Worship Teams

3 Reasons To Use The Roland SPD-SX

The Roland SPD-SX is a welcome addition to the contemporary worship drummer's set up. In this article, Joe Morris explains why.

The Roland SPD-SX is, without a doubt, the go-to model for sampling and electronics for drums, it’s a fantastic tool for any drummer looking to go hybrid, or a percussion player looking to emulate some of their favourite electronic sounds live.

I’ve used the SPD-SX in almost every context that I’ve drummed in, but let’s talk specifically about why it’s such a great fit for the church. Everything we do as creatives should flow from a desire to use our gifts and talents to bless the Father, who is the very giver of our gifts; our focus should be to glorify God by using our gifts to shift all hearts and eyes to Him.

Here areo 3 reasons the Roland SPD-SX would be a worthy addition to your worship team.

1. Recreating your favourite sounds.

The SPD-SX is the perfect way to begin playing your extra sounds live. You can house around 720 minutes of audio samples on the module (which is around 10,000 files) – essentially an unlimited bank of sounds. There are a number of presets and sounds that come with the module, but uploading your own sample with the Wave Manager software that comes with it is very simple. Just click and drag.

You can also get sounds onto the SPD-SX by live sampling. By running a line in, you can record and very precisely trim audio files instantly. I’ve used this function to take sounds from videos or songs. Also, if you own your own samples or an electronic drum set you can easily upload those sounds via USB.

My church sings a lot of modern songs which have a number of layered electronic sounds from punchy kick drums and deeply tuned side snares, to that over-reverbed tambo sound that Bethel Music loves to use. These production elements all sound fantastic but can be tricky to recreate in a live band setting. With the SPD-SX I’ve been able to take sounds from Logic Pro, my Roland V drums and some awesome plug ins from ‘IWantThatSound.com’ (it’s a great resource!) and really nail the feel of some of these tracks live.

There are so many possibilities here. I won’t go too deep into everything, but here are some of my favourite features:

– You can add certain effects and EQ to each individual pad and edit them in real time with the two dials.
– The Sub-Pad feature means you can add two samples to each pad to play up to 4 at a time.
– The two output lines allow up to 4 external sampling pads plus a foot pedal.

These are just a few of the extensive features of the Roland SPD-SX!

2. Setlists, tracks, and clicks.

On a Sunday, our worship band plays almost everything to a metronome and a lot of our songs to backing tracks (usually in a predetermined order). The Roland SPD-SX can captain the whole band. The ‘Kit chain’ feature will place your kits in order of the songs on your setlist. Creating a different kit for each song is definitely important in order to fine tune the effects, sounds and tempos. It’s so easy to then run through the set list and everything is ready for you when you arrive there.

The SPD-SX comes with a built-in metronome, but if you are able to do so, its better to upload your own click track as an audio file. Here’s why:

If you’re playing to a backing track you will have to time your hit perfectly when triggering it to the internal metronome, but uploading your own click track and backing track on two separate pads, you can use the ‘Pad-Link’ function, which will trigger the two pads you’ve joined, to play at the same time; So upload a click track that gives you a one or two bar count in and then you’re backing track will play in time, and the whole band will be ready to go.

Make sure to route your metronome through the sub-output, this will play in the bands ears but avoid the front of house, you can easily route each individual pad in the module’s settings.

3. Pushing boundaries and creativity.

Buying the SPD-SX was definitely a big step for me. I felt like I’d come to a wall in my playing and I was comfortable behind the kit. Although by no means a master of my instrument, I was satisfied that I could play most of what I wanted to be able to, or at least understand how to learn and progress further. But I still felt that maybe there was something else to express that I couldn’t offer with the drum kit alone.

Growing up as a drummer, I’d never really looked into electronics or learnt about simple things like cables, DI boxes, and interfaces. This can get really frustrating when spending such a large amount of time with people using technical language, so I decided to take the leap into the world of sampling and electronics.
It’s really helped me engage in the conversation, as well as helping to understand and appreciate what other members of the band bring to the team. On top of all of this, I am now also able to offer help with setting up rigs.

It’s so important to be a multi fascinated musician! Are there any other skills you can add to your repertoire?

We see in the old testament that King David was a skilled musician and God took that seriously. If He didn’t, it wouldn’t be in the Bible! I’m convinced that stewarding our gifts is of the highest importance to God, so we should constantly be pressing into the new and daunting. The Roland SPD-SX was that for me and it continues to be a journey of discovery and challenge.

I also believe that as followers of the Creator God, we should be the most creative and innovative people on the planet; the trendsetters, not just conforming but pioneering by using our talent and our gifts to glorify our God.

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