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Shortly after I had gotten my Roland TD17KVX electronic drums (edrums) I suspected that something had broken already: No matter how I tried to play the crossstick (called “xstick” in the Roland drum module), the appropriate sound didn’t play. Whenever I laid the stick halfway over the snare to make the iconic wooden “tock” sound, the regular snare sound was played instead.
I resolved this issue long time ago, but some friends of mine recently started to also use Roland e-drums. They had some questions and so I figured it might be worthwhile to publish some tips and tricks for working with the kit.
Possible issue: The selected pad type does not support XStick
An electronic drum kit is a bit like a big Lego project: You can plug in additional pads with their own sensors and specific features and connect them to the drum module. If you get a complete kit, the module is configured in such a way that it “knows” already which pads are connected. However, if you choose to connect your own pad, or if you are like me and play around with the settings, the drum module can end up “thinking” that another pad is connected than is actually the case.
Let’s say you connect your snare “PDX-12” (the snare pad that comes with the Roland TD17KVX) but you tell the drum module that the pad is actually a KD-10 (that would be that kick drum). Then you can still play, but the kick drum obviously is not supposed to support hits on the rim (and consequently also no cross sticks) – so whenever you try to play the sound, the drum module will simply not do anything with it.
So, whenever you connect a new pad, make sure you select the correct pad type. This can be done pressing the “Setup” button and then selecting “Pad Settings” -> “Pad Type”. Whenever you are tinkering with the settings of your existing kit, make sure to keep the correct settings – when I changed them, I was not aware of the consequences and it was very difficult to find the root cause, because the drum module does not tell you which of the cryptic pad types offers which functionality.
That information can be found in the documentation for your drum kit, though. This so-called “Data List” document is not delivered with your kit but needs to be downloaded separately. This is unfortunate because it is a real treasure trove when you are interested in technical details of the kit. But then again that’s probably the minority of users. Anyway, you can download the Data List document from the Roland website. For your convenience I posted an overview of the different pad types and functionalities below:
If you fumbled with your settings and are now unsure what are the correct values: The TD-17KVX comes with a 12-inch PDX-12 snare, three PDX-8 toms, a VH-10 hi-hat, one CY-13R ride cymbal, two CY-12C crash cymbals, and one KD-10 kick drum.
Also be aware that whenever you change a pad type, all pad settings are reset, so you will need to re-adjust everything, such as sensitivity, threshold, curve, etc.
Possible issue: Wrong sensitivity/XStick Adj combination
The TD17 supports both cross stick hits and rim shots. Both sounds can be triggered hitting the snare rim. So how does the drum module decide which of the two sounds to play?
This is decided by the “XStick Adj” setting: Light hits on the rim below the XStick Adj threshold result in a cross stick sound, everything above in a rim shot. The logic is again described in Roland’s Data List document:
If the value for XStick Adj is too low or even 0, you’ll trigger a rim shot instead of a cross stick.
Additionally, the Sensitivity setting of the pad influences how easily that threshold is reached. In my case, I had increased pad sensitivity to the maximum value of 32, so I always crossed the XStick Adj value and could never play a cross stick.
So make sure that you find a good balance between pad Sensitivity and XStick Adj that works for you. In my case, I currently do not feel the need to play a rim shot (that anyway sounds like a normal snare hit to me), so I increased the XStick Adj value to the maximum of 127 – this means no matter how hard I hit the rim, it will never result in a rim shot and always in a cross stick sound.
You can change the XStick Adj value in Setup -> Pad Settings -> Advanced -> Rim.
Possible issue: Volume level for XStick is too low
Finally, the reason why you cannot hear your cross stick sound might be that it’s simply not loud enough. The volume settings for the xstick feature (and for the hi-hat when played by foot) is somewhat hidden: Press the “Other” button, then scroll down one row and select “Volume”. Here you can adjust the “XStick” volume to a higher value.
Be aware that this setting only applies to the currently selected kit, so you’ll need to repeat that action if you change your kit.