A few weeks ago I found a used Roland HD-1 in great condition at the used music store. At my home studio here I have been wanting to get my two kids an electronic drum kit they could use when they alternate between the keyboards. I thought this would help get them more well rounded in music and allow them to try something different. My youngest one also has a fascination for the drums in addition to keyboards, so I thought it would be fun to put a drum kit in the studio. After a few weeks of the kids banging away on it, I am so glad I bought the Roland HD-1
What’s great about the Roland HD-1 is that it’s small, light weight, portable. and incredibly easy for kids to operate. There are 10 good presets ranging from regular drum kits to Tr-808 style drums. The kids can easily push the big number buttons and adjust the volume as they wish. I run the Roland HD-1 through a Roland KC-150 keyboard amp and it sounds great. There is also a headphone jack and when in use the HD-1 overall is very quiet. The bass drum and hi-hat pedals are slightly different than regular drum kits, but the kids handle them very well. My youngest (5) can scoot in really close and play without any problems.
I also looked at other Roland and Yamaha kits but they were much bigger and of course much more expensive. I usually try to buy used because I can get really great deals however finding used electronic drum kits is much more difficult than keyboards in Japan. I managed to buy the Roland HD-1 at less than half price for a new one so I thought it worked out well. The kids also seem to like the mesh snare drum rather than the rubber ones that Yamaha uses. I tried a few of the other drum kits in a regular new music store before buying the HD-1 and the kids seemed to really love the Roland HD-1. ( Note my kids are ages 8 and 5 ).
In addition, I bought a used Yamaha DTXpress sound module and was successfully able to midi it up to the Roland HD-1. This expanded the HD-1 to include Roland sounds, sequences, and training material. The Roland HD-1 cannot trigger the DTXpress via the cables I think, but I it can certainly trigger everything via midi which is all I need right now. It also makes the Roland HD-1 a bit more professional and the kids love the additional sounds and features the Yamaha has while retaining the feel of the Roland HD-1. We enjoy layering the sounds as well with the DTXpress and other sound modules I have in the studio. Plus later, you can even buy Yamaha Drum pads and attach them to the DTXpress to add additional pads to the overall kit. Pretty cool!
When the kids play, they usually take turns with one playing the Roland HD-1 drums and the other the keyboard. You will be amazed at how fast kids will pick up drumming and improve their timing. In addition, the kids are really starting to key in and understand the differences between a hi-hat, snare, crash cymbal, bass drum, toms, and ride cymbal. Note that the Roland HD-1 does have velocity sensitive pads and I believe they are all 1 zone. So on the snare for example you can’t get a snare sound AND a rimshot. Honestly though, if my kids outgrow this Roland HD-1 then they will definitely deserve a higher end model. The Roland HD-1 is great for that “show me what you can do” spirit … laugh. The kids are loving the HD-1 though and myself included enjoy teaching them new drum grooves. It’s a real kick!!!
Here is a demo of the Roland HD-1 V-Drums on Youtube