Alesis Strike starts shipping

Tuesday, 16 May 2017 10:59 am

Alesis has started filling back-orders and placing kits in retail stores as it ramps up manufacture of its Strike Pro electronic drum kit, as Allan Leibowitz reports.

“We’ve been shipping in the States since March,” says Alesis drums head Tim Root. “And everything we have shipped has been sold, so dealers are reordering. We’ve got way more orders than (we can meet) right now.”

Canada will be next in line, with orders starting to be filled soon.

Europe will get its first stock in June 2017 to meet a rising tide of pre-orders.

Root is buoyed by the ability to take kits into stores and start demoing them, especially after ongoing jibes about the Strike being ‘vapourware’.

“Alesis has always been a bit of an underdog and when you bring in the kit, there’s a bit of scepticism in their faces. But when they see it and hear it, they’re blown away,” he says.

He admits to immense relief after a difficult period, starting in 2015 when he moved to Alesis after many years as a key member of the Roland US team. When he arrived, the Strike kit was already in development, based on a spec from Walter Skorupski. Root says he immediately started changing things. After some radical changes, the Strike team was faced with a decision about showing the kit at the 2016 NAMM show. “I jumped the gun a bit,” Root recalls. “Part of it was just the excitement and wanting to get it out there.” But he underestimated the development cycle and believed the kit would be ready for shipping by the middle of the year.

What Root could not have anticipated was the loss of several key team members including sound designer Adam Schneider and trigger engineer John Teele, all seconded from Sonivox, a sibling inMusic company. The key players were lured away by another opportunity, “so in the middle of the project, we had to bring in another sound designer, another triggering engineer and another software guy”, he recalls. “We had the people, but they had to get up to speed with the project.”

Besides the team upheaval, Root says a succession of “little things” mounted up, with the loss of a couple of weeks here and there. But he was determined that there would be no compromises, and Strike would not be rushed out the door. “Yes, they wanted it a year ago, but it’s here now and they can see why we took so long to do it,” he says. “The effort was well worth it.”

Root is happy with the pad set, the triggering and the huge onboard sample library, but he says the real mark of Strike is that “drummers are going to be able to sound different”.

“You can put any sound you want in there and as time goes on, everyone is going to be able to customise their kit. They can mix it with what’s in there or add totally original sounds.”

The key to that flexibility is the free Strike editor software which will allow users to add .wav samples to the module. The software, according to Root, “is real close right now”.

And the Strike is not the final word, according to Root. “The difference between the Alesis of old and Alesis now is that we are serious about electronic drums. Now you have drummers at the helm of the Alesis drum line, we are all working constantly to put new, innovative products on the market. We’re always thinking ahead and we have a lot more planned.”