Types of Electronic Drums

electronic drum set


Drums have come a long way, especially the way we currently play them. There are many new versions as well as those in the process of transitioning into new models of drums.

Rollup Drums

While many musicians would not consider these to be true musical instruments, I want to include them in an effort to be complete. These sets are generally made in China and are largely built for children to play with. No attempt is made to pretend that they are for the serious musician. Nonetheless, they are an option for parents that want to introduce their young ones to the world of percussion instruments.


  • Kids can learn the rudiments of playing the drums
  • Makes no noise


  • Build quality poor
  • Sound quality mediocre
  • Power cord is short and can get in the way

PAXCESS Electronic Drum Set

Tabletop Drum Sets

Tabletop drums are somewhat of a cross between a practice pad and a real electronic drum kit. Like a practice pad, the pad layout is arranged similar to a traditional kit. That means it is not quite as compact as a percussion pad. However, it is still quite small and can easily fit into a tight corner in an apartment. The better kits even has a “kickstand” of sorts. These units would appeal to drummers with limited space either to practice or to play or to drummers on a limited budget as they are generally more affordable than the low end of true kit. On the lower end, there are a huge number of Chinese-made units that are really more toys than serious instruments; these will appeal to the parents of slightly older children who have graduated from toy drums. The higher end is more curious. At this price range, most of the models (except for the Yamaha) seem to have the same chassis (manufactured by Medeli) just with different software.


  • Can be used to practice timing
  • Comes with built in songs you can practice to
  • Output can be sent to a DAWs
  • Comes with recording feature


  • Pad layout is not suitable for practicing precision
  • Double bass triggers too often
  • Foot pedals not great
  • Output sound mediocre

PylePro Portable Drums, Tabletop Drum Set

Practice Pads

The history of practice pads goes back a long ways; long before electronic drums were around. The idea was to be able to practice drumming for musicians without access to their kit for one reason or another. Some version of these early pads are still available for sale. While most are single pads good for practicing your rhythm, there is a Remo product that actually mimics a 5-piece kit (it does not run on electricity, however). Again, as the name implies, these products are largely meant for practice and not performing or recording.

Kat Percussion makes an interesting practice pad that is divided into four quadrants. Each pad can be programmed with a wide variety of different drum sounds enhancing its usefulness. The unit can also be hooked up to a stand. However, a user has to be careful with this product; while some people may be tempted to use it as a compact kit, it is not well suited for live performance. The unit will switch off after a period of inactivity. More seriously, there is a fair level of crosstalk between the pads so a user can easily trigger the wrong pad by mistake. Only one drum set can be programmed at a time and the time it takes to re-program the pads makes this unit far better suited for practice or for triggering MIDI. In this regard, it would make an interesting and useful addition to any drummer’s tool kit.


  • Good for practicing rhythm
  • Comes with metronome


  • Only one pad
  • Does not produce any drum sounds

Kat Percussion KTMP1 Electronic Drum and Percussion Pad Sound Module

Percussion Pads

Percussion pads are instruments that can be used to complement an electronic kit. They are not meant to simply be a mini drum kit or a practice aid. The pads are not generally arranged to resemble a traditional kit but are laid down as close together as possible; triggering can take place through the use of hands, fingers or sticks. Pads are used in live sessions in a number of different ways. They can be used to introduce a wide range of loops or samples that the drummer wants to incorporate into a set. These are triggered when the drummer strikes one of the pads. The output can also be sent to a DAW if the user is more interested in music production.


  • Can be used to complement an acoustic kit or extend an electronic kit
  • Suitable for live performance
  • Suitable for MIDI triggering, ability to layer and modify sounds
  • Sound quality generally quite good
  • Some units come with an app


  • Complexity a turn off for some
  • Pad texture and feel a turn off for some

Alesis Sample Pad Pro

Drum Machines

The history of drum machines goes back a long way but these instruments really came into their own in the syth-heavy 1980s. Drum machines are not meant for practice or performance (although they can be used in a performance if you need a drummer and don’t have one). They’re really more of a creative tool for writing, composing or producing. Modern drum machines usually come pre-loaded with dozens of different percussion sounds that can be customized (via reverb, EQ, etc.) as the user desires.


