- Find out if electric drums need an amp
- Learn which type of amp to use
- Are different amps better for different applications?
- Also, check out our post on the best drumsticks for electric drums!
Your first set of electronic drums may leave you with more questions than the first time you sat behind an acoustic kit.
They’re not as simple as just picking up the sticks and bashing away and you might be asking yourself, “how do I hear myself play?”
I feel your pain. My first kit left me a little befuddled, too. Let’s cover all the amp basics, to save you the headaches I had when I got my first kit.
Do Electronic Drums Need An Amp?
If you want to play live, you will need an amp for your electronic drums. However, if you’re simply practicing at home, most electronic drum modules will offer a headphone out.
Amps For Electronic Drums
The range of frequencies that a standard drum kit produces is really broad. Think of the deep tones of your bass drum and the crisp highs of the bell on your ride. That is a pretty wide tonal palette.
Being able to give a good sound accurately means that the amp you use will need to be built to handle a wide range of frequencies.
That is why, if you are looking for an amp for your electronic drums, I would advise getting a specialized drum amp built to handle all the frequencies we drummers can throw at it.
Types Of Drum Amps
There are two main types of drum amps: large amps for performance and smaller practice amps (also called monitors).
Honestly, in an ideal situation, you would have both available to you. That is the setup I have. A small monitor allows me to hear myself onstage, while a larger amp ensures everyone else can hear me.
Smaller amps are great for small intimate gigs and low-volume venues or jam sessions. I mostly use a small monitor as I live in a small town and small gigs are my bread and butter.
A small monitor works well, and if this sounds like you, then you will likely be happy with a single practice amp.
Another option for amplification on gigs is to take your electronic drums through the venue’s PA system. PA systems can handle a broad range of frequencies but won’t have the sound quality that a specialized drum amp would.
Drum amps will give you tonal options that are unavailable via the PA system. A dedicated drum amp will let you change EQ settings and add filters and effects.
Some drummers plug directly into the venue PA with a smaller personal monitor amp on stage.
Great manufacturers of quality drum amps include Roland, with many regarding the PM-200 amp as a fantastic option. It’s a nice punchy amp that won’t disappoint.
Also, do yourself a favor and look at the KAT Percussion KA Series. They come in 50 and 200-watt varieties, and are amps made by drummers for drummers.
The powerful 200W KA2 is all you need to kick some major volume. KAT Amps are tailored specifically for digital drums to achieve the most accurate acoustic response.
Can You Use Any Amp For Electronic Drums?
Technically, all amps share some common features, but not all are built to amplify the same frequencies. You could use a guitar amp, but guitar amps aren’t suited to the low-end produced by electronic drums.
This means that you will strain the amp, and it will wear out more quickly or completely fail. This is not a fun scenario on a gig, trust me.
You would likely have better luck with a keyboard amp, as the tonal range of keys is more similar to electronic drums, but even then, the tones a kit produces are wider than a keyboard amp would be built for.
Any amp will work. It just won’t necessarily work well or give you a good sound. A specialized drum amp is hands down the best way to get the best sound your kit can make.
Can You Use A Bass Amp For Electronic Drums?
Yes, a bass amp will work for electronic drums. Because the bass amp and a specialized drum amp handle lower frequencies than most other amps, it is possible to get a good sound from a bass amp for your electronic drums.
You will need to keep an eye on your amp settings, though. Keep the volume at a reasonable level, both for your ears and to get the best out of your amp.
Certain amps will work better with certain electronic kits. The best way to find what works for you is to go to the music store and try a few models with your kit.
Before you go, check out our post on Bass Amp vs Guitar Amp: 3 Differences (+ A Few Exceptions)!