My MIDI Drum Tracking Rig v2

I get a ton of questions from comments and e-mails about my rig and what I’m using to track with all this gear and it’s actually a fairly simple setup.

I’m on a quest to find the most efficient, durable, responsive, and portable drum rig whether it be MIDI or not, and I’ve been getting closer over the past couple years.

Please leave any requests, suggestions, questions or comments in the comment section below.


Click here to view my older rig which is similar but with Guitar Hero pedals.

Roland Octapad SPD-30 Digital Percussion Pad

Roland’s SPD-30 Octapad is the most responsive and accurate MIDI controller for drummers I have ever played, and I’ve played on almost everything out there that’s electronic you can hit with a stick.

I’ve owned a ton of Guitar Hero drum controllers (at least 30), Rock Band and Ion Kits, a Roland TD-10 & TD-20 kit, and a Roland SPD-S.

The most common issue I’ve found with MIDI drum controllers is not being able to pick up those light taps for ghost notes and crescendos, or even just upbeat hits on the Hi Hat. So what do you do when this happens? Turn up the sensitivity 1 notch at a time until it starts picking up those low velocity hits.

The problem with this is when you turn up the sensitivity on one pad, hitting other pads around the controller/kit might fire off a hit with your pad with low sensitivity now. This is what we call cross talking.

I have yet to experience any double hits with the SPD-30 either. This happened pretty frequently with other controllers where you would get flam-like MIDI output sporadically throughout your performance.

These are easily the most common problems with drum MIDI controllers these days, and Roland Octapad SPD-30 Digital Percussion Pad had none of these issues straight out of the box. The SPD-30 also features a USB port to plug in directly via USB so you don’t need an audio interface such as an Mbox or any fancy adaptors like MIDI to USB.

Toontrack Superior Drummer 2.0

The combination of the Octapad and Superior 2.0 is absolutely awesome. It’s allowed me to track demos and even full-on final recordings at 4 AM in my apartment. Using MIDI output with Superior 2.0 has never been easier to get a good fully modifiable drum sound.

Superior 2.0 delivers amazing sounds straight out of the box, and comes with a bunch of presets to make them sound better, and you don’t need to know the first thing about audio production or mixing. At the same time, the software allows you to run Multi Output to go straight into your DAW (Logic, Protools, Reason etc.), and treat them as actual drum tracks letting you add your own plugins like Compression, EQ, Noise Gates, Reverb and etc.

Superior Drummer 2.0’s samples were recorded by Pat Thrall, Neil Dorfsman, and Nir Z at Hit Factory, Avatar Studios, and Allaire studios, NY. The three have worked with artists as diverse as Meatloaf, Celine Dion, Nick Lachey, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Dire Straits, Beyoncé, Björk, Kiss, Joss Stone, Genesis, John Mayer, and Chris Cornell.
It has recently gained more popularity with bands like Periphery, Meshuggah, and Animals As Leaders.

APC-33 Clamp

I thought it was interesting how many people would comment on my videos about how much the Octapad wobbled when I played it while resting on a snare stand. I didn’t even notice it, and it didn’t bother me, but after I got one of these off of ebay I haven’t looked back. I just took the bottom half of a cymbal stand to use as a base, and clamped this onto the top and screwed in the mounting playe to the SPD-30 and I was ready to go in a couple of minutes. Makes it loads easier to carry around too since the Octapad basically becomes attached to the cymbal stand. Also much easier to add on to an acoustic drum kit since you can clamp it onto almost any hardware or stand.

Roland PD-8 Dual Trigger Pad

Ah, the classic PD-8’s. Responsive, durable, small, and two zones so you can trigger 2 differet MIDI notes on the same pad depending on if you hit it on the head or the rim. They also registers cymbal chokes if you grab the front of the rim and press firmly with your thumb and index finger.

I have 3 of these, and I keep at least 2 mounted up in case O want a china or some extra MIDI notes specific to what I’m working on without having to manually move the notes after tracking. It also is great for showmanship. More pads are cool, right?

I have yet to find a way to mount these 100% efficiently though. It’s hard to find hardware that will cater towards essentially playing with a snare (the octapad). I need a percussion mount that will let me swivel things around and tilt themwhich leads me to the next item.

