The Background Of The Electric Drum Kit

Electric Drum Kit

For some people, electric drums are a new invention or they just seem like a gift from the gods of music. For others, they are a travesty that should never have been allowed to see the light of day. No matter what your opinion is, there is no doubt that electric drums have changed the face of music forever.

The electric drum kit has been around for quite some time, but it was not until the late 1970s that it became a popular musical instrument. The earliest models were created in the early 1930s but were not widely used until the 1970s.

In this article, we will look at the history of the electric drum kit and how it has evolved over the years.

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The Early Years

In 1967, only a few designs and prototype electronic drum machines existed, yet they dated back to the 1930s. The year is 1967, well before the Roland era of electronic drum machines, and just a few designs and experimental electronic drum machines had been created. Harry Mendell created the first electric drum kit in the early 1930s. It was a very primitive machine that used vacuum tubes and had a limited range of sounds.

Despite its primitive design, the Mendell drum machine was used by some jazz musicians of the time, such as Lionel Hampton and Cab Calloway. However, it was not until the late 1960s that the electric drum kit began to gain popularity.

The First Popular Electric Drum Kit

In 1972, the Japanese company, Ace Tone, released the first commercially successful electronic drum machine. The machine was called the “Rhythm Ace,” and it featured a simple design with just a handful of sounds. Despite its limited sound palette, the Rhythm Ace was a popular machine used by many well-known musicians, including Steve Winwood, Steely Dan, and The Eagles.

The Roland Era

In the late 1970s, the electronic drum kit began to become popular with the release of the Roland TR-77. This machine featured a much more versatile range of sounds and was used by many famous musicians such as David Bowie, Phil Collins, and Duran Duran.

Drum Machines, Hexagons, and Early Sampling

The Pollard Syndrum, the first commercially available electronic drum, was designed by Joe Pollard and Mark Barton in 1976 for Tycobrahe Sound Company. The Syndrum is a sound generator with drum pads invented by Joe Pollard and Mark Barton in 1976 for Tycobrahe Sound Company.

The legendary Simmons SDS-V was released in 1978 and revolutionized the world of drumming by being the first fully electronic drum kit. It came with 5 modules (bass, snare, and three toms) and a signature hexagonal pad layout.

The 80s begin in earnest at this point. Some people feel that this decade was when the electronic drum's golden years began, and it may also be regarded as a second-wave or silver age of e-drumming.

Roger Linn's LM-1 Drum Computer was introduced to the public in 1980. This was the first drum machine to incorporate acoustic drum sounds from sonic drum recordings of actual drums played at a 28 to 35kHz sample rate. The LinDrum succeeded the LM-1 by sampling these acoustic drum samples at a 28 to 35kHz sample rate and implementing them into its on-board sounds generation algorithms.

Modern Drum Modules and Pads

The TD-10 V-Drums kit by Roland Corporation was first released in 1997. This kit overhauled several people's preconceptions about consumer electronic drums. For one thing, it didn't utilize a sampled acoustic drum or cymbal sound when activated. The sound was created using mathematical models developed by the TD-10 using Roland synthesizers. Second, the TD-10 did not employ conventional rubber pads, but mesh pads manufactured in collaboration with Remo (makers of acoustic drumheads). This realistic sound and feel set the stage for future developments in electronic drums.

Following the TD-10's release, Roland designed and developed dual-zone drum pads for cymbals. The CY-14C and CY-15R V-Cymbals included a "live feel" to electronic cymbals by allowing you to strike different zones on the pads to create various sounds, like an actual acoustic cymbal.

Since then, the electronic drumming industry has advanced significantly, from ultra-portable multi-pads like the Roland SPD-SX or Alesis electronic drum kit to grooveboxes and drum machines like the Elektron Digitakt, Akai MPC X, and Roland TR-8S that draw inspiration from electronic drumming but function more as computers than instruments. The world of electronic drums isn't over yet, and it won't be ending anytime soon with such a large quantity of music needing to be played.

Our expert recommended drum kits 

NUX Electronic Drum Kit - DM 5S

Roland Digital Drum TD-1KPX2

Roland Electronic Drum Kit TD-1KPX2

Roland Electric Drum Kit+Drum Stand TD-27KV


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