An electronic drum kit can be a great addition to your drumming toolbox. They’re quiet when you need them to be, allowing you to practice whenever the mood to hit something strikes you (which is probably all the time).
Furthermore, they give you way more versatility in sound, allowing you to play many different-sounding drum kits all in one setup. And they can also be light, compact, and easy to move out of the way when you need space.
If you’re looking to get into the world of electronic drum sets, Simmons might be a great place to start. This brand makes affordable electronic drum kits for beginners or drummers looking for a practice set.
In this in-depth Simmons SD350 electronic drum kit review, I’ll take you through all the ins and outs of this brand’s most affordable mesh head kit. So, let’s get started…
About the Simmons Brand
If you know your electronic drums history, you’ll know the name Simmons. This brand was an early pioneer in electronic drums in the 1970s and 1980s. They produced legendary drum kits like the SDS-V and the SDX, bother of which used a unique hexagonal drum pad shape.
But, because processors were still limited back then, electronic drums weren’t nearly as versatile as they are today. By the 1990s, it seems that the novelty had worn off, and Simmons closed down.
However, in 2005, Guitar Center bought the Simmons brand name rights and started to make electronic drums once more. They still use SD model numbers and some hexagonal detailing. But, otherwise, today’s kits bear little resemblance to their predecessors.
Simmons SD350 – Overview
The SD350 is one of Simmons least expensive drum kits and is the most affordable line they offer with mesh heads. This kit can be picked up for under $400, making it a very inexpensive option for people looking for a first drum kit or an inexpensive second kit to practice on.
This is an equivalent 5-piece drum kit, which means it has five different drum pads. These include an 8” snare pad and three 8” tom pads. All of these are single-zone pads, meaning that they each make only one sound and have no rimshot sounds included.
These are mesh-head pads that are also adjustable. Rather than tuning them with the tension rods, you can use these to tighten or loosen the heads for more or less bounce.
The fifth drum piece is the kick drum. However, there’s no drum here for you to see. Instead, you get a kick drum pedal that uses a beater system to trigger a connected pad.
The other pedal you get here is the hi-hat control pedal. This senses your foot position and can help simulate open or closed hats when you strike the actual hi-hat pad. You can also stomp the pedal to make hi-hat splashes.
The hi-hat is a 10” rubberized pad, as are the 10” crash and ride pads. All of these discs sit up on boom stands that help you find the perfect height angle and position for your cymbals.
Except for the two pedals, the entire kit is set up on the SD300 drum rack. This is a 2-legged tube rack that holds everything up with an adjustable clamping system.
Choosing the sounds…
Finally, there’s the SD350 drum module which is the brain of your electronic system. This module contains 189 custom sounds which are spread over ten pre-programmed drum kits.
You get a standard rock kit plus funk, jazz, studio, hi-hop, metal, techno, and Latin percussion kits for playing different styles. 19 of the 189 voices here are keyboard tones, so you can also play this kit like a tuned instrument. There’s also one more user kit slot for you to program your own custom kit.
Now that you’ve got an overview of the SD350, let’s look at some specifics of this best entry level electronic drum kit.
Top Features of the Simmons SD350 Electronic Drum Kit
This kit has a lot to discover, so let’s take a look at its most noteworthy features.
We’re looking at a basic, low-priced electronic drum kit here, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the sounds here are not top-notch. Most of the drum sounds are fairly realistic, and the Latin percussion sounds do sound good.
But, since all of the pads are single-zone here, there’s also a fair bit of texture missing in comparison with playing an acoustic drum kit.
The cymbals don’t sound all that realistic to me, but it depends on what your normal cymbals setup is like. If found that these cymbals don’t have the same sustain as real cymbals. They tend to drop off quickly, which is great for splashes but not normal for larger cymbals.
If you want to change how things sound, though, there are built-in effects here. You can apply chorus, reverb, delay, echo, flanger, celeste, and more effects to get some cool or crazy sounds out of these drums.
The Simmons SD350 has some hardware issues to consider. The tube rack that holds everything together here has only two legs, which is a bit unusual for a rack. But, what Simmons has done here is make the legs connect at 90 degrees to two horizontal bars that sit on rubber feet.
Then, the cantilevering of the drums acts to balance the kit, so it doesn’t fall backward. That said, it still can fall backward if not well-balanced and if you smash hard on the cymbals. So, that’s something to be aware of.
