September 26, 2010

Rock Band 3 Drums with Pro Cymbals

The new Rock Band 3 drums with “pro” cymbals shipped a bit early, so I picked up a new set at my local GameStop.

The drums themselves aren’t terribly different; if you own a set of wireless Rock Band 2 drums these are virtually indentical. The pad texture is slightly cosmetically different, but the same nice rubbery feel of the RB2 kit is still there. The only thing that I could tell was definitely different — the front panel xbox (guide) button now has a bit of a delay before it activates, presumably to reduce the “whoops, the darn drummer accidentally whacked the guide button with his drumsticks and paused the game for everyone again!” effect. Which is certainly welcome, but it’s a minor tweak at best.

The main difference, as previously announced, is that the “pro” cymbals are indeed much improved! Compare these pictures to see what I mean:

Rock Band 2 cymbals

Rock Band 3 “pro” cymbals

Notice that:

  1. the rubber texture goes all the way around the cymbal
  2. the RB3 pro cymbals have 5 hit sensors around the full edge of the cymbal, whereas the RB2 cymbals have 3 hit sensors only in front

Also, some other things you can’t quite see in these pictures:

  1. the RB3 pro cymbals are angled a bit more downward by default, whereas the RB2 cymbals tended to be “flat”
  2. The RB3 pro cymbals are MUCH QUIETER and “rubberier” in play. There is a huge difference; the RB2 cymbals felt like hitting hard plastic, these RB3 pro cymbals feel more like hitting the softer drum pads.

Anyway, I heartily recommend these new Rock Band 3 pro cymbals, as they are indeed a major and welcome upgrade over the RB2 ones. They’re not available as standalone items quite yet, but will be soon!

And if you haven’t picked up a drum set, or you need a new upgraded drum set over your old RB1 or RB2 kit, the Rock Band 3 drumkit with pro Cymbals is definitely the way to go — and it’s shipping now.

(unless, of course, you’re going with the Ion premium drum kit ..)

How do the Rock Band cymbals work when playing Guitar Hero games? Do the Guitar Hero games still ‘scale themselves down’ to four ‘notes’ and the pedal, or do they deal with the existence of the cymbals in a more intelligent manner?

Idan Zeierman
September 26, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Idan, the Guitar Hero games don’t detect or use the Rock Band cymbals at all, so it’d be straight compression to 4 pads as per usual.

(this COULD have changed in Guitar Hero 6 but I seriously doubt it.. since the first Rock Band to even chart cymbals won’t be released for another month!)

Jeff Atwood
September 27, 2010 at 12:07 am

where’d you get them? has anyone seen them in the NYC area?

September 27, 2010 at 10:46 am

My major beef with the original cymbals were that they did not fasten very securely to the set. Strong hits (which are frequent with me, what with being a spazzy drummer and rather beefy guy) tended to knock them off the base and drop them down. Can you comment on if the fasteners are more secure? Maybe some pictures?

September 27, 2010 at 11:09 am

Brian the cymbal fastening system is pretty much identical (hasn’t changed from the RB2 cymbal set), so if you were having sliding issues with the old cymbals I don’t honestly think this will be any different — you might need some external clamp reinforcement, or just, y’know, hit a teeeeny bit softer :)

Jeff Atwood
September 27, 2010 at 5:15 pm

@Brian, I found a WONDERFUL work around that completely eliminated the slide down issue. I never had any problems with the cymbals themselves fastening to the set, but I always had the sliding issues (what with being a rather controlled and slimmer fellow) regardless of how frantically I played on the RB2 kit (PS3). So what I did was purchased a roll of shelf cloth (i also hear that cheese cloth has an almost identical effect). If you’re confused as to what shelf cloth is, you can find it at most craft stores, but most likely you can get some at a home improvement store (like Lowe’s or The Home Depot) in the states. I found some at Wal Mart as well. Its typically used in shelves and drawers so that objects like fine china, porcelain, or dishes do not slide around when places on smooth flat surfaces like glass, plastic, or wood. But the cloth itsself is a very thin, rubbery type mesh cloth that is usually sold in rolls or spools. Although it does not use any type of adhesive (which preserves your kit when you use it) the effect that it has when it touches up against a smooth surface is much like a suction type of effect. If you wrap a very small section of the shelf cloth around the poles to your cymbal extensions, then clamp the poles in place with the standard clamps, you will completely eliminate the sliding issue. It has worked for me and every other friend of mine that I recommended this fix to. With the RB2 cymbals being so terrible, most people do not have confidence in really WHACKING the cymbals, so I don’t believe that you would have some sort of abnormal strength when it comes to playing the cymbal notes, so I’m confident this will work for you. Depending on where you make the purchase, a 3foot long spool of shelf cloth runs between $1 to $2 so its not a huge investment, although you will only need about 3×1 inches of the cloth compared to the 24×12 inches of cloth that you’re going to purchase. Cheese cloth on the other hand does use adhesive on one side but still has the mesh type feel on the non-adhesive side.

@Jeff Atwood. Could you please verify whether or not the RB2 kid with cymbals will still work and register the cymbal notes on the RB3 pro mode in drums? Also, does the Ion Drum Rocker Kit register the cymbal notes in pro mode? It will not be a requirement to upgrade to the RB3 drum kit just to play in Pro Mode on drums will it?

Maine T
October 2, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Just FYI: Those are not “hit sensors.”
As you can see from the tear-down, there are no electronics inside those three areas on the RB2 cymbal, as there are no wires connected to them. The RB2 cymbal has only a single piezo sensor element that converts vibrations into an electrical signal. Most e-drum cymbals are constructed that way. I don’t know what those five areas are for on the RB3 cymbal, but they aren’t sensors.

October 2, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Will the Rock band 3 cymbals work with my wii rock band 1 drums?

October 2, 2010 at 10:15 pm


No. The RB1 drums do not have any cymbal support.

October 3, 2010 at 9:18 pm

will these rb3 pro cymbals work with a ghwt drumset?

October 31, 2010 at 12:36 am

Any version of cymbals designed for RB2 will work with RB2 or RB3, on any console. RB1 drumkits have no ports to connect cymbals.
I have the 2 cymbal RB2 cymbals shown above, yes they are quite noisy and my blue cymbal died.
I just purchased the RB3 pro cymbal kit (3 cymbals) and they are indeed a much better design over previous cymbals. They are quiet, and softer. Worth the $49.99 CDN I spent.

November 7, 2010 at 8:06 am

Do the pro cymbals work on the GH drum set? I have to know!!!

January 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Does the RB3 pro cymbals work on the RB2 drum set??

josh ritty
January 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Yes, the cymbals work the same on either RB2 or RB3 drumkit.

Jeff Atwood
February 4, 2012 at 12:34 pm

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