How to nail training your drums in Sensory Percussion
a colorful shot of the Sensory Percussion pads, some are trained, some are untrained.

By Dave Hill Jr.

One of the greatest features of Sensory Percussion is hearing the expressiveness and responsiveness of the sensors to your individualized playing.

To maximize the response of your Sensory Percussion sensors, it's important to retrain your drums every so often to allow for any changes in the head tension or room temperature. Training really only takes a few minutes once you've done this a couple of times, like tuning up a guitar with a new set of strings. Or perhaps breaking in a new snare drum head.

To help make this faster and even more responsive, I interviewed in-house Sensory Percussion guru, Steven Zemanian.

How often do you train?

Steven says "It depends a lot on the number of zones trained and the temperature changes in the room where the drums are kept. I find myself retraining Sensory Percussion about once a week."

How do you approach training?

Steven: I often reccomend to train only the zones you need and can reliably strike. For example, not every player has command of center rimshot vs. edge rimshot. Another example is most drummers may not strike the shell on your snare or toms. It's also important to train the drum as you'll play the drums so I recommend using a wide variety of dynamics and buzz rolls for the pads where you will play them."

He adds, "I don't often train the stickshot, damped, cross stick, and shell pads on the toms (because I don't play those very often). Having fewer pads (or zones) also helps the training stay solid for a week or so before I need to retrain. I sometimes have to train more on the snare since I often train everything except the shell."

In short, the more pads you play = the more need to train. No need to train pads you won't use.

Here's a checklist:

  • 70 - 100 hits of training for center, edge, and damped (if you use damped)
  • 30 - 50 hits of training on the rim tip and shoulder
  • 10-20 for rimshots, more if you are playing rimshots often

Snares Vs. Toms

While every setup varies, you're likely to play your snares and toms differently. Even on toms of the same diameter, the sensor position of each tom may be different and the head tension is likely to be unique. Therefore it's necessary to train each drum rather than to apply one training for all of your toms.

For many drummers there is often little need to train the stick shot, damped and cross-stick on the toms, so you only need to train 4-6 of the 10 possible zones.

Steven recommends, "I typically train Center, Edge, Rimshot Center, Rimshot Edge, Rim Tip, and Rim Shoulder for toms. I've found that suits me for most use cases. But some users definitely want to use 9 or 10 zones, and that works fine. It just requires a little bit more diligent training that is more sensitive to tuning changes."

View post on Instagram
If you're only interested in playing and building kits like this -- with one or two active zones, and some nice timbre controllers adding variability -- then you'd only need to train a few zones, namely: Center, Edge, Rim Tip, Rim Shoulder.
View post on Instagram
But, if you're also interested in playing and building kits like this one -- with three or more active zones and a more complex network of timbre controllers -- then you'd need to train most of the zones.

Kicks vs. the Rest

For your kick, Steven recommends training your closed kick pad (even if you tend to play open most of the time, just train the open hits into the closed pad).

This is due to the closed pad being the biggest pad in the kick pad visualizer UI and also the default sound selected in the Sensory Percussion sound packs. Most of the presets have the open pad assigned to the closed pad. One exception is the Simio kit which has a nice blend between open and closed on the kick that you'd miss out on if you only trained either the open or the closed pad. For most other presets it doesn't matter at all if you just train closed.

And finally, one last tip from Steven: "I still often do the trick where I check my training on a blank kit as I'm adding more pads so I can easily see if the pads are firing correctly."

Here's how to do this:

  • Train just a few (2-4) zones (pads) and then exit training mode
  • Play the drum and watch for the pads to light up.
  • If there are any misfires, go back into training mode and add more training to those pads. In rare cases, start over for the pad in question.
  • If it looks solid, keep adding zones.

::: info Hint: To reset a pad or entire drum, activate Learn mode, then right-click on a pad and select your option. :::

For more, Visit the online Manual on training the different pads and drums.

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