Which is Better, An Electric Drum Set Vs. An Acoustic Drum Set?

image of electric drums and acoustic drumsElectric Drums Vs. Acoustic Drums?

“Better” is a subjective word as it can be something entirely different for you as opposed to someone else’s view of the word. Let’s find out what you want in performance and what kind of music you want to play.

Electric drum kits are the rage today. For beginners, they work well because they are small and their sound can be reduced.

Drummers who play mainly electronic music prefer an electric drum kit.  There are many digital sounds available and it is easy to change music sounds.

Electric drum kits like the Alesis are suitable for styles of music that need more than a traditional acoustic drum set can produce.

In this article, we will look at both electric drum kits and acoustic drum kits and you can decide which one is “better” for your needs.  Let’s look at the benefits of each and the limitations of each.

Electronic Drum Kits

An electric drum kit is set up the same way as an acoustic drum kit, but with sample pads on each drum. These pads produce little acoustic sound other than the dead sound that you get with wooden drum sticks hitting rubber.

If/when you need minimum volume these are great because they can be plugged into your headphones. This is something your neighbors will appreciate when you are practicing! Otherwise, they need to be plugged into an amplifier or speaker in order to be heard.

Here are some of the benefits of an electric drum kit:

  • You can practice with no/low volume.
  • They are smaller than an acoustic drum set and hence, are a space-saver for you.
  • If you want to play electronic music that required MIDI samples, you can program specific samples to each pad (on intermediate/advanced drum kits). Most come with a built-in metronome. can download a metronome app on your smartphone to use with your electric drum kit, although most electronic drum kits come with a built-in metronome.
  • You never have to tune them.
  • You don’t have to know anything about drum maintenance.
  • The sound you hear from the drum and cymbal samples have already been EQ’s, so the sound you hear is similar to drums in recordings.

Some of the limitations are as follows:

  • Electric drum kits for beginners have limited features.
  • Usually, you have a few presets and no control over individual drum samples or EQ.
  • Because technology is moving so quickly, you could buy one soon to be outdated.
  • Drummers who only play electric drum kits can pick up some bad habits as the sample pad reacts differently drum or cymbal does.
  • They don’t let the drumstick/bass drum beater to rebound. Should they switch to an acoustic drum kit and not allow rebound, the sound will be choked, not so on an electronic drum kit.
  • Players who have played an electronic drum kit all their lives have problems when playing an acoustic drum kit and it seems awkward and forced.
  • Poor dynamic balance between different parts it is easy to turn a pad’s volume down rather than working with it.
  • The volume on an electric drum kit can be turned down so requires no skill to do so. On an acoustic drum kit to play quietly, you must develop the technique to control loudness. This is very important for the professional drummer.
  • To maintain the electric drum kit, no knowledge of drums is required. You will be at a disadvantage if you switch to an acoustic drum kit if all you have played previously is an electronic drum kit.

Acoustic drum kits

The acoustic drum kit is designed with all of its drums and cymbals to be played as a single instrument. A standard kit contains a bass drum, snare drum, set of tom-toms, hi-hat cymbals, a ride cymbal, and a crash cymbal.

The number of tom-toms varies with the style of music being played. The hi-hat consists of two cymbals played together to make a “click” sound. The sound is made by striking the drums with a stick or mallet.

Here are some benefits of an acoustic drum kit.

  • They are super for most styles of music including rock, pop, jazz, blues, funk, etc.
  • They are great for high energy/high volume playing.
  • They require more skill to get a nice sound.
  • They are very responsive to your touch and feel.
  • The knowledge of how to maintain an acoustic drum kit is very valuable.
  • Acoustic drum kits are more traditional and often are the only ones available if you must play on someone else drums

And, as for the limitations of an acoustic drum kit:

  • They take up more space.
  • If you are practicing, they can be loud, although you can get silencing pads that help a bit.
  • They do require tuning and it often takes a long time to learn this skill.
  • They can be fairly expensive.

Which Is Better?

Now to determine which is “better” for you:

If you are a serious drummer who might want to make a career of it and don’t intend to play electronic music, you need an acoustic drum kit. If that is you and you decide to purchase an electronic drum kit, you could end up with lots of bad habits that are really hard to break.

If you just want to play casually and are sure that you only want to play electronic music, then an electronic drum kit will work for you.

Practicing on an electronic kit and then trying to play an acoustic drum kit means you will most likely get the habit of not letting your sticks to rebound properly. Electronic drum kits hide imperfections in your playing technique that are detrimental to you in the long run.

There are many drum kits on the market both acoustic and electric. Research them on the internet and then go shopping. Remember “better” is a very subjective word., Your choice is up to you!

Duke Taber

Duke Taber has been a Senior Pastor of various churches since 1988. Prior to that, he was involved in the Christian rock scene opening for such notables as Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Rez Band, and once played briefly with Darrel Mansfield. Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center.