Hybrid drumming setups allow for a world of creativity. With a few small steps you can easily create whatever you imagination dreams up. As we mentioned in the previous lesson, with the Roland TM-2 module has two stereo inputs for triggers or pads. But with this module, you have the ability to split each input into two mono inputs for a total of four playing surfaces, all with the ability to pan, tune, loop, and add effects. Let’s see how it’s done.

The Roland TM-2 has two stereo trigger inputs that can also be split into four mono input. For this, you’ll need two 1/4” TRS stereo to 1/4” TR mono splitter cables.

In this lesson we are using the same two triggers from the previous lesson (one on the kick and one on the snare), and expanding our hybrid kit with two Roland BT-1 bar trigger pads. These pads are great because they can fit within your set up mounted on L-arms or on the hoop of a drum. They will not hinder your existing set up.

Once everything is set up you can make them play any four sounds you like. Most modules have a bunch of pre-loaded samples, and that’s a great place to start. To customize your sound, you can manipulate any sound by panning, tuning, and adding effects like reverb, phaser, flanger, chorus, or delay. For example, perhaps your sub-bass sound needs to come up in pitch, or maybe you choose to add delay on a short staccato sound to add a rhythmic element.


The TM-2, as well as many other modules, can read data from a SD card. That means you can load in your own samples and loops into your kit. Anything from 1-bar loops to entire four-minute tracks can be read by the machine and triggered by you striking the pads. This also allows you to stop and start loops by striking the assigned pad. To add an improvisational element, you can turn off the loop feature to have the pattern superimpose over itself. This allows you to displace a loop rhythmically and create endless landscapes to play over.

Hybrid kits also make it easy to play full backing tracks. You can start a track by striking a pad (this is really great because you can start the track in time by striking a pad, no fiddling with a laptop) and move from song to song in time. This is also great for practice at home with drumless tracks.

From simply adding a few sounds to enhance your kit to going down the rabbit hole and pushing your creative ability to the limits, by adding electronics to your acoustic drum set, the world is your oyster. If you have been hesitant to add electronics to your drums in the past start, try starting with something small like this that you can expand as your needs change.

Stewart Jean is Program Chair for Drums at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA.


Lesson: Introduction to Hybrid Drumming