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DIY Electronic Drum Pads for Less Than $30

With a few small, fast tweaks, Remo drum pads can be transformed into triggers for electronic drum modules that work perfectly for building your own highly affordable electronic drumset. The Remo drum pads are great – they’re tunable, have a realistic response, and are easily disassembled. I have one and I love it, although I admit I should practice more often.

Here’s an overview of the procedure, as posted on electronicdrums.com. Another writeup with useful photos and instructions is available here as well.

Parts needed:
  • 1- 10″ Remo Tunable Practice Pad – about $23
  • 1- Piezo Transducer (Radio Shack # 273-073a or similar) – $2
  • 1- 10″ x 20″ piece of 1/2″ thick poly foam rubber (same density as Remo’s foam)
  • 1- 8″ length of 20 guage stranded speaker wire
  • 1- Chassis-mount RCA jack (Radio Shack #274-346)
  • 1- 8″ diameter circle of 28 guage galvanized steel (or large coffee can lid)

Tools needed:
  • Drill with 1/4″ bit
  • Hot Glue Gun or Epoxy Glue
  • Soldering Iron Kit
  • Wire Strippers
  • Pocket Knife
  • Scissors
  • Flat Screwdriver
  • Can Opener
  • Gloves, Goggles, Pliers & Carbonated Beverage

– Disassemble the drum head and remove the foam pad.
– Split the foam into two pieces (or cut another piece of foam to the same size of the first one).
– Cut a circle of metal just smaller than the foam. An 8″ piece of metal works well with a 10″ drum pad.
– Remove the piezo transducer from the plastic housing. Be careful not to damage the transducer.
– Glue transducer to center of metal disc (hot glue or epoxy).
– Place metal disc with transducer between the two pieces of foam. Cut a small slit in the piece of foam on the side of piezo and pull wires through it.
– Replace foam and metal disc assembly in the pad housing.
– Drill a small hole in backside of drum pad housing and screw RCA jack into it.
– Solder the leads from the piezo to the RCA jack.
– Put head on and tighten up screws.

That’s it! You now have an electronic drum head, velocity sensitive and realistic to play. You can use this to trigger any electronic drum brain – just connect the 1/4″ input to the RCA jack with the appropriate cable.

Total time to make this pad, with the hinderance of taking photos: 30 minutes. You now have a fully functional, velocity sensitive, solid as a rock electronically triggered drum pad. Of course, you can always blow $120 and buy a Roland pad, or you can get a used Remo on eBay for $10, and spend $3.00 at Radio Shack.

Electronicdrums.com has a “members-only” section with instructions on how to build a two-zone drum trigger, cymbals, hi-hats and more.