Gear recommendations for finger drumming in 2024

So you want to get started with finger drumming but you have no idea what pad controller to buy?
Here’s a list of the gear I recommend. Most importantly the pad controllers with the most responsive, sensitive pads that accurately react to soft and subtle touches, but all the other necessary components of a finger drumming setup are included in the recommendations as well.

My free beginner course deals with setting things up, including step by step guides for lots of different controllers and software, so make sure to check that out if you’re just getting started.

My current finger drumming gear recommendations

Latest update: February 2024.

I just finished my review video of the new Yamaha FGDP-50 and FGDP-30 and talking about my findings with some early adopters on the QFG messageboards over here.

I can recommend the FGDP-30 as an extra standalone finger drum box to easily play and practice with. The FGDP-50 with the extra row of pads could also be set up with the QFG layout so you can play along with all the lessons on this website.

Long story short: The pad response of the FGDP devices is not as good as the Maschine Mikro or the Xjam, but the standalone functionality is worth a lot. You might find yourself playing and practicing more if you do not need your computer. The ideal combo is both a computer setup and an FGDP.

For more details, watch the video.

Check out the Equipment & Setup Category as well for all articles and (Youtube) video's related to gear and setup. Below you'll find the most basic summary of my findings so far so you can quickly make a decision.

(*) Make sure there's an option to return items and get your money back and test them soon after you get them so returning and trying something else is still possible.

The recommended, best value for money option to get the most out of the lessons here:
  • Maschine Mikro Mk3 ($250)

    ** When you buy this device second hand, please make sure the firmware is updated and you can switch midi-standalone mode on and off. When you don't own an official license to maschine software you might run into a problem otherwise.

  • Focusrite scarlett solo (3rd gen) ($100)
  • The (best) computer you currently own ($0)
  • The (best) headphones or earbuds you own ($0)
  • Powerdrumkit (FREE) ($0).
  • OR Steven Slate Drums 5.5 Free (FREE) ($0).
  • OR Addictive Drums 2 Custom ($170)

    ** I recommend the Black Oyster, Fairfax 1 and Funk kits to start with (you can pick 3). I use these kits for basically all the drum presets on this website, so you'll have a great time playing along to the lessons with the exact same sounds I use.

Please note that in some cases with some mikro mk3 devices you want to lower the sensitivity of your Maschine mikro quite a bit (step by step guide included in my free beginner course over here. For example if you notice it's not responding well if you hit one pad with a blast of very fast hits. I found that in some cases putting the sensitivity slider halfway kept the pads super responsive to soft hits and at the same time made them more reliable.

At this point in time my suspicion is that the newer Mikro mk3 devices are more sensitive than the older ones, so where you had to set the older ones to the most sensitive setting the newer ones might get you the same thing if the slider is set halfway.

Cost with SSD 5.5 or Powerdrumkit FREE drum plugin: $350,-
Cost with Addictive Drums 2: $520,-

My main budget recommendation

Estimated cost: $250,-

I have now personally tested two units, built one year apart and they were both great. There have been some reports of unsatisfied users, but also a lot of happy folks. My sample size of 2 units is great, that's for sure 🙂

You can check out a detailed video review over here on my Youtube channel.

A cheap option that's been around for a while and is still pretty good (but not great):

Estimated cost: $250,-

Better (and more) pads for only slightly more money:

Estimated cost: $300,-

The most responsive 4x4 pads for a price:

Hardware cost: $650,-
Hardware + Addictive Drums 2: $820,-

64 pads and standalone? Some thoughts on the Ableton Push 3

I ordered a Push 3 and tested it out. For someone who is not used to using Ableton or the push workflow, this was not that easy, but I do think I have some thoughts to share which might be useful for anyone considering buying this thing.
  • The onboard kits sound very decent, so standalone drumming is finally a possibility with this thing!
  • The MPE on the pads is a bit weird for drums because the pads are so small that you always accidentally play all kinds of variations. Like accidental rimshots or hitting the hi hat more with the shaft. Cool for "variety" but it's more of a randomiser than a chosen variation most of the time.
  • The new pad sensor system responds well. It's a subtle difference with other devices, but I think it's a matter of personal preference whether you think the push responds better or worse than something like the Maschine or Launchpad. The response curve is also very tweakable. I would be able to get used to these pads for sure.
  • There seems to be a small latency in the detection of the hits. Very small, but together with the 4ms output latency of the onboard audio interface it's just that tiny bit audible.. or maybe not even actually audible, but I think I can feel it when I play. Could be placebo though. Again something I could get used to if this was my only device.
  • Latency of the built in interface is very acceptable. I did notice that the input and output latencies in Ableton are about 4ms in and 4ms out when I use the Push audio interface. When I switch over to my RME interface, with the same 32 sample buffer size, this latency goes towards 1.5ms in and 1.5 ms out.
  • Some thoughts to help you decide

  • If you have 2000 bucks to spend, want a standalone unit, you love creating in Ableton and you have no problem with smaller pads, you'll probably love the Push 3. The onboard studio drum kits finally sound real in their response... really cool that we have something like that available now.
  • Setting up a great sounding drumkit with all the right sounds in the right places will not be easy. If you have no experience in Ableton and you think this device is a "Plug and Play acoustic drumkit in a box" you will be disappointed. You need to be willing to dive deep into the Ableton Drum rack and spend some time learning Ableton, both on your computer and in standalone, to get everything the way you want it.
  • That said, for me personally, I know I will hardly ever use this thing because I like all my stuff just a bit more. I like my Maschine pads more, I like the latency of my RME interface more, I like the sound and workflow of Addictive drums more, I like the workflow in my Reaper DAW more, I own a Linnstrument with great MPE functionality for melodic playing, and I hardly ever leave my studio. 2000 bucks is just too much for me to "just keep this for fun maybe once in a while". So I'm probably not keeping the device.
  • It's not bad at all. On the contrary, it actually is a great achievement by Ableton. It just does not blow everything I use already out of the water and it's expensive. So that's what I ended up with, but my guess is a lot of people will have a blast with this thing. 🙂

  • If you want a great 8x8 controller for less money than the Ableton Push:

    Hardware cost: $450,-
    Hardware + Addictive Drums 2: $620,-

    An alternative 4x4 option in case you really don't want a Maschine:

    Hardware cost: $450,-
    Hardware + Addictive Drums 2: $620,-

    An alternative 4x4 option in case you really, really like AKAI (and really don't like any of the other options) and you have lots of money and you'd like to do some standalone beatmaking at least once in a while:

    Hardware cost: $1300,-
    Hardware + Addictive Drums 2: $1420,-

    What I personally use at the moment (insane overkill for just finger drumming... I'm a music production professional):

    I'm not going to calculate the price for this. Don't buy what I have... If you're not a studio pro you won't need it and if you are, you should buy the stuff that suits your needs and workflow. So yeah... I just put this here in case you're curious.
    Also... it took me 15 years to accumulate this gear, sometimes waiting for a very long time to get a nice cheap second hand option (like with the ATC ACM-20 speakers).