How to use an electronic drum kit with Rock Band

So, I've been playing a lot of the drums in Rock Band lately.  I don't have any experience playing real drums, but anyone with half a brain can tell that drums in Rock Band are way closer to the real thing than the plastic guitar is.

The first time I tried them, I was at a friend's house.  I did pretty well for someone who had never played the drums before…although I have some musical background, so I'm not a total loss at these things.  And then we got to "Here It Goes Again" … you know, the one with the YouTube video where the band is dancing around on treadmills.  The alternating hand hits + kicks (syncopation) totally destroyed me.  My hands and feet would simply NOT do what the notes on the screen were telling me to do.

Occasionally, I'll make myself good at something just because I know I'm bad at it, and I want to see if I can do better.  This was one of those times.

I picked up a copy of Rock Band a few weeks later and screwed around on some of the songs on expert difficulty.  I probably got through around 20 out of 45 songs or so…and mind you, this is passing the song according to the game, not actually playing the song well by hitting most of the notes.  And then I ran across a thread and video where someone had hooked up his top of the line Roland TD-20 V-Drums to Rock Band.

Well, we just HAD to try this.

Long story short, it's two months later, my hand foot independence is not 100%, but it's off the charts compared to where I was before, and the whole experience has been fun every step of the way.  It's also been interesting observing my own progress starting from basic timing to syncopation to faster and faster BPM songs and kick heavy songs, etc.  My leg used to feel like it was going to fall off in the middle of certain songs…now, it's just not a problem.  Don't get me wrong … leg/foot endurance is still an issue, but rather than just falling apart completely, it just affects my consistency near the middle/end of songs.  Still, I've been seeing improvement every step of the way, so I'm sure this will continue to improve.  And frankly, I'm starting to nail a bunch of the songs that aren't so kick heavy.

Anyway, I enjoyed the whole process so much that I wrote an uber FAQ a few weekends ago collecting all of the information anyone new might need to do the modification themselves and posted it to the relevent community forums.  Probably the equivalent of 10-20 blog posts…so yeah, that's why I haven't been posting.  And surprisingly, quite a few people have gone ahead and used the FAQ to get themselves set up as well.  Nice to know. =)

Anyway, I have zero personal illusions about "real drumming", so to speak.  In between work and other learning/social pursuits, taking things to that level isn't high on my list of priorities.  But the whole process has been an interesting personal challenge, and I thought it was worth mentioning.


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