Drum Muffling Basics!

bass drum pillow dampening
Old School Way Of Dampening The Bass Drum.

The process of drum muffling goes beyond using a bunch of pillows to stuff a bass drum.

The ability to add the right amount of muffling that will stimulate the best sound from any drum is quite a challenging task, yet it is important for every drummer to explore ideas and techniques for drum muffling.

For most drummers, using mufflers to mute a drum is a way of limiting a drum’s sound. Well, this is certainly true to an extent. On the other hand, there are several other reasons to muffle your drum. For instance, drum muffling is a great way to monitor how your drums resonate. It also helps to control certain notes.

Muffling Your Bass Drum – How Does It Work?

When it comes to drum muffling, the bass drum is definitely the first on the list for every drummer. The reason is that bass drums are known to always produce tons of overtones and resonance. The bass drum is designed to produce a quick and powerful sound; therefore, a majority of drummers try to dampen the overpowering sound with by muffling it. However, you need to do this with care since you can muffle your bass drum the wrong way.

Consider Purchasing Specific Bass Drum Muffling Products:

bass drum muffledWhen it comes to muffling your bass drum, one of the best ways to do it right is to buy specific products for muffling the bass drum, if you have the cash. Examples of these products are the wide varieties of rings or pads for controlling a drum’s ‘thump’.

One product that I’ve come to like over the years for drum muffling is the Evans EQ pad; this custom muffling tool fits suitably on the base of your bass drum.

Other options include a drum ring which is ideal for batter head of your bass drum when it comes to controlling the sound. Many bass drum heads come with a foam ring which helps control the sound.

So, if you have a robust budget, all these products are specific bass drum muffling products and are quite helpful for this task.

Consider Other No-Cost Options:

If you are on a tight budget and don’t want to use the bass drum muffle above, there are several low-cost or even no-cost drum muffling techniques that will provide a similar result.

muffled bass drum

First, what you should put in mind when adopting any drum muffling tactic is the purpose of drum muffling – which is to control the amount of air that flows through the shell.

If you do it right you only cut the air flow a little bit. In fact, too much stuffing will only make your bass drum produce a dead and flat sound, this is certainly not the result you desire unless you are sampling and tweaking the sound for recording purposes. So, only integrate a small amount of muffling with your drum.

Another good muffling technique is to place one blanket or pillow in side your bass drum, making sure it rests on the bottom of the drum.

This technique will enable you gain additional control over the air flow. It will also help you monitor the resonance on the head of the drum.

If this technique does not produce a decent sound instantly, attempt moving the pillow around, but ensure it doesn’t touch the batter head because it usually results in to much touching and dampens the sound too much.

The problem with these no cost solutions is that the pillow, towel, or blanket tend to move around and you have to constantly adjust them. That’s why buying something like the product above is a good idea because it stays in place.

You can do what I did in my early days and roll up a large towel, tape it so it doesn’t unroll and and place it again the bass drum head on the bottom so it curves with the bass drum and agains the head.When it comes to the bass drum you can use a blanket or two. 

Muffling a Snare Drum and Toms!

The art of drum muffling also applies to snare drum and toms. However, the method adopted in muffling a snare drum and toms is  different from bass drum muffling. You sill not put a blanket or pillow inside a snare drum or tom. You may be wondering what works with snare drum stuffing.

moongelOne low cost product you might want to try is DrumGum or MoonGel. This product is a sticky gel that you can place on a drum’s batter head for the purpose of controlling the overtones and resonance. This product can work well for your toms and snare drum. Simply put a little patch of drum gum  or moon gel on a snare drum head but you should place it at the spot where you are not likely to strike it with your sticks. When you do this, listen to the sound to note the difference. Try different spots on your drum, and you can also use more than one piece of moon gel or drumgum.

drum-ringI have used drum rings for snare drum and toms for muffling. These rings fit perfectly around a drum’s batter head and usually come in one inch thickness. The great thing about these products is that they are cheap and result-oriented; they will definitely minimize the resonance of your drum but not as much as you might think. I don’t use them anymore but you might like them.

I don’t use them because they can be annoying, and I sometimes play close to the edge for different sounding rim shots and they are not good for that. But they are suitable for just any size of drum and do not usually meddle with your playing.

minemadOne of the newer tom and snare drum dampening devices by Evans is called a Minemad. I have not used it but it’s cheap and might be worth a try.

Experiment with the different products and techniques to see which one suits your playing style.

All these techniques are proven ways to boost the sound of a drum set. However, do not forget that sometimes you don’t need muffle your drums. I have several snare drums that did not require it. But it also depends on what kind of gig or session you are doing. Some studios for example muffle the heck out of the drums for recording purposes. So, listen to each drum’s tones to detect if the art of drum muffling is needful for your drum or not.