Hybrid Drums at Gigs

Everyone who is into electronic drums has stumbled across the newest trend called „hybrid drums“. A hybrid kit basically a mix between acoustic and electronic drums. It can be as simple as applying a trigger to the acoustic snare and using it to create an electronic drum sound on top of the actual snare sound or just having additional e-drum pads on the acoustic kit.

Applying triggers to an acoustic kit is not a new idea. Metal bands have been using them for bass drums since years and all kinds of alternative Rock musicians had a set of electronic drum pads on their kit. 30 Seconds to Mars drummer Shannon Leto has such a setup since 2002.

drums-700456_1280You could argue that, a hybrid drum pad has both components at the same time, but I think is actually only a mix between electric drums and acoustic drum components on one kit, no matter in what way.
Roland released the Roland TM-2 and a new external trigger set called RT-30, other e-drum manufacturers were following with similar triggers. The advertisement videos give the idea of using them at gigs, to have more possibilities and a better sound. The idea is to add a small module including 2 triggers to your acoustic drum set, mostly for snare and kick. The triggers pic up the head vibration and the module samples any sound. This can be an additional clapping noise when hitting the snare for example.

As nice as it sounds, no average „gigging-small-band-drummer“ will use such a setup for long. In reality the drummer is already the person who has most of the effort in terms of transporting and setting up gear. It is always the drummer who needs ages on stage to get his kit ready. Trust me, I know what I am talking about.

The sound engineers of especially small venues do not have the skills to make it sound good anyway. Some I’ve met were already overwhelmed with the volume adjustment of the a standard drum kit. Everyone, the band, the drummer and the engineer, is happy when the sound check is finally done and the drum kit sounds kind of ok. Every additional cymbal and tom extent the setup time and shorten the set. And now imagine a drummer who appears at a gig with his additional e-drum module to make it a hybrid kit. All people in this room will hate him for that, in case they are even able to understand what a hybrid kit is. Even some sound engineers will ask: “What do you want to do? Trigger that snare? So we don’t need mic?” And there you are, making it more complicated as it already is, just to trigger samples on top of an acoustic sound.

Once I met a band who did exactly the same thing. It was the most annoying gig I’ve ever been at. It took them ages to fix their technical problems, caused by the electronics. Everyone had to wait, only because of this guy’s additional electronic sounds.

I played in many venues and the truth is: The sound sucks anyway and probably no one will even hear your hybrid samples. I’d say this whole hybrid thing is not only extremely unpractical for most bands, it is also a potential weak spot. Every additional gear and effect, especially the electronic instruments, increases the chances of technical problems. This stuff can ruin your gig. And what for? For a clapping sound during song #3?

I get the fact that hybrid drums can be an advantage and I would enjoy them myself in a rehearsal room. Who wouldn’t? It is great additional gear if you are playing in a bigger band and in good venues surrounded by audio professionals. It is also great for bands who have a rowdy or a drum-tech to help them setting up their instruments. But again, most bands are nowhere near being this big.

So save yourself the hassle of hybrid drums and keep your drum kit simple, especially if you are a gigging drummer with regular shows. Bring only the important and necessary gear to make it as easy as possible for yourself, the band and the sound engineer.

All the hybrid gear sounds and looks good in theory, but it has no practical use and does also cost a lot of money. The funny thing is that I see a lot of hybrid triggers and their modules on online second hand sale platforms. Peoples add texts are usually: “Selling for 80% of the new price because I used it only once.” That sentence tells you a lot.

Don’t get me wrong, the TM-2 and all the other products are great. I see them as a tool for metal drummers when using it as a bass drum trigger for blast beats. This can really be a benefit, but everything else is usually only for the kind drummer who likes toys.

6 Replies to “Hybrid Drums at Gigs”

  1. With “Hybrids” at a gig you’ll have options. This sounds as if we’re blaming the drums, instead of the drummer who is being overly ambitious with what they brought, or the sound guy that doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    Unfortunately, not too many people want to rock out on e-kits, especially the cymbals. There’s nothing wrong with going full e, but you should enjoy yourself as well, and that means playing what you like, not what you have to. In most circumstances you’ll be good to bring a triggered kick and toms (with mesh heads even!), maybe a bar/extra pad for some variety, and use acoustic snare/cymbals. That’s most people I know.

    Bringing a set that is larger than the needs of the venue seems like a mistake by somebody that maybe wants to show off. But bringing some acoustic pieces with the e-kit or some pads with your acoustic set is more about enjoying yourself, and having a good time yourself.

    A hybrid set does not necessitate that each drum be triggered and have an independent mic. But with all the components, you could be ready for many situations, including full acoustic, full electric, or somewhere between. That’s what hybrid means to most people, not everything you own jammed on set every time you play. So in that regard I agree about your closing “drummer who likes toys” remark, but that’s on the drummer, not the drums.

    Just seems misdirected. Hybrid drums have proven themselves to be a fantastic toolset. And raging on them just to imply that people should drop the acoustic drums they enjoy altogether is heavy handed, imo.

    If you know your gear, setting up in a short amount of time should not be a problem. They make memory locks for a reason, and color coding cables is child’s play. If the sound engineer or venue sucks, that’s not on you, but having hybrids means you’re better prepared for any issues that might come up.

    • I never said acoustic drums should be dropped. I would never go to a gig with an e-drum kit. My point in this post is, that hybrid drums are simply impractical for most drummers, cause unnecessary effort and are a potential source for issues. It is just my experience and my opinion. I still think hybrid drums are fun.

  2. The problem I have had with the v drums on stage was the guitar amps triggering my sounds . Still not sure how to fix this. Tried a perspex screen, facing amps and fold backs away, in high volume situations I still had problems with the accidental triggers . Any ideas ?

      • Thanx Marcel, I did look at thresholds and after making adjustments , found that I wasn’t getting the same sensitivity for ghost notes, so I gave a miss . But I think you mite be right, I will try making smaller adjustments . Cheers

      • I had similar issue that my kick trigerred a trigger pad, which is attached to the bass drum. Adjusting X-talk parameter on my TM2 module solved the issue

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