How To Make A DIY Velocity-Sensitive Electronic Drum Kit For About $50

In this video, Ugandan synthesist Bamanya Brian (aka Afrorack) shares his experience with making a DIY velocity-sensitive electronic drum kit.

Brian’s videos offer a very different perspective from many synthesists sharing videos on Youtube, because he’s working within the limitations of living in an area where access to gear is limited, and if you can get it, it’s probably prohibitively expensive. As a result, Brian is one of the first African synthesists sharing their experience with DIY projects.

Here, he demonstrates his DIY drum kit, which is based around an Arduino micro controller, which translates drum hits into MIDI data sent to a laptop. It’s not as powerful as a $3,000 Roland V-drum system, but it cost him about $50 and it works.

Check out the video and share your thoughts on it in the comments!

7 thoughts on “How To Make A DIY Velocity-Sensitive Electronic Drum Kit For About $50

  1. I so want to do this. But where do I get a chicken from? My Yamaha dd-11 has gone into hiding and I can still feel the scar and 30 year old stitches on my left index finger….. carpet knife and a piece of dowling, what could possibly go wrong? And no drum sticks

    1. Poverty is the Mother of Inventions (not necessity).

      Ps. Must be approved by Chickens else its diddly squat.

      Pps. As I’m rubbish at building things, have injured myself as Philip Nash
      I wonder if it would be safer (faster) to just get some plastic buckets, plastic containers as street drummers
      thereafter adding piezzo pickups etc to the plastic buckets plastic containers.

    2. You really should look into getting yourself a chicken.
      They make you high hats sound amazing.
      Like a 909, but better.
      Cock a doodle doo.

    3. You really should look into getting yourself a chicken.
      They make your high hats sound amazing.
      Like a 909, but better.
      Cock a doodle doo.

  2. I made one of these about 20 years ago with an Alesis drum brain. Arduino seems like the twist that makes it more affordable.

    I would encourage anyone who’s considering making this to note that the sound you are hearing is a direct recording. The sticks hitting the pads make a huge amount of noise. It was always loud enough to cut through headphones with the sound turned up as loud as I could bear. It quickly became annoying. Fine for recording, less pleasing for performance or even just noodling to relax. (Also very annoying to those around you. This is not a silent drum kit in any way.)

    Mesh heads were such a game changer for me. More natural feel and virtually silent. If I were going to build another kit, I’d definitely start following folks trying to DIY the mesh head approach.

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