If you’re like me, you heard about hybrid drumming and scoffed. “That’ll never catch on,” I said. “It sounds terrible,” I complained. “You’d never catch me playing with hybrid noises,” I swore.
It turns out that the world of hybrid has changed. No surprise. These days you can set up a module to edit and tweak your acoustic kit’s sounds or add external sounds with absolutely no limit. Well, except for the quality of your drum module, anyway.
And, of course, you need high-quality drum triggers to get those sounds working. So let’s take a look at the best drum triggers going for drummers who want to add a little spice into their sound.
Top 6 Best Drum Triggers in 2023
1 Pintech Percussion RS-5 Acoustic Head Triggers – Best Cheap Drum Triggers
Alright, let’s start in with a basic model. Pintech has been making drum triggers for a couple of decades now, and they seem to have upped their game recently. The RS-5 Acoustic Head Trigger is a tidy little unit that works a little bit differently from the other triggers we’re going to look at here.
Allow me to explain…
These little triggers have a simple, basic design of a piezo inside a hard protective cap. This leads out to a ¼-inch jack that you can use to connect it to any module. The trigger facing is foam with a sticky adhesive on it to hold it to your head. While these might need some extra checking and re-pressing sometimes, they do have an extra benefit that other triggers don’t.
The Pintech triggers are free-floating. They don’t clamp onto the head but simply sit on it, so they hardly dampen any sound. And that’s what you want. At the same time, they’re sensitive enough to pick up all but the lightest touches.
Super easy setup…
To attach one to a drum, all you have to do is slip the ring in its clip over a tuning post and press the sticky face onto your drum head. Voila! I’ve even seen some great hacks sticking these onto cymbals or even creating DIY drum pads by sticking one of these triggers onto any old piece material, like a frisbee or a piece of plywood.
The good news is that they’re cheap – singles are about $20, but you can pick up a great deal on a pack of 5. They’re some of the easiest drum triggers to install and sensitive enough to get nearly all your strokes.
On the downside, they’re not all that durable, and the faces can come unstuck from your heads. Also, the cable running from the piezo can get snagged on your sticks. Make sure you put it in the least likely place for contact.
- Inexpensive and easy to install.
- Good sensitivity.
- Could get damaged if installed in the wrong place.
- Sometimes don’t stick well to drum heads.
2 ddrum Red Shot 5-Piece Drum Trigger Kit
The ddrum company is fast becoming one of the coolest makers of electronic and hybrid drumming gear out there. Since 1983, they’ve made an assortment of electronic drums, pads, and triggers. And the latest in their budget line of triggers is the Red Shot trigger.
Red Shots come in two different sizes or models: a snare/tom model and a longer, broader bass drum model. You can pick up an affordable 5-pack which includes four snare/tom triggers and a bass trigger for about $100. So, they’re not pricey.
How do they work, you ask?
In the electronics department, they’re not any different from the Pintechs. There’s a little piezo in the body that leads by wire out to a ¼-inch jack, and that’s it. But the construction is quite different.
The Red Shot is framed in an s-curve piece of red steel which mounts from a tension rod and sticks out over your drum head. It ends in a piece of thick foam that touches the head to pick up vibrations. The result is some of the most discreet drum triggers you will find.
An issue to keep in mind…
One thing I don’t particularly like about these triggers is that you have to use a tension rod to mount one. This keeps them in place firmly, but it can throw off your tuning, especially if you need to move them around a bit. You have to be careful how tightly you screw them in, or you’ll end up damping the head.
On the other hand, they’re a bit more discreet and durable than the Pintechs. And for this price, you really can’t complain.
- Cheap price and good sensitivity.
- Discreet mounting system.
- Mounting them can throw off your drum tuning.
- Over-tightening can dampen heads.
3 ddrum Acoustic Pro 5-Piece Drum Trigger Kit – Best Value for the Money Drum Triggers
Let’s move up the gear ladder another rung. ddrums has another trigger kit that’s twice the price but also a good step up in quality and usability.
The Acoustic Pro set comes with five triggers: three tom triggers, one snare trigger, and one bass trigger. I know what you’re wondering. How come the tom and snare triggers are different?
The snare trigger here is a dual-zone trigger that can pick up both a regular strike and a rimshot. Depending on the module you’re going to connect to, you can manipulate these sounds separately in your software. Or use a Y-splitter to be guaranteed separate processing.
Now to the design…
Unlike the previous two models, these triggers offer a third design. They clamp onto your rims using a post that you can tighten with any drum key. Because they clamp to the rims and not down onto the heads, they sit lightly on your skins, and there’s no fiddling around with tension rods and drum tuning.
The foam faces sit on the heads, comfortably hidden under steel boxes that can put up with more than a few misplaced blows. Unlike the other triggers, these can plug into XLR cables rather than a ¼-inch cable.
It seems to me there is way more sensitivity in these triggers. They pick up everything I throw at them, even the ghostiest of ghost notes that the previous two triggers weren’t getting. But, based on your playing style, or what you want your hybrid sounds to do, this can be a good or a bad thing. Either way, they are some of the most sensitive drum triggers available.
- Very, very sensitive.
- The snare trigger is dual-zone for more expressive drumming.
- Durable and very intelligently mounted to your drums.
- Maybe too sensitive?
