5-Gallon 5-Piece Electronic Drum Set

electronic drums from 5 gallon buckets

Who hasn’t wanted to rock out on some drums in the middle of the night? If you have anything that resembles neighbors then a midnight jam session is out of the question. That is unless a set of electronic drums is available… but alas, those are expensive. If you don’t have the spare cash burning a hole in your pocket, then be like [Mike] and build a complete 5 piece e-drum set.

[Mike] started off with 5 gallon buckets that would become the drum shells. On a real drum set, all of the drums are different sizes in order to produce different notes. Drum size doesn’t matter with an electronic drum as a drum module creates the note and sound. Even so, to make this set a little more realistic, each drum was sectioned and pulled back together to change the diameter. A homemade circle cutting jig and a wood router were used to cut top and bottom rim hoops out of 3/4″ plywood. The inner diameter of these hoops were made just a hair larger than the outer diameter of the 5 gallon bucket shells. The bottom of the top hoop was then routed to produce a groove which would allow a standard mesh drum head to fit inside.

electronic drums from 5 gallon buckets

Electronic Drums use a sensor to measure the force of the drum stick strike. Most DIY Drums use a piezo element (think buzzer from your 1980’s Tiger hand-held game). These piezos are cheap and even available locally at Radio Shack. Due to Piezoelectricity, these elements produce electricity when they are exposed to force or stress, such as the impact of a drumstick.  The voltage output is proportional to the force.

Foam sanding blocks were cut down and the material used to transfer the energy from the drum head to the piezo element because a direct strike to the piezo from a drum stick would damage the sensor. The output leads of the piezo are connected directly to a 1/4″ audio jack mounted in the shell of the drum. A patch cable connects each drum to a drum module that is responsible for generating the actual sounds.

Once the individual drums were finished [Mike] made a wooden frame to hold the drums in position. Overall, this is a resourceful build and the results aren’t too shabby for a minimal amount of money and a little bit of time.


6 thoughts on “5-Gallon 5-Piece Electronic Drum Set

  1. Would be interesting to measure the response coming out of the drum skin, foam block, piezo combo. Is it mushy or crisp? How much force range is there? Are you just whacking away or does the stick nuance come out?

  2. They work great and responsiveness is left up to you and the controller. I have a similar project in progress on the projects page, this I think was the kit that sparked my interest. I’m using real drum shells and mesh pads though.

  3. aaaahhh … sweet sweet build .. however … i thought you can go for really huge ( like 20megaohm) resistors instead of protecting the piezzo by foam – – also one needs to watch out for the floating pin I’ve been told

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