If you are playing your first-ever acoustic drums, you probably wonder why they are so loud.
And thus, if you own a kit, and especially if you live in an apartment, it raises another question, how to make drums quieter?
There are six different ways to make them much less noisy. In this article, I included all of them and explained each way thoroughly.
Also, I explained the reason why drums are so loud and how to make your cymbals and e-kit quieter. So, stay tuned because you will get the needed information right now.
Why is Drum so Loud?
Acoustic drums do not have volume knob, so the harder you hit, the louder they get. However, drums are still loud even if you don’t hit that hard.
This is because the upper membrane resonates with the lower one, which results in a loud sound. Depending on the wood, they can be more or less loud.
However, the differences in loudness are very small. For instance, drums made of oak are quieter than drums crafted from maple.
Acoustic drum sets reach up to 130 decibels. This is equivalent to being 50 feet away from a military jet taking off.
This implies that your drums will be loud enough to travel over the entire neighborhood, as well as being clearly within the “dangerous” volume range, where hearing loss can occur.
6 Ways on How to Make Your Drums Quiter
Now that I explained why drums are so loud, here are six ways to make them quieter.
1. Drum mutes
Drum mutes are rounded pads made of non-slip rubber material. They are available in different sizes and are intended to be placed directly on the drum head in order to reduce the sound. However, they will not mute the sound in total.
As you strike the pads, you’ll still hear the tapping sound from your drums. They will reduce approximately 70% of the total sound, which is pretty incredible.
They are a tempting alternative for acoustic musicians since they are quite cheap and highly effective at noise reduction. With a good soundproofing room and a quality set of drum mutes, you can play your drums almost anywhere.
Once you place them and start drumming, the first thing you’ll notice is that they change the sound of each drum to a dull thud. It takes some getting used to it, but the drums still have their own distinct pitches.
Also, stick response is limited since the rubber absorbs a significant amount of the natural rebound of the drum, making it harder to develop dynamics, buzz rolls, ghost notes, and so on. This means you won’t be able to play with brushes since the rubber surface will grip them.
However, you can add a covered practice pad over the drum, and this will readily solve this problem.
When playing hard or fast, the lower rebound forces you to work a little harder. This can actually benefit muscle growth for endurance when playing without the mutes.
My top pick:
2. Switching to electronic drums
For drummers looking to reduce the volume of their playing at home without sacrificing the joy of drumming, switching to electronic drums can be an excellent solution.
Electronic drum sets offer the ability to play with headphones, significantly reducing the noise level while still providing an authentic drumming experience.
When considering the switch to electronic drums, it’s essential to understand the differences between kits with rubber pads and those with mesh drum heads, as each option has its own unique characteristics.
Electronic Kits with Rubber Pads:
Electronic drum sets with rubber pads are a popular choice for beginners and drummers seeking a quieter playing experience. These pads are typically made of durable rubber material and offer a responsive playing surface. Here are a few key points to consider:
- Noise Reduction: Rubber pads significantly reduce the impact noise produced by drumsticks hitting the playing surface. They dampen the sound, making it more suitable for practicing in residential areas or shared living spaces.
- Durability: Rubber pads are known for their durability, capable of withstanding regular playing and maintaining their responsiveness over time. They are less prone to wear and tear compared to other materials.
- Feel and Rebound: While rubber pads provide an adequate playing experience, some drummers may find that they lack the natural rebound and feel of traditional drum heads. The response may feel slightly different, requiring a slight adjustment in playing technique.
- Cost: Electronic drum sets with rubber pads are generally more affordable than those with mesh drum heads, making them a budget-friendly option for drummers seeking a quieter practice solution.
Electronic Kits with Mesh Drum Heads:
Drummers who desire a more authentic playing experience, closer to that of an acoustic drum set, often opt for electronic drum sets equipped with mesh drum heads.
These heads are designed to mimic the feel and response of traditional drumheads, providing a more realistic playing experience. Here’s what you need to know:
- Realistic Feel: Mesh drum heads offer a more natural rebound and feel, closely resembling the experience of playing on an acoustic drum set. This aspect is especially important for drummers looking to maintain their technique and performance skills.
- Enhanced Dynamics: Mesh drum heads are highly responsive to varying degrees of stick velocity, allowing for a wide range of dynamics in your playing. This sensitivity enables drummers to express themselves more fully and accurately, mimicking the responsiveness of acoustic drums.
- Noise Reduction: While mesh drum heads do reduce the volume of drumming compared to acoustic drums, they may still produce audible sound. However, when paired with appropriate sound isolation techniques, such as using headphones or soundproofing the room, they can provide a relatively quiet playing experience.
- Cost: Electronic drum sets with mesh drum heads are generally more expensive than those with rubber pads due to the enhanced realism and responsiveness they offer.
Ultimately, the choice between rubber pads and mesh drum heads depends on individual preferences and priorities. Drummers who prioritize noise reduction and affordability may find electronic kits with rubber pads to be a suitable option.
