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Building “Home-made” Drum Triggers

In reference to several recent inSync articles on drum triggering, inSync reader Mark H reveals his secrets for building the cheapest electronic pads possible.

“I have had great success in using my own homemade triggers with an Alesis D4. The drum triggers are quite simple to build – get an empty full size coffee can, drill a 1/4″ hole in the metal bottom, and affix a 2″ (or so) transistor radio speaker to the inside, sealing the edge with silicone glue. Mount a 1/4″ jack to the can and connect the speaker to it. Come up with a way to mount the can to an old cymbal stand (or build a 2×4 rack), and you’re done. For a bass drum trigger I attached two pieces of 2×10 into an “L” shape and braced. I drilled a 2″ hole where the beater would hit and centered a coffee can metal bottom over the hole, attaching it with screws and silicone (to seal). I covered the whole assembly with a mouse pad to cut down on the noise. On the backside of the 2″ hole I mounted a 3″ speaker connected to a 1/4″ jack. I then mounted the whole structure on a piece of 1/4″ plywood with a lip out front to attach the bass drum pedal (emulating the hoop on a bass drum). This whole system works great, although you can’t play it really hard. 7A sticks work well with a medium touch, though, and the drumheads are easily replaced (plastic lids from other coffee cans). This is a great MIDI studio triggering setup for about $20 (not counting the coffee)!”

Editor’s note: We offer this as much for an illustration of what creativity and ingenuity can dream up, as much as we do for its practical value. In practice, however, we assert that real triggers will perform much better and more consistently. If you’re a serious drummer don’t skimp on triggers because they do make a difference. However, if you’re short on cash (and you drink a lot of coffee) don’t hesitate to try the above methods. It’s amazing, but the electronics in the D4 and other modern trigger to MIDI interfaces can deal with a surprising variety of signals.

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