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Best Drum Silencers and Drum Dampening Solutions Reviewed for 2017

I’m sure my parents wished that drum silencing was ‘a thing’ back when I was a kid!

When I first began playing drums at around age 5, it was mostly on a practice pad and probably a lot less intrusive to the aural well being of my parents. Fast forward a few years though to my first drum set and I’m sure it was a different story!

By then, I was very much into Nirvana, The Ramones, Metallica and was constantly playing along to those records. Luckily for me, I had very supportive parents that didn’t really seem to mind and also made sure I had plenty of hearing protection to boot.

Case in point, I remember very clearly buying huge blocks of styrofoam with my mom so that I could cut them down to fit my bedroom window. I guess she was tired of the noise complaints from the neighbors and I generally wasn’t a fan of getting the police called out to the house for said disturbance.

The good news for the parents of drummers these days is that it doesn’t have to be like it was back then. A lot of companies make some pretty darn cool drum dampening products to make noise disturbance much less of a factor, while at the same time not sacrificing on quality or responsiveness of the drums themselves. This is key for new students as having products that distort the feeling of the real thing can build some pretty nasty habits.

I’ve pulled some of the more popular solutions into this article with the goal of providing you with the information you need to select a drum set muffling solution that’s best for you. Along with an overview of each product, I’ve also rated them according to the following criteria:

  • Quietude – What level of sound reduction can you expect out of these with 1 being ‘Not Much’ and 5 being ‘So Quiet You Could Maybe Get a Nap In’
  • Realism/Feel – This rating will give you a sense for how this solution affects the overall performance of the drum itself. A rating of 1 being ‘Detrimental – don’t even think about it’ and a rating of 5 being ‘This is FLAWLESSLY PERFECT!’
  • Overall – The overall rating will combine the aforementioned factors, as well as my own personal opinion of the product. The higher the score (on a scale of 5) the better.

So, without further delay, here are some excellent products I would recommend to help with this particular conundrum (pun intended).

Mesh Drum Heads

These drum heads, which are made of a see-through mesh first jumped onto the scene as part of a solution to make electric drum sets feel more like their acoustic counterparts. I’m not sure if they were the first to market with these heads, but Roland V-Drums made these drum heads part of the mainstream.

Playing on mesh heads doesn’t feel much different than playing on regular drum heads, making it just a matter of time before drumhead manufacturers started marketing them specifically for acoustic drums. In other words, very realistic feel with almost no noise. Pretty fantastic in my book. As such, here are my ratings:

  • Quietude: 4.5 – They really are SUPER quiet. It’s awesome!
  • Realism/Feel: 4 – There really is nothing quite like hitting a read drum with a traditional drum head on it. The mesh heads can be slightly ‘bouncier’ which could be a good thing for some players. It’s definitely not detrimental.
  • Overall: 4.5 – It’s a great solution. The only real downside is that it requires you to change drum heads in order to put them on. Ideally, you’d have these heads installed on a practice kit that you leave at home rather than swapping heads out prior to every gig. That said, if you’re not gigging yet…there’s nothing to worry about.

Mesh Drum Head Recommendation:

My go-to here would be the Remo SilentStroke mesh drum heads. Remo is one of the most trusted brands in drum heads and you can’t go wrong with these.

Remo Silentstroke Drumhead, 14"
List Price: $32.60
Price: $18.99
You Save: $13.61
Price Disclaimer


Drum Mutes

Unlike mesh heads, drum mutes have been around for quite some time. These mutes are essentially neoprene rubber pads that are placed directly on top of the drum head, held in place by gravity and the drum hoop. This is a fantastic solution because, although they don’t perform quite as well as the mesh heads, the speed factor more than makes up for it. Installation is very fast as you simply place them on top of your drums. Voila! That’s it!

  • Quietