- With many drum triggers on the market, it’s hard to know where to put your money
- We review the 5 best drum triggers for all budgets
- Commonly asked questions at the end
- Also, check out our post on the best online drum lessons!
Drum triggers open up many possibilities for creating different sounds and enable more consistency in your drum sounds.
Today we’re looking at the five best drum triggers to help you get the sounds in your head out on the kit.
We’ll evaluate the triggers on value for money, durability, and reliability. It’s advisable to check the compatibility of your drum kit and drum module before buying triggers, as even high-end models will have some setups that they don’t fit on or integrate with.
What Are The Best Drum Triggers?
The best drum triggers are the Yamaha Drum Trigger DT50 line. These premium triggers are tough, reliable, and responsive.
The most durable drum trigger goes to the classic ddrum Acoustic Pro, which features exceptionally robust metal housing.
For those on a budget, the ddrum Red Shot offers the same sensor as the Acoustic Pro in a thinner metal housing.
Today we’ll evaluate the following triggers:
- Yamaha Drum Trigger DT50S and DT50K (Our Pick)
- ddrum Acoustic Pro (Most Durable)
- ddrum Red Shot (Best Budget)
- Pintech RS-5 (Best For Mesh Heads)
- Roland RT-30H Acoustic Drum Trigger
1. Yamaha Drum Trigger DT50S and DT50K (Our Pick)
Triggering samples from a live drum performance is more in demand than ever. And today's drummer needs a trigger that's quick to set up, durable, and accurate. The Yamaha DT50S and DT50K meet all these criteria.
- Blends into your kit
- Easy installation
- Premium model
- Tough die-cast build
- Cable included
Electronic drum kit gurus Yamaha naturally also excel at triggers. Yamaha offers the premium DT50 triggers, which are just under $100 (USD), competing directly price-wise with the Roland RT-30H.
Two models are available: the dual-zone DT50S for snare or toms and the single-zone DT50K bass drum trigger. The DT50S can pick up either head or rim strikes accurately, putting a range of sounds easily on tap.
The Yamaha DT50 models have a tough chromed die-cast body that will survive rough treatment and blend into your chrome hardware.
They are attached by a thumb screw fastener and sit in place quickly. As you’d expect, the DT50S and DT50K integrate into a range of Yamaha DTX drum modules.
The included universal cable can also be used to connect most other interfaces and drum modules.
2. ddrum Acoustic Pro (Most Durable)
The perfect companion to a triggerable rhythm module, the ddrum 5-piece drum trigger set includes triggers for 3 toms, kick, and snare. Feels like you're playing a real kit because you are!
- Locks firmly in place
- Metal build
- Mid-price model
- Locks firmly in place
- Metal build
The ddrum Acoustic Pro is ddrum’s mid-tier offering, between the affordable Red Shot triggers and the high-end Chrome Elite.
The Acoustic Pro is a classic perfect for converting an acoustic kit into a hybrid setup.
The snare trigger is dual zone, while the tom and bass drum triggers are single zones. You can get a trigger kit for a standard five-piece kit or buy any of the triggers individually.
The five-piece set is around $200 (USD), while the individual triggers range in price from $60 to $40 (USD).
These ddrum triggers are metal and can be clamped onto drum rims via a drum key bolt. This means they’ll lock in place, although it makes setup take a tad longer. Be careful when tightening the screws, as they can strip under pressure.
Note that ddrum doesn’t include the cables, so you’ll have to buy those separately. You can buy the official ddrum cables or source third-party cables. Just note that the dual-zone snare requires a stereo cable.
3. ddrum Red Shot (Best Budget)
Rugged, roadworthy and affordable, the ddrum Red Shot Trigger uses the same patented transducer technique (VAM) as ddrum Trigger. The specially designed transducer is softly pressed against the drumhead. The ultra-light pressure of the transducer against the head prevents any damping effect.
- Excellent single-zone trigger
- Easy to mount
- Great budget option!
- Metal body
- Single zone only
The ddrum Red Shot is one of the best drum triggers for budget buyers! The Red Shot is marketed as an affordable version of the Acoustic Pro.
You can pick up a single Red Shot for around $20 and a set of five for around $100 (USD). The cables are not included, so that’s an added expense.
Unusual for such a cheap trigger, the Red Shot is made of metal. You get exactly the same sensor as the ddrum Acoustic Pro, although the construction is different.
The Red Shot metal case is thin and won’t protect the trigger as comprehensively as the Acoustic Pro.
Ddrum offers a snare/tom model and a bass drum model. Both models are single zone only.
