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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


Drumming Tip #1 – REPETITION!

You would be AMAZED how many problems in drumming come from one little “Secret”…. Like to know what it is?

The secret is REPETITION…

Most young drummers (and even some old ones) underestimate the importance of this word.  Many simple problems are solved relatively easily by incorporating this one little secret.

PROBLEM #1: My arms tire while playing for long periods of time. 
FIX: REPETITION! Practice single strokes for LONG periods of time. Get them EXTREMELY fast to where they become “very” comfortable. If the rest of your technique is relatively good, your arms will not tire after that.


PROBLEM #2: My feet are slow and can’t do half the things my hands do. 
FIX: REPETITION! Isolate your feet and practice nothing but them for extended periods of time. Play the samba bass drum rhythm “allot”. That’s always been a good one for getting your right foot in shape.

PROBLEM #3: I can’t play in odd time signatures.
FIX: REPETITION.! Vinnie Colauita once said, “Just play in 7 for like an hour”. This is especially insightful as we can often get caught up in studying things too closely and miss the point. Sheer repetition will help lead to more comfort in odd times.

drummersrule lessons

PROBLEM #4: I can’t do a proper double stroke roll to save my life. 
FIX: REPETITION! Play that thing slowly, properly, and for “long” periods of time, while gradually increasing your speed. DO NOT CHEAT. Make yourself do intentional, defined doubles. Chart your progress by playing to 16th’s on a metronome. In no time at all, you’ll be GETTING IT.

Thanks for reading… please call me with any questions!

Mr. Brett

Brett Frederickson – DrummersRule! Drum Lessons
Call or Text today at 602-769-2075 or check us out online at
Come see why our students keep coming back… We look forward to seeing you!!

Brett’s Top 10 Tips When Practicing Drums!


Practicing drums can be a struggle and feel boring at times. In fact, most drummers will sit and jam with an iPod for an hour, and call it a good “practice”. The truth is, practicing your technique and jamming are two totally different things. So how do you get the most out of your practice times? Note: Practicing doesn’t make perfect – Practicing RIGHT makes perfect.

1.  Use a Practice Pad

Use a practice pad! Believe it or not, it is essential for developing strong stick control. I recommend you spend 50% of your practice time on a drum pad, playing drum rudiments and working on endurance. A practice pad helps eliminate distraction and will force you to stick to your drum rudiments, and be more creative.

2.  Count Out Loud

We have all heard this is a good thing to do, but not until I was trying to learn more difficult beats and rhythms did I find how helpful it was!. Counting out loud is a great way to check and see if you are playing things right. If you are counting and your playing doesn’t line up – you will know immediately that something is wrong.

3.  Use a Metronome

Use a Metronome! Regardless how long you’ve been playing, a good drummer will practice with one. Taking the time to learn how to use a metronome is essential when it comes to practicing. It will help make you a consistent drummer, which is key if you’re looking to land gigs or be asked back to play. Because it forces you to play on time, you will see just how good you really are. Another idea is to listen to your favorite tune and use the tempo from that song.

4.  Slow it Down

When you start to learn something new, always start slow. Even if you think that you know the beat already, play it slow just to make sure that you are doing it right. Once you know that you are doing it right, then you can start to speed it up. Trying to play too fast at first will ultimately slow down your progress.

5.  Practice, Don’t  Play


Dedicated “practice” time should be focused. You should never jam or play things you have already mastered during this time. This is a mistake that we all have made. It is extremely important to stay on task during any formal practice time.

I have seen students who don’t follow this simple principle and as a result have been working on certain beats for months. They come into lessons week after week without making any real progress.

6.  Be Open to All Styles

Try to find different styles of songs you are not used to; or find songs that are above your level of playing. Listen to larger variety music. Playing along with these songs will force you to be more creative and make you step out of your comfort zone. An example, if you want to increase your speed , try playing along to some faster music.

7.  Get Creative with the Sticks and Surfaces You Use

To increase you speed and control, try playing on different surfaces with bigger sticks. Instead of playing on a practice pad, try drumming on a pillow. This will give you a lot less bounce, forcing you to build your finger and wrist muscles faster. Also, go out and pick up a set of thicker sticks. If you use 5a’s, try practicing with 2b’s, or if you use 2b’s, try using marching band sticks. Do this for a week and go back to your smaller sticks; you will be very surprised at the results! If you are unsure how the thickness and weight of drumsticks make a difference, do some online research for drum articles for more information.

8.  Have a Routine

Ideally you want to practice everyday of the week, but at very least you want to get in to any form of routine. This will help you learn at a steady pace – spending more time advancing your skills instead of re-practicing things that you’ve already mastered.

Inconsistency will make it harder to remember everything you’ve practiced. You might still know a few of the things, but ultimately you will have lost much of what you worked on. As drummers, we are trying to build muscle memory. Practice and repetition is key to achieving this.

