolize on space and can still provide the same overall functionality of a drum kit.

Practice Makes Perfect

Many drummers also choose electronic drum pads to use for practice purposes, since the small size makes it more feasible to play in different locations. Depending on the size and design of the pad, it may be possible to take it along on extended trips so that musicians don’t miss out on valuable practice time. Some models also include features designed specifically to aid in practicing, such as a built-in metronome for setting the tempo, or play-along songs to help drummers learn specific techniques in a practical setting. There are also kits that include limited recording capabilities, which can allow the drummer to listen to segments and review them for accuracy.

Understanding the Limitations

Despite the benefits that electronic drum pads offer, they also come with their own set of limitations. Most noticeably is that drum heads do not have the same spacing as those on a full kit, so players aren’t able to achieve the same experience during play. This can cause some complications with developing the proper form, as a full kit will place individual pieces several feet apart, while a pad must place them inches apart to achieve the compact size.

Also, drum pads typically have less powerful modules that support a smaller sample library. While some high end pads do feature ample libraries and multiple user preset options, most are not going to offer the same power or scope that a full kit would. This can cause some issues for drummers looking to use a pad for recording or larger live performances.

Electronic Drum Pads: The Conclusion

There’s no simple answer for whether a not a drum pad is right for a musician, as it depends on one’s needs and restrictions. Overall, pads are great when it comes to practicing, simple home recording, or basic performances, but can present challenges for studio recording or major concerts.

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