Tutorial for a Drum Trigger

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Drum triggers help produce electronic versions of a traditional drum set. Learn to set up and use a drum trigger in this free video, with help from a professional drummer.

Part of the Video Series: Drums
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Video Transcript

Hey everyone, I'm Nate Morton. I currently reside in Los Angeles, California and I play drums with Cher and this is a tutorial about drum triggers. Primarily I play acoustic drums. It's 99% of the time that's what I'm doing but on occasion you'll need a sound or I need a sound that's no something that I can duplicate on acoustic drums so it's necessary to employ electronics and the way that I as the drummer, interface with that electronic device is generally through a drum trigger of some sort. It's typical that to use a drum trigger you may use an electronic pad. Roland makes a wide variety of electronic pads as do a variety of other companies out there and with an electronic pad, you're basically completely replacing the drum with an entirely other, you know, an entirely different source that you're hitting and maybe triggering from and those are typically like mesh pads. That's the latest technology. You can actually tune the tension and that pad takes the impact of your stick, transfers it into an electronic signal, sends that electronic signal or that electrical signal to your drum brain, maybe that's a Roland TD 7 or a TD 20 or a TD 12, something like that and then within that unit, you can select the sound that you're triggering or whatnot and what have you. For example on Cher I use electronic triggers to trigger hand claps for some of the more dance oriented songs or 808 snares, 909 snares, things of that nature, even a cross stick on occasion for the consistency of the sound because you dial it in, you hit that drum trigger and it's the same sound that is consistent every single time which is important when you're playing live. It's important when you're playing live or recorded frankly. Now, you can also, if you still want to hit something acoustic you can also get a, sort of a clip on trigger which is basically a device that's going to attach to the rim of a drum and it has a small, usually spongy sort of surface that's going to actually touch the head of the drum lightly and essentially that does the same thing in the sense that it takes the impact of your stick as it hits the head of the drum and it transfers it using that small sponge pad that's touching the head, it transfers that into and electric signal and then that goes to your drum brain and that's the way you're interfacing with your electronic sound source. The advantage of a trigger like that, like a clip on trigger is that ultimately you're still hitting an acoustic drum. It's also sort of it has multiple applications in the sense that let's say you dig the sound of the acoustic drum for a live show for example but you want it layered with another sound, you know maybe a sample of a drum or whatever, a clap of thunder, right? So you want to be able to hit that tom and hear the tom sound which may be miked but then you're going to use the trigger, you know, to trigger a clap of thunder and again to relate that to what I'm doing currently on the Cher gig there are a lot of electronic kicks on some of the tuns. There are a lot of 808 kicks and dance club kick sounds and I just think that it feels a lot better to actually hit a kick drum and actually move the air. So I've got an auxiliary kick drum off to the right that I have a pedal that you knot it connects to and when I hit that pedal, bang, it hits the auxiliary kick drum but you don't hear the sound of the kick drum acoustically, you're actually hearing the trigger that's on that kick drum which is running into my Roland TD 20 and then from that, I'm triggering the sound of an electronic kick for the dance songs, for example. So those are some of the ways to employ triggers. I am Nate Morton and that has been my drum set trigger tutorial.

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