If you’ve just got some E-drums and already have an electric guitar, then you may be wondering if you can repurpose your amp for your drum kit. However, unfortunately this is not the case.
A guitar amp should not be used for electronic drums as it can permanently damage the amp and the sound quality will be poor. Instead, a dedicated drum amp or PA system can be used to amplify the electronic drums.
Issues With Using a Guitar Amp for E-Drums
There are two reasons why it’s not recommended to use a guitar amp for electronic drums:
- The sound quality will be poor
- There is an increased risk of damaging the amp
Electric guitars have a fundamental frequency of 80-1200 Hz. This is a pretty wide range but not nearly as wide as a drum kit, where the bass drum can be as low as 30 Hz and the cymbals as high as 18,000 Hz.
This means the lows from the bass drum just won’t sound good at all through a guitar amp. The cymbals won’t sound anywhere near close to how they should and can actually damage the guitar amplifier by blowing the speaker.
Some advise lowering the bass setting on the amp, and keeping the volume low to reduce the chance of blowing the speaker, but it really isn’t designed to handle the amount of bass that a drum throws out so it’s not worth the risk in my opinion.
Bass guitar amps are better at handling the drum frequencies (since bass guitars have a fundamental frequency of 60-1000 Hz), but the cymbals will sound pretty terrible. The speakers are less likely to blow, but I still don’t consider it to be a great option.
What Should You Use Instead?
There are 4 options which are much more suitable for amplifying electronic drums compared to bass or electric guitar amps:
- PA system
- E-drum amp
- Keyboard amp
PA Systems are the Gold Standard
E-drums cover a wide range of frequencies. For example, the bass drum has a fundamental frequency of 30-400 Hz, whereas the cymbals have a fundamental frequency of 300-600 Hz, but it can go all the way up to 18,000 Hz.
PA systems are capable of handling a wide range of frequencies, much wider than instrument specific amps such as guitar amplifiers or bass amplifiers.
The only disadvantage of using a PA system is that it is very expensive. Small PA systems cost upwards of $300 whilst better quality and larger systems will cost several thousands.
Drum Amps are a Cost Effective Option
If you don’t want to splash out on a PA system, (which let’s face it are incredibly expensive and only really designed for high-end professional setups) then you can use a dedicated drum amplifier instead. Drum amps start at roughly $150 and range up to roughly $500.
These are designed to handling the range of frequencies produced by the drums and cymbals without causing any damage.
If you’re looking for an affordable, but still good quality drum amplifier, check out this Donner electronic drum amp on Amazon. It has two 35 watt speakers so it’s ideal for bedroom use, and has all the EQ controls you’ll need.
Image links to Amazon
Keyboard Amps Can Be Used at a Push
The other type of amp we’ve not mentioned yet is the keyboard amplifier. This is not specifically designed for an E-drum kit, but is a much better choice compared to a guitar or bass amp.
Keyboard amps are capable of handling a wide range of frequencies, similarly to drum amps so are less likely to get damaged and will sound better than guitar and bass amps.
However, it’s still a good idea to get a dedicated drum amp to get the best sound and the least chance of causing any damage.
Not Got a Suitable Amp? Use Headphones Instead
If you don’t have any of the suitable options discussed in the section above, don’t be tempted to plug in your guitar amp. Instead, stick with headphones. All E-drums come with a headphone input jack so you’ll be able to get good quality audio, without risking damaging any equipment.
For more information, check out my complete guide to amplifying electronic drums.