Electronic drums are an awesome piece of equipment that every drummer should try at one time. The drumming space is continuously evolving, but there is much more than simple conventional drumming. Electronic drums are not so simple, and most people wonder how they work. So, how to electronic drums work?

Electronic drums combine transducers(trigger pads) and the brain(drum module). When the pad is hit, a message is sent to the drum module or the brain, and the corresponding note is produced in the form of sound. Depending on how hard transducers are triggered will dictate the level of volume.

That may sound a bit complicated, but it is just a slight overview. Before explaining how an electronic drum works, many more things need to be discussed. So, keep reading to know how electronic drum works in detail.

How Electronic Drums work – Full Overview

To explain how electronic drums work, we need to understand two parts, transducers and the brain. 

Transducers are the trigger pads, and the brain is referred to as the drum module. Transducers are triggers that can be attached to the drum or any other instrument to establish control of that same unit. Transducers or triggers are responsible for transferring signals to the drum module. 

The brain or drum module is an electronic device that serves as the central processing unit and sound module. 

Both transducers and drum modules work together to convey and replicate the sound created when drummers hit their kits. 

Now, let’s get deeper into transducers first. Transducers are embedded within the housing unit. The playing surface is usually made of mesh or rubber. This surface is responsible for conveying signals in the drum module. The main thing to understand about triggers is that the number of signals conveyed to the drum module depends on how hard it is triggered. For example, a lighter thud will produce a much quieter sound from the module.

Now, the brain or drum module is mainly responsible for sound production. There are many variations of drum modules depending on the type, sound effects, and sound quality. Let’s give an example of how presets come about. The brain is responsible for its creation. Genres like jazz and hip-hop all come from what the brain stores. The only thing you need to do is push the button, and you can start enjoying your favorite hits as you drum along. 

There are no limitations when building your customized electronic drum set. Brain modules, toms, cymbals, kick drums, and snare makes it easier for you to make your customized kit. However, some other parts are responsible for quality sound production besides trigger modules and the brain. One of the parts is the digital sound module which is responsible for conveying percussion sounds. Electronic sensors, on the other hand, trigger the sounds. 

And finally, when jamming with drumsticks, you strike sensors responsible for generating sound. 

When were electronic drums invented?

In the 1970s, Graeme Edge, drummer of The Moody Blues, teamed up with Sussex University professor Brian Groves to create the world’s first fully electronic drum. Some of the things the first electronic drum had were touch-sensitive triggers, a rubber control panel, and hundreds of transistors. You can hear this drum in Moody Blues’ song, Procession(1971). 

Do electronic drums sound like real drums?

Essentially, electronic drums and “real” acoustic drums are very similar. An electronic drum kit is a collection of sample pads that are set up like an acoustic drum kit. However, the main difference comes when playing the sound of both drums. The electronic drum kits are designed to produce a little acoustic sound. Electronic drum kits also require you to plug them into an amplifier, speaker, or headphones to be heard. They are ideal for practice since you can keep the volume to a minimum.

Does electronic drum need speaker?

Electronic drums need to have some parts like speakers to produce the sound that is formed in the brain, the drum module. Usually, drummers use speakers, amplifiers, or headphones to hear the sound of an electronic drum. Headphones are an excellent choice for practice, but speakers and amplifiers can be used in practice, too, since you can lower the volume. If you are using headphones, ensure to use wired ones because Bluetooth and wireless headphones have more latency and are not the best option for practicing your drumming skills.

Are electronic drums good for beginners?

Electronic drums can be an excellent choice for beginner drummers but tend to be a little more expensive. Here are some pros of electronic drum sets:

  • The volume is easier to control – Easy control of the volume is essential for beginners. If you practice at home, you don’t need to annoy your neighbors anymore since you can bring the volume down.
  • Play your favorite songs – Sometimes, hearing the volume on acoustic drums can be hard, so electronic drums are a great alternative. Most electronic drums have a mix-in function that allows you to play along to music while hearing your drum part.
  • Onboard metronome – you can easily adjust your drum set and metronome volume to match your needs. That will give you the freedom to focus on your playing.
  • Multiple drums sets and play-along songs – This highly depends on the model. However, the general rule is that more advanced drum sets offer a bigger range of pre-set drum kits, editing, and other extra customization.
  • Space-optimized – cymbals and electronic drums are usually undersized and mounted from a rack system. Compared to the acoustic drum set, more space can be saved.

Now, here are some cons:

  • They are not similar to acoustic drums – Even though they tend to be similar in some features, electronic drums will never feel or sound like an acoustic drums.
  • Hard to position correctly – They are difficult to position because they are undersized and rack-mounted.
  • Not portable – Things that make electronic drums less portable are rack, wires, and monitor/speaker system.
  • Price – Compared to acoustic drums, electronic drums are more expensive and not so affordable for everyone. For a quality electronic drum set with all the features and a “real feel,” you are looking at $3000+.

Why are electronic drums so expensive?

One of the main reasons electronic drums are so expensive compared to acoustic drums is that their production process is much more expensive. Electronic drums involve numerous components, and getting a quality piece that sounds and feels good costs substantially more. Furthermore, research and development also play a major role when setting market prices. Since manufacturers are constantly improving their electronic drum sets, research part and development also add to the market price. 

What is needed to play electric drums?

You don’t need many things to start playing your electronic drums with full potential. However, as we discussed before, it can be a rather expensive journey. Here is what you need to have to play your electronic drums:

  • An electronic drum set
  • A pair of sticks
  • A set of headphones, speakers, or amplifiers.
  • A computer(this is if you intend to take online lessons)

Are electronic drums harder to play?

Electronic drums are not harder to play than a regular acoustic drum kit. Electronic drum kits are designed to replicate the feel of an acoustic drum. However, they are far more flexible when it comes to volume. If we compare the playing technique, they are the same. The general rule of thumb is if you can play an acoustic drum kit, you can also play an electronic kit.

How long do electric drums last?

Some electronic drums can last longer than you might think. Even though some general statistics show an average lifespan of the electronic drum, it is still highly individual. To assess how long an electronic drum lasts, we need to look at individual parts of the drum, such as drum modules, mesh drum heads, and electronic cymbal pads. 

A drum module usually lasts for more than 20 years. Mesh drum heads usually last between 5 and 10 years. This is highly dependent on how often you use your drums. Lastly, electronic cymbal pads last for years and generally don’t get worn down over time. 

If we follow the rule that your electronic drum kit will last as your shortest living piece, we can conclude that 10 years is an average lifespan before some of the pieces start to break or wear down.


Electronic drums combine the work of transducers(trigger pads) and the brain(drum module). When you hit the pad, the message is sent to the drum module or the brain, and the corresponding note is produced in the form of sound. 

How hard transducers are triggered will dictate the level of volume. The surface of mesh and rubber is responsible for conveying signals in the drum module. 

The number of signals conveyed to the drum module depends on how hard it is triggered. So, a lighter thud is bound to produce a much quieter sound from the module.