4 Yamaha DT-50 Drum Triggers – Best Premium Drum Triggers
The Yamaha DT-50 is one of the best selling drum triggers in the world and is used by studio drummers and pros all over. Why? Probably because they work well and look great. They’re also a fair bit more expensive. Each trigger costs nearly $100, so for a five piece set – well, you do the math.
Built to thrill…
The bodies of these triggers are die-cast steel alloy and finished in chrome. If you’re worried about how triggers will look on your kit (or worried about getting caught using them?), you’ll be happy to know that they’ll blend in with all your other hardware just fine.
They are some of the most durable drum triggers you can buy. Furthermore, they are smartly shaped to deflect blows that might accidentally land on them. The flat-topped ddrum triggers do sort of ask for it. They also have a smaller footprint, which is something I really appreciate, being a not-so-accurate hitter.
However, the mounting system is a side-clamp onto your rims, just like the ddrum Acoustic Pros. In this case, though, you don’t need a drum key. You can use a textured screw to clamp them on by hand even more easily. Cool. Unfortunately, though, they can slip a bit with intense playing, and you have to re-tighten them more often than you’d like.
So how do they work?
These triggers are just like the ddrums Acoustic Pros in that they have a piezo set into thick foam that rests gently on the drum head. They’re delightfully sensitive, and the dual-zone of the snare/tom trigger gives a lot of detail to your playing.
But are they more sensitive than the Acoustic Pros? No, not really. So for the much higher price, you’re just paying for a better design and a bit more convenience. That said, they still rank among the best drum triggers on the market.
- Small footprint and smart shape.
- Great sensitivity and dual-zone for rimshot differences.
- Pretty darned expensive.
- Easy to hook up, but the clamps can slip often.
5 Roland RT-30 Drum Triggers – Most Versatile Drum Triggers
Roland has got to be the world leader in electronic instruments. So, if they’re making drum triggers, you’d expect them to be amazing.
So how is their RT-30 line?
One thing you’re going to notice right away is that the bodies of these triggers are made of plastic and not metal. Now, this is still highly durable ABS, but compared to metal, it’s not going to last as long and stand up as well to errant blows. That’s one knock against it. Get it? Knock?
The bodies are about the same size as the ddrum Acoustic Pros, which means they’re not as sleek and small as the Yamaha triggers. But they’re not huge either. They clamp on easily, again just by hand, to any triple-flanged rim. But if you’re playing on mesh heads or other drums with really shallow rims, you may not get them clamped on.
Three different models…
The RT-30H Single is a single-zone trigger for toms. The RT-30HR Dual is a dual-zone trigger for snare (or toms if you want). Finally, the RT-30K Kick is for your bass drum. These triggers all feed out to 1/4-inch cables via their 1/4-inch jacks. And guess what? While each trigger costs roughly $80, they come with cables. That’s a first.
The sensitivity of these triggers is great when paired with a Roland module. With other modules, you might find the sensitivity is lower, and you may miss some light strikes. Overall, these are good triggers, but I’d like to see a better build quality for this price.
- Great sensitivity, at least on Roland modules.
- Easy to install and adjust.
- Come with cables!
- It may not fit on all rims.
- Plastic bodies seem a bit cheap.
6 Roland RT-MicS Hybrid Drum Module – Best Hybrid Drum Module and Triggers
Hey, wait just a gall-darned minute! What is a drum module doing on my list of the best drum triggers? OK, this is a bit strange. However, the MicS IS actually a trigger, but it just happens to have a module built into it. And this is all for just about $100, so I thought it would be worth mentioning.
Let’s look at the trigger first…
This is a lot like the RT-30 series we just saw in construction and the attachment system. It clamps onto your rim and tightens with a hand screw at the back. While the body is metal, the part housing the piezo and mic is plastic, and this is still the part that’s going to get bashed.
And yes, I did just say mic. Because in this combo trigger and module, the piezo sits on the head to pick up vibrations while a mic takes in the actual sound of your drum. There’s a big button on top that controls the electronic sound that you want to add to your kit. Plus, a basic readout, so you know which sound you’re using.
Using the module…
The module is basic in that it comes with eight pre-recorded sounds. However, you can import your own sounds and modify the sound of your acoustic drums. You’ve got a 1/4” output for the acoustic mic signal and one for the trigger itself, with independent volume controls. So, you can skip a master module if you want to and run a bunch of these triggers to a mixer.
This is a good starter model for anyone looking to get into hybrid playing without dropping a ton of cash on triggers and a full module. This unit is limited, but if you want a single hybrid drum in your kit (likely your snare), it’s a pretty cool little addition.
A full set of these on each drum, on the other hand, is really a waste. It’s going to get awfully messy as well.
- Module and trigger in one – good for limited hybrid use.
- Easy to use and switch sounds on the fly.
- Housing construction could be tougher.
- Meant as a single trigger, not for a set.
Do you have a Passion for Percussion?
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What are the Best Drum Triggers?
This is a tough one. It depends heavily on whether you want to add just one or two hybrid sounds to your kit or if you’re going the whole hog. But, my favorite set of triggers is the…
They’re affordable, have great sensitivity, and are robust enough to hold up to a few mis-hits. They do require an investment in XLR cables. But since these are the industry standard for mics and mixing, it’s going to be worth it for a professional setup.
No matter which triggers you choose, they’re going to open up a world of hybrid drumming for you. Have fun, experiment, and enjoy a whole new sound.
Until next time, make sure the beat goes on.