We've all had to find ways to get creative with our spare time, especially in the last year. Many people are finally getting to spend time on new skills and hobbies, and learning the drums has become a popular pastime for people worldwide. However, with so many people having to work and study from home, the prospect of introducing a drum set into the mix can have its concerns, and it usually comes down to one thing. Noise.
One of the most common objections to buying a drum set is our instrument's volume. There’s no doubt about it: drums are loud. Unless you have a soundproof room or an area where there is no one else close by, it can become an issue. However, there are several practical solutions to this problem, and some may be a lot simpler than you might think!
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Is soundproofing a room a viable option?
Possibly, but soundproofing a room is a very costly exercise. Unless you have a budget of around $10-15K to do it properly, then sadly, it is probably not going to be completely effective. To truly soundproof a room, you have to literally construct a room within a room, with a raised floor, lowered ceiling, and sound insulated walls. Aside from the floor, none of the walls or the ceiling should be touching the room's main structure to avoid vibrations. Add to this the fact that you need a double door and most likely some lighting, power, and air conditioning, and you start to get an idea of why this is so costly. Unfortunately, if you do not follow these guidelines, you can spend a lot of money on a room that marginally reduces sound at best. Some companies sell soundproof cabins for self-assembly, but these are costly, take up a lot of space, and are not always the most visually appealing solution. So, are there more practical options?
Are electronic drums any good?
Yes! Electronic drums are a great solution for aspiring drummers where the volume could be an issue. Plugin your headphones, and drum away to your heart’s content. When you can let loose, you can use a powered monitor for external sound. This is a great solution for musicians living in apartments or close to neighbors. However, it is worth noting that striking the pads, regardless of whether they are rubber or mesh, still creates the sound of the stick striking a surface, which can still be audible in adjacent rooms, or rooms above or below. The sound of a bass drum beater playing a rubber or plastic bass drum post can also make quite a sound. So although it is much reduced, it should not be considered a completely volume-free solution. Still, if there is space between your practice room and the rest of the household, this is less of a concern.
Are there any solutions for acoustic drums?
For acoustic drums, drum silencing pads are among the best options to reduce volume. Vic Firth manufacture Drum Mutes that can come in box sets for complete drum sets or individual pads for additional drums and cymbals. Evans has a similar product called Sound Off Pads, which are also excellent. In both cases, these pads attach to the top of the drum or over the top of the cymbal and significantly reduce volume. While the drums are mostly silenced, you can still hear the tone, and the pads feel great to play too. Also, at less than $100 for a complete set of drum and cymbal pads, this is a great value solution to a problem that could otherwise cost significantly more to resolve. The great thing about these pads is that they are easy to remove when you want to play freely without them. If you are interested in purchasing any of these items, check out the links below.
What about lowering the bass drum volume?
The acoustic bass drum, being the largest drum with the most low-frequency sound, can produce a lot of volume and tone. Some of the higher-end drum sets come with a pillow inside the shell, often referred to as an EQ pillow. However, most drum sets do not, and it is always a good idea to add some dampening to this drum. You don’t have to be too scientific here. A regular household pillow placed inside the drum or even a blanket that touches both drum heads can be the best solution. You’ll actually find that the drum's sound and feel can be improved with some well-placed internal dampening. Your family members and neighbors will thank you for this, and your bass drum will sound great! We've included a link to the popular Evans EQ Pillow below.
Brushes and rods.
You can also play acoustic drums with brushes or rods to further reduce sound. Brushes have multiple strands of wire at the end. These strands can be metal or plastic and can significantly reduce the drums and cymbals' sound. They are usually employed in jazz and lighter playing, but there’s no reason why we can’t use them for general practice. Rods are made up of multiple wood dowels and are usually available in different weights. All are lighter than sticks and give some more options to reduce volume.
Tone rings and gel pads.
Tone rings and gels/putty pads are also useful tools, although they mostly address the drum's ringing and tone rather than volume. Tone rings are plastic rings that sit on top of the drum heads, and they are typically half an inch to two inches in diameter. One of the most popular gels is called Moongel. This is a blue gel that sticks to the drum head and controls tone and ringing, and you'll see them in our videos. External mufflers can also be used to dampen volume. These attach to the drum's side and press a felt muffler down onto the drum head. Older drums are often equipped with internal mufflers. These are found more on vintage drums and are considered a little old school. Modern gels are more subtle, controllable, and easily removable. We've included a purchase link to them below.
Practice pads and sets.
You can also restrict your home practice to using practice pads and practice pad sets. These are rubber pads, normally mounted on a wood base and suspended on a tabletop or, if size permits, a snare drum stand. It may not be as much fun as playing the drums, but these pads are beneficial for practicing the drum set rudiments and building technique. We recommend the practice pads below.
Good manners go a long way.
Volume control aside, it's a good idea to have agreements with family and neighbors regarding when you will and won't play drums, especially if you are playing acoustic drums without sound dampening. Don’t let volume issues get in the way of your practice time. There are solutions for all budgets, and playing the drums has never been more accessible.
Buying the products recommended in this article.
If you can't make it to your friendly local drum store, you can purchase using the links below. As an affiliate of Amazon.com, we may receive a commission if you choose to do this.
Vic Firth Drum Mutes. Complete set for Rock-sized drum set. (22-inch bass drum, 12, 13, 16-inch toms, 14-inch snare drum, hi-hat cymbals, 2 x crash cymbal pads). Please measure the diameter of your drums before purchasing. If your drum sizes are different from this, explore the alternative size options and select the appropriate pack. Individual pads are available for sale.
Internal Bass Drum Pads.
Evans Bass Drum EQ Pillow. This is a great pad that will sit in your bass drum, lightly touching both front and back drum heads.
Moongel. It's not from the Moon, but it is a gel. This is one of our favorite products, as seen in our videos.
Evans Real Feel 12 inch Practice Pad. This is our favorite pad. Great value, double-sided for different feels, and great rebound!
DW Go Anywhere 5 Piece Practice Pad Set. This is a brilliantly designed set from Drum Workshop, which comes mounted on a solid stand. Don't forget to add a bass drum pedal if you want to use the bass pad feature.
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