On the other hand, those seeking a more authentic playing experience and willing to invest in a higher-end kit may prefer the realistic feel and enhanced dynamics provided by electronic kits with mesh drum heads.
Check out full article on the Best Electronic Drums
3. Using mesh drum heads
If you want to reach that quieter tone on your acoustic set, replace your drumheads with mesh. As I mentioned above, mesh heads are much quieter, more responsive, and more sensitive, so it is a perfect setting for your playing.
The replacement is very easy. The first thing you need to do is to use the drum key to remove the tuning rods. When you do that, remove the hoop and remove the old drumhead. It is a good idea to whip off the dirt of your shell edges once you remove the drumhead.
Place your new mesh drumhead on the shell, making sure both sides meet the edge. Screw each tuning rod into the drum with your fingers until you can’t make them any tighter. When you finish that, you are ready to tune your drum. It is that easy!
Also, mesh kits have a realistic drum size, such as the ones on acoustic drum sets. This means they’re an excellent choice if you switch between an acoustic and electronic set. It also implies that you won’t have to adjust your technique or accuracy.
4. Switching to low volume drum kit
Low-volume drum kits are usually e-kits; however, there are a couple of manufacturers that publish acoustic low-volume kits, including quiet cymbals.
One of them is Natal DNA Stealth. The DNA Stealth gives the feel and responsiveness of a regular-size kit but at a considerably lower volume. It was specifically intended to take up much less room than a standard acoustic drum set. This kind of drums sets usually come with low volume cymbals.
They are inventively created with carefully compounded metal alloys to provide a significantly softer sound than standard cymbals.
One of the best low-volume cymbals is Zildjian L80. They are designed to lower noise levels from 123 dB (the maximum value of traditional cymbals) to 83 dB. Consider this option since it can help you lower cymbal noise and still deliver great sound.
5. Using quiet drumsticks
Quiet drumsticks or better known as silent sticks, can reduce volume by up to 80%. The most popular quiet drumsticks are Adoro silent drumsticks which can help soften the sound of the drums while you play.
They are great for playing e-drums, worship, pad, and band practice, and overall, they are suitable for playing on any surface. Silent drumsticks lower battery volume by -4 to -9 dB compared to standard drumsticks. The tips of these drumsticks are more flexible, so the contact between the stick and the pad is reduced.
Also, they are much lighter compared to regular wooden drumsticks. However, this does not affect the rebound. On the contrary, thanks to the impact-resistant polycarbonate shaft, the rebound of these sticks is amazing.
Another great pair of quiet drumsticks is Ultra-Tones sticks from Lidwish Solutions. With these quiet drumsticks, around half of the noise of the drums is reduced. The energy from each stroke is partially transmitted into the stick by flexing these drumsticks, resulting in quieter sounds.
Aside from the quiet playing, they bounce almost as well as standard drumsticks. This is extremely important because, without the bounce, I wouldn’t even consider using them.
6. Dampen drums
Drum dampening or drum muting/muffling is the process of adding anything to a drum or drumhead to reduce the drum sound. Dampening drums aim to deliver:
- Less noise;
- Less tone and overtones;
- Less ringing;
- Less sustain;
- Less high-pitch frequencies.
It is the perfect solution to make your drums quieter, reduce their ringing, and achieve a specific drum sound.
Varied methods of drum dampening will provide different results. You can have anything from a minor modification in sound to complete drum muffling.
Once you understand how different methods function, you use them to achieve a beautiful drum sound.
Add-On dampen drums
The most popular type of dampening is add-on drum dampening, which is the one that you improvise yourself on your drums.
This means that you can use your blanket, a piece of cloth, a pillow, tape, or anything you find suitable. Use it on either bass, toms, or snare drums to regulate your sound, eliminate drum ringing, or deepen your tone.
- Place towels on top of your drums and cymbals. These are great homemade options, and they work well at suppressing drum noise. The thicker the towel, the less drum volume you’ll have. However, if you put a too-thick towel, you will also lose a lot of rebounds.
- Stuff your bass drum with a large blanket, towels, or other bigger piece of cloth. The more you put in there (and the thicker it is), the less bass drum loudness you’ll get.
Put sheets between the bearing edge and the head of your drumheads. Remove the drumheads, then tear up an old bedsheet and drape sections of it over the drum while you replace the drumhead. This will assist in reducing the loudness of your drum equipment.
Consider laying a pillow on the bottom of the drum. This gives you more control over the airflow and the resonance on the drum head without ruining the sound. If the sound is not good, move the pillow until you place it in the perfect position. Check if the sound is as you wish and bear in mind to keep it away from the batter head.
Last but not least, you can remove your resonant drumheads. If you drum without the resonant heads, it is better to replace the hoops. This way, you will preserve your bearing edges. Cut holes in your old drumheads. Ensure to leave around one to two inches around the outside. Use these as resonant drumheads. This will keep your bearing edges protected.
