For e-drum buyers, inflation is not a theoretical concept – they are seeing it in action each time they shop for new gear.
Retailers like US-based Sweetwater have been experiencing price increases over the past 12 months and expect more to come.
Kenric Knecht, senior director, drums & percussion/merchandising development, tells digitalDrummer: “We’re seeing price increases across pretty much all brands, in all categories, including, of course, electronic drums. The increases vary, depending on a wide range of individual factors and situations the manufacturers may face.”
Manufacturer Efnote recently took to Facebook to flag increases of 5% to 15% for its kits in the North American market.
Spokesman Michael Bedard said Efnote had “held out as long as we could and have allowed many customers to purchase at amazing prices while most companies have long since made multiple price increases”.
Bedard admitted that the increases were unfortunate for those who’ve been on the fence about purchasing “and for that we are truly sorry”.
Erik Hamm, CEO of US online retailer edrumcenter.com, is braced for further increases: “We don’t have any kind of crystal ball, but we feel prices may continue to rise for the near future.”
And it’s not just the US that is experiencing e-drum inflation.
Konrad Müller-Bremeyer, CEO of Germany’s drum-tec, is seeing increases from nearly all brands. “I expect minimal rises from Roland, Pearl and GEWA, small or medium steps from ATV and drum-tec and large price jumps from Efnote, Yamaha and Alesis,” he says.
Müller-Bremeyer says the increases are appearing even for stock in the warehouse “because each instrument you sell will have to be re-bought at much higher prices”, especially since margins have been significantly eroded over the last six months.
Matt Silver of Sweden’s Slagverket says price rises used to be occasional “but (manufacturers) are raising them more often and by a larger amount – from a few percent to double figures each time”.
The expectation of price increases in all markets means that, for many buyers, now is the time to jump in if they are considering new gear.
Glenn Noyes, director of merchandise – drums/cymbals/percussion/accessories at US retail giant Guitar Center, stresses that “there is a good chance pricing will continue to rise in 2023, so now is the time to buy”.
“Across most brands, electronic drum inventory is in a good position and there are a lot of new e-kits already on the market and there is a good assortment to choose from in all price points,” he explains.
Slagverket’s Silver agrees: “If anyone is keen on new digital drums now, I would definitely not wait as price rises are not slowing down any time soon, it seems. If you have found a product you like and have the wherewithal, it is a great time to buy. There are some really good products on the market at the moment.”
However, he points out that for some brands, the supply chain issues still linger. “Unfortunately, we have trouble getting stock of some of our favourite kits such as Yamaha and Roland’s high-end kits.”
While Sweetwater doesn’t seem to be facing the same supply issues, Knecht still advises customers not to wait.
“Despite our current strong inventory, I still recommend, if you’re looking for something and you see it is in stock, the safest bet is to buy it now. Otherwise, you may potentially face a wait for the product to come in,” he advises.
The situation for goods on back-order is a little trickier, but edrumcenter’s Hamm says his company has honoured prices quoted at the time of order and absorbed 100% of the price increases. He cites orders for Roland’s VH-14D hi-hats taken at the original price of $899.99 and says edrumcenter has “honoured all of those prices even though Roland raised our dealer price several times”.
“In the case of ATV, we are absorbing unprecedented shipping costs (four to five times higher than pre-2020 levels) as well as the 2020 tariffs to keep ATV competitive in the US market.”
With rising costs almost a certainty, drum-tec’s Müller-Bremeyer also sees no reason to wait, if you know what you want and a dealer has it in stock.
But more important, he says, is to make sure you buy the “best e-drum for your needs”.