Grant Muller

The Hybrid Drum Kit

NewDrumSetup-15 Back in June, I wrote a short piece on changing my music studio environment. At the close of that piece I mentioned a buddy of mine was selling an old Alesis DM-5 kit, and that I would soon be incorporating that into my setup. Although 6 months isn’t exactly soon, I managed to tackle the task thanks to a well-timed Christmas gift and an extended vacation.

For years I’ve been trying to create a fully hybrid drum kit consisting of both electronic and acoustic elements. I took a step in that direction with the Mandala (which is playing in even larger role in the latest kit iteration), but to complete the project I needed multiple surfaces, not just multiple zones on one surface to realize what I was looking for. I reasoned that buying a simple electronic drum kit and integrating it into my acoustic kit would do that job. I would of course need something that translated the trigger inputs into MIDI (I just can’t tolerate the stock drum brain sounds), and the Alesis DM-5 kit would do it on the cheap.

I bought the used DM-5 kit not long after my last post, but ran into a hurdle. I use a Pearl rack, but the triggers all use fairly typical 1 1/2” tube clamps. I could have just bought all new clamps for the square rack, but that’s almost as expensive as buying a new rack in the first place, plus I was angling for a more universal Gibraltar rack instead (for mounting a number of other new things in the near future). So, when the wife asked what I wanted for Christmas, I sent her a link to a Gibraltar GRS-850DBL. For those with two kick drums this is a rack that will span both, for guys like me who don’t want to tune two kick drums to each other, this is a curved rack with a left side expansion.

In a matter of hours the new rack was up with the additional triggers. Everything was wired and ready to go. I created a quick drum kit in Battery with the most irritating glitch sounds I could find in five minutes, and recorded a quick and dirty test of the system that sounds a little like this:

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All technique and mixing aside, not a bad first outing with the hybrid drum kit. I have a few loose ends to tie up:

  • Mount my laptop directly to the rack for stability (parts on the way)
  • 5 pedals is not enough, two more will complete my feet.
  • Devise a way of “patching” triggers around, sort of like a trigger rather than audio patch bay.

For those with picture lust, here are some more images:

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