What are Drum Triggers? Ultimate Guide 101

November 8, 2023

Drum triggers are like your drum kit’s best friends—they help you take your acoustic drum sound and make it consistent and studio-quality, no matter where you play.

In over 18 years of drumming, I’ve seen it all, and I’m here to break down the world of drum triggers for you in the simplest terms.

What Are Drum Triggers?

When you hit the drum, the trigger picks up the vibration and sends it as an electronic signal, which can then be turned into any sound you want.

How Do They Work?

It’s like tapping your finger on a smartphone screen. The screen senses where you tapped and responds. Similarly, when you hit a drum with a trigger, it senses the hit and sends a signal to a sound module, which then produces the sound you’ve selected.

Why Use Drum Triggers?

They’re a game-changer for playing live or recording. You can make your snare sound like a cannon or your kick like thunder, all without changing your drums. Plus, they help avoid common sound issues like microphone bleed or inconsistent sound in different venues.

For those rushing out the door: Drum triggers can transform your acoustic drumming into an electronic sound feast, giving you control, consistency, and a whole range of sonic possibilities. They’re not just for the pros; they’re for any drummer looking to step up their game.

Types of Drum Triggers

  • Head-contact Triggers: Adhesive pads that attach to the drumhead, these triggers are sensitive and accurate, capturing the vibration directly from where the stick hits.
  • Hoop-mount Triggers: Clamped onto the sides of the drum, these are durable and less likely to be affected by rigorous playing, ideal for drummers with a heavy hand.
  • Piezo Triggers: Using piezoelectric technology, these are highly responsive to vibrations, offering precise triggering for nuanced playing.
  • Optical Triggers: These use a light sensor to detect drumhead movement, providing a unique and consistent triggering method that’s unaffected by acoustic sound.
  • Hand Drum Triggers: Specifically designed for hand percussion instruments, they are tuned to respond to the subtleties of hand taps and slaps.

DIY Drum Triggers

Materials Needed

  • Piezo discs (these are the heart of your trigger)
  • Some wires
  • A jack socket (to connect your trigger to a sound module)
  • Tape or adhesive
  • A bit of foam or rubber (for cushioning)

Step 1. Connect the wires

Solder a wire to each side of the piezo disc. It’s like attaching a leash to a pet – you’re giving the disc a way to communicate.

Step 2. Attach the Jack Socket

Solder the other end of the wires to the jack socket. This is where you’ll plug in the cable that connects to your sound module.

Step 3. Cushioning

Stick a piece of foam or rubber to the non-wired side of the piezo disc. This acts like a pillow, protecting the disc when you hit the drum.

Step 4. Mounting

Use tape or adhesive to attach the piezo disc to your drum, on the inside of the drum head or the shell. It’s like putting a sticker on your drum, but this sticker can turn hits into electronic sounds!

Step 5. Testing

Connect your new trigger to a sound module and give it a test. Adjust the placement if needed to get the best response.

Pros and Cons of DIY Drum Triggers




Drum Triggers Vs Drum Microphones

Sound Source:

  • Triggers: Convert drum hits into electronic signals for a consistent sound.
  • Microphones: Capture the actual acoustic sound of the drums.


  • Triggers: Allow you to change and control your drum sound electronically.
  • Microphones: Best for a natural sound, with less control over tone.

Cost & Setup:

  • Triggers: More affordable and easier to set up.
  • Microphones: Can be expensive and need careful placement for optimal sound.

Sound Consistency:

  • Triggers: Provide a uniform sound in any environment.
  • Microphones: Sound varies with room acoustics and mic position.

Technology Reliance:

  • Triggers: Depend on electronics which may fail.
  • Microphones: Simple, no extra tech needed but risk feedback issues.
What are Drum Triggers

Buying Guide: Choosing the Right Drum Trigger for Your Setup

  • Under $50: Expect basic triggers suitable for hobbyists or those new to using triggers. They should be reliable enough for practice sessions and low-key gigs.
    My Recommendation: For those on a budget, check out the ddrum Red Shot series. They offer good quality at a low price, making them a solid choice for beginners.
  • $50 to $100: You’ll find triggers with better sensitivity and construction. These are ideal for regular gigging drummers who need dependable performance.
    My Recommendation: The Yamaha DT50 series stands out in this range for its durability and precision, a favorite for its easy setup and consistent response.
  • Above $100: This range is for high-end, professional triggers with advanced features like dual-zone triggering and superior build quality for intense drumming.
    My Recommendation: Roland RT-series triggers are top-tier choices, known for their robust design and exceptional triggering accuracy, perfect for the serious drummer. 
Another popular solution is Yamaha EAD10 which is a module and a trigger for entire set.

Wrap up

Drum triggers are your shortcut to amplified and versatile drumming, fitting seamlessly with any kit type—acoustic or electronic. They’re simple to install, making them accessible even to drumming novices. 

With triggers, you can expect a consistent, customizable sound across various venues, ideal for drummers looking to blend electronic flair with acoustic authenticity. 

While they range in price and sophistication, drum triggers like those from ddrum, Yamaha, and Roland cater to every skill level, ensuring every drummer can find their perfect beat.

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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