In recent years, electronic/acoustic hybrid setups have seen a relatively rapid rise in popularity. And it’s easy to see why, considering the dominance of produced sounds and tones in modern popular music and the need to reproduce those sounds live. Here, our social media followers give us their thoughts on the pros and cons of using a hybrid setup.
In a cover band that plays dance music, it’s great because you can use electronic kick sounds that are closer to the commercial release, which helps propel the dance floor. A variety of sounds can enhance a relatively straightforward gig. In terms of drawbacks, in addition to the possibility of a power outage, having one of your trigger pads malfunction in the middle of a song isn’t very pleasant. But it doesn’t really happen that often. If you’re a heavy-handed player, you may make more damage than music with electronic drums and pads.
I love having a hybrid kit. I use an SPD-SX sampler with two external pads and an electronic kick to enhance my basic five-piece acoustic set. With the sampler, I can create sounds that are unique, whether they’re loops or single sounds that mimic snares and kicks. I can also trigger other sounds, like synths, bass lines, or even backing vocals. And I can place the sounds anywhere—I might place a snare sound on the bass drum pad while the hands play tribal rhythms on the toms. Having a hybrid kit opens up a whole new world, and I couldn’t imagine my setup without electronics.
The concept is obviously catching on. But whenever I’ve played a hybrid kit, I’ve experienced a disconnect between the acoustic sounds that come directly from the drums or cymbals and the electronic sounds that come out of a speaker that’s farther away.
I think most modern drummers play hybrid setups now. They expand your sound almost endlessly, they’re fun to play, and they can make you rethink the way you set up and play your drums. At the same time, if you’re not too tech savvy it can be a bit tricky to pick up. And if you have a technical hiccup mid-gig, it can be a nightmare!
I don’t use a hybrid setup, but I’d love to try one. Adding a new pad is like adding another acoustic piece to your kit, except it’s totally variable. You can make it a wind chime for one song and a clap sound for another. And electronic pads are small enough that you can add a bunch and they won’t be obtrusive. I’ve seen pads used at live shows to send a click to the band so the audience doesn’t hear it, which could be extremely useful. Overall, new sound sources and utilities are never a bad thing!
I embrace the hybrid kit simply because it allows you to be a bigger part of the music and contribute more to the show. Turn your nose up at samples and loops all you want, but they’re not going anywhere. Best to dive in.
I think it’s not a bad thing. But if it’s not done carefully and properly balanced, there can come a time when you’re more dependent on the digital aspect of your setup than on the acoustic side. It’s tricky ground and it definitely demands balance, taste, and finesse. The execution can make or break it.
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