Drums, as well as the bass, are considered to be the rhythmic backbone of any musical piece in most genres. They are the cornerstones of any track. Drums don’t only keep time, but they create the harmony that all the other instruments follow; this puts the drummer in a very critical position as he can make or break any track. The modern drum sets, as we all know them in rock and roll, is called a drum kit; A kit revolves around the snare and bass drums which give a sharp sound to cut through instruments to be able to keep the time. Tom-toms and cymbals vary from one kit to another and can be adjusted according to the genre you are willing to play for. Learning to play the drums doesn’t only relieve stress and give you endless options of instruments in the percussion family that you can play, but it also turns you into a human metronome; you will have good timing in any instrument you decide to learn after.
Having the patience and the time to practice any new instrument is essential to be able to perfect your playstyle. There are no shortcuts to becoming a professional musician other than being consistent with your practice schedule. One of the obstacles that face any new drum student, more than any other instrument, is the right place and time to practice. Many would even quit learning how to play the drums as they never seem to find a good time where they can practice freely without bothering whoever lives with them or in their neighborhood. Especially if you are sharing a small apartment, how do you move past that obstacle and make your drum kit quieter?
Choose An Electric Drum Kit
If you haven’t already purchased your practice drum kit, consider buying an electric set rather than an acoustic one. While nothing will ever be compared to the feel that acoustic drums give, acoustic drums are loud, noisy, and take quite a bit of space, unlike electronic drums. Electric drums evolved a lot over the past couple of decades, especially when it comes to the feel and response. Nowadays, an electronic drum kit is not only chosen for its quieter sound but rather the studio versatility it brings to the table, along the portability and the endless options of sounds you can choose from. Electronic kits also make learning how to play the drums easier with all the ready patterns that they come with that you can imitate to improve your techniques and learning curve.
If it’s too late, and you have already bought an acoustic set, you can turn your acoustic set into an electronic one or at least copy some of the hacks used in electronic drums to lower your acoustic kit volume, like using mesh heads for example. The cool thing about replacing your regular drum heads with mesh heads is that you can do it simply without breaking the bank for a huge volume reduction with minimum effort.
Mute Your Drums
There are so many ways for you to reduce the volume of your practice drum kit so that you’re able to practice day and night without driving your neighbors crazy. There are a couple of steps and things you can add to mute the volume to up to 100%.
Drum dampening is where you muffle the sound of your bass drums by adding some blankets or pillows to it. This way is simple as it sounds; you can easily remove the head of your bass drum and add a blanket, old t-shirts, or towels that fit and reclose the head to reduce the volume without paying a penny. After adding the blanket, make sure to re-tune your drums and practice a lot to get used to the new sound without losing your timing. While drum dampening is effective when it comes to reducing the volume, it’s not as fun as playing your drums without restrictions.
You can buy drum mutes to quickly mute your drums. There are several advantages that drum mutes guarantee compared to any other method of muting. A lot of time and effort will be saved because you can simply add the soft rubber pads whenever you want to reduce the volume and remove them whenever you feel like blasting it at full volume. The second advantage to using drum mutes is how you can use them for your cymbals as well as your practice drums .
Since drum mutes can reduce the volume by around 70% only, you can go the extra mile and consider buying low volume cymbals. The upside to low volume cymbals over drum mutes is how their response and feel don’t differ much from real cymbals, so you will hardly notice any difference.
You Can Reduce the Volume with Only Your Drumsticks
You can guarantee a serious volume reduction if you invest in a pair of quieter drum sticks and couple them with another volume reduction method we discussed, such as using mesh heads. Some will even use brushes or rods instead of sticks for a more dramatic volume reduction. However, brushes have a different feel and rebound to them which makes it harder for someone who is used to using the classic drumsticks. To compromise between the feel of real drumsticks and the reduction of volume that we are aiming for, you can buy some bundle sticks. Bundle sticks will not give the same level of low volume brushes do, but they are definitely quieter than drumsticks. The rule goes that the thinner the drumsticks, the quieter and less intense they will sound, plus they are definitely less painful if one of your stick tricks go wrong.
