Legendary drummer Jim Keltner, seated, checks out the new V-Drum enhancements with, from left, Roland's Jay Wannamaker, James Petercsak and Mark Nelson.

Roland Expands
V-Drums Range

In a dramatic expansion of the V-Drums line, Roland launched its next generation of electronic percussion focused on looking, feeling and sounding more like acoustic drum sets with wide-ranging sonic possibilities.

The company introduced the V-Drums TD-17K series on May 8 to dozens of journalists and drum bloggers as well as live-streaming the event to drum enthusiasts worldwide.

As Roland's new introductory kit, the TD-17K series was developed to help musicians "become a better drummer faster," said Jules Tabberer-Stewart, global drum marketing strategy manager.

Tabberer-Stewart said the TD-17K series was developed to help drummers with three key features: new pad and sensing technology to provide a more natural drumming feel; improved sound; and instant ease of connectivity. The goal is to deliver a drumming experience as close to playing acoustic drums as possible with an array of motivational coaching functions and built-in Bluetooth for playing along with songs and lessons.

"Our concept was to create a kit that any drummer can enter drumming," said Takahiro Murai, Roland research and development product leader for drums and percussion. "When a drummer wants to enter drumming and improve skills, the TD-17 should be the best kit to support this goal. We designed the TD-17 on this concept."

The technology at the heart of the TD-17 series has been inherited from Roland's top-of-the-line TD-50 V-Drums series.

"Why not have that quality at this price point?" said Pat Kennedy, Roland product and artist relations manager for drums and percussion.

With three models, the TD-17KL, TD-17KV and TD-17KVX, the series offers retailers an opportunity to connect customers with V-Drums at price points between $999.99 and $1,599.99, according to Kennedy.

"Within those price points, we can now bring a great product to that level that's worthwhile, that's well beyond anything that's on the market today and that has its own characteristics and the level of Roland quality."

The TD-17KVX and TD-17KV kits come with the newly developed PDX-12 snare pad featuring a dual mesh head and larger 12-inch playing surface to support development of stick control and proper playing technique.

The TD-17KVX also includes a new VH-10 V-Hi-Hat that can be mounted on an acoustic hi-hat stand and replicates the natural swinging motion and feel of an acoustic hi-hat.

Drummer Michael Schack demonstrates the new TD-17 V-Drums.

High-end Additions, Too
Roland also announced new features to the upper end of its V-Drums lineup with a full-sized kick drum for authentic feel and improved stage presence.

The KD-220, featuring full-size wood shells and advanced trigger electronics will be included with the TD-50KVX V-Drums kits while the KD-180 will be included with the new mid-level TD-25KVX V-Drums.

Both bass drums are available separately and can be incorporated into any V-Drums kit past or present. The goal is to give drummers the look and feel of an acoustic bass drum combined with the options available to the electronic drummer.

Melodics Partnership
In Roland's pursuit to make the TD-17 series a kit to help drummers improve, the company has partnered with Melodics, an app that teaches musicians how to play pad controllers and electronic drum sets. TD17 series purchasers are offered 40 free lessons.

Hip-hop producing legends Terry Lewis, left, and Jimmy Jam cut the ribbon to open Roland's new Artist Relations Center in Los Angeles.

Artists Center Launched
Roland also used the opportunity to open its newly redesigned L.A. Artist Relations Center in Los Angeles. The center is staffed with audio and video production specialists, artist liaisons and administrative personnel. It will be managed under the direction of longtime Roland executive Brian Alli, vice president of global influencer relations.

The move is part of a global network Roland is creating with similar centers to be opened in Nashville and London. Roland already has artist relation centers in Vancouver and Toronto, Berlin and Tokyo.

— By Frank Alkyer