How To Make The World's Cheapest Drum Trigger
Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much to build an electronic drum trigger. With only a few dollars, a couple of basic tools, and a beginner’s grasp of electricity, any drummer can make his or her own trigger. All it takes is a trip to Radio Shack, 15 minutes of tinkering, and a drum module at the ready. Here are the necessities:
- Wire Cutters (a good pair is worth it!)
- Soldering Iron (scary? Yes, but optional)
- 1/4" mono-input jack Piezo transducer (typically sold as “buzzers.” Anything close to the size of a quarter is fine)
- Electrical tape
- Duct tape
Once all the supplies are gathered, start by extracting the piezo transducer from its plastic housing by double-teaming it with two pliers. Be careful not to damage the delicate electronics inside while breaking the plastic. After removing the piezo (by the way, this is the same type of pickup that’s used for amplifying acoustic stringed instruments), strip the ends of its black-and-red wires so they are ready to conduct.
Next, connect the piezo wires to the two shorter prongs on the 1/4" input jack (note: some mono jacks also have a smaller, third grounding prong, which is unnecessary here). These connections should be soldered after testing. In the meantime, a little electrical tape will be fine (never soldered before? Check out the unabridged soldering authority of “How And WHY To Solder Correctly” on YouTube).
Taking care not to put any stress on this temporary connection, move the piezo onto a drumhead or practice pad and tape it down with duct tape. Using a 1/4" cable, connect the jack to a drum module. That’s it. Once the module is on and programmed for the new trigger, everything is set and it should function just as well as any store-bought drum trigger, as the electrical guts are almost identical.
Most companies would rather keep this a secret, but while the technical hurdle of making a budget trigger is low, making an outstandingly portable, durable, and easily mounted trigger is no simple task. Triggers with intelligent mounting systems are worth the extra price, but only paying the price of duct-taped drums first will illuminate that advantage.
Want more info? YouTube has a plethora of how-to’s for drum triggers.