9.  Good Posture is Key

This may seem odd, but it is extremely important that you sit up straight during a practice or performance. Not only is this better for your body, but it also helps you stay more focused on what you are doing. You’d be surprised how much easier everything seems when you are in the “ready position” with your back straight and your arms loose and ready. Have those close to you to help keep you in check that you are practicing good posture when sitting at the drum set.

10.  Make it Fun – Let’s See You Smile!


Forcing yourself to practice is the worse thing you can do. Instead, find a way to practice so you enjoy it. Chances are if you accomplish more objectives. It’s always important to end practices on a good note. Overcoming small obstacles is a great way to wrap things up and give you that added confidence to take your playing to the next level. In drumming and in life, confidence based on your accomplishment is everything.enjoy what you are doing, you will do it more often and with more determination. Look at your practice time as a challenge.




Brett Frederickson – DrummersRule! Drum Lessons
Call or Text today at 602-769-2075 or check us out online at
Come see why our students keep coming back… We look forward to seeing you!!

This Vic Firth article discusses the importance of counting out loud when practicing drums.

Click the link Drumming and the Importance of Counting to see the article.Thought you would like it – enjoy!

Mr. Brett


Here’s more info on Brett Frederickson and DrummersRule! Drum Lessons:

– Lessons are taught at Brett’s Professional Drum Studio with Four (4) top of the line Roland Electronic Kits and a Custom Yamaha Kit to learn on.

– Teaching drums for over 27 years as well as drum line instruction for 17 years.

– Degreed instructor and a graduate from Musicians Institute of Technology (MIT)

– 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 Berkley College of Music & Musicians Institute and have received full ride scholarships to ASU, NAU and U of A for drum-line, jazz band, and percussion.

What you can expect to learn at a lesson:

– learn faster and retain more

– read music

– sight reading

– syncopation

– increasing speed

– hand technique

– rudiments

– mastering all of the various music styles

– drum line techniques for snare, tenors and bass drum

Contact Brett with any questions…

Brett Frederickson – text or call today at 602-843-3114 or check us out online at

Art of Writing Drum Notation – Lesson IV

Posted: February 2, 2013 in Articles, Lessons

Welcome back to Lesson IV on the Art of Writing Drum Notation!!

To get started, let’s review and discuss NOTE VALUES, SYMBOLS & TERMINOLOGY:

In the picture below A, you will see a cheat sheet to explain the values and definitions of both the notes and rests.

A.) Drum Notation 1

To become a proficient writer, you will need a working knowledge of note values and corresponding rests, etc. Slowly, you will learn to equate the values of the different types of notes (note values), then ad stems & flags.  You will be amazed at how quickly all this will come together if you just continue to doodle with the notation possibilities. The picture below (B.) will help in playing bass & ghost note patterns. The top line is the most common way you’ll see drum music  written out. The 3 lines below the top line are various forms of filling up the sixteenth note pattern. The reason they’re different is they are used for other instruments for longer sustain of notes. To drums a hit is a hit (unless playing Jazz).

In the diagrams B & C, you will notice we circled the 1 (one),  e (eee),  + (and),  d (dah). The circle indicates when you hit the drum.


B.)Drum Notation 2            C.)  Drum Notation 3


Each line of music on the music staff is supposed to tally with the time signature.  It is math and everything must add up.  For example, if we break down the Sixteenth (16th) Notes  – in a measure of 4/4, there is sixteen (16) sixteenth notes, they are subdivided in 4 groups of 4. In 2/4, there are two (2) groups of 4, in 3/4, three (3) groups of 4, etc. Remember also, that each note value has a corresponding rest. Rests allow us to remain silent or skip a note, yet account for the time in such a way that everything will still add up and match the time signature we are in. See the picture below:


Drum Notation 4


Drum Notation 5

This stuff is a tad dry but you are going to need it!

Many people have a difficult time with this area of study.  If you are one of those, take heart!  Just try to get a general idea of how the different types of notes are used to describe different rhythms within a steady tempo.  If you tend to freeze up with all this just keep thinking . . . it will all come together slowly. A good way to look at the music is to break it into sections, DON’T look at the entire line or page, it will overwhelm you. Instead look at each section (as seen below in parentheses).

drum notation 6

NOTE: You will also find it VERY helpful to count the beats out loud  – Example saying 1, e, +, d when playing and accent louder the beat your playing (1, e AND, dah). This will help develop your ear!

As always please call me with any questions you may have and keep Drumming!!

