Are electronic drum kits good for function bands?

With V-Drums Acoustic Design, the electronic drum kit is ready for the stage

Since the dawn of music, when the first caveman hit a rock with another rock, the drummer has been the backbone of the song.

Since that fateful day, acoustic kits haven’t changed much – you’re still hitting something with a stick to make a noise, and still responsible for the song flowing, but… it’s time to evolve.

Roland VAD series drums are a powerful tool on-stage and in the rehearsal room, offering the ability to transform not only your drumming experience, but the whole band’s potential too.

Are Electronic drums good for live performances?

Roland V-Drums Acoustic Design kits are made with live performance in mind.

While electronic kits have become a common sight in the studio and practice room for decades, there was a consistent message from sceptical live drummers across the globe:

“Make them look and feel like real drums!”

So, we did.

VAD series kits come with multi-ply hardwood shells, a glossy black sparkle finish, smooth stick feel, redesigned cymbal pads, and that classic acoustic look that reminds you why you’re the coolest person in the band.

Why use hardwood shells?

They’re not just for looks. The 6-ply wood shells stop unwanted vibrations causing accidental pad triggering. They’re lightweight, great to look at, and are functional too.

Putting V-Drums Acoustic Design Features in the spotlight

The drum modules that drive these kits contain pro-level features that you didn’t know you needed, from adjustable metronomes, to Bluetooth connectivity, to hundreds of endlessly customisable drum sounds to hit that sweet spot when playing live.

Unlike our ancestors, you’ll no longer be hitting tubs with sticks, you’ll be driving a hi-tech live percussion performance machine.

The true depth of the VAD series modules isn’t something we can cover here in full, but short of packing your kit up for you after a show and ordering you a drink, VAD series kits cover pretty much anything you could want from a live drum kit.

We’ll let Ali Wells, professional function drummer for the band Kudos, explain how he uses it.

Control the volume of your drums

Acoustic drums are LOUD.

Acoustic kits can reach levels of up to 120 decibels. To put that into perspective, imagine standing next to a running jet engine for a couple of hours.

That means feedback, mic bleed, noise limiters, and the audience’s hearing are all factors to be accounted for. One accidental rim shot or screeching mic can have people wincing, immediately flatlining the show’s atmosphere.

Your options? Turn it down at the desk or play quieter.

In comparison, VAD series drums give you complete control over your volume, either via master volume, or by adjusting the level of each individual drum.

You can still play hard and the drums will react to that using calibrated velocity and position sensors, but with the ability to bring the very top levels down a touch, it’ll keep you safe from those show-killing events.

Is there much menu diving on the TD-17 and TD-27?

The TD-17 and TD-27 modules are designed around a single master dial, giving you full control over any aspect of the kit in a matter of seconds.

If you have a sound engineer, they can control the volume of the drums using the double direct outputs, but if not, you can adjust both the master volume and each individual drum pad volume while you’re there behind the kit. There’s nothing to stop you going the other way either, if you need more boom from the kit, turn it up.

Even better, you can even record yourself while you play your soundcheck, then play it back while you’re listening out front.

No need to get a fellow band member behind your precious kit anymore!

A showroom of realistic electronic drum kit sounds

Function bands need to play a variety of songs from a variety of genres, and adapting an instruments tonal qualities for each song is key to getting an authentic performance.

VAD series kits come with dozens of drum kit presets and customisable “user kits” allowing you to create your own desired set of sounds using the hundreds of samples preloaded into the module.

If that’s not enough, you can slot in an SD card packed with your favourite drum sounds and use those. Any sound will work, from sound effects, to guitar chords, or even recorded sounds of your existing acoustic kit!

Transform your drum tone with sound layering

Roland TD-27 and TD-17 modules support sound layering. This means you can pick two sounds to play simultaneously each time you hit the drum to create a unique sound.

You can crossfade these sounds based on pad velocity or mix them to play at the same time.

Each of these user-made kits can be set into an organised setlist for each song at your show. Once set up, you press a single button and the module will queue up the next song preset.

That’s not all either, the VAD series modules give you incredible flexibility over your sounds… which leads us to the true power of these drums.

The power to create your drum kit

The snare is too ringy, grab the gel and duct tape. The kick is too sloppy, is it the muffling, the tuning, the mic? The room response sounds different in the venue, and it sounds terrible. You’ll need to move the kit, do some tuning, and where’d that moon gel go?

Keeping track of everything at the show is tricky.

Instead of your sticks putting dents into your strategically placed wallet, or having to curse at the duct tape that doesn’t come off the drumhead after the show, VAD series drums give you complete control over every tiny detail of each specific drum then and there.

You can change the following with a twist of a dial:

  • Tuning
  • Volume
  • Drum depth
  • Cymbal size
  • Muffling
  • Room response
  • Effects
  • Snare wire tension
  • Simulated microphone placement

Do I need a drum key for electronic drums?

The drum key is only used to change the tension of the mesh head. It has no effect on the tone of the drum. There’s no need to tune lug-to-lug, and no chance of something going out of tune during or between shows.

It also means you can dial in your preferred stick feel without affecting the tuning.

Do electronic drum kits need maintenance?

Those old acoustic drumheads are becoming a nightmare to tune, the snare head coating is peeling off, and you’re going through sticks like a drunken lumberjack in a forest. Worst of all, that suspicious cymbal crack is getting worse…

The costs of running an acoustic drum kit aren’t small, and it’s more than a little disheartening to see your cut of the gig money go right back into fixing whatever broke at the show.

VAD series drums are immune to these issues.

With specialist double and triple-ply mesh heads developed by Roland and produced in collaboration with Remo, and reinvented thinner cymbals for better response, feel, and durability, the VAD series drums are able to take even the most intense drumming.

While you may have to give the hardware some cleaning and general upkeep, there’s no other significant maintenance needed from the moment you take it out of the box.

So, no maintenance at all?

The mesh heads and cymbal pads on VAD series drums can withstand years and years of playing. Drumsticks don’t get chipped either. While you may need to clean the kit and dab a bit of oil on the hardware, you don’t need to worry about any other maintenance.

Connecting electronic drum kits with the rest of the band

As drummers, it’s our job to keep everybody in time, and the TD17 and TD27 modules are bristling with outputs and connections to link up to the performance.

On the TD17, you’ll get two L/R jack master outputs, a mini-in jack, a headphone out and a MIDI out to connect to other electronic instruments or computers. You can also hook it up to a computer using a USB cable on the side of the module.

On the back of the TD27, you’ll find a headphone output, two direct assignable outputs to connect the snare and kick to the mixing desk, one jack input, and two master L/R jack outputs for stage monitors.

On both modules, the headphone output is separate from the master output, meaning you can keep a metronome going without it coming out in the mix. Perfect if you’re using samples and triggers, or you just want to keep everybody in time!

You’ll also get MIDI in and out connections and a 28-channel USB output to connect to a laptop via MIDI or live sound. Ideal if you want to adjust every nuance of the drums through a live DAW or if you want to use VST instruments on-stage.

Time to make the switch to electronic drums?

Electronic kits and drum pads are already a big part of the live scene, either as part of a hybrid kit nestled within a set of acoustic drums, as trigger pads such as the SPD-SX, or like the VAD series, being a central part of any show.

As drummers, electronic kits might never replace acoustics entirely, but with a fresh new look, and powerful features that make function work far more straightforward, the VAD series is a serious contender for your performance.