The music world is constantly changing. Think of 100 years ago when jazz started to form and make its way into mainstream music.
In the modern music world, we have albums that consisting all types of electronic sounds. This is the case even in rock, metal, and some jazz setups.
Now, how do drummers emulate those sounds when playing live? Drum triggers!
Drum triggers are one of the gateway tools to emulate sounds that come straight from studio productions of songs. You might need some. So, I have made a list of my favorite ones.
5 Best Drum Triggers
The Roland RT-30K Kick Drum Trigger has excellent build quality and provides seamless integration with a drum module. It’s very much a plug and play device.
It has a wide range of dynamics, allowing you to play quietly and loudly without worrying about the electronic sound being too loud or soft.
It provides a beautiful blend between electronic and acoustic sounds when plugged in. It changes the sound of your kick just enough to feel and hear the difference, but the overall sound and feel stays in the acoustic world.
This trigger is a great option for acoustic kick drums. The one downside is that it doesn’t fit absolutely every style of kick drum hoop. Some older designs are a bit thicker, so you’ll have to check the compatibility before buying the RT-30K.
The Roland RT-30HR is a dual zone trigger, meaning it can trigger sounds from drum heads and drum rims. It can be used for snare drums and toms.
It’s extremely easy to use and fits perfectly on any type of drum head. It’s also very responsive. It’s so responsive that you may find it too sensitive and have to dial back the sensitivity on the module it’s connected to.
The RT-30HR works best with Roland modules. When connected to a Roland module, you won’t have to change any configuration settings. This trigger can sometimes have a bit of crosstalk issues when connected to modules from other companies.
The dual trigger capabilities make this drum trigger highly versatile. Just having one will add a whole new dynamic to your acoustic hybrid setup. Add in some more on the toms and you’ll have so many sound possibilities.
The ddrum Red Shot Trigger Kit is a one-stop-shop for a full set of drum triggers. Ddrum have been in the drum trigger game for a while and this is their budget option for drummers who want a full hybrid setup.
This kit comes with 5 single-zone triggers - 4 for the snare and toms and 1 for the kick drum. I’d recommend purchasing a separate snare drum trigger though, since a single-zone trigger is never going to be good enough for a snare drum.
These triggers fit most acoustic drums. They work great on mesh heads, but not mylar heads. If you’re going to be triggering a soft practice kit with these, make sure the heads are mesh.
This trigger kit is extremely affordable. The triggers work well, they’re sensitive and they provide the full trigger experience for your kit. The biggest downside is that the wires for the triggers are extremely thin, making them a bit tricky to deal with.
The Pintech RS-5 is pretty unique in that it has a piezo trigger that sticks on to a surface. This picks up vibrations and runs it through to a drum module.
The “kwik klip” mounting system of this trigger allows you to mount it pretty much anywhere in a drum setup. This means that you can use this trigger on cymbals, something that most triggers don’t really cater for. You can stick the RS-5 to the underside of a cymbal and you’re good to go.
This trigger isn’t the most responsive out there, but it’s very inexpensive and will fit onto any drum surface. You could even use it on percussion instruments.
The RS-5 doesn’t stick to well to mesh heads, meaning it won’t be the best option for a silent practice kit.
This product is Yamaha’s version of a well-produced kick drum trigger. It’s a single zone trigger that mounts easily to most kick drums.
It’s made of tough die-cast metal that looks really clean and blends into the hardware of your drum kit. When it’s connected to your kick drum, most people won’t notice that you even have a trigger there.
It responds well dynamically and will work for live or studio setups. It’s quick to mount and connect to a module. It works best with Yamaha drum modules, but does have a universal cable that will connect to any drum module from other companies.
It will take a bit of configuring to get the perfect balance between acoustic and electric sound. This trigger tends to unscrew itself after a while, so you have to be aware of that and tighten the screw every time you play.
How to Use Triggers
You have to mount them onto a drum and then route them to an electronic drum module. Most electronic drum modules have trigger support, so just make sure that one does offer that before buying it.
Most sampling pads also offer trigger support. I’ve covered some of the best sampling pads here.
You can then control the sound that is produced from the pad. It will detect that the drum is being hit and then produce the electronic sound.
Why Triggers are Important
I once got hired to play drums for a local singer/songwriter in my town. He asked if I could replicate the sounds from his album exactly.
I didn’t have triggers or an electronic pad at the time, so I couldn’t do what he asked. I played that gig with a standard acoustic setup and then I was never hired by him again.
Drumming is evolving and that story will show how we, as drummers, need to involve with it! If I had some drum triggers, I would have been the perfect session musician he was looking for.
Drum triggers are tools to improve your creativity. You won’t be limited to your acoustic drum kit sound. They’ll also improve your chances of being hired as a session drummer. There are so many possibilities, so go out invest in some decent triggers!