Over the years I have experimented on and off with using what is referred to as a “hybrid” kit. This means a set-up that incorporates both acoustic and electronic drums. My version uses a standard three piece acoustic set (bass, snare, floor tom) with an Alesis Sample Pad and PercPad. The pads are usually set to represent two rack toms and used in place of acoustic toms. I liken this set-up to Alex Van Halen’s rig on the 5150 album and tour as seen in the video Live Without a Net. I loved the way he went between an acoustic bass, roto-toms and snare with a complete set of electronic pads up front. This allowed for a very unique sound. His solo especially exhibited the distinctive sounds that can only be found in a hybrid kit (see below). According to DRUM magazine:
Electronics have become part of what we do as drummers and percussionists. Electronics might be reinforcing an acoustic drum sound, providing some sort of backing loop to play against, or playing some effect that can’t be created in the acoustic world. Think about what you might need in your own setup to enhance the music you’re playing. Do you like to trigger a lot of loops? Do you need bigger acoustic drum sounds? Whatever you decide, there is no such thing as a wrong setup, and it’s really no longer a question of whether acoustic or electronic gear is the best tool for the job. You’ll likely need both.
There are a few things to consider when configuring a hybrid kit. First, the tuning of the acoustic drums should be somewhere in the middle, meaning not too high or low. I use DrumTacs to curb the resonance while keeping the drums wide open. I also use a very small drum pillow in the bass drum just to curb the overall ring. It may take some experimenting but the acoustic and electronic drums should complement one another. Second, you should mount the pads as if they are part of the standard kit, meaning the drum set should be assembled as one unit, not two separate entities. The goal is to keep the acoustic drums and electronic pads seamless.