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There are fewer variations among cymbal pads than drum pads, but also less need for variations. Cymbal pads are not fastened down firmly but are all designed to swing so that they react more like real cymbals and to better absorb the impact of the crashing strokes given to cymbals. They are almost all round! Yamaha's DTXPLORER (now discontinued) and DTX500K drum sets use a triangular pad that works very well and just looks a little different. Cymbal pads all have rubber or rubberized surfaces over a hard plastic or composite material. There are a few exceptions that we'll discuss below.
Stepping up in the electronic drum set styles and price range brings in dual zone and even 3-zone cymbal pads, as we mentioned previously, that allow you to play the ride cymbal normally, with separate sounds recreating the bow, bell and even the edge or crash sounds. The pad designated for the ride cymbal will be larger than the others. As with the drum pads, a larger range of cymbal pads will be featured on the more advanced sets.
Hi-Hat pads work two different ways. The lower priced kits (such as Roland HD-1 V-Drum Lite, TD-4K2-S V-Compact, Alesis DM6 USB Express, DM6 Performance, DM7 USB, DM8 USB and DM10 Studio Kit, and DTX500K) and a few sets up to the intermediate price range (such as Roland TD-4KX V-Compact and TD-9K2-S V-Tour, Alesis DM10 Pro Kit and Yamaha DTX520K) use a standard drum pad that is mounted to the drum set rack in the typical hi-hat position. There will be a control pedal under your left foot (unless you set up as a complete lefty!) that will change the hi-hat sound as you're playing from foot up = open hi-hat sound to foot down = closed hi-hat sound. It's simple, easy to get accustomed to and works well for many drummers.
The other way that hi-hats work on an electronic drum set can be called real hi-hat action. A specialized hi-hat pad is mounted on a real hi-hat stand, just like the stands that are used with acoustic drum sets. The pad doesn't move up and down, however, but there is a moving element or sensor in the hi-hat pad that plays the assigned hi-hat sound with any degree of openness, from fully closed to fully open and every position in between. This allows you to play the partly-open hi-hat sounds that are widely used and also allows the hi-hats to be played with great finesse. Sets with real hi-hat action include Roland TD-9KX2-S V-Tour, TD-12KX V-Stage, TD-20SX V-Pro, Traps CE400XXXX, Yamaha DTX530K, DTX560K, DTX700K, DTX750K, DTX790K,DTX900K,DTX950K.
At this time, of the electronic drum sets that require a hi-hat stand, Yamaha, Alesis and Traps all include the stand. Roland kits do not. Please note that Roland and Sam Ash Direct are featuring for a limited time, drum sets that INCLUDE essential hardware by Drum Workshop! These kits are prominently featured on our site and will include a DW bass drum pedal, a DW drum throne and where appropriate, a DW hi-hat stand! But there are kits by Yamaha and Alesis that also include a bass drum pedal. The Roland HD-1 V-Drums Lite set is unique in that the bass drum and hi-hat pedals are built in the rack.
Alesis is featuring a type of cymbal trigger on their DM10 Pro Kit called SURGE Cymbals. These are real cymbals that are "coated with a clear sound-dampening" so that they look like and respond as real cymbals do but are much quieter while also being effective cymbal triggers. The Zildjian Cymbal company is releasing in 2011, their Gen-16 AE (acoustic-electronic) line of cymbals. However, these are not triggers but are real cymbals that respond when played at roughly a quarter of the volume of normal cymbals. The AE cymbals are equipped with a dual microphone module that sends the cymbals' sounds to a controller that digitally remodels the sounds for up to 20 variations and sends the cymbals sounds to be amplified, like a mixer. Be advised that the Zildjian AE cymbals require their own controller module and can't be used with any electronic drum set sound module. But they can be used along with any acoustic or electronic drum set for a new way of achieving playing comfort, realism and sound quality.
While electronic drums and percussion have been around for years, the AE Cymbal is a completely
new twist that uses established technology to create essentially a completely new instrument. "The
Acoustic Electric Cymbal is capable of creating a wide range of sounds, from that of a classic
Zildjian cymbal to some very non-traditional sounds," explains Zildjian VP John Roderick. "For
drummers, it will have an inspirational impact akin to what the acoustic electric guitar has done
Unlike MIDI trigger pads, Gen16's AE Cymbals sound and respond just like traditional cymbals,
but play at less than a quarter of the volume. The AE Cymbal is not a sample trigger device but
instead, it's an actual cymbal and plays like one, but at reduced volume levels, utilizing a unique
dual microphone and digital signal processing engine to amplify and model the cymbal's output and
creating a range of natural cymbal sounds without the use of sampling or MIDI. The user can
experience an array of Zildjian tones or add effects to each real cymbal.
"The AE Cymbal represents a true paradigm shift for musicians," says John Roderick. "It's an
entirely new instrument, much like the Fender Rhodes was to the acoustic piano, or the electric
bass to the upright bass, and we believe it will have a comparable influence on musicians and their
Here at Sam Ash Direct Headquarters, Zildjian representatives came in with a batch of their new AE cymbals where four people on staff who are professional drummers picked up some drumsticks and played them. We were all astonished! They play and sound like real cymbals but nowhere near as loud! Whatever doubts we might have had about "How can they do what they say they've done?" disappeared. They did it. Amazing cymbals!
Electronic Drum Set Buyers Guide
Electronic Drum Sets For Beginners
Electronic Drum Pads Guide
Electronic Cymbal Pads Guide
Electronic Drum Sound Modules Guide
Recording With Electronic Drums
Playing Live With Electronic Drums
A Brief History Of Electronic Drums
Electronic Drums Frequently Asked Questions