Learn how to damp down runaway resonance in your drums and cymbals to improve their sound in the studio and onstage.
When it comes to drum and cymbal sounds, you can definitely have too much of a good thing. Particularly in the studio, excessive ring and overtones can make getting a good, clean recorded drum sound difficult. In this tech tip, we'll be looking at some of the commercially available devices for muffling drums and cymbals as well as some traditional techniques.
Many drummers apply some kind of muffling to their drum heads to curtail the ringing overtones that can ruin your recording. Many older drum sets used to come with adjustable mufflers mounted inside the drums' shell, which held a pad against the top head. Pearl still makes this kind of Internal Muffler that can be attached to the inside of the shell, and as well as a Clip-On External Muffler.
Using duct or gaffer's tape on the top heads of the snare and toms is a traditional technique, but it will leave some gummy residue on your head when it’s removed. Moongels are self-adhesive dampening gels that you apply to drum heads and cymbals for various degrees of muffling. They don't leave residue on your heads like duct tape.
On the snare drum it's a common practice to tape a wallet to the head. One sound engineer we know insists that tampons affixed to the heads get the best sound.
Most drummers apply quite a bit of dampening to the bass drum, starting with a felt strip placed against the inside of the batter head. In addition, a common practice is to place a pillow or blanket against the inside of the head.
Drum muffling rings, often made of Mylar, are frequently used on the snare and toms. Rhythm Tech's Drum Circle Muffling Ring for the snare is even imprinted with 28 essential drum rudiments to practice—a nice extra.
Some drummers prefer minimal or no muffling, favoring a more resonant, sustained sound. A middle path is to use drum heads that provide various degrees of muffling, and we'll check out some of these in Part 2.
At Musician’s Friend you’ll find a huge selection of drum mufflers, patches, tone control rings and other devices to dampen and fine-tune the sound of your drum kit and cymbals.