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A brief history of Electronic Drums

Compared to traditional acoustic drums, electronic drum kits are a relatively new invention, yet they have already established themselves as a vital instrument for contemporary drummers. Early in the 1970s, Moody Blues drummer Graeme Edge created the first electronic drum equipment. Electronic drums didn't become widely used or a standard instrument in both commercial and home recording studios until the 1980s, though.

Early electronic drum sets lacked the expressiveness and sensitivity of acoustic drums and were not very sophisticated. The original models' sound was produced by analogue circuits, and the sound quality was frequently subpar. These early models were also prohibitively pricey, which prevented many musicians from purchasing them.

The first available electronic drum that hit the market was the "Syndrum". There were 3 models the "Syndrum1", "Sydrum Twin" and "Sydrum Quad". As the name describes there were one, two and four triggers respectively.

first electronic drumsSyndrum Quad and Syndrum Twin

in 1978 Dave Simmons establish "Simmons" as an electronic drum brand. The sound of Simmons was used by some of the biggest artists of the 1980's: A Flock of Seagulls, Duran Duran, Def Leppard, Prince, Phil Collins, Rush and Depeche Mode to name a few.

Simmons Drum Demo 1985 BBC

Electronic drum kits quickly advanced when digital technology started to change the music business in the middle of the 1980s. A pioneer in this research was the Japanese electronic musical instrument manufacturer Roland Company. The Roland Octapad, which was a notable development in electronic drumming, was presented by Roland in 1985 as the first MIDI controller used to trigger samples from Roland's drum TR machines and any other midi capable device.

roland octapadEarly advertisement for the Roland Octapad

Drummers can now accurately and precisely record their performances and produce electronic drum tracks thanks to MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), which enables electronic drum kits to interface with other electronic instruments and recording equipment. Drummers could trigger electronic sounds and samples through MIDI, broadening the range of sounds available in their drum sets.

The TR-909 Rhythm Composer drum machine, which Roland unveiled in 1986, completely altered electronic dance music. Because to its distinctive sound, the TR-909 came to be associated with electronic dance music in the 1980s and 1990s. The V-Drums range, which Roland also unveiled in 1997, were the first electronic drum kits to use mesh drum heads, giving them a more realistic feel and more sensitivity.

Roland V-Drums in 1997 introduced the first mesh triggers a huge step forward


Several producers, like Yamaha and Alesis started making electronic drum kits in the early 2000s. These updated models came with extra features like greater gameplay, more realistic sound, and increased sensitivity. Furthermore becoming more affordable, electronic drum kits are now available to a wider variety of performers.

With the release of the Roland TD-30KV V-Pro Series in 2012, which included Roland's SuperNATURAL sound engine, one of the most important advancements in electronic drumming occurred. Drummers were able to generate dynamic, expressive performances because to the SuperNATURAL sound engine's utilisation of cutting-edge modelling technology, which reproduced acoustic drum sounds with an unprecedented level of realism and nuance.

2012 Roland TD-30 demonstration

Electronic drum kits are now a crucial component of contemporary music creation and performance. They provide a variety of sounds and features that enable drummers to produce original and cutting-edge rhythms and beats. They are also very adaptable and may be employed in a wide range of musical genres, including hip-hop, electronic dance music, and rock and pop.

Since its origin, electronic drum kits have advanced significantly, and their development is evidence of the quick development of digital technology over the previous few decades. Although they might never fully replace acoustic drums, electronic drums have unquestionably carved out a special and significant role in contemporary music production and performance. Electronic drum kits are anticipated to continue to develop and improve with continuing innovation and research, providing drummers with even more thrilling opportunities in the years to come.

roland vdrum promotion
Purchase a Roland TD-17KV2 or TD-17KVX2 between 10 Mar 2023 and 30 Apr 2023 and receive a FREE Roland hardware pack (drum throne and kick pedal for TD-17KV2, drum throne, kick pedal and hi-hat stand for TD-17KVX2) via redemption


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