How To Make Your Own Drum Triggers

You don’t have to plunk down a couple hundred bucks for an electronic drum. With the right tools, you can make your own for less than a burger and fries. Here’s what you need (these are Radio Shack part numbers, but you can use similar parts from a variety of vendors or find these items on the Net):

Piezo Element: Part #273-073 $1.99
Soldering Iron: Part #64-2071 $8.39
Lead-Free Solder: Part #64-025 $2.99
20 Gauge Speaker Wire: Part #278-1388 $8.59 (for 75 feet!)
Inline Phone Jack: Part #274-274 $3.99
Silicon Rubber Adhesive: Part #64-2314 $3.19

Although you can simply attach the piezo directly to a playing surface, you’ll get a more sensitive trigger by cracking the piezo’s black plastic case to expose its element. Check out for some good images on how to crack the case.

Solder the ends of a short length of speaker wire to the two leads attached to the piezo. Then solder the other ends of the speaker wire to the phone jack. If you’ve never soldered before, check out or ask a propeller-headed buddy for some instruction.

Using the silicon rubber adhesive, attach the piezo to whatever surface you want to strike — practice pad, block of wood, basketball, yard tool, etc. Feel free to be creative.

Plug it into any drum brain, module, or TMI that accepts external triggers, like an electronic kit, an Alesis DM5, or a DrumKAT. You may need to adjust the trigger settings on the brain to respond accurately and track your playing style and dynamics.