10 Tips for buying used electronic drums

When it comes to purchasing electronic drums, used equipment can be a great option. Not only does it provide an opportunity to save money, second-hand gear is also a ‘green’ alternative in the increasingly popular circular economy, extending the use and life of instruments that might otherwise clutter attics or end up in landfill. Used gear also allows drummers to explore a wide range of models and brands that may be discontinued or hard to find in new condition.
However, buying used electronic drums requires some careful consideration to ensure a successful and satisfying purchase. In this article, we present 10 expert tips to help you navigate the used market and find the perfect electronic drum set.

1. Set a budget:
Before diving into the world of used electronic drums, determine your budget. Having a clear spending limit will narrow down your options and help you make informed decisions based on affordability. Don’t, however, set your sights too low. Decent gear is not cheap, even second hand.

2. Research and compare:
Spend time researching different brands, models and features available in the market. Compare specifications, read reviews and seek expert advice to identify the best electronic drum kit that suits your needs. Use resources like digitalDrummer magazine, our Facebook group or online forums to get a sense of what is recommended and the pricing levels in your country.

3. Brand reputation:
Consider purchasing from reputable brands known for their durability and quality. Brands such as Roland and Yamaha have established themselves as leaders in the electronic drum industry, providing reliable products with good long-term support. It’s not unusual to see people playing a 20-year-old Roland kit. Avoid lesser-known brands, especially cheap Chinese imports, which don’t have the track record of the market leaders.

4. Age of the kit:
Pay attention to the age of the electronic drum set you are considering. While older models can still be functional and reliable, newer models often offer improved technology and features. A vintage module like the ddrum 4SE has some technology that has still not been surpassed, but you won’t find the same quality of samples or editing tools which are now included in even entry-level brains. We note that vintage gear like early Simmons kits is going through a resurgence, with drummers opting for the unique visuals and the ‘authenticity’ of analogue sounds – and here age is not an issue, but condition is very important.

5. Pay attention to the module
It is possible to buy full kits second-hand, but many e-drummers tend to piece their kit together from used components. If you plan to go that route, start with the module (drum brain) that will determine which pads and cymbals – and especially which hi-hat system – you can add later. Not all gear is compatible, so you need to choose wisely. It also pays to buy the best module you can afford because the other components are easier and cheaper to upgrade. For example, you might start with rubber pads and later progress to drums with mesh heads. Both options will “sound” the same through the module – the only differences are size, feel and triggering performance.

6. Condition assessment:
When buying used electronic drums, thoroughly assess the condition of the set. Look for any signs of wear, damage or missing parts. Check that all the module inputs and outputs work and that the software and firmware is up to date. Ensure that the drum pads, cymbals and hardware are in good working order. If possible, try out the kit before making a purchase to ensure everything functions as expected.

7. Spare parts availability:
Check the availability of spare parts for the specific model you are considering. While electronic drum sets are generally durable, certain components may require replacement over time. Some of these, like piezos and mesh heads, are fairly generic and easily replaced. Other components, like replacement screens for modules, may be harder to source. Knowing that replacement parts are readily accessible can save you frustration and expense in the future.

8. Software compatibility:
Ensure that the used electronic drum set you are interested in is compatible with the latest software and firmware updates. This compatibility is crucial for accessing expanded sound libraries, new features and enhanced functionality. Verify that the drum module supports the connectivity options you require, such as MIDI or USB.

9. Research the seller:
Many music retailers sell second-hand equipment that they have traded. These include Guitar Center, Sam Ash and edrumcenter in North America and drum-tec in Europe. These retailers provide some peace of mind through a warranty with their used gear. These days, there are various online marketplaces, from Reverb and DrumSellers to Facebook Marketplace, which offer electronic drum gear. If you’re buying from an individual seller, research their reputation and credibility. Check online marketplaces, forums, or social media platforms to see if there are any positive or negative reviews about their past transactions. Buying from a trusted seller reduces the risk of potential issues.

10. Negotiate and insist on a test:
Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price when buying used. However, be reasonable and consider the overall condition, age and included accessories. Additionally, always insist on testing the drum set before finalising the purchase to ensure it meets your expectations and functions flawlessly. This is especially true for modules and full kits, although even the most basic of components can be fatally flawed internally, which you won’t see until you plug it in and try to use it.

Buying used electronic drums can be an exciting and cost-effective way to expand your drumming horizons. By following these tips, you can navigate the used market with confidence, ensuring a successful and satisfying purchase. Remember to research, compare, assess condition and negotiate to find the perfect electronic drum set that fits your budget and requirements.