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Want to know how you can play drums without driving your neighbor nuts? Want to know how to play drums in an apartment without risking an eviction letter from your landlord? This article guide is for you, with the best way to make drums quieter during practice.
Whether you’ll be practicing in an apartment, in a house, or your dorm room, we got you covered. When drumming, it’s a fact that the drums will never be dead silent. However, there are quick hacks that you can implement right now to make drums quieter, a lot quieter.
10 Tips to Quiet Drums for Apartment Practice
1. Use low volume cymbals
Low volume cymbals have become the norm for beginners and experienced drummers who want to practice at home or for unplugged performances.
Zildjian has designed a range of low volume cymbals that give 80% less noise compared to traditional cymbals. The best part is that these cymbals respond and feel like regular cymbals. They are much better for practicing than using towels on your cymbals or drum mutes.
These cymbals contain hundreds of tiny holes that cause noise reduction and at the same time allowing for a realistic feel.
There are two options of quiet cymbals available on the market today.
- Zildjian L80:
- Zildjian Gen16: they are quiet cymbals with an electronic system to give real cymbal sounds through speakers or headphones.
2. Try electronic drums
Compared to acoustic drum kit, an electronic drum kit is much quieter. If you genuinely want to keep noise levels down, you better switch your acoustic drums with an electronic drum set.
Yamaha and Roland are the giants in quiet e-drum sets, and you can’t go wrong in anything made by these leading brands. They’ve designed amazing drum sounds, premium features, and high-quality build. In the past few decades, electronic drums have greatly transformed, and the newer models won’t disappoint.
But if you want something cheaper than e-drums from these giants, you can try e-drum kits with rubber pads.
The newer Roland’s e-drums with mesh drumheads and Yamaha DTX electronic kits are also very quiet. Go with these options if you’ll be practicing in an apartment with people above and below you. They are much quieter/efficient than low-quality electronic drum pads.
3. Change your drum sticks
Swapping your drumsticks with thinner ones or with brushes or rods will significantly reduce some of cymbal and drum volume. The thinner the stick, the less force you’ll use, which translates to lower drum volume.
Try the Vic Firth AJ5, a 7A size stick, or the Vic Firth Peter Erskine signature stick- these drum sticks are all thin and lightweight.
To lower drum volume further, you can try rods instead of drumsticks. Some of the recommended low volume rods include Steve Smith Tala Wand- Steve Smith TW12. They have a foam center covered by wooden dowels. While rods give different sound compared to drumsticks, they give better tone and rebound.
4. Use drum mutes
Drum mutes are the most straightforward hack to reduce drum volume. These are soft rubber pads that should be placed on top of the drumheads. The advantage with these is that you can easily remove them whenever you want to unleash full volume.
They are also available for cymbals and will reduce cymbal volume to manageable levels. However the problem with drum mutes is that they don’t give the same feel as hitting real cymbals or drums and give less rebound.
But on the brighter side, drum mutes can help you build speed and strength since you’ll be relying on your muscles rather than the stick rebound.
5. Try mesh drumheads
This process involves replacing your regular drumheads with mesh drum heads. This is one of the best and simplest way to make acoustic drums quieter for apartment practice.
The benefits of using mesh drumheads is that they are quite realistic, can be tuned depending on the amount of rebound you want and they’re quite effective. The downside is that they take more time to install and remove.
Remo Silentstroke Drumheads are some of the best options you can get on the market today. They are available in all sizes, and you can install on your whole drum kit.
6. Try practice drum pad kits
If electronic drum kit is an expensive option, you can invest your money on practice pad kit that allows you to practice quietly at home. While they won’t give the nice feel of an electronic/acoustic drum kit, they are quieter than an acoustic drum kit.
You will be able to improve your drumming coordination and techniques without annoying the neighbors.
Some of my most recommended drum pad kits are the DW Go Anywhere Practice Pad Kit. They are quiet and give you an almost natural feel when played with rods or drumsticks. In addition the DW Go Anywhere folds away, making it an easily portable and also a great space saver.
7. DIY Drum Dampening
Besides investing in drum noise reduction kits, there are a whole lot of things you can use to reduce drum volume.
- Put thick towels across your cymbals and drums. These will act as DIY drum mutes and are highly effective in reducing drum noise. The thicker the towels, the more effective it will minimize drum volume and less rebound though.
- Get rid of resonant drumheads- this will aid in reducing drum volume. But if you plan on doing this long term, it’s recommended you put the hoops back on in order to protect the bearing edges.
- Put acoustic sheets under the drumheads between the head and the bearing edge. Remove the drumheads and cut a worn-out bedsheet and place it across the drum and then place the drum head back.
- Place the drumheads upside down. Consider getting old drumheads and placing them on your drums upside down. This will significantly reduce drum volume.
The final resort would be soundproofing your drum room. But honestly speaking, soundproofing your room for drum practice isn’t going to be cheap. You could try using acoustic foam panels, corner bass traps, soundproofing curtains, and much more.
However, there is a popular myth that lining the walls of your room with egg crates with block out noise. This won’t work and won’t provide any soundproofing.
Final thoughts on how to quiet drums for practice
It’s not an easy venture to make drums quieter, but there are a few steps that you can follow to reduce drum noise. But when all else fails and your neighbors still complain despite reducing volume to manageable levels, you might have to practice elsewhere. But this is unlikely to happen. Confirm with laws and regulations regarding noise in your neighborhood and see whether they favor you.
What can you do when everything else fails?
There are rehearsal spaces where you can rent by the hour or by the month. Most of these come with drum kits you can use, but otherwise you can bring your drum kit. If you don’t know of any rehearsal spaces in your neighborhood, ask local music bands or confirm with your local craigslist.