Lighting up a drum set is a dream for most drummers. Many envision themselves on stage with crazy strobes, colors, and synchronized lights that make a show more memorable for those attending.
While this dream may have been difficult in previous decades, it has now become easier than ever and more affordable.
👉 NAMM 2020 has just wrapped! Be sure to check out all the newest drum and percussion gear at Sweetwater!
The best way to light up your kit is to get a starter kit from DrumLite. They offer many packages including static RGB kits, triggered lights, LED lights, DMX controlled lights. You can get setups for full kits, bass drum only, and more. You can get hands-on and create your own DIY kit, but they have made it easy to get going fast.
Now there are no other companies, to my knowledge, that specialize in drum lighting specifically.
Traditional lighting designers (LD) generally use lighting fixtures with trusses to create a live show, but you can combine the power of DrumLite with an LDs setup by use of DMX.
DMX is basically the communication means that a lighting console “talks” to the lights on stage, allowing control from the front of house lighting console. We’ll get more into that later.
What options do you have?
When getting lights for your drum set, you have a couple of options for presentation:
- Static colored lights – most affordable option for entry-level drummers.
- DMX controlled lights with a lighting console and LD – potentially the best setup you can have, with a dedicated lighting director, but this is the most expensive option.
- Pre-programmed lighting using DMXIS and Ableton – having pre-programmed lights requires the use of Ableton, MIDI, DMXIS, and a MIDI controller. If you use backing tracks, this is the best way to use drum lights.
All three of these options look amazing, but some are more affordable than others.
Let’s dive into the basic setup for static colored drum lights.
The most basic starter kit from DrumLite fits 20-24″ bass drums. It’s a very simple configuration and you can change colors by using the remote. While you won’t have much control over changing your light during a show, this is a great way to get into drum lighting without spending a fortune.
The LED strip covers many colors including red, green, blue, white, orange, yellow, cyan, and purple. You can set it to be static, fade, flash, or cycle between colors.
Customer support from IWDrumLite is fantastic and you can really feel their passion in starting this company.
A quick note about lighting up drums: When playing in clubs and theaters, you’re already going to have a bunch of cables going from microphones to sub snakes, instrument cables for sampling pads, etc, all around your drums. Introducing drum lights are going to require more cables and tangled messes at your shows. Be sure to be organized always when setting up so you can tear down faster at the end of a show.