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  • Rock Band & Guitar Hero with Real Drums – Part 3: basic setup

    Posted on February 2nd, 2009 Shawn 13 comments

    This is Part 3 of a multi-part series.
    Part 1: the discovery
    Part 2: intro and shopping
    Part 3: basic setup
    Part 4: pro setup

    Ok, so you now have all the gear to get going. Let’s take a few (literally) minutes to get setup so you can experience this for the first time. Honestly, it won’t take you more than 30-40 minutes to get the basics setup.

    To review, here’s what you should already have:
    * Guitar Hero Drum Kit
    * MIDI Cable
    * Electronic Drum Kit/Brain with Assignable MIDI capabilities
    * can’t forget…Game console (i.e. Xbox 360, PS3, Wii) with game (i.e. RB2, GHWT)

    1. Setup the GHWT drum kit as instructed in the manual. Nothing out of the ordinary here; setup the stand, place the drums on the stand, plug in the pedal, plug in the cymbals etc.
    NOTE: If you are using the GHWT kit for Rock Band, put the Yellow cymbal on the left, and orange (unused) on the right. If you are using GHWT, put orange on left and yellow on right.
    2. Plug the GHWT kit into your game console and start up your game of choice (i.e. RB2 or GHWT). Play around and make the the kit plays as expected.
    3. Plug the MIDI cable into the back of the GHWT kit; there is a MIDI port right next to the kick drum plug port.
    4. Plug the other end of your MIDI cable to your e-drum kit brain (i.e. Yamaha TMX, Roland TD6V, etc).

    Ok, so let’s step back for a second. You have confirmed the GHWT kit plays fine with your console right? If the GHWT kit has issues, please make sure you get those corrected before proceeding.

    Now, let’s get into pad placement on your e-drum kit.

    5. Make sure you have at least the minimum number of pads setup on your drum kit. For example, Rock Band needs four pads and a kick drum; GHWT needs 5 pads and a kick drum. You need to have at a minimum 4 or 5 pads ready to plug in/configure.

    6. Configure each pad on your e-drum kits brain with the following MIDI value.  NOTE:  The voice (actual sound) doesn’t matter, what matters is the MIDI value.

    RockBand Settings (CREDIT: Doc_SoCal)

    RED – MIDI Note 38
    YELLOW – MIDI Note 46
    BLUE – MIDI Note 48
    GREEN – MIDI Note 45
    KICK – MIDI Note 36

    GHWT Settings are the same, you just add the orange pad at MIDI Note 49.

    7. Now, turn on your game and try it out.  If using RB2, test each pad in the Drum Trainer. This way you can start to fine tune everything.  Basically, every time you hit your kits snare drum (aka red), your e-kit drum drain will send the MIDI note #38 through your MIDI cable, into the GHWT kit, into your console…and of course onto your screen (and speakers).
    Now, you will likely have to recalibrate your game as I noticed a very small, but noticable lag.  After manually setting calibration, everything works great.

    What this leaves you is with your e-drum kit fully functional as a drum kit for RB and GHWT, and it also leaves you with a fully setup GHWT kit. The good part of this is, you can let friends (or kids) use the GHWT kit when they want to play, and keep them off your nice kit.  Both kits will be usable at the same time.  So, if someone hit a pad on the GHWT kit while you are playing your e-kit, the hit will get registered. What’s good is, you can let someone play the GHWT kit without unplugging the MIDI cable.  What’s bad is the obvious. Someone can break your streak by hitting a pad on the GHWT kit. It’s only an issue for me if my little kids are in the room and want to join in the song with me.

    There are two potential concerns to consider. First, You don’t have your Start, Select, or Menu buttons mapped on your drum kit. This means you need to use the GHWT controller to press Start etc.  The mapped MIDI pads can be used as a D-pad and the corresponding buttons, but you have no Start, Select, or Menu on your kit.  Second, you have a plastic drum kit now just sitting in your room unused. If you are short on space, this can be an issue.  My setup is in my basement, so it is not an issue and I’m fine with this.  In fact I keep the GHWT kit rght next to my e-kit, so I can press Start, Select, and Menu as needed.

    So that’s the basic setup.  Coming in my next post, I will talk about taking things further with more professional setups. I will talk about mapping multiple e-drums so you can expand well beyond the 4-5 pad configuration (see picture for a sneak peek). I will also talk about ripping apart the GHWT controller and mounting it on your e-kit (something I do not plan to do, but others with limited space have).


    11 responses to “Rock Band & Guitar Hero with Real Drums – Part 3: basic setup” RSS icon

    • Hey — I been using sethmeisterg’s adapter and got an amazing deal on it (cheaper than a GHWT kit) — so you should check that out as an alternative. Oh yea, it works on PS3 and PS2 and I think Wii.

    • Mike,
      From what I have read, sethmeisterg’s adapter is an awesome choice for PS2, PS3, and possibly Wii. Though, it’s a non-starter for Xbox 360 (my current RB console) due to limitations Microsoft has put on 3rd party adapters. Thanks for your input. It should prove useful to the PS and Wii readers.

    • iv connected my gtwt drum kit into my real kit but have no snare ,floor tom and kicker did anyone else have this problem

    • Gino,
      Let’s figure this out. First, you have the hi-hat (yellow) working, but no other pads…is that correct? If yes, than we know that you have a connection.

      What electronic drum kit and drum brain are you using?

      Have you checked the MIDI settings on your drum brain to confirm they are mapped to the numbers listed above in the “Rock Band Settings” section?

    • hi thanks for helping out .
      i have a TD90 drum kit it has two MIDI ports one in and one out . only ones that are working are hi-hat yellow, crash orange , tom blue the ones not working are red snare, green tom and kicker . i havn’t tried mapping the drum brain not shaw on how this is done , been threw the manual still not clear to me . can u help on this or try making it a little more clear to me ? thanks heaps again.

    • Gino,

      I Googled “td90” and found Delson. Is the Delson TD90 your kit? I don’t know much about it, and not having an easy time finding an online manual. It’s possible that the MIDI voices on the drum brain are fixed, and not re-mappable. If that’s the case, you’d have to get a drum brain that was capable of re-mapping the MIDI values.

      Try this site. They might have some expertise that knows more about the TD90.

    • yeah it is . if thats the case why would it have the MIDI input,output ports. in the manual it has MIDI implementation chart if that helps

    • thanks to your tutorial you have made my day, week, month, maybe even the year! thanks!

    • Like many others I was looking for an easy “how to” about hooking up a Wii GHWT drum kit to MIDI, I couldn’t find it so with the help of Fonz I wrote my own. Check my website:



    • Sorry to resurrect a dead article here, but I’m coming late to this idea and am encountering an issue. I’m using a Yamaha DTXpress 3 brain and kit. I’ve connected the MIDI cable and set the drum notes as instructed. The hi-hat, tom 1 and crash (yellow, blue, and orange) work perfectly, but the red, green and kick don’t register a hit from the Yamaha set. Interestingly, this is exactly the same problem reported by gterriaca so long ago. Do you happen to know whether he resolved this issue, and how?

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