While the floor tom and snare are height-adjustable, the two rack toms are not. You can adjust the angle they sit at, but the height is fixed, and some users won’t find that height ideal. However, the clamps used here do a good job of keeping everything in place. And the boom stands for the cymbals can help get the exact positioning and angles for any player.
I also like the fat, hex-shaped nuts holding the cymbals on their stands. These are super easy to grip and give the kit a subtle classic Simmons flair.
Down to the floor…
There are plusses and minuses with the two pedals. On the plus side, these pedals are independent and not fixed to any other hardware. That, plus the fact that there’s hardly any hardware on the ground, means you can position them any way you like, which is very convenient.
On the other hand, the kick pedal is quite bouncy and can’t be adjusted for angles like a regular kick pedal can. This can make it feel a bit odd and unlike stomping on a regular acoustic bass pedal.
Overall, I think this kit plays pretty well, especially for the price point. The mesh heads have a good feel and are adjustable, so you can get the perfect level of tension you want out of them.
They give you a good level of bounce and also trigger well, showing that the pads have a nice level of sensitivity. Furthermore, if you’re fast, you can trigger up to 35 voices to play at once since this kit has 35-voice polyphony.
I already mentioned the pros and cons of positioning the drum and cymbal pads where you want them. There are some bonuses there, but also some limitations to get used to.
Things to note…
The cymbals here are a little less fun to play on. They are hard plastic discs covered in the playing area by a wide rubber-coated pad. These pads are pretty heavy and don’t swing like real cymbals, so that will also take some getting used to.
And these are also all single-zone cymbals, so they only play one type of sound when struck. Again, this makes you miss some of the depth of detail you can get from hitting real cymbals on their bells, shoulders, or rims.
Finally, the hi-hat pedal controller is not great. If you play a style with a lot of opening and closing, you’re not going to find the hi-hat very responsive. It can even get to the point of frustration as it can freeze itself in either an open or closed position even after you have changed the foot pressure.
The SD350 module gives you a basic display and simple buttons to control your drum set. You can quickly and easily flip through the different kits here or the much larger menu of voices (these are your different drum sounds).
You also get ten preloaded songs that you can practice along to, as well as a slot to load one of your own songs for practice play-along. Therefore, it’s a nice budget electronic drum set for practicing.
And there’s also a metronome here that you can use to practice keeping time with. However, the metronome volume doesn’t go as loud as I would like and can be hard to hear over your drumming.
This electronic drum kit has the modern connections you’d expect. In addition to a stereo ¼” jack output which you could run to an amp, it also has a 1/8” (3.5mm) headphone jack.
This is a bit weird. Most other kits would feature a ¼” jack for better quality, long-cabled headphones. But you can always get an adapter either way.
Some nice convenience…
There’s also the latest for computer control – USB-MIDI. Through this connection, you can plug into your computer for recording or upload songs to play along to.
You can also input music from your phone or other device using the AUX-In connector. And, of course, the kit comes with a 9v adapter and a multiplug harness to connect all the pads to the module.
Simmons SD350 Electronic Drum Kit Review – Pros and Cons
- Light and mobile.
- Good response from mesh heads.
- Decent drum and percussion sounds.
- Good connections, including USB-MIDI.
- Can be a bit unsteady.
- Cymbal sounds aren’t great.
- A limited number of sounds and kits.
- Can’t input user sounds.
- Foot pedals aren’t much like real acoustic pedals.
Looking to Do Some Drumming?
We can help. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Electronic Drum Sets, the Best Cheap Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500, the Best Electronic Drum Pads, the Best Electronic Drum Sets for Kids, and the Best Electronic Drum Amps you can buy in 2023.
And, don’t miss our comprehensive Roland TD-25KV Electronic Drum Set Review, our Yamaha DTX562K Electronic Drum Set Review, and our Alesis Surge Mesh Kit Review for more great electronic drums on the market.
Simmons SD350 Electronic Drum Kit Review – Conclusion
After looking at the Simmons SD350, I’ve come to a conclusion. This isn’t the sort of kit you’re going to want to buy if you’re a professional drummer. You won’t want to use it for recording or live performances either since it’s not going to respond like and sound like a real drum kit.
But at the same time, it’s very inexpensive, feels pretty good to play, and gives you enough sounds and kits to make it a fun learning or practice tool to have around the house.
So, if you’re a first-time or beginner electronic drum set player, this might just be an ideal option to use to get started in the life-changing world of electronic drums.
Until next time, may the beat go on.