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Volume Issues when practising

Lyle Caldwell 1999

Turn It Down!

This section is devoted to reducing the volume of the drum kit.  For some reason, people seem to think drums are loud and annoying.  Until the glorious revolution, it seems the landlords are still in control, so we need to be able to work around the volume "problem.

"Seriously, drums are exceedingly loud. Please see the Hearing Protection section of the FAQ (on its way) for more information.

There are many solutions available, from putting a towel over each drum (it helps a lot) to rubber practice pads to electronic drums that can be played through headphones.

Rudimentary Practice

For rudimentary practice, a phone book and a pair of sticks may be all you need. There are also many different types of "real" practice pads available that offers different playing surface, feels, and volumes. You can even glue a mouse pad to a piece of plywood for an inexpensive, functional practice pad. Many instructors advocate playing on a pillow, which, due to the lack of bounce-back, helps build strength and speed. The pillow is also almost silent.

Full Kit

Over the years, there have been many models of practice kits available. These are typically rubber or rubber-covered wood pads arranged in a kit-like configuration (many of which are adjustable to fit the drummer's needs).

Rubber pads

Rubber pads (available in many sizes) that fit over your acoustic drums and cymbals that reduce the volume immensely. They also affect the playing feel, which can be problematic for your wrists. Consult a teacher or doctor, but they're usually safe. Again, you can cut neoprene sheets to fit your drums if you want to save money.

Electronic kits

Another option, though comparatively expensive. See the Electronics section of the FAQ for more detail. The two leading fully-electronic kits at the time of this writing are the dDrum and Roland kits. Both offer very realistic playing surfaces and sounds, at the acoustic level of a set of phone books, complete with cymbals and high hats. They are also as expensive as the best brands of acoustic drums, so this is not an option for very many of us.

Room Treatment

This is another way to approach drums without annoying your neighbors. Be aware that as this approach gets more successful, it gets more expensive. You can hang sleeping bags or mattresses on the walls, which can cut down the midrange and high frequencies a good bit, but does almost nothing to stop the bass (which is the biggest problem for your neighbors). Bass frequencies can couple to the walls and floors of the room, so that the room (and the whole house) can actually amplify the bass from the drum kit.

You can build floating rooms with double-studded walls, and that can work excellently, but that is very cost prohibitive and beyond the scope of this FAQ. To truly build an isolation chamber can easily cost more than an electronic kit, so unless you have the budget, it really isn't very feasible.

Lyle