BY STEWART JEAN
Ok, so you went ahead and jumped in the deep end with hybrid drumming and bought a big sampling pad with all the bells and whistles. Now what?
It doesn’t take too much studying to learn how to build a kit (or, a set of samples that create your full percussion/drum set e-rig) with the onboard sounds and loops. There are many versions of this type of instrument, including offerings from Alesis, Yamaha, and others. The version I use, and that we will be talking about for the purpose of this lesson, is the Roland SPD-SX. For me, it is the perfect unit for running tracks and having a set of go-to percussion sounds to enhance my drum set and has plenty of options that allow me to explore my creative side.
For example, I enjoy creating instrumental tunes in Logic, chopping them up into small WAV files, and loading them into the SPD-SX. This can be done a number of ways, including through Roland’s WAV Manager app or with a USB thumb drive. Once your WAV files are loaded you can choose how the files act within the device; you can assign any pad to start and stop a loop each time it is struck or restart the loop each time the pad is struck.
The Hybrid Drummer Rig
- A. Roland SPD-SX
- B. Apple Mac Book Pro
- C. Roland SPD-One
- D. Apple iPad Mini
- E. Side Snare with Roland Trigger
- F. Foot Pedal with Roland BT-1 Bar
- G. Mixer with Effects
A sample kit for me usually consists of a looped bass line (my home base), a percussive non-melodic loop, a few melodic drones, one or two melodic rhythmic elements, a sample of myself playing the drums, a sample of my voice (which must be effected to not sound like my voice), and whatever else I choose for that moment. I can then use these samples to explore the SPD-SX alongside my creativity on the traditional acoustic drum set. I enjoy chopping up a pop, jazz or rock tune and acting as a DJ by traveling from section to section at will—the difference here is that the drums are played by a human on a real kit!
One more cool aspect of the SPD-SX is the abundance of onboard effects, namely the filter and delay controls. These are controlled using knobs on the front of the unit and allow for amazing expression and creativity. When you’re ready to move past backing tracks and handclaps and follow Alice down the rabbit hole, who knows what you will find!
Stewart Jean is Program Chair for Drums at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA.
You can get the Roland SPD-SX here from Amazon or Guitar Center. Full disclosure: these are affiliate links, meaning Drum! will earn a small commission (at no cost to you) when you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!