You may recall that I’ve posted my affection for combining electronic and acoustic drums (see previous blog posts at https://maubrecht.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/electronicacoustic-percussion/ and https://maubrecht.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/hybrid-kits/). Recently I have entered the world of hybrids by incorporating a sample pad and a ddrum DD1 module w/ triggers on my acoustic Breakbeats kit. Essentially I have expanded my kit’s capability to over 50 preset sounds as well as basic editing functions for the sound bank. It’s a cost-effective set-up and I will be posting a video demo in the near future. One of the reasons I’ve been so adamant about incorporating triggers is to get the sounds associated with the early electronic pads. I love that “synthetic” thud of the 80’s that can only be reproduced electronically. The first electronic drum kits were introduced by Simmons and quickly took over the music industry — so much so that it helped define the entire look, sound and feel of popular music for nearly two decades. There is something about those octagon pads that appeals to me. Bill Bruford and Alex Van Halen (5150 tour) used Simmons pads extensively. Even Neil Peart used them from ‘83-’89.
According to Simmons: The standard SDS-V was loaded with five modules: Bass, Snare and three Tom Toms, which looked almost identical, with controls for noise level, tone level, bend, decay time, noise tone (a simple filter) and click drum control which added extra attack derived from pad impact. Each module’s parameters were optimized for the drum it was designed to emulate. Optional Cymbal and Hi-Hat modules were also available with open and closed hi-hats controlled from an external pedal. There was also a mixer section with individual volume control for each module (only into the mono/stereo output) and controls for pad sensitivity. The pads were made from extremely hard plastic material that was used in police riot shields. They were robust and could take a beating, but many drummers complained of wrist and elbow ache. Subsequent versions of the SDS line introduced rubber pads that were kinder on drummer’s limbs.
Nowadays you can only find the SDS-V and its components on collector’s sites and eBay. Due to their rarity the cost for these dinosaurs is quite expensive. That said they are not forgotten. There is even a website dedicated to the history of the Simmons drum sets at www.simmonsmuseum.com/. Perhaps one day I will have the extra change to buy one of these Simmons kits but until then I’ll be triggering its voices via ddrum.