If you want to be a drummer, you might wonder if you should choose acoustic or electronic drums.
It’s easy to think these are pretty much the same instrument, but they’re completely different!
What’s the main difference between acoustic vs electronic drums?
Acoustic drums have wood or metal shells and metal cymbals. Electronic drums have pads with drumheads that create sound from a sound module. You can hear sound from electric drums through an amp or headset.
Knowing the differences in how acoustic drums sound, when compared to electric drums, can help you find the instrument that’s right for you and works with the kind of sound you wish to produce as well as your lifestyle and budget.
So, with that in mind, let’s look at some important differences between acoustic vs electronic drums.
If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of the drums comparison, we got you covered:
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How It Feels To Play The Drums
When considering purchasing acoustic or electronic drums, one of the most important and obvious factors to consider is how it feels to play them.
Electronic drums will make use of rubber, mesh, or plastic pads. These do the job but don’t feel the same as when you hit a real drum head.
Even with the technological advancements in electronic drum sets, they’ll never be the real thing, in the same way that a digital piano won’t have the weighted keys and sensitivity of a traditional acoustic piano.
In addition, if you’re eager to learn how to play the drums, there is a drawback to using an electronic drum kit.
Acoustic drum pads will show you where you’re going wrong because you get the feeling of hitting the drum head.
Electronic drum pads, such as those made of mesh, will hide your mistakes to some degree because they’re not as responsive as acoustic drum pads.
That said, paying a bit more money for a more expensive drum kit can help to alleviate some of these problems.
A drum kit that has larger pads will make your playing feel much more authentic. Electronic drum kits that cost a bit more will have other features that add to their authentic sound, such as positional sensing.
This is how a sound module responds to hits at different spots on the drum head, as Sweet Water explains.
The Use Of Headphones
In our modern age, everyone loves the chance to be able to play an instrument using headphones because it’s so practical.
You can play wherever you are without bothering anyone, such as neighbors if you rent an apartment.
If this is something that’s very appealing to you, then you’re better off with electronic drums because they give you the chance to use headphones when playing them.
They’re therefore much quieter than acoustic drums.
However, that doesn’t mean they’re completely silent! You still have to factor in that striking the pads will still make some noise.
How Much They Cost
Although you’d love to play drums without having to worry about their cost, unfortunately sometimes your budget does have to be considered.
Acoustic drum sets that you can buy with pedals, cymbals, and even stands included can cost around $400, but this price can be higher. Intermediate kits can set you back around $700 to $1,400.
Electronic drums, on the other hand, are much more budget-friendly. You can find a high-end electronic drum kit for less than $1,000.
It’s sometimes better to pay more for an electronic drum set because, as mentioned earlier, these will have more advanced features to make the sound they produce feel much more like an acoustic drum set.
How The Drums Actually Sound
Even though electronic drums have improved and the technology is always breaking boundaries, they’ll never be exactly the same as traditional or acoustic drums.
Even if the electronic drums sound authentic, their pads won’t have the same punch and depth. So, if you’re looking for drums that will give you that warmth and depth, acoustic drums are the way to go.
In addition, it’s worth bearing in mind that people who use electronic drums sometimes battle to play acoustic drums when they wish to do so at a later stage.
The reason for this is because the drum response and the hi-hats can feel quite different, so they require a lot of practice. It’s almost like starting with a brand new instrument.
Are You Keen On Recording The Drums?
If you want to record yourself playing the drums, such as to share it with friends on social media or because you’re a serious musician, then you’ll need to be able to produce high-quality sound recordings.
Now, it’s not always easy to record acoustic drums in a professional way and that’s large because the sound they produce won’t sound as great through a mic.
It can be done, of course, but you’ll likely have to deal with various concerns, such as room acoustics.
Electronic drums are much easier to record. You don’t have to worry about issues like soundproofing and acoustics.
They’re easy to connect to your computer. In addition, you can use MIDI files if you want.
These instruments tend to have MIDI and USB connections, which means connecting to a tablet, computer, and even your smartphone is easier than ever.
Do You Want To Play The Drums Live?
If you want to play the drums live, such as in a band or as a solo musician, you’re going to want to invest in acoustic drums.
The reason for this is because of their authentic feel that packs a punch and creates much more ambiance when you’re on stage.
Let’s face it: acoustic drum kits are not easy to carry around.
They’re big and bulky, so taking them to the stage or studio can feel like a stressful mission.
After transporting them to where you want to play, you then have to deal with setting them up and ensuring that the drums are set in the right place so that the sound they produce will be of the highest possible quality.
On the other hand, electronic drums are built to be easy to take with you whenever you leave the house. They’re much more versatile and they hardly require much setting up, which is a big bonus.
Should You Learn To Play Drums On Acoustic Or Electronic Drums?
Based on the above differences between acoustic vs electronic drums, it’s clear to see that it’s probably better to learn how to play the drums on an acoustic kit.
You will learn how to play and learn to fix your mistakes as you go along.
Remember that you have to learn to play well in order for acoustic drums to sound good, so with them, you’ll learn the right technique.
Yes, this might make them a bit more challenging than electric drums, but it’s worth it in the long run because you’ll be a better drummer who’s more in tune with their instrument.
Will You Need To Maintain Electric Drum Kits?
They will have to have their parts replaced, such as in the case of their drum pads.
In fact, some cheap electric drum kits are known for needing replacements, as Drums the Word reports. That’s another reason to pay a bit more for them.
What About Hybrid Drums?
Hybrid drums give you the best of acoustic and electronic drums. You can create sounds that sound acoustic and have electronic effects.
So, you’ll have acoustic sounds at the core of them and then electronic sound put on top of that, which gives you greater creativity with which to experiment.
If you’ve ever wondered if electronic or acoustic drums are better, it’s now clear to see that there’s no easy answer to that question.
After reading this guide to electronic and acoustic drums, you’ll see that both acoustic and electric drums have their benefits as well as drawbacks.
It’s impossible to say that one is better than the other. Instead, it’s probably more useful to view them as different instruments.
Whichever one you choose comes down to you: the features that are most important to you should determine which one you choose to buy and play.
For example, acoustic drums are probably best if you want that loud, authentic drum feeling in the sound you produce.
On the other hand, electronic drums are more suitable for you if you want greater ease when recording your music and an instrument that’s more portable.
Both electronic and acoustic drums can be great investments. The choice really does depend on you – don’t forget to take your budget and lifestyle into account.