How to Make Cymbals Quieter
How to make cymbals quieter is simple by dampening them just like you did with drums. You can try a couple of methods mentioned in the following sections:
Using tape on a cymbal reduces echoes, resulting in a quieter sound. The thicker the tape, the more it deadens the sound. But be careful not to overdo it; otherwise, the cymbal will sound like a piece of cardboard.
Insulation tape is the best because it is thick enough to dampen sound but not dense enough to totally eliminate it. Also, think about where you place this tape.
For instance, if you place it near the cymbals’ edges, it will muffle the sound when you crash on it, but if you place it near the center, it will dampen both the bow and the bell tone.
2. Piece of cloth
For a quick solution to dampening the cymbal sound, use any piece of cloth you can find. This will change the tone of the cymbals, damping all overtones and strangling the resonance.
It will result in much less noise. I’d recommend using a piece of cloth that you don’t mind getting dirty because beating them with sticks can create markings or shred them up after a while.
Moongels are the famous blue chunks of a gelly, sticky material that drummers use to coat their drums. However, they can be used on cymbals as well. They are probably the most popular item for dampening drums and cymbals.
They are intended to dampen sound to prevent undesirable overtones, and they are perfect for eliminating snare ringing. Moongels are highly recommended for both live performance and in the studio for ensuring microphones pick up the precise tone you want without excessive ringing.
4. DIY Cymbal Mutes
Aside from these accessories, you can try some DIY (do it yourself) methods to dampen the cymbal sound. That is by creating your own cymbal mutes.
Here is how to do it – Cut out the rubber to suit the surface of each cymbal. The hi-hat should have the smallest chunk, while the ride cymbal should have the largest. You’d then need to figure out how to secure the rubber to the middle of the cymbal so it doesn’t slide off while playing.
It might take some time to make your own cymbal mutes. They will, however, be well worth the effort in the long term, and it won’t cost you anything. But if this is too experimental for you, you can always use tape, gel, or cloth.
5. Low Volume Cymbals
If none of these above-mentioned methods work on reducing the cymbal’s sound, you can look out for low-volume cymbals for your acoustic kit. Those cymbals have drilled holes in them, which helps in reducing their ringing and overall sound.
The best thing about them is that they feel and sound just like regular cymbals and generate similar tones, but they’re around 80% quieter.
You can be pounding on a set of low-volume cymbals in one room, and the person in the next wouldn’t notice. Perfect solution for those drummers that have their set in an apartment.
I recommend Zildjian L80, Sabian Quiet Tone practice cymbals, and Wuhan ORA Cymbal Set for the best low-volume cymbals. Investing in these kinds of cymbals can really pay off, especially if you don’t want to switch to an e-kit or planning to move to a new house.
Read full article on How to Dampen Cymbals
How to Make Electronic Drums Quieter
Reduce the sound of your e-kit the same way you reduce the sound with the acoustic kit mentioned above. You can use the same methods and the same way to make your electronic drums quieter by using the following:
- Thinner drumsticks, rods, or brushes;
- A fluffy bass drum beater or tape a cloth around your bass drum pad;
- Low-volume e-cymbals;
- Try mesh drumheads and soft rubber pads if that’s an available option.
Aside from that, you can always do some DIY electronic drum dampening.
Place towels on top of your drums and cymbals. Just like for acoustic kits, if you put a towel, shirt, or any piece of cloth but a thicker one, they work well at suppressing drum noise. The thicker the towel, the less drum volume you’ll have; however, don’t forget that you will lose a lot of rebounds.
Frequently asked questions
Do drum silencer pads work?
Yes, drum silencer pads or also known as drum mutes, work in lowering the drum volume. They will decrease the sound by around 70%, which is more than enough. By using drum silencer pads, you can play your drums in your apartment without upsetting your neighbors.
Why do people put blankets in drums?
Putting a blanket or a piece of cloth over your drums can dampen and soften the attack. Blankets are one of the most effective dampening tools. They’re free and don’t take up much room.
They should be placed directly in front of the batter and resonant heads. You may align them to follow the structure of the bearing edges.
Also, you can place the blanket on the bottom of your bass drum. This gives you more control over the airflow and the resonance on the drum head without ruining the sound. This is also called muffling the sound.
How can I practice drums without annoying neighbors?
These are the six ways how can you make your drums set quieter and not annoy your neighbors:
- Use drum mutes
- Use mesh drum heads
- Use quiet drumsticks
- Dampen drums
- Switch to the low-volume drum kit and cymbals
- Switch to electronic drums
There are several ways how to make drums quieter. You can use the old DIY methods and buy a good pair of quiet drumsticks, drum mutes, mesh heads, low-volume drums, and cymbals. If none of these methods work, simply switch to electronic drum kits.
There are also ways how to dampen the sound of your cymbals as well – the same you would do for your drums. If you live in a small apartment with bad isolation, you can always dampen your e-kit, which is already much quieter. This way, your neighbors cannot complain even a bit!