You may remember our friend Mike “Woody” Emerson aka “The Gigging Drummer” who we interviewed a while back (Read Here). He’s known nowadays as “Woody Rockinfeller,” drummer for the popular 80’s cover band The Rockinfellerz. We asked Woody about his conversion from acoustic to electronic drums for his latest gig. He gave us his thoughts, experiences, as well as the pros and cons.
Hi Michael! The “gigging drummer” aka “Woody Rockinfeller” is honored and excited again to be part of your Off Beat series. Well first of all…I have a new band (because I can’t stop my passion of playing drums) The Rockinfellerz. Yes with a “Z” at the end. (The other spellings were already taken. Ha!) And yes, I did answer a Craig’s List ad. I showed up at the audition for the band and there was an electronic drum set there (Roland TD-20X drum brain for V-drums). Ok stop! I’ve played on one twice filling in for my friend JR’s band live and of course being an idiot in the drum room at Guitar Center who didn’t like it. It felt weird.
So anyways, I got the job and I played on the “electric thing of a jig” for rehearsal. It was already set to a mixer at low volume with guitar, bass, keyboard and vocals so learning songs was easy to hear. We booked our first show and I was excited to bring out “The Beast” my Ludwig seven piece with Roto Toms cowbells, blocks, lots of cymbals and a bunch of other percussion fun. The show was in a couple weeks. I was still playing on the electronic “thing” but as I was playing on it my keyboardist Phil Rockinfeller showed me that the rims and pads can be programmed to do anything I want. So we started putting in cowbells, tambourines, clap sounds ect.
Yes it was a little fun (shhhh did I say that?) because a lot of the songs that we cover are from the 80’s (my favorite genre) which had a lot of double track studio magic and electronic drums in them that my acoustic drum set can’t do live. So I agreed to use them for the first show. And I’m sorry to the “The Great Almighty Drum God” they worked out well and yes, that’s why I’m still playing them now.
The difference between playing my acoustic drums and the electronic ones live is the “big drum sound” response time is gone! If my monitors in the mix on the Rolands are too low it sounds like I’m hitting practice pads. I go through the motions, but I don’t know what it sounds like coming out of the P.A. system. Meanwhile my Ludwigs, when mic’d, sound great to me. Still, when the mix out front is too loud I can’t tell. It’s misery for the audience if they can’t talk to each other or order drinks at the bar which is why we get paid!
When I’m on stage with the Rolands I can have a conversation with my band while playing live. There is no ringing cymbals or drums so we can talk about the next song we’re playing or if my tempo is too fast or slow. But with my Ludwigs, I miss the power and the intensity which is the reason I started playing drums in the first place.
I have a few pros and cons between electronic vs. acoustic. First off, since the Roland’s cymbals are rubber, or whatever it is made of, I don’t brake drum sticks or have huge chips in them, plus I love this one, my wrists don’t hurt as much after playing a two hour show because I’m not hitting metal rims or heavy crashes. Plus the setup time for the Rolands takes way less time to setup on stage.
The pros on my Ludwig set is that it looks cool on stage when the lights shine on them Ha! It’s easier to hit the drums without triggering a programmed rim (which I do often) and I can hear them without a monitor. Of course, the big sound is there when you just tuned them to your liking. Oh what a feeling! The cons I pretty much just described in the differences. You have to decide for yourself what you like. I’m just happy to still be playing out live and I don’t care if it’s on an electric or acoustic drum set. Like Sonny & Cher sang “The beat goes on.”
Visit The Rockinfellerz on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TheRockinfellerz/