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.
You 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.