Rhythm Tech DSM Quad Mount

I took the top half of the cymbal stand I initially used as the base to mount the APC-33 on for the Octapad, and attached it to the base using the Gibraltar Grab Clamp (listed next) as well with this percussion mount on top.

It fits two Roland PD-8’s comfortably, but I’m unable to adjust their angle to lean towards the kit effectively without covering too much of the top of the Octapad’s real estate which leads to accidental hits sometimes, so I keeping them on flat for now until I find a better solution (pictured at the top).

Gibraltar Grab Clamp 2 Hole

Nothing particularly special about this specific brand or model. I just needed something to clamp on the base of the cymbal stand, and to attach the upper half of the same cymbal stand so it sticks up and above the octapad because you can’t mount anything from the same stand otherwise with the Octapad in the way.

Pearl P120P Power Shifter Single Bass Drum Pedal

Pedals are always "that one thing that keeps breaking" for me. I’ve snapped chains, broken double kick braces, and have had a kick beater snap mid-set before. I knew I needed something that will last, and something I could really lay into if I wanted to, but not break the bank. After doing a bunch of research and trying out a ton of different kick pedals, I found that the Pearl P-120P is the cheapest yet most durable pedal you could get for theh price on ebay (about $50 shipped). I bought 2 for just under $100 shipped.

Roland KD-7 Kick Trigger

Everyone swears by the Roland KD-120 (or even the earlier models) and how they feel like you’re playing an actual kick, but I love the KD-7’s because they’re small, light, durable, feel great, and hardly take up any room in cases or luggage. You can daisy chain 1 to the other so it only eats up 1 input on the SPD-30 (or whatever brain/module you might be using). I unboxed them new, and plugged them in immedately and they’ve since registered everything and haven’t picked up any cross talk and never double hit at all.

Roland FD-8 Hi-Hat Control Pedal

This has pedal has been great to me. It doesn’t slip or slide around, works great, and is great for portability. I’ve tried the ones that come with the TD-10 or TD-20 kits, but you need actual Hi-Hat hardware to mount more rubber pads. With the FD-8 Pedal, you can just choose which pad corresponds to the Hi Hat, and you can even use it as a switch so you could potentially have two kits setup in your rig. One for when the pedal is pressed down, and another for when the pedal is up. This is more of an SPD-30 feature though, but still! I’ve tried other hi hat pedals before and most of them either don’t work, or aren’t responsive enough. The FD-8 is my favorite thus far.

ROC-N-SOC Gas Lift Drum Throne

I have fully converted to Roc-n-soc drum thrones for their durability, look, and their ability to adjust to heights I need to be able to perform. I’m about 6 ft. 1 in. tall, and I keep my snare almost at waist height if I stand next to it, so it’s not often I come across thrones that can actually go that high.

Also pulling the lever to adjust your height is fun cause it’s so smooth.

ROC-N-SOC Back Rest

I have yet to find a desk/office chair that can rotate, doesn’t have arms, and goes high enough to accompany my comfortable playing height, so I got one of these to use to mount onto my ROC-N-SOC throne so I can use it as my normal desk chair for long hours. Switching to the ROC-N-SOC with a backrest has saved a lot of time and space when performing parts and editing sounds and performances back-to-back constantly. Just swivel, and adjust the height with a pull of a lever. So good.

If anyone has any other recommendations or would like to share how they set their computers up next to their drums I would love to hear about them.

Oh, yeah mine’s black. Not sure why Amazon only shows a red one.


This is one of the most important parts of the setup. It’s rude to travel around without any sort of mat, rug, or carpet. Not only will your pedals skid around when you’re trying to play, but it’ll ruin whatever floor you’re on whether it’s carpet or hardwood. Those spikes that screw through your pedals are supposed to go into a drum rug, not a living room rug!

There’s nothing special about this one in particular. I just use whatever one I had already and it’s fine. Just make sure it’s at least 28 inches wide if you’re planning on placing 3 pedals on it.

Non-Slip Mat

I picked up one of these and just set it down on the floor first before putting down the door mat to ensure nothing slides around or swivels at all, and it works great. Best $5 I ever spent.