A popular choice for beginners is the Yamaha DTX400K Electronic Drum Set. It’s shown above without all the cables attached.
It has some limitations, but that’s why the price is fairly low and why it’s considered a starter set.
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For more information, so you can make an informed decision on this drum set, read the review below. You can click a link in the table to skip right to that section of the review.
What Makes the Yamaha DTX400K a Good Choice for Beginners?
The DTX400K is very simple. That’s something that would probably put off a more experienced drummer. But a beginner by definition is not experienced, so simplicity is a good thing.
The drum pads don’t have any “zones” for you to worry about. More advanced sets sometimes have these zones. A drum that has 2 zones will sound different when you hit it in each of those areas.
A single zone or zoneless drum pad sounds the same no matter where you strike it. It will still sound louder if you hit it hard and softer if you tap it lightly.
The DTX400K’s cymbals are not chokeable. Again, more advanced electronic drum sets may have cymbals that will stop their sound if you grasp them with your fingers, just like acoustic cymbals.
With the 10-inch DTX400K crash (located at the upper left) and ride (located at the upper right) cymbals, you just let the sound, whether loud or soft, die away naturally.
The electronic “brains” of the set is called the DTX400 – without the “K” at the end, which I suppose stands for “Kit”. This is simpler than many, too, in that it doesn’t have an LCD display. This also helps keep the cost down.
With a little help from the manual, you can still easily figure out how to use the various buttons on the console and learn what all the lights mean.
You use this gadget to access the 10 preset kits which, once you become more proficient, you may want to reconfigure using some of the 169 built-in sounds.
Even though this is a beginner set, you do get some high-quality materials to play with. The sounds included are the same as those from Yamaha’s more expensive sets.
You also can use the hi-hat pedal (normally controlled by your left foot) as a second bass drum kick pedal, when you get really good at using your feet.
The KU100 kick pedal unit itself is silent because there is no beater attached to it. This is another item that a more skilled drummer might find disconcerting at first. As a beginner, you will never notice the difference.
Can the DTX400K Help Me Learn to Play Drums?
The DTX400K has some great features for you as you begin learning to play. There are 10 training functions built into the DTX400 module, 10 play-along songs, and (as of this writing) 2 iPhone and iPad apps.
The training functions include the following.
- Rhythm Gate
- Measure Break
- Groove Check
- Tempo Up/Down
- Fast Blast
- Part Mute
- Pad Gate
- Groove Tracker
- Easy Session
- Change Up
Each of these will hone your rhythm or speed or groove and fill skills. Some of the lessons allow you to change the speed and difficulty level.
At the end of a session, the module will tell you how you did. You’ll see a score from 1 to 10, using the display lights. You can even have it talk to you giving a rating from “Try again” through “Fantastic.”
You can think of the 10 play-along songs as background music for you to jam with. You can practice your grooves (steady playing during a musical phrase) and fills (playing during the gaps to setup the next groove). The styles of these songs vary so you can practice various rhythms.
You can change the rhythms on these songs. You’ll probably want to start quite slowly and work up to normal tempos.
The Drum Lessons app gives you video tutorials on basic techniques. You’ll learn how to hold your drumsticks and play the hi-hat, plus many other useful things that beginners want to know.
The Song Beats app lets you download Yamaha music (MIDI) files from their store. If you have ever played Rock Band, you’ll see similarities here. You’ll see a visual representation of the drum part. Each drum glows when hit.
You can set your iPhone can in the recess at the top of the DTX400 module, so you can see how each exercise should be performed as you play along.
Below is an interesting video comparison of the Yamaha DTX400K and the Roland TD-1K from A&C Hamilton, a company based in Britain. The drummer plays along with several of the built-in songs that come with each kit, alternating between the Yamaha and the Roland.
Are There Any Downsides to the DTX400K Drum Kit?
The problems noted by some owners are generally related to more advanced techniques and may not even apply to the particular set you purchase. That is, it might be a problem only with the set that another owner has.
Here is what some others have to say.
“Cymbal bell playing can also be a tad difficult and sometimes can only be achieved by hitting the bell rather hard.”
The bell of a cymbal is the small, raised center of the circle.
“The pedals are overly sensitive. The hi-hat pedal will open up even with your foot firmly on it. When you use the hi-hat pedal as a double bass pedal, the sensitivity and loudness between the two pedals is fairly dramatic.”
“Though the positioning of the hi-hat with the snare is less than convenient, the most annoying aspect is that the hi-hat tends to droop, moving sideways on its round bracket which makes access to the module a pain.”
You should note that there isn’t a separate output jack for headphones on the DTX400. The DTX500, which is the next step up in Yamaha’s lines, does have such an output. Of course, you will pay more for that and other upgraded features.
If the DTX400K, which remains very popular, just isn’t for you, you might consider these other beginner sets mentioned in this article.
But if you do like this drum set and think you could use it to get yourself or someone else started as the next Neil Peart or Keith Moon or Buddy Rich, why not check it out now?