As far as budget options go, these ddrum triggers are an excellent performer, although don’t expect the same reliability you’ll get from the premium models.
4. Pintech RS-5 (Best For Mesh Heads)
These RS-5 external triggers can be head or shell mounted to provide excellent sensitivity and response. The "Kwik Klip" mounting system ensures that the audio jack stays in place and fastens to any tension rod without adhesives!
- Extremely affordable
- Head or shell mount capability
- Great value
- Super cheap!
- Single zone only
- Can be upgraded with a metal guard
If you’re on a low budget, then the Pintech RS-5s is a great option! You can pick up an RS-5 for around $20 and buy a pack of five for less than $100 (USD).
This means you can trigger an entire five-piece kit for less than the price of one premium trigger like the Yamaha or Roland models.
The RS-5 is designed as both an acoustic drum trigger and for mesh heads, and they work great for both applications. It’s only available as a single-zone trigger, though.
The Pintech RS-5 mounts on your drum’s tension rod. This means that it’s set and forget, so you don’t have to reapply it each time. However, putting on or removing the trigger when you need to do it is a bit time-consuming.
The basic RS-5 setup is achieved with an adhesive trigger on the drum head, and the plastic build is not particularly durable.
If you want to protect the RS-5 and lock it more securely, you can spend an extra $5 to get the TT3 Trigger Trap version.
The Trigger Trap is made of steel, protects the RS-5 trigger on the drum head, and holds it securely.
Note that the Trigger Trap does not protect the RS-5’s rim mount or the cable going over the rim, so even with the upgrade, there are some weak points.
5. Roland RT-30H Acoustic Drum Trigger
Roland's RT-30H single drum trigger offers you next-generation acoustic drum sensing that's perfect for your toms. This drum trigger's self-guided mount lets it attach simply and securely to virtually any drum hoop out there, including modern inward-curved designs.
- Easy installation
- Recommended for all drummers
- Premium model
- Lightweight and fast to install
- Fiberglass body
Electronic kit experts Roland have created an excellent solution for creating a hybrid kit with the Roland RT-30H.
These are the best drum triggers for integrating Roland drum modules, with support for the TM-2 Trigger Module, TD series V-Drums sound modules, and SPD series percussion pads.
The individual triggers can be picked up for $100 (USD) or less, so they are on the top end of the price range.
Roland provides a dual-zone trigger (snare) and a single-zone trigger (kick and toms), with the single zone being a tad cheaper. The cable is included for each trigger.
The triggers have a low-profile design and are made of reinforced fiberglass. They’re lightweight, but I would have expected a metal build at this price range.
These clip onto your drums with a self-guided mount and thumbscrew, so getting set up is nice and easy. The thumbscrew is not foolproof and does not clip as sturdily as a drum key screw.
Why Do People Use Drum Triggers?
Common reasons for using drum triggers include getting a consistent sound, being able to trigger a wide variety of sounds, and easy setup and editing.
When you play live, the sound of the room, how your kit is miked up, and the approach of the sound tech will all impact how acoustic drums sound. When you use triggered sounds, you have more direct control over how your kit sounds to the audience.
Once you put triggers on a kit, you can fire off any sound, samples, or other instruments. This is impossible with a non-triggered acoustic kit, no matter how extensive.
Triggers also allow you to dispense with drum mics, making setup faster. Furthermore, if you record with drum triggers in the studio and then decide to change your drum sound later, then it’s very easy. This is not the case for an acoustic kit captured with mics.
Are Drum Triggers Cheating?
Drum triggers can’t make up for poor performance. The drummer must still play the right part in time with the right groove. All triggers do is allow you to change the sound that comes out when you hit the drum.
It is true, though, that you can use triggers to significantly even out your playing dynamics in an artificial way.
As you can hear in the demonstration video above, when Nechtan switches to their bass drum triggers, the sound instantly becomes more consistent and powerful despite the performance being exactly the same.
You can also get away with less physical exertion by using triggers. Getting a snare rimshot or bass drum to fire off at maximum volume takes a bit of muscle on an acoustic kit.
However, when using a triggered or electronic kit, you can get your module to fire off a bombastic, powerhouse sound with less physical force. Whether or not you consider this to be cheating is up to you.
I think it’s just another tool available to musicians that can be used to alter how a performance sounds in a similar way to how editing, compression, or multiple simultaneous takes can drastically alter how a part sounds.
Music is an art form, not a physical competition, after all.
Before you go, check out our guide to the 7 Best Drumsticks For Beginners And New Drummers!