Converting acoustic drums to electronic

I came across Magnatrack after searching the web for electronic drum solutions. We were in the process of building out a new youth room and the space was not conducive for loud drums. It is a pretty good size room, but the ceilings are low and we did not have room for a drum cage. I didn’t want to go with a traditional electric drum kit because I felt like all of our youth band drummers would quit.

I didn’t know much about converting acoustic drums to electronic but after looking at several different products, I decided to give Magnatrack a try. Their product line and prices were what lead me to pursue this option. I reached out to their team and they were quick to point me to all of the products I would need to do an Acoustic to Electronic conversion.

Once the package showed up at my church, I rushed to open it and get this thing built. I didn’t know what I was doing so it probably took longer than it could have. I wasn’t sure exactly what height the triggers needed to be against the drumhead. I kept putting the heads on then having to take them off and adjust them. I should have just taken the bottom heads off as any smart person would do. I later found the Quick Start guide that Magnatrack provides on their website.

After a few hours, the triggers were installed, and the sounds were coming through. I bought a Roland TD-17 because I knew that I could add my samples to it. I had the Roland unit a couple of weeks before the triggers came in so I spent some time getting familiar with it, I think that helped me a lot once everything else came in. I had to go into the settings to get the triggers firing right but still had some trouble with double firing. I reached out to the Magnatrack support team and they pointed me to one of their manuals, specifically the page that has the recommended settings for the triggers.

Once the triggers were working correctly, I decided to go in and add some samples to the Roland unit. The stock sounds were ok to me, and with further tweaking, you can get them sounding pretty good, but I wanted something different than what they offered. I went to That Sound Drums and got their free sample pack. It had a lot of different samples, most of them wouldn’t work for this application, but there were a few good options. I ended up going to our Music Director for more samples because he has a ton and I was able to test them out and see what worked best.

I highly recommend trying to get a unit that can import samples. It’s usually the snare drums that I’m not satisfied with on the stock sounds, and sometimes the cymbals. I ended putting samples on the kick, snare, toms, crashes, and ride bell. The hi-hat and ride were stock sounds. I didn’t want to try a sample on the hi-hat because I wasn’t sure how that would work with the open and close functionality.

I have to say, I wasn’t sure what the outcome was going to be when starting this drum build, and I was nervous that the amount of money we spent would leave us disappointed. However, I am very impressed with the quality of these triggers and cymbals from Magnatrack. They have a realistic response, a consistent proper triggering, and a great value. The drum kit we have feels like playing real drums, and even sounds like playing real drums. Everyone in our worship department is so impressed with these triggers and excited about the possibilities they bring. We want to incorporate them into our main service too!

I have never built an acoustic to electronic kit, nor do I have a lot of experience with electronic drums. I do have a pretty extensive musical and production background, so I was not too scared about tackling this build. To me, it wasn’t that difficult to get right, but I can see where others would have challenges. Hopefully, you have someone tech-savvy at your church that could help if you go this route, but Magntrack has a lot of materials that can make this process pretty easy.

Having drums in the church can be a big challenge. They are loud and take up a lot of space. If you put them in a room or cage, it can cut isolate them from the rest of the team. Depending on the quality of kit, heads, cymbals, and dynamics of the drummer, drums can sound incredibly good or terribly bad. As a front of house engineer myself, drums are the piece I spend the most time trying to make sound good. They are the foundation of the music and if you can get them to sound good, everything else falls right into place (ok almost, there is definitely more work to it).

There has never been a better time in the world of electronic drums. There are so many different options there and building an acoustic to electronic conversion has never been easier and more affordable. If you are unsure about what to do for your church’s drums, I would say give Magnatrack a try! They have everything you need to get set up and are great in helping you along the way. We couldn’t be happier with the results we have!