Electronic drum kits have a number of different components and ways of connecting them. Lots of people wonder if they are able to use different drum modules and interchange and use them with different brands of drum pads.
How these drum modules are connected to drum pads, as well as their different zones, are a key factor in determining if drum modules are interchangeable and work well with different drum pads.
It is also important to remember that even if modules and pads are from the same brand, not all models are actually compatible!
If you want to find out more about drum module interchangeability, keep reading for our ultimate guide!
Are Electronic Drum Modules Interchangeable?
Certain drum modules may be compatible with electronic drum pads from other brands. However, this only applies for certain combinations of modules and pads and depends on the organisation of the inner workings of drum pads and how these are connected to the module.
You might now be wondering exactly why some drum modules are only compatible with certain drum pads, even within the same brand. If you are looking to try mixing and matching drum modules with different pads, keep reading!
What is an Electronic Drum Module?
An electronic drum module (sometimes called the ‘drum brain’) is the main processing module of an electronic drum kit.
Information about which drum pad and zone has been hit and how hard it has been hit is transferred to the drum module from a number of piezos and switches (discussed below!). This information is then converted by the drum module into the corresponding sound and volume.
The sounds created can be selected from a list on the drum module by the drummer prior to playing to create a variety of different sounds from each drum pad.
Many different brands produce different models of drum module, which connect to different drum pads in slightly different ways. This can lead to some combinations of module and pads being compatible and working well together, while others are tricker to make work, or are simply not compatible at all.
It is important to check that the particular brand and model of your drum module and pads are compatible and will work well together before buying them!
The Inner Workings of Electronic Drums
A key thing to understanding why only certain drum modules and pads are compatible is by looking at their inner workings. Here we are looking at some of the most essential parts to any electronic drum kit- the Piezos and switches!
A piezo is one of the most important features in an electronic drum kit which is essentially responsible for sensing the force applied to a particular drum pad and convert this into an electronic signal which travels to the drum module.
When reaching the drum module, this information is then used to produce a sound of the appropriate type and volume.
A piezo consists of two small disks, usually made of ceramic and metal components which can be placed in a number of different positions on the drum pad depending on the brand, model and pad material.
Piezos are then connected via wires and cables to the drum module where information in the form of electrical currents transferred.
Switches, similarly to piezos, are used to detect if a certain area of a drum pad has been struck. This information is then transmitted as electrical currents to the drum module which then produces the appropriate sound.
However, switches differ from piezos by not reacting to and sensing the level of force applied to the specific are of the drum pad. Instead, like their name suggests, they act more like a switch- only recording if the area of the pad has been struck or not.
Because of this, switches are often used on the drum pad rim or cymbals, and can also be used in coordination with nearby piezos, which then detect how hard the section of the drum pad has been struck.
What Can Affect Drum Module and Pad Compatibility?
When looking at why certain electronic drum modules and pads are compatible and others are not, we have to think about the positioning of the piezos and switches creating zones and how these are connected to the drum module.
For example, connecting a drum pad with three zones using three cables to a drum module designed to connect to the drum pad with only two cables, a zone on your drum pad will likely not work.
Other pads and modules which are not made to be compatible because of their inner workings may not work together at all, so make sure to check if your drum pad and module will work together before buying them!
There can also be issues with sensitivity and other settings when using a drum pad from a different brand than your drum module. If these were not made to be compatible, you may face issues with making the responsiveness of the pad as well as the sensitivity to not be right for you.
Things to Consider- Drum Zones
An important thing to consider when looking at drum module and pad compatibility across brands are the drum zones that each pad has, and if all of these zones will work with the specific drum module.
Different brands and models of drum pads have different numbers of drum zones, which are connected to the drum module with different numbers of cables.
Firstly, lets look at exactly what we mean by different drum zones.
Think of a classic drum pad on an electronic drum kit. Commonly, this can have one, two of even three drum zones on one single pad. Drum zones simply refer to the different areas of the drum that can be hit, where this force will be detected separately and used to generate different sounds.
For example, on a single drum pad, the centre of the pad and the rim of the pad can be separate zones, where hitting these different areas will produce different sounds.
Compatibility within Brands
It is very important to remember that, even with drum modules and pads from the same brand, not all will be compatible with one another.
Many brands have information available which clearly states which of their models can be used together and are compatible. If you are unsure, ask in stores which modules and pads work well together.
Remember, don’t assume they will all work as well when matched together just because they are from the same brand!
To round up our general guide to if electronic drum modules are interchangeable, this is mostly down to how your drum pads and drum zones were designed to be connected to the central module.
Using parts from different brands can also be completely not compatible, can cause a zone to be lost or cause issues with settings such as sensitivity. However, some mixed and matched modules may work well with other pads but it is important to check this before buying new pads or modules.
It is also important to remember that not all modules and pads, even from the same brand, will be compatible. Some brands may have guides giving information on which of their products work well together.
If you found this post useful, don’t forget to check out our other guides and posts about all things drumming and be sure to keep up to date with our latest posts!