Silent Drums for Kids?
November 26, 2007 8:56 PM   Subscribe

My kid (8 years old) turns out to have a very good sense of rythm. I'd like to get him a drum set for xmas. A *silent* drum set.

I've looked at some virtual drum kits online, but the array is dizzying.
Here's what I want.
I'd like him to be able to sit and play on a real sized set, (for him) that plays through headphones. It'd be great if it could also record his jams, and have the ability to play along with other songs. Is there such a product? Does anyone have personal experience with something like what I'm describing?
Oh-- budget is under $300.00
posted by asavage to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Yamaha has silent session drums.
posted by amyms at 9:09 PM on November 26, 2007

It's going to be hard to do for under $300--you may be able to find a low-end Yamaha or Roland for around $500-600 used, but it'll be hard to go much lower.

Your best option for a silent kit at this range is a practice pad set, with rubber pads that obviously don't make real drum sounds--you can't really record with them, of course. Might not be as fun for a kid.

I think your best bet might be Ebay. Good luck!
posted by DMan at 9:19 PM on November 26, 2007

Recently. That said, if you're going to enlist the support of a teacher for the boy, why not have a conversation with the teacher about practice pads and electronic drums for home use, and factor in the teacher's expertise to your selection? $300 towards something that is useful, and won't hurt your kids hands or ears, or cause him to develop bad habits, will be money well spent.
posted by paulsc at 9:34 PM on November 26, 2007 [2 favorites]

There's loads of DIY plans for MIDI-sending practice pads on teh webs. Connect up to a softsampler and do what you like...
posted by pompomtom at 9:36 PM on November 26, 2007

Even with an electronic drum kit, you're going to hear the thwackety-twack of the stick hitting the plastic/rubber pads.

Moreover, if you really want him to learn how to play a drum kit, he'll eventually need to start practicing on a real kit to understand the true feel and dynamics of the instruments. And you'll need to learn to deal with having someone practicing percussion in your house.

I'd vote for getting him a real drum kit or hand drum and setting strict rules on when it can and can't be played.
posted by gnutron at 11:21 PM on November 26, 2007

I'm not a drummer, but I do a lot of drooling over electronic drum kits.

For $300, you're not going to find a whole lot. In that price range you can get the Yamaha DD-55 or -65 but they are one-piece drums; or the Ion Audio IED01, which have issues with the pedals. Issues like they suck. Both of these have MIDI and step-recording capabilities. The Ion would probably be better long-term, at triggers generally conform to a standard style, so you could later get some nice Roland triggers and hook them up to the Ion's "brain." (which is rumored to be a Alesis SR16, a well-respected drum module)

If you raise the amount you're willing to spend, say to $500, you can get some decent kits off craigslist or ebay.
posted by lekvar at 11:26 PM on November 26, 2007

Not at all a long term solution, but to see if he takes to it, and as a good way to have some fun as a family, you could get Rock Band for $170 bucks. It'll give him a start on the leg/hand co-ordination, anyhow...
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:31 PM on November 26, 2007

I've heard that the drumming in Rock Band is pretty close to the real thing - though that could have been a claim made by the makers of Rock Band. Of course, unless you already have a console it will work on the price will be pushed beyond the $300 limit.
posted by Elmore at 2:32 AM on November 27, 2007

Agreed that the price will be a challenge for electronic models. Sometimes you'll find an unboxed/floor model at Guitar Center for 500ish. FWIW, this is exactly how I started looking at drums for my son 3 years ago (he's now 14). I chose instead to buy the Ludwig sort of "starter set" from Musician's Friend at Christmas time for @350, which included crash and hi-hat cymbals. I understand the desire for silence, believe me, but since we don't share walls with anyone, and we've got an unfinished basement that we don't use for "living space", I just caved.
posted by ersatzkat at 4:27 AM on November 27, 2007

Good luck with the silent part. That implies electronics.

There's a question you might consider asking (which hopefully will be answered by a drummer/percussionist), "how come professional drummers tend to use analog equipment?" The answer, I suspect, is going to be about feel.

That said, the magic search phrase is "drum pad" or "drum practice pad".

This looks like a reasonable single head practice drum with audio feedback.

Something like this is closer to a full set feel.

