Archive for December, 2014

Acoustic Or Electric Drum Kit?

When Choosing Between an Acoustic or Electric, Which Should You Purchase?

Students notice that I have both an Acoustic Drum Set and Four (4) Electronic Drum Sets in my Drum Studio. I get asked frequently which is better to practice or play on. The answer isn’t as black and white as the question and simply comes down to looking at the advantages and disadvantages of both types of instrument.

Both types of drum kits have both advantages & disadvantages over the other but at the end of the day it all depends on what you intend to use the set for and how seriously you take your drumming.

Acoustic Drum Kit


With an acoustic kit the drummer is able to play with great feel and touch, from the very quiet to the very loud. Cymbal washes are of course possible unlike most electric drum kits and unlike most electric kits it is possible to take advantage of the tiny subtleties that can be squeezed from a real acoustic drum and cymbal. The acoustic drum kit is an incredibly sensitive and subtle instrument with great dynamics that just aren’t possible to recreate electronically. Yet!

learn-to-drum-phoenix-arizona-5Real acoustic drums allow the drummer to learn and perform drum rolls, buzz rolls, cymbal swells, hi-hat technique and cross stick to a better and more realistic level than the electric drum kit.

No electronic amplification is needed for small gigs and brand practice.

The positioning options of an acoustic kit are far superior allowing angles and heights of drums to be placed where you want due to advanced adjustable stands.

A nice feature about the acoustic drum kit is how affordable they are. Bottom end kits can be purchased brand new for under $300.00 these days and second hand drum kits can be even cheaper. Unlike electronic kits there is less risk involved in buying second hand drums as they are far less likely to break.


Noise! An acoustic drum kit is LOUD but drum silencer pads can help reduce volume drastically. This does mean that the feel and sound of the drums suffer enormously though. Unless ear plugs are worn then hearing damage is a real risk. Be careful!

Drums will need their heads replacing occasionally depending on how hard or often you play and can be quite expensive, especially the larger bass drum.

Acoustic drums need to be tuned, this can be difficult to achieve properly by amateurs. It is possible just to tighten for feel rather than sound if the sonic quality of the instrument isn’t important to you.

Drum kits can be big and heavy and so require space and patience when setting up or breaking down.

Real acoustic drums can be scratched and even warp in shape if treated badly or left somewhere damp. If left in a dry environment [garage] shell can bubble up, especially on low end kits.

Electric Drum Kit


Probably the most important advantage with the electric drum kit is the ability to practice with earphones or turn down the volume of the drums meaning noise issues can be avoided. This makes the electric kit ideal for flats or houses with grumpy neighbors.

Drummersrule Electronic KitMost electric drum kits have built in tools for practice such as metronomes and multiple drum kit sounds allowing drummers to experiment with their sound and playing styles. This can be a lot of fun and great for learning.

Drumsticks tend to last much longer with an electric kit as they are not hitting real drum rims and sharp cymbal edges. A minor advantage I know but still…

You will get more stick bounce on an electric drum kit as they are basically rubber pads that never loose tension. This means that playing becomes slightly easier.that is why developing good technique is very important

Electric drum kits can be plugged directly into recording equipment/pc for practice or writing sessions. Some higher range electronic drum kits have built in recording facilities already. Many churches and studios use electronic kits to regulate and control the sound and volume. There is also no need for mics or mic stands.

Electric kits have a smaller floor footprint than most acoustic drum sets and so can fit into small rooms or onto small stages. You will obviously never have to worry about tuning an electronic drum kit.


They don’t feel or sound the same as an acoustic drum kit. This is the biggest disadvantage with electric kits. The technology is improving but you can’t beat (no pun intended) the feel and sound of real drums, cymbals and hi-hats. The cheaper electric drum kits sound very fake and can be uncomfortable to play on due to cheap materials. Some electric drum kits don’t even have real drum pedals and instead are supplied with trigger pads, which are unusable at fast tempos and insensitive to the light touch.

A common misconception is that the electronic drum set is totally silent; this is not the case as noises are still created from hitting the pads with sticks and bass drum beaters hitting rubber surfaces. They are NOT totally silent as bass drum pads can be heard through floors and walls and the tapping of rubber pads is audible from other rooms.

Electric drum kits will eventually break and will need individual parts replaced such as new drum pads or clamps. Some of the cheapest electric drum kits are infamous for this.

Electric kits can be very awkward when setting up sound levels on stage and most sound engineers aren’t prepared to set up an electronic kit.

They do require external amplification if used for performance. A small guitar amp is all that’s required for your own private use but if used on stage they will need greater amplification.

Some electric drum kits have very limited positioning options. Drums might not be able to be set up at required heights for example due to limiting pad arms or rack.

Warning, buying a second hand electric kit can be a bit risky as with buying any electric product second hand. It could be on the verge of breaking and you will never know until you take it home and use it.

When it comes to price, a good mid range electric drum sets can cost between $1,500.00 to $2,500.00.


As you can see there are many reasons to choose one type of drum kit over the other.

When asked which one to buy, my answer has always depended on just one parameter – is noise an issue? If the answer is yes then the drummer will obviously want to consider an electric drum kit.

Electric drum kits, with all the built in learning tools, are great for practicing on but not really for performing on stage. A beginner could use an electric drum kit in their bedroom but a gigging drummer is probably going to require a real acoustic set.

At the end of the day you can’t beat the sound, feel and subtlety of a real acoustic drum kit.

As always, contact me with any questions,

Mr. Brett



About Brett Frederickson and DrummersRule! Drum Lessons. 

– Degreed instructor — Musicians Institute of Technology (MIT)

– Drum Set instructor for over 27 years

– Drum Line instructor for over 17 years winning many State Competitions and Awards

– Featured in magazines including Modern Drummer, Drum Business, and Drum Magazine

– Has Performed and done Studio Work with many bands including Megadeath, Scott Mishoe, Keith Horne, Jeff Kollman, Ray Riendeau and many more.

– Former students have graduated from Berklee College of Music & Musicians Institute of Technology (MIT)

– Former students have received full ride scholarships to ASU, NAU and U of A for drum-line, jazz band, and percussion

Drum Studio Located in North Phoenix

Brett’s true passion is teaching students to play drums, in a fun, quality learning environment. So whether you are just getting started, or have been playing for years, Brett can help you take your skills to the next level.

Lessons are for a full hour at $25.00/hr. Come see why his students keep coming back!

Brett Frederickson 602-843-3114 or Online at