Practice Drum Pads
The only option left if you’re not satisfied with the others or you feel that you want to have the opportunity to practice anywhere and everywhere, is practice drum pads. These rubber pads are designed to imitate real drums in how they feel and their rebound; however, this fact depends on the design, and the brand of the practice pads you will get. It’s essential for your learning process to practice on a real acoustic kit at maximum volume whenever you can. Practice pads give you the option to improve your technique, speed, and timing whether you are a beginner or a pro, by giving you the chance to be able to practice 24/7 anywhere. All you need is two sticks and for the pads to be mounted on top of nearly any flat surface, or even your lap, and you are good to go. Some will even place the rubber pad on top of their snare drum creating a snare drum practice pad with a more realistic feel to be able to practice freely. The payoff of practice pads depends merely on whether they will help you to practice more or not.
Alternative to Practice Pads
If you are not willing to spend the time, effort, and money until you find the perfect practice drum pad that will replicate the feel of a real drum kit, there are other alternatives that you can resort to at the comfort of your house. With just a pillow and drumsticks, you can continue practicing your hand and fingers techniques. If you want to train your arms as well, you can throw in some air drumming moves instead of just leaving them to concerts, and the classic tapping on the floor to practice some feet and legs motions. These hacks will help you train your muscles and improve your muscles memory, but what about your timing? Good timing can be improved with your feet, clapping your hands, or snapping your fingers. If you are busy training your arms and legs, you can use your voice to improve your timekeeping by humming, counting, or singing. The human body in itself is a walking talking drum set if you know how to use it.
You Can Be Your Own Volume Reduction Method
Choosing drum kits or modifying them to cater to your needs to be able to play the drums without bothering your whole neighborhood, is something every drummer has to deal with at one point or another. The intensity of the sound you are creating can also be controlled by the power you are exerting while hitting the drums. One of the great hacks to use when learning how to play the drums is working on your dynamic control, to be able to manage the volume and intensity of your drum strokes. This method doesn’t only give you the opportunity to limit the noises and lower the volume of your drum practice, but it also enhances your performance. Dynamic control is what differentiates between a beginner and a pro who can impress the crowd with their variance in techniques and how they can alter how a beat feels completely, without even changing the tempo.
Build Your Own Studio
You need to be constantly motivated to keep playing and practicing. Investing in your own studio at home where you can practice any day, at any time is the best thing to get to when you decide to put your heart and soul into your music. Even if you are a beginner, if you are serious about learning an instrument or have decided to get your music career started, building your own studio at home will save you a lot in the future when you form your own band and you need a place to jam or to record. If you have been listening to a lot of rock music, you must have noticed by now how the drums sound so much more different in tracks than in real life; the secret is -well recording and mixing of course- but it’s also the room. Your drums will only sound as good as the room they are played in. The first step is picking a room; it can be any free room that is not being used in your house, your own room, your basement, or even your garage. The next step is to eliminate noises and sounds from entering or escaping the room; this is called soundproofing, but how to soundproof a room for drums?
Change your hollow core door to a solid core one. The prices vary depending on the design and the material and whether you have decided on installing the door yourself or are hiring someone else to do it, but it can be a bit pricey. If investing in a solid core door will break your budget, you can always resort to a cheaper solution, which is insulating the door you already have. You can get creative by adding mass or using heavy blankets to soundproof your door.
Cover any bare floor or walls with carpets and rugs to minimize noises and the echo. You can always invest in a good drum rug to place specifically underneath your drum kit to refrain your floor, ceiling, and walls from vibrating while you are rocking.
There are two options to opt for in regards to any window your room might have; the first is to buy good soundproofing curtains that you can shut during your practice, and the second is simply to use a drum shield. A Drum sound shield is the perfect solution if you’d like to eliminate drum noise, as it acts as a barrier between your drums and the windows. You have probably seen a drum sound shield once or twice if you go to a lot of concerts, if not, imagine a soundproofing medium that absorbs all the noises from your drums and stops your neighbors from calling the police.
Practice Makes Perfect
Learning a new instrument is hard and requires a lot of patience, practice, and dedication. You will face a lot of obstacles when you first decide to start learning a new instrument, from not being able to read or play the notes fast enough, the sound of your instrument is not similar to the one you hear in your favorite tracks, to not being satisfied with the pace you are progressing at The only thing that could solve all of these problems is practicing. With the variety of options discussed here, compare them according to your budget, the time and effort spent, and the availability of the materials. Pick one or more that you prefer and see fit for your personal style to reduce the volume of your drums, if that’s the only thing standing between you and your dreams as an artist and a musician.