Disclaimer: I play trumpet (among several other instruments) and have tried most of the practice and non-practice mutes that are available for the instrument, and I can't stand them. None of them really get the feel right and most are damaging in terms of trying to get nuance. Ultimately, that's what playing all instruments is about.
posted by plinth at 4:51 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Amazon has a few electronic drum stick kits for kids. We bought a set that plugs into an iPod last year for a niece and she loves it.
posted by yerfatma at 5:50 AM on November 27, 2007

I don't know anything about silent drum kits, but I do know about living with a drummer. My fiance's roommate is a drummer and the best thing we ever did was invest in really good soundproofing for his music room. With this setup, he can work with the actual instruments and we can still have our peace and quiet.
posted by bristolcat at 7:01 AM on November 27, 2007

Responding to the Rock Band thing: Actually, it's not too far from real drums. Obviously the setup isn't the same and such, but you can learn some basic concepts from playing the game. I was actually pretty impressed when I got the chance to try it out the other day.
posted by DMan at 7:11 AM on November 27, 2007

while nothing you hit will be completely silent, electronic kits are a good way to get started. if you're budget conscience have a look at the Alesis DM5 kit. While I don't use this kit exclusively, I bought one and broke out the pads for use within my acoustic kit. Works like a charm and it's rugged enough for road use (or a kid bashing it about). Cheap too; ~$500USD.

The other thing I'd strongly recommend is a practice pad, good sticks and lessons.
posted by spish at 8:00 AM on November 27, 2007

I know nothing about drum kits, cost, etc, but here is my anecdote:

I lived with a drummer several years ago. He had silencing pads for each noisemaker in his drum kit. He set up in the basement, practiced regularly, and it never disturbed the rest of the house, which was all hardwood floors. There was no soundproofing aside from the silencing pads.
posted by wg at 8:17 AM on November 27, 2007

Get him Rock Band for Christmas. I've been in bands half my life (mid-30s), and this silly game is way more fun than it ought to be. Drums are definitely the most challenging; if he can pull the band through at "hard" level, he'll feel like a hero.

Then a real electronic kit for his birthday. Lotsa options on eBay, ranging from $400 to $750. The cool thing is that, like spish said, you can "grow with them" -- incorporate the electro-drums into an acoustic kit later on, even use the electronic drums to trigger crazy samples or whatever.
posted by LordSludge at 2:33 PM on November 27, 2007

This question makes me so sad.

If your kid was a good visual artist, you'd put his paintings on the refrigerator, or even frame them.

If he was good at dancing, I can only hope you'd let him practice to his heart's content, even if it meant hearing the same old song, over and over.

If he was good at singing, I have no doubt you'd be content with him practicing scales, even when his voice sometimes cracked or he wasn't perfect.

So it makes me really sad that you would send the message: "hey, we think you're good -- not good enough to actually LISTEN to, but good enough that we spent a lot of money so you can practice a performance art that only you will be allowed to hear."

Have you considered investing in a normal drum kit and a good set of earplugs for when you really need the peace and quiet?
posted by InnocentBystander at 9:31 PM on November 27, 2007

InnocentBystander I don't really think the comparison is fair, none of the other things you mention are anywhere close to as loud as drums. The issue is not that the kid's drum playing is not good enough and thats why we don't want to hear it, its just that drums are so loud that even the best drummers can induce major headaches.

Halfway down my block someone used to practice drums in a garage. It was so loud that even in my house, windows closed, headphones on I could still hear it and get annoyed by it.

Any of the "silent" options for drums are still going to make a decent amount of noise, less than drums but almost as much as practicing voice, or dancing to music. I can hear rock band being played in the room next to mine even when the game is on headphones, just because hitting things is going to make noise.
posted by vegetableagony at 10:02 PM on November 27, 2007

I saw a digital drum kit that would probably meet your needs when I was in Sam's Club on Tuesday (12/11/07). It was $299.99 and had audio outputs that would allow you to record. It featured two-three tom pads, three cymbal pads, two kickpedals, and a control pad.

I don't remember any of the other specs or brand (I'm a big help, I know) but it was featured in the main aisle of the store. Assuming that the store layout is a "national" SOP, it may be similarly placed at a Sam's near you.

I found this kit on their website. It's a little more basic, but would probably also do the trick.

Good luck to your future Neil Pert!
posted by steeb2er at 3:54 PM on December 13, 2007

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