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Drum Machine Recommendations?


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I got Ed's book "Bass Groves" for Xmas and am eager to start working through it, so it looks like I'll have to buy my first drum machine after more than a decade of bassdom. (I do own a metronome though, so please don't fine me!) ;)


I've searched the archives and found lots of mentions OF drum machines, but not much in the way of reviews.


I know nothing of these mysterious machines. Criteria are as follows: reliable, simple to use, cheap!


Which one(s) would you recommend? Thanks in advance - you guys always give me solid advice.

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Thanks, Fellas. That's actually the one I was kind of leaning towards based on what little I've read.


Originally posted by zeronyne:

There are a bunch of other worhty ones on the market, but in this case, why not go with an industry standard that is really affordable?

Can't argue with that, I think I'm sold!
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I own a Boss DR-770. I believe this is the same one Ed has. I know Bass has one that's a bit newer now. The DR-770 has gone down quite a bit. The Alesis are good machines though if that's the price range you are looking for. I was actually just looking at that grooves book by Ed the other night. Probably pick it up.

Mike Bear




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It's rare to find such agreement on this forum (or anywhere, really.) That gives me a lot of confidence in this purchase. :)


I actually decided to buy a new one so I wouldn't have to worry about shipping and would have the warranty/manual, etc. Put one on layaway at GC and will pick it up tonight. Woo-hoo!


Thanks again, Lowdowners!

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Originally posted by forceman:

I have owned an Alesis SR-16 for 10 years.


Rock solid, and you can get a used one for around $100.


Easy to program, with complete MIDI functionality.



I've had an Alesis SR-16 for a long time also...I'd definitely second the recommendation. I also have an Boss DR-5, which has drums, bass, keys, guitar, etc. sounds on it....however, the sounds aren't as good as the Alesis, and it's much clunkier to use. I can't vouch for the newer iterations of this gadget, they could be much better, don't know. If you just want drums, the Alesis is the way to go.



Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006


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Got my SR-16 last night and boy do I feel stupid. I didn't realize I'd need to put it through an amp to use it, I just assumed it had a speaker. :o


I tried plugging it into my eMAC so I could monitor it using Garageband, but I couldn't figure that out. Finally I just plugged it into a guitar amp, but I don't want to have to use that every time. Unfortunately, I don't have a PA in my apartment.


What do y'all use as a monitor?

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Do you have a home stereo? If yes I'd say plug it in via a 1/4" to RCA adapter. I used to have a little 4 channel mono (2 stereo) board hooked up to my stereo (Radio Shack, $20-30). It was great for just that purpose.
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Glad to see some of you guys going out and buying drum machines! Man's best friend. (They don't wake you at 6am to go pee).


I personally use the DR770, I like the cymbals, and the fact that all sounds are tunable and (mostly) have nuance controls that allow you to change the "striking" point of the stick, or in the case of the hihat, how tight it is. It's very flexible, I wish they didn't load up half the memory with the largely useless factory presets. One or two of the Latin grooves are cool, but I don't ever use the other factory stuff.


Anyway, the Alessis is cool too. I had the original Alessis drum machine, the gray one.. forgot the name. But it rocked, especially when it first hit, it was a groundbreaker.


Now, time to get into programming! It's fun, like having your own personal drummer-in-a-box that will do your bidding (even if it's.....evil...) I call mine Vinny (as in Vinny Boombatz).

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Originally posted by dcr:

Not really a drum machine, but does anyone know of a good midi drum program for PC? It'd be nice to program a drum track with a mouse, & have it sound nuanced & natural. Does such a program exist?



Do you have a MIDI keyboard for playing drum samples? Programming with a mouse probably isn't going to give you something nuanced & natural. You need a velocity sensitive controller and drum samples that have layers. You could try a set of velocity sensitive pads like Akai MPD16 pads, which are USB as well as MIDI.


For drum programs, 2 come to mind:

Steinberg Groove Agent


Native Instruments Battery


Also, here is a source for MIDI drum loops to import into DAW/sequencing software:


Keyfax Twiddly Bits


I have a few of the Twiddly Bits discs and, in general, they are a good buy.

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  • 4 months later...
Originally posted by The Very Rvd. Joe Grundy:

Can the Alesis be programmed note by note, as opposed to just in real time? I believe this is called 'step programming' but I aint sure.

Hey Joe,


Yes, you can compose patterns step by step without recording them in real time.


Here's the manual if you'd like more detail on this:



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Hey Quinn,


Just curious ... in what ways are you finding the Alesis superior to the MIDI drums in GarageBand? Did you ever get your SR16 to work with GB? Were you just going through the eMac's "sound in" port, or do you have a MIDI adapter on the eMac (assuming the Alesis has a "MIDI out" port)?


I've been dinking around with GB drums a bit, but haven't played with all the "nuance" controls to make it sound less mechanical yet. I don't have a MIDI adapter to plug in my keyboard for realtime (yeah, I know these are cheap, but so am I :P ), so I have to mouse-enter every stinkin note! Even then I think it'd be more natural to have a MIDI pad to beat on instead.

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Hey RBG,


You asked some good questions and I hope a more knowledgeable user will step up to respond. In the meantime, I'll tell you what I can, but I've only been using my Alesis in the most rudimentary way, so far. I've put off diving into the features of either GB or the Alesis and have been focusing most of my practice time on simple click track exercises.


I can't really answer your first question as I'm still a total novice with both GB and my Alesis.


I never did figure out how to get my Alesis to work with GB. I was trying to go into the sound in port, as I don't have a MIDI adapter. The Alesis does have a MIDI out port, but I haven't tried using it. I just took the easy way out and have been using it with headphones.


I agree that it would be preferable to program drum tracks with pads as opposed to using a mouse.


That's about all I can contribute on this topic, take it away somebody... :o

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If you're using the drum machine just to provide beats for you, and doing minimal programming, Garageband would probably been enough. Just take the patterns in the book and input them into GB. You can do the same thing in the SR-16.


To get sounds in/out of Garageband, it really helps to have a hardware solution such as the Ozone. Check out Musicians Friend for a variety of options in that area.


Or a higher end solution is Ableton's Live4. I downloaded a demo of this program and it RAWKS!!! You can create little snippets of drums, verse, chorus, bridge, fills, and trigger them on your typing surface, or from the keys of an Ozone or something similar. It is very flexible and lets you integrate audio drums and midi drums loops and the same file, and trigger them externally. So you can vamp on the intro, extend the solos, etc.


If I could justify the expense, I'd snap that up in an instant.

I'm trying to think but nuthin' happens....
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