Brett – 602-843-3114 or visit me online at

Art of Writing Drum Notation – Lesson IIIsheetmusic

Now that you know where the different parts of the drum kit go on the staff, lets begin putting a simple groove together. The Value for each of these will be an eight note (as discusses in the previous lesson). Remember, the cymbal & high hat is on the top line; the snare is on the third line and bass is on the fifth line. There are 4 beats per measure… see below:

Drummersrule notation_2

Drummersrule notation_7

Just for kicks, get out your pen and write out what you see above, then play what you have written!  I know it’s simple, but get ready to think!  You will be able to visualize a ton of possibilities, then write and play it too!

STEP 1:  Experimenting with the Bass Possibilities!

Begin to experiment with bass drum possibilities while keeping the snare in its current position . . .under the third cymbal. The bottom line is for the bass drum.  You can place a bass note ANYWHERE you wish on the bottom line and it will always produce a functional beat pattern.  By functional, I mean that all these permutations (variations) will work well with routine 8th note rock grooves or with the everyday rock songs you hear on the radio.

EXAMPLE  (8th note 4/4):

Drummersrule notation_3


Drummersrule notation_5

Can you visualize the others? There are 16 total possibilities! As you try playing these rhythms, be sure to repeat each one several times.


For now, we aren’t concerned with syncopations.  A syncopation (or sync) occurs when we drop a note (bass or snare) UNDER any two cymbal notes using up beats or down beats, short and long beats (I will explain later).  Syncs get complex in a hurry.  First, just concentrate on simple variations.  In other words, line your bass notes up with a cymbal note . . . ANY CYMBAL NOTE!

Write a simple example . . . then play it.  Then another and another.  Each of these beats are fundamental elements of the rock era.  Millions of your favorite songs are using these same beat examples right now! Side note, next week we will go over different variations on the bass using eight notes and rests.

STEP 2:  Experiment With the High Hat or Cymbal:

Let’s continue changing the cymbal or high hat patterns. This creates different feels / grooves and helps on tempos. Above we demonstrated an eighth note groove (these cover slow, medium and fast tempos). The first example below is a Quarter Note groove, the second is an Eighth Note groove, the third is a Triplet Note groove and the fourth is a Sixteenth Note groove. Have fun!!



Drummersrule notation_3 EIGHTH NOTE – SLOW/MEDIUM/FAST TEMPO

Drummersrule notation_4 TRIPLET NOTE – SLOW/MEDIUM TEMPO

Drummersrule notation_6 SIXTEENTH NOTE – SLOW/MEDIUM TEMPO

Use your imagination!  Don’t give up and have fun with all these variations.

WARNING:  Trying to play ALL the variations can hurt your brain! Yes, some of these more complex beat patterns are virtually impossible for all us mono-brained humans!  Few drummers can actually play all the remaining beat patterns.  Playing each one isn’t the important thing. Visualization is what counts!  Try to write and play a large portion of the 256 variation possibilities.  Get the picture, then move on.

Next week we’ll discuss Bass Patterns, Math, Backbeats, Symbols, Terminology and Permutations – Oh My!

As always contact me with any questions and enjoy your weekend!!

Brett – 602-843-3114


Now that you understand the importance of writing and reading drum notation, I want to briefly explain the NOTE Tree and TIME Signatures.

NOTE TREE: (see attached diagrams)

– whole note = 2 halves

– half note = 2 quarters

– quarter note = 2 eighths

– eighth note = 2 sixteenth

– sixteenth note = 2 thirty seconds

ImageWhen your asked – What does a (blank) note equal to? You’re answer will be the next slot down (a whole note is equal to 2 half notes, etc.).


4/4   top # = how many counts,  bottom # = what note for main count


4/4 = 4 counts of quarter notes

3/4 = 3 counts of quarter notes

7/8 = 7 counts of eighth notes (eighth note gets main count)

3/16 = 3 counts of sixteenth notes


We are going to start real simple but in only a few minutes you will discover the ability to write over 4 billion new rock beats. Now, I know that 4 billion is a hefty number, that’s true.  We won’t do them all, but you will understand how to write & read any of them in only a few minutes.

The first thing to do is lay out 5 horizontal lines about two inches in length. Like this . . .


Each end of this little music staff needs a vertical bar to designate that this is one whole measure. Just like all instruments, the higher pitched sounds are typically placed at the top of the staff. So on the drums, the highest pitch is the cymbals, so they will be on the top. The snare’s pitch is in the middle, so you will find it placed in the middle of the staff and the bottom is the bass. Now to see where the different parts of the drum are placed on the staff:

__________________________  = Cymbal or High Hat

__________________________  = (middle) Tom 1, (on line) Tom 2

__________________________  = Snare

__________________________  = (middle) Floor Tom 1, (on line) Floor Tom 2

__________________________  = Bass

Next week I will show you what this looks like written out and walk you thru basics on how to write out a simple drum groove.

As always contact me with any questions and enjoy your weekend!!

Brett – 602-843-3114