TD-20SX: Interview with Steve Fisher

Roland electronic drums product manager Steve Fisher has been helping design and market their award-winning electronic drums for more than a decade. His background in drumming includes holding down the drum chair in the jazz band at North Texas State (where he followed a guy named Gregg Bissonette) and recording with artists such as [jazz trumpeter]. Today, he works out of Roland's LA office, but is often on the road, teaching clinics and spreading the gospel of Roland drums. We wanted to find out more about the development of their new TD-20SX series. The interview was conducted by email.

You've improved the appearance of the electronic drum set with the TD20SX. What drove those changes?

What drove the changes were customer demands for an electronic drumset with enhanced stage presence for live playing. It also gave us an opportunity to make many other improvements to the product.

What was the challenge in terms of appearance, materials, construction with this kit?

One of the main challenges is the balance of incorporating our latest technologies and achieving a desired look throughout every component on the set. Although the TD-20SX has an attractive new look, we've never really made products simply based on cosmetic appearance. There's technology behind everything we do.

For example, the 14" bass drum is not only bigger in appearance, it uses a special type of foam backing as well as a redesign in the trigger placement. The result is a solid feel with a very accurate triggering response.

The chrome stand has the cables running in the tubes. Additionally, the cables are clear. The result is a clean, uncluttered look. Additionally the heavy-duty stand hardware is our own design. The clamps incorporate a nylon sleeve that not only has a stronger hold, but won't scratch the stand.

The pads are much more solid and have a floating shell design. This not only looks and feels great, but allows users to quickly change the shell wrap. Whether it's for the whole set or matching the pads to the finish of your acoustic set, it let's you personalize your V-Drums quickly and easily. Again, something that customers have been asking for.

Does the kit feel like you wanted it to feel when you're playing?

I've been very fortunate and honored to have been a part Roland Japan's R&D team for years, and this is by far one of the best instrument we've every created. It's an incredible experience to play this set!

Feel and sound have a vital relationship for an electronic drumset to be an expressive instrument. Our sounds are already incredibly expressive, but combine this with our patented mesh head technology and solid feel from the new components, and you've got a playing experience you can't believe was ever possible with an electronic drumset!

The Sound Module features 920 drum instruments and 100 kits. Those were available before, correct?

Yes, but.... The sound set in the TD-20X Percussion Sound Module is the combined sound set in the TD-20 Percussion Sound Module and the TDW-20 expansion board. The TD-20X has some slight improvements from just the combination of the TD-20 and TDW-20, but current owners of a TD-20 Percussion Sound Module and TDW-20 expansion board can get that update (2.51) from our website.

You have also enhanced editing features and given the player new ambience choices. How will that help drummers dial in their sound better?

Unfortunately, most drummers don't dig into the V-Editing in our modules and discover the creative, sonic possibilities (They can visit our website -RolandUS.com- and go for a tour of editing features). This is one reason some customers ask for sampling in the module. V-Editing goes way beyond what sampling does and is easy thanks to the icon-based interface.

If they took the time to see you can change shell material, shell depth, tuning, adjust the snare strainer, change cymbal sizes, and sizzles to your ride, adjust mic placement, place the set in one of 20 room ambiences with overhead mic placement, then mix the sounds and use an equalizer and compressor/limiter for each instrument in the set (and that's not all!), they would get the point immediately. The result is a completely custom sound that has all the expressiveness and dynamics the V-Drums are famous for.