I started using a Yamaha DTX-MULTI 12 electronic percussion pad. What began my interest in getting a percussion module was playing the musical “Clue”. The show required a bunch of accessory percussion instruments. I ended up using the typical multiple clamps and rods to hang cowbells, triangles, vibraslap, bongos, temple blocks, ratchet, etc. around my drum set. I have been doing that for years. As I was breaking down and packing up after the show, I thought it would have been a lot easier to have used a digital percussion pad. A few weeks later I got the book to play the musical “Chicago”. This show also has a bunch of accessory percussion instruments and sound effects. I decided right then that NOW was the time to get an electronic percussion pad.
Let me start by saying that I have NO intention of replacing my acoustic drum set with an electronic set. I am not a fan of electronic drum sets. And in my humble opinion, electronic percussion sounds are NOT as good as the “real” thing. But when given the choice of not playing percussion parts OR covering them on an electronic percussion pad, I will select the latter.
There have been far too many times over the years when I simply wasn’t able to cover all the required percussion parts. Sometimes there wasn’t enough room to accommodate all the necessary percussion equipment. Frequently, there wasn’t enough time to change mallets or get to all the equipment. A solution would have been to hire another percussionist. But that rarely happened. So historically, I had to prioritize what needed to be covered, decide if there were any acceptable substitutions, and figure out how to set it all up for easy access from the drum set.
Selecting the Right Gear
After looking at several models from different manufacturers, I decided on the Yamaha DTX-MULTI 12. My selection was based primarily on there being 12 trigger pads and the 1,277 built-in drum sounds with an emphasis on World and Ethnic Percussion instruments. Also important was the ability to load some custom samples and the reasonable price point. I will post more detailed reviews and tips after I have used the Yamaha DTX-MULTI 12 on more jobs and for a longer period of time. But until then…
Here are a few of my initial thoughts:
- You will need to take time to select, assign and balance instruments on the pads in advance. Especially if it requires a number of different percussion instruments or pitch assignments. I save each as a Custom Kit in show order.
- The standard default stick sensitivity is NOT my standard default stick sensitivity. I feel like I have to strike the pads really hard to get them to respond when set to “Stick Normal or Dynamic”. However, if I set the pad sensitivity to “Hand Normal or Dynamic” I am able to play comfortably with my normal stick dynamics. Cross-Talk has not been an issue.
- It takes time to get used to the pads feel and response. Rubber pads are not as sensitive as a conventional drum or percussion instrument. It takes some trial and error figuring out what musically works and doesn’t work when playing on the pads.
- Get the FREE Yamaha DTXM12 Touch which is a dedicated iPad app. It makes programming the Yamaha DTX-MULTI 12 so much easier and user friendly than going through menu pages on the main unit’s limited LCD screen. NOTE: You will need to get (purchase) an appropriate USB connecting cable for your iPad version.
- Don’t forget about the amp. You will need a quality monitor amplifier and one with enough volume as a main if you are not going through a house PA system. The amp will add to the overall cost and could be one more thing for you to haul around. I am currently using a QSC K8.2 2-Way Powered Speaker.
- Get a Yamaha FC7 Volume Foot Controller. This variable pedal plugs into the footswitch jack and allows for hands free volume changes. Along with controlling over all dynamics, it also allows for crescendos and decrescendos.
- Get the Yamaha MAT1 Mounting Bracket. That way you can use a Yamaha tom mount to incorporate it into your drum set-up.