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How to Troubleshoot Electronic Drum Sets

Electronic drum sets can open up a whole new world of sonic and creative possibilities for musicians, but they also bring new headaches and technical issues that are not associated with acoustic drums. Troubleshooting an electronic drum set involves checking many connections and solving problems that are unique to electronic drums. The new problems that can arise when setting up electronic drums can be frustrating at first for even the most seasoned acoustic drummers.

Things You'll Need:

  • Electronic Drum Set
  • Product Manual

Check all connections. Unlike acoustic drums, digital electronic drum sets must always be connected to a sound module. Check to ensure that the wire connecting each drum pad is securely plugged into both the drum pad and the sound module. If a connection is loose, the pad will not sound.

Ensure that all drum pads are connected to the appropriate inputs. Each drum pad must be connected to the correct input on the sound module. For instance, if the floor tom is accidentally plugged into the snare input or vice versa, you will hear the wrong sound when the pad is struck. If the pad is plugged into an input that has not been assigned a sound, the pad will make no sound at all.

Adjust the crosstalk. Crosstalk is an issue that is unique to electronic drum sets and can be confusing to those who only have played acoustic drums. Crosstalk occurs when the vibrations from one drum pad inadvertently cause another pad to sound. This can be very aggravating. You'll need to lower the crosstalk setting on the pad that is causing the problem. Make the crosstalk setting more aggressive (i.e., higher) on any drum pads that are being unintentionally triggered by the vibrations of other pads.

Check MIDI connections. Another common problem with electronic drum sets occurs when MIDI is implemented. Whether you are connecting a third party sound module or using a sequencer, ensure that the MIDI function on the drum set is enabled. Sometimes MIDI is off by default on new sound modules. Also, check that the MIDI channel that is sending the electronic drum set data is the same channel that is set to receive MIDI data on the sound module or sequencer.

Do not step on the high-hat pedal or strike a pad while powering on the set. This is a common problem. If a multi-function trigger like a high-hat is held down during power up, the trigger may not function properly.

Ensure that multi-function drum pads have two or more sounds programmed. Some drum pads are capable of two different sounds depending on where the pad is struck. A multi-function snare drum pad may be able to trigger a standard snare sound as well as a rim shot sound. Make sure that a different sound is programmed inside the sound module for each part of the drum pad, otherwise you may hear the same sound regardless of where the pad is struck.


Remember that you can always go back to the "factory defaults" to reset the sounds and settings on your electronic drum kit's sound module to undo any changes you have made. Knowing this makes it less intimidating to experiment with the features and settings on a new kit. Refer to your user manual, as the process for restoring factory default settings is different with each model.

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