One of the unfortunate downsides to an electronic drum kit is that you need something to amplify them. You can’t simply set them up and start playing as you would with an acoustic drum set. You may be wondering; can a bass amp be used for electronic drums?
A bass amp can be used for an electronic drum set. However, it’s not the ideal amplification option as there are better alternatives such as drum amps or headphones that will cover more frequencies.
That short answer may need more of an explanation, so let’s dive into the specifics.
How Are Electronic Drums Amplified?
Electronic drum pads don’t produce the drum sounds on their own. Instead, the pads have triggers that send a signal to the drum module every time they vibrate after being struck with a stick. The drum module then needs to send that signal to a sound source.
Most electronic drum kits don’t come with a sound source, meaning you need to either buy one separately or pull out the old bass amp you have in your storage room.
All electronic drum modules have a sound port where you can connect a jack cable. Using an amplifier will require a jack-to-jack cable while using headphones won’t require any extra cables from your side.
What are Bass Amps Designed for?
A bass amp is an amplifier that has been designed specifically for bass guitars. These amps do an excellent job in processing low-frequency signals and amplifying them clearly. While bass amps are mostly used for electric bass guitars, they work well with any instrument that plays low-frequency tones.
They work decently for electronic drums because they bring out a lot of depth from the bass drum and floor tom. However, they don’t enhance the upper-frequency sounds from the snare and cymbals as much as some players would like them to. This is why they’re not your most ideal option.
Bass Amps are More Ideal Than Guitar Amps
You may also be wondering whether a standard guitar amp is a viable option to go with. Similar to bass amps, guitar amps aren’t designed with drum sounds in mind.
So, they also don’t excellently cover all the frequencies that drums do, preventing you from hearing a few nuances.
There won’t be as much bass coming from a guitar amp, so the bass drum won’t sound as prevalent. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on who you are. But most drummers tend to prefer the accented bass notes, making bass amps slightly more preferable than guitar amps for electronic drums.
Better Alternatives to Bass Amps for Amplifying E-Drums
The best thing you can do to get the highest-quality sound from your drums is to get a dedicated electronic drum kit amp. These are the only amps designed with drum kits in mind, and they cover all the frequencies that drums do.
Some electronic drum kit packages come with a small amp, but most kits exclude this. So, you should add this to your budget when thinking of getting an electronic set. Thankfully, you can find some affordable ones that do a pretty decent job.
The difference between using a bass amp and using a drum amp for e-drums is incredible. Once you hear it, you won’t want to go back to a bass amp. The drum amp will allow you to clearly hear every single drum and cymbal being played. Some of them even have mixers, allowing you to tweak certain frequencies.
The great thing about amplifiers is that they last incredibly long. So, investing in a good drum amp is a wise choice as it may give you decades of use. If you ever upgrade to a higher-quality electronic drum set, you won’t need to get another amp, as the one you have will have the same outcome no matter what kit you’re playing.
Another thing that drummers should have is a pair of headphones for their electronic kit. Headphones are often easier to use than an amp is for electronic drums. They also allow you to practice without bothering anyone with loud drum sounds.
If you have an amp, you can either plug the headphones into the amp or into the drum module. Both will provide the same result. However, you should plug the headphones into the amp if you’ve tweaked a few settings on it as those won’t be the same when purely playing sounds from the drum module.
Many drummers go years with only using headphones for their electronic kit. It would be ideal to have both an amp and a set of headphones as playing through the amp will allow other people to hear what you’re playing when needed. An amp also gives your head a bit of a break as headphones can become cumbersome after a while.
Another type of amp to use for electronic drums is a keyboard amp. If you have the option of using a guitar, bass, or keyboard amp, you should go with the keyboard one. Keyboards are very similar to drums in that they cover a wide range of frequencies.
Keyboard players also often play synth bass sounds, and the amps cater quite well to that. This makes the amps excellent for electronic drum kits as well.
So, dedicated drum amps are the first prize, and keyboard amps come in at a close second.
There are a few things to consider when using an amp to practice the drums at home. Firstly, you should make sure that you aren’t playing with the volume too loud.
You may think that electronic drums aren’t as harmful to your ears as acoustic drums are, but they’re just as bad if the volume levels on the amp are anywhere over 80 decibels. The same thing can be said when using headphones. Always make sure that you’re protecting your ears.
If you only plan on using your electronic drums at home, you can get a small and affordable amp that isn’t too large.
You’ll need a larger and more powerful amp if you plan on playing live shows or with a band. If you’re in a band practice environment, you’ll need something above 150 watts as that will be powerful enough to cut through the other instruments being played. This is the case whether you use a bass or drum amp.
If you’re playing in live venues and there’s a PA system, you won’t need an amp as powerful. PA systems make it possible to use any type of amp as it just connects through to the sound system.
Using an electronic drum kit for live band performances isn’t as ideal as using an acoustic kit but having a good amp with you could make the experience a bit better.
So, can a bass amp be used for e-drums? Yes, it can, but I wouldn’t suggest it. I’d recommend investing in a small electronic drum kit amp to bring out higher-quality sounds from your electronic drum set.
You can get an affordable one from KAT Percussion or you can look to Alesis and Roland for some higher-quality options. On top of using a drum amp, I’d also recommend getting a decent pair of headphones so that you can play without bothering anyone around you.
If you have no other option than using a bass amp, try to find one where you can adjust the sound settings. This will help you dial in better sounds for the electronic kit.