How I use e-drums

Monday, 29 May 2017 6:50 pm

Tom Wheeler is a Bristol, UK-based drummer/producer currently working with Dr Meaker, Paragon and Laurent John. He explains how e-drums have helped unleash his creativity.

Since I started playing drums, I always had a passion for dance and electronic music. I would always listen to artists like The Prodigy, Daft Punk, Prince, Massive Attack, to name a few.

As soon as I got my first set of drums, I would play along to my favourite albums from artists like this and always wanted to recreate the sounds I was hearing on these records I loved so much.

After doing tours/gigs for various established artists, I got the gig for Dr Meaker, which was a perfect blend of the live soul edge and heavy electronic music that I loved. I had previously been experimenting with electronic/acoustic hybrid set-ups in other acts, but it was in this outfit I found one of my favourite set-ups.

The Dr Meaker set-up is a combination of acoustic kit playing while using my Roland SPD-SX and Roland PD-85 trigger pads for hitting off samples, splitting breaks and also FX. The Dr Meaker album Dirt&Soul is a very versatile art piece and the only way to recreate the sound of the record is to use the endless opportunities of the electronic hybrid set-up. A perfect example of this is a track called Fear, in which I am playing the beat solely on the SPD-SX and triggers - and towards the end of the song, it builds into a massive sounding DnB beat played on the acoustic kit while the previous beat continues in a loop under this.

I also use a Boss foot switch, which has been a really great addition to my set-up as it means I can switch kits and navigate really easily during the set. I have my click running and also the track elements in my ear during performances; it has so much flexibility which is why I love using a hybrid set-up.

In the last couple of years, I have also been producing my own music. My new project, Paragon, the live set-up is amazing because I can use all of my samples on the record, simply put them into my two standing SPD-SX set-up with my Sonor acoustic kick and KD-7 kick trigger, Roland PD-85 trigger pads and my Bosphorus cymbals. As I now have a production ear  too, it has really made me experiment with the way I recreate the records for Paragon.

I am producing for singer/songwriter Laurent John for some tracks on his forthcoming EP, and being able to recreate this live is just amazing because you can arrange the kit as you want, efficiently getting the sound of the record but adding as many live elements as you desire - visually and mix-wise.

I will always continue to experiment with my hybrid set-ups and incorporate electronics into my projects and sessions. For me, using acoustic and e-drum elements is so much fun and I will continue to push what I can do live with the new technology. 

Tom’s Set-Up

Sonor SQ2 Acoustic Kit

20” Kick

13” Snare Drum

10” Rack Tom

14” Floor Tom

16” Floor Tom

Sonor artist series snare


Roland SPD-SX

Roland PD-85 Trigger Pads x 2

Roland V-Drums snare

Boss Foot Switch

Roland KD-7 Foot trigger


Bosphorus 13” Traditional Hi Hat

Bosphorus 16” Antique Crash

Bosphorus 17” Antique Crash

Bosphorus 22” Antique Ride

Bosphorus 22” Hammer Series China


Vic Firth 5B

Puretone Music In Ears

DW 9000 Bass drum pedal

Gibraltar Drum Throne