My acoustic to electric drum set conversion
After having acoustic drum sets throughout my childhood and then having both a Simmons and Alesis electronic kit, I decided that I wanted something that was reminiscent of a full size acoustic kit but also have the flexibility of having access to a wide range of drum sounds and samples. So in 2018, I set out to build my own acoustic to electronic conversion kit.
Parts I chose
In building a custom acoustic to electric conversion kit, there are many parts to consider such as which shells you want, which mesh heads you want as well as triggers and cymbals. Here is a list of parts I chose to go with:
- Shells: I selected to go with a 5 piece Yamaha Stage Custom birch shell pack available for $549 from Amazon. This shell pack comes in a variety of colors like white, honey amber, red, black and natural. I selected the 20 inch kick but larger 22 inch kick shells are available and all drums in this series can be purchased individually. Hardware is included
- Triggers: For my project I wanted internal triggers but noticed that a lot of high end ones from R-Drums from Europe were of the highest quality but were very expensive, not including shipping. I came across a small company called Extreme Drums that sells internal side mounted triggers. After chatting one on one with Marshall who runs Extreme Drums, he told me they are all hand made and extremely sensitive. I bought a full set of these for $330 which includes USPS priority shipping. The full set includes 4 regulard side mounted triggers for my snare and three toms and a larger trigger for my 20 inch kick. These are high quality triggers at a great price and I strongly recommend Extreme Drums. One great benefit of these triggers are that the 3.5MM plug can be fed through the air vent on all of the shells leading to a clean look. Best of all, these trigger are made in the USA!
- Mesh heads: For mesh heads, I tried out a set of Remo Silent Strokes which are single ply and noticed they were extremely bouncy and caused a severe case of double triggering. After doing some research I ended up opting for a BillyBlast three ply 14 inch white mesh head for my snare, a set of 10, 12 and 14 inch white two ply Prisum heads for my toms and a three ply 20 inch head for my kick. This combination of heads feels extremely realistic and looked great on my kit. It really feels like your stick is digging right into these drums. Since I had already purchase a set of Remo Silent Strokes I decided to place these heads on the bottom side of each of my drums for the sake of completeness. Both BillyBlast and Prisum products are made in the USA! A full set of Remo Silent Strokes are around $100 and a set of Prisum heads I selected will run you around $150 to $200.
- Cymbals: Many options are available to choose from for electronic cymbals. But since I was looking for a realistic playing experience as well as looks, I researched the best way to use a set of low volume cymbals with triggers attached. Marshall from Extreme Drums came to the rescue on this. After having an email exchange, he informed me he was considering launching his own line of low volume cymbals with his custom triggering solution and he offered to retro-fit a set of cymbals of my choosing with his triggers which at the time he was still developing. I ended up purchasing a set of 14, 16 and 20 cymbals from Agean, called the Agean R series llow volume cymbals. They came in a bag and although they aren't as quiet acousticly as Zildjian or Sabian's options they feel and sound great on their own. Marshall's triggers work wonders and are very sensitive and responsive. The set of Agean R's cost around $650 for the set and Marshall's trigger system cost $250.
- Drum module: Many options exist for modules as well. But my main requirements were that I needed to be able to have universal trigger support and also be able to expand with extra inputs and be able to load any custom samples into the module to build my own kits from real drum sounds. The 2Box Drum It 3 checked all these boxes. The Alesis Strike Pro module was a close second, but after seeing a great deal on a Drum It 3, I picked it up from Reverb for $700.
- High hat controller: To drive the high hat I ended up choosing a GoEdrum HH controller for $60. While it doesn't give a huge range of sounds, it is certainly perfectly fine to the point that if the high hat is calibrated correctly, it really isn't an issue. It claims to offer fully closed, fully open and I think two levels of partially open sounds but I've detected more than that as many as three or more
- Cymbal stands: Stands were relatively straight forward. For my crash and ride, I simply purchased a two pack of Tama stands for $80 on Amazon. For my high hat stand however, I had done my research on two leg stands and decided to splurge and purchase a custom build Drumnetics high hat stand. What is nice about this stand is that it is not chain driven. Rather, it is controlled with a magnet in the foot plate which can be adjusted for high or lower resistance. It is an extremely well built stand for $280 shipped and I highly recommend Mike's work over at Drumnetics.