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Review: Rock Band Cymbal Expansion Kit

cymbals-cropped-w540Okay, so I may be a little late to this party.

Real late.

But sometimes you find something that breathes new life into an old game. This was the case when I picked up the expansion cymbals for the Rock Band 2 drum set.

For any of you that have listened to the show, you may know that Holy Goalie used to play in heavy-metal bands back in the good old days, so I really love the music-genre games for my Xbox. I played bass, guitar, and even did some lead singing, which I currently play when popping in Rock Band or Guitar Hero, but the only time I played drums was the occasional banging around during band practice.

I am terrible drummer, but I still enjoy trying to play along the best I can. I had the Rock Band 1 drums and never really got into playing them. It just didn’t feel like I was playing drums. So I got rid of them. A few months ago however, I bought the Rock Band 2 set from a friend, and after having them sit in the corner for five months I finally dusted them off and connected the double cymbal expansion I bought afterward, and off I went.

Having the cymbals made all the difference in the world. Finally, it felt like I was playing drums. Before adding them I was just hitting colored pads — it had no flow, no groove. But now I had the makings of a real drum set up with the high hat and crash cymbals in their appropriate places. It all made sense now. I found myself instinctively hitting the cymbals with a more natural feel than just the four circular pads. I was having a blast. Seeing all those yellow or green notes come down the screen were no longer intimidating.

Adding the cymbals seems to declutter everything. I now know what is what. Red will always be my snare, yellow will mostly be my high hat, and green will be my crash. The only thing that was confusing now was the blue, so I added the third expansion cymbal, and that now is my ride.

So, basically, I have a somewhat inexpensive electronic drum kit. I have a snare, three tom-toms, a kick pedal, and three cymbals. Again, I’m not that good at playing drums, so right now I’m just playing on easy mode. I’m fine with the hands, I just can’t incorporate my foot in the bass drum quite yet. But I’m working on it.

When playing a song, when it’s time to hit a color, you have the choice of hitting the round pad or the cymbal, both will work. But what is great about having the cymbals connected is that during a fill, all four pads will register as a tom-tom sound and the cymbals as a cymbal sound. So you have free roam to create a unique fill. This is also the case if you go into the free-play mode and just jam.

Set-up is pretty simple as the cymbals connect to a small pole and the poles secure to the drum set. Each cymbal then plugs into the corresponding plug according to color in the back of the drum set. Like the drum set, you can change the height of all three cymbals, customizing it to suit your needs.

Again, these are for the Rock Band 2 drum set, not Band Hero. I tried playing Guitar Hero World Tour but some of the colors don’t match up exactly like they do while playing Rock Band.

So while I wait to see what Rock Band 3 has to offer, I’m having a blast pretending that I’m a drummer with my Rock Band 2 drum set and new cymbals. And as I somehow try to figure out how to get the bass drum into my playing, I have a newfound respect for anyone who can keep a beat.

Rock Band Single Cymbal Expansion Kit
$20 on Amazon.com

Rock Band Double Cymbal Expansion Kit
$30 on Amazon.com

Rock Band Triple Cymbal Expansion Kit
$40 on Amazon.com

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