  • Compact and light
  • Sounds can be highly customized with no need for further equipment
  • Can produce a backing track for live performance in a pinch


  • Not suitable for practicing
  • Operation can be complex and difficult to learn

Alesis SR-16 | Studio-Grade Standalone Drum Machine

Full Electronic Drum Kits

Nowadays, we refer to them as best electronic drum sets because they are improved and upgraded more and more every day.


  • Suitable for performing, practice or recording
  • Sounds can be highly customized with no need for further equipment
  • Comes with wide range of kits and customization potential
  • Can be interfaced with other equipment like DAWs and percussion pads


  • Costs will be generally higher
  • Sizes differ but will be less compact and heavier than alternatives

Some of the most popular types of drums at each price level include:

Entry Level Kits

Alesis Nitro

The major gain from this type is the hardware advantage comprising of the upgrade kick pad plus the rack. Alesis Nitro’s racks are made of aluminum and are very sturdy in nature. This ensures that they remain firm while the drumming and thudding is going on.

Roland TD-1KV model is a kit that is found user-friendly to beginners but also regarded as a high-end kit. The easy recording mechanism has made it preferred by many upcoming drummers. The ability of over 15 kits of percussion sounds makes it acceptable by many who want a variety of expression.

Furthermore, the drummers can play along with its MP3 connector and learn to play their best beats from a tablet or Smartphone. Its built-in metronome ensures that you are in beat and is able to take step by step into becoming the newest jazz pro.

Yamaha DTX400K

Looking simple, but very high-end with educational features is the Yamaha DTX400K. This is a perfect entry point for young players who want to learn in style. For one, it is quiet and practicing using it will not cause any disturbance to your family members or your neighbors.

Intermediate Kits

Alesis Command

This kit is more advanced, actually an upgrade from Alesis Nitro. You get improved sound module of close to 50 presets which its command is able to add. The snare and the kick also do have an advanced mesh pad, making drumming more fun as compared to using the former type.

Its advanced sound engine makes it a perfect option if you are looking for an affordable high-end kit. Besides, you will get the very essential features, including a sturdy rack to give it a strong feel. Others include a mesh snare and a kick pad to let you play directly from the box.

This upgrade from the former Roland gives more goodies making it perfect for professional drummers. One is the multiple trigger cymbals, which allows you to get that proper feel and realism. Remember most kits operate on the single trigger pads which at times don’t bring out the feel like this kit would. This kits pads are an upgrade and come in mesh, a feature that is very different from the TD-11K’s rubber pads, thereby regarding it as one of the best electronic drum sets.

Yamaha DTX532K

It may be confusing to think that this kit looks pretty much the same as the Roland TD-11K. You are wrong if you think they look the same. This Yamaha drum set has three trigger zone snare and cymbals while TD-11K only has two. You will also realize that it comes packed with its own hi-hat stand, making it a great addition.

High-end Kits

Roland TD-25 KV

If you are a professional drummer and you are looking for a kit that will elevate your qualities and skills, then this version of Roland might be perfect for you. Its sound engine has undergone a thorough upgrade, which makes this drum kit sound immensely incredible to the ear.

The snare is another feature that makes it desirable to drummers. Hit hard on the drum to get a full force or strike lighter for that soft output. All hits will eventually sound different from each other depending on the spot you hit the drum, which is a result of the multi-position sensing feature.

Yamaha DTX760K

This kit looks fantastic and is ideal for the professional drummers. It comes with a real snare stand beside the Hi-hat stand. Its KB-100 kick pad is also ideal for the louder bass drum pedal. If you would like to monitor your foot pressure, this kit will enable you to do so. It has ultra hi-hat sensors which carry out this duty varying the sound as needed while playing the drums.


Electronic kits continue to be upgraded depending on the shortcomings of the previous versions. There are many that are upgradeable, and you do not need any replacements even when you move to mid-level drummer category.

The mentioned kits above are popular trends to consider. However, more of the best electronic drum sets are still on the rise. Technology is growing rapidly, and we may be seeing some newer versions in the upcoming season.

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