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Acoustic vs. Electronic Drums: Which Is Best For You?

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

By Clay Zimmerman


Acoustic Drum Set


So, you’ve just selected the drum set as your instrument of choice, or maybe your child who's interested in music is absolutely keen on wanting to learn the drums. Now it’s time to decide which drum set is right for you, electronic or acoustic?


We’ll be comparing these two types of drum sets based on these categories:


  • Price/Affordability

  • Features and Capabilities

  • Live Performances and Recording


Price/Affordability


If these are going to be the first drums you’ve ever owned, a brand new, entry level electronic drum set is not only cheaper than an entry level acoustic drum set, it can even sound better for what you’re paying.


Currently, the starting price for a decent sounding acoustic kit is usually around $1,000. Not to mention they typically don’t include cymbals or stands, only the wooden drum shells and some low-cost heads to get you started.


While the more technologically advanced electronic kits can reach thousands of dollars as well, you can easily find a decent, name-brand kit like Roland or Alesis in the $400-$800 price range and still get plenty of useful features. Let’s dive deeper into those!



Features and Capabilities


Acoustic Drum Set


It’s a well known fact: acoustic drums are LOUD. If you have neighbors that live in close proximity to your house or apartment, acoustic drums may be difficult to dampen without them being able to hear it. An acoustic drum set produces sound through vibrations, just like any other acoustic instrument. In this case, it’s either a plastic drum head or a metal cymbal vibrating once a drumstick makes contact with it.



This allows players access to a wide variety of different sounds, tones, and colors based solely on how you hit each piece of the kit. One of the coolest aspects of acoustic drums is how every player will immediately sound unique from one another. Nothing quite matches the feeling of putting your own energy and life force into your playing and having it come out through the sound of the drums. Being able to really lay into the drum part of your favorite song will always be satisfying.



Electronic Drum Set


An electronic drum set uses a mesh or rubber material for the drum heads and cymbals, which upon being hit essentially act as buttons that trigger either pre-recorded, mixed drum sounds, or user-created sounds through the computer modules that come included. These modules are usually equipped with special features such as a built in metronome, the ability to record yourself, a vast selection of pre-downloaded sounds to choose from, and play-along tracks.


Triggering electronic sounds means you’ll get a perfect drum or cymbal sound every time you hit them, no matter how you hit them! This is perfect for beginners who’s first learning curve when learning drums is simply trying to make them sound right.



Live Performances and Recording


Making a drum set purchase can be a big investment for many of us, so you’ll most likely be using your first one for a looong time. If you’re planning on using your drums for future live performances or even recording sessions, which one do you go with?


No matter how far music technology evolves, audiences will never stop loving the sound of a real, acoustic drum set. Especially live. Even the nicest, most expensive electronic kits on the market will never truly capture the sound and feeling of a real kit, despite all of their features and capabilities.


Not all musicians are constantly aiming for an acoustic drum sound though. If that’s the case for you, then electronic drums make recording through your computer at home super easy and without the need of microphones, pre-amps, or a soundproof space.



Which Drum Set Is Best For Me?


If you’re a beginner drummer looking to play drums as a hobby, an electronic drum set is most likely the right choice for you. It’s easy to find a high quality, yet affordable electronic kit that comes with everything you need in one package, while also having the added benefit of quiet practice with headphones.


If you want to start taking drums more seriously and even find a group of musicians to jam and perform with, it’s best to go with an acoustic drum set. The sound it produces is unmatched by any modern technology and is still to this day a desirable musical sound despite nearly every other instrument having an electronic counterpart.


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