Quick installation, easy connection, and huge visual impact.
Drummers Jeff Sevaldson and Joey Nesbitt established DrumLite in 2011 in an effort to pump up the visual appeal of the drumset. What they created is an easy-to-install LED system comprising RGB light strips with 3M foam-backed adhesive and a preconfigured plug-and-play cable snake that has connectors that fit through the vent holes.
The cable connects to a simple controller that allows you to select between eight static colors and six flashing and fading modes. You can also adjust the rate of the flash/fade, and the overall brightness can be dialed in from soft and subtle to bright and bold. A wireless remote is included so you can control the system from off stage or while sitting at the kit.
DrumLite custom builds each system to match the dimensions of your drumset. Rack toms from 6″ to 13″, snares from 10″ to 14″, floor toms from 14″ to 18″, and bass drums from 18″ to 28″ can be accommodated. For our review set, we used a ’70s Ludwig Vistalite kit with 12″ and 13″ rack toms, a 16″ floor tom, a 14×22 bass drum, and a 5×14 snare.
Installing the system took under an hour. All I had to do was remove one head on each drum and stick the two LED strips around the inside of the shell. I chose to place them near the seams in the Vistalite shells, but you could position them closer to the edge or center as desired. The connector fit easily through the vent holes, and the XLR snake was preconfigured to provide just enough slack to reach each drum without having an excess amount of cabling strewn around the shells. The 3M adhesive is designed to hold the LED strips in place very securely so that they won’t detach as you play the drums. But that also means that the adhesive is meant for one-time use, so be sure you know exactly where you want to place the strips before you remove the backing paper and stick the strips to the shell.
The DrumLite controller has twenty buttons. These include on/off, start/stop, brightness up/down, and speed up/down. Color options are red, green, blue, white, orange, yellow, cyan, and purple. Modes include auto switch, flash, and options for jumping between three or seven colors and three- or seven-color fades. Orange was the perfect color for conjuring the classic look of my Vistalite kit, which originally came with Tivoli incandescent rope lighting inside. The flash mode could be adjusted to turn the lights on and off as slowly as once every few seconds or cranked up to create a fast strobe-like effect. The fade mode provides a much smoother and less visually jarring transition between colors. The wireless remote worked great for easily changing the look of the kit between songs, and it allowed for some additional drama leading up to show time, where I could turn on the lights at a low brightness a few minutes prior to taking the stage and then increase the intensity right before counting off the first song.
Prices range from $15 for a single LED strip for a 6″ tom to $90 for a strip for a 28″ bass drum. The controller lists for $49, and DrumLite offers add-ons such as a bass drum trigger system ($349.99) that allows you to sync the lights to your real-time playing. For more information, visit iwdrumlite.com.