If you walk into most music stores and straight into the drum section, chances are you will catch a glimpse of a poster of Neil Peart from Rush lording over a massive Zildjian set looking like he’s about to take the most epic drum solo of all time. What a lot of people don’t realize, is that Neil Peart has actually incorporated Roland electronic “V-drums” into his set-up over the years to expand the possibilities of what he can do sonically from the stage. It’s tricky to see at first because Peart has had all of the V-drums encased in custom shells so that they are nearly indistinguishable from real drums. Obviously, he is still banging around on a legit drum kit with a dozen cymbals, rototoms, the works; but to match the incredible studio prowess that Rush has become known for, over the years, he needs to be able to trigger sounds beyond what you can make with a traditional drum-kit.
It is interesting to consider that Getty Lee himself is constantly triggering Moog Taurus pedals during a Rush show while slapping away at the bass guitar, in order to add a rich layer of synth to the mix. Tricks like this, as well as Neil Peart’s secret V-kit, give us an insight into how much is often going on in the mix at a huge, well-produced rock show of the type that Rush is known for. It’s also a credit to the band that they don’t take the same cheap short-cuts – like using multiple backing tracks – that so many acts use in this digital era.
You don’t have to be Getty Lee or Neil Peart to benefit from these cool gadgets that have sprung up in music stores for common consumers in the past ten years. Certainly, a Moog Taurus pedal setup costs a pretty penny (think two to three grand), but you can purchase an electronic drum-kit for a much more reasonable price. The Roland TD-1KV is an amazing entry-level e-drum kit that retails for about six hundred dollars.
The advantage of a kit like this is that you can play in your condo or your apartment. While it may not seem like a big deal if you play the saxophone or the acoustic guitar, figuring out a place to play as a drummer is actually a huge hassle. Your neighbors will almost always shut it down, and in the worst case scenario you may end up with the police at your door, due to a noise complaint.
Even if you do play in a band, there’s a pretty high chance that your kit sits at a rehearsal space that is out of the way in your daily routine. Having an affordable electronic kit in your home will allow you to practice and hone your shops night and day without the neighbors complaining. If you seriously want to learn to play drums and percussion, you may benefit from weekly music lessons – however, without having access to a practice kit you will make extremely slow progress. If you want to smash a solo like the boys in Rush, plant an electronic kit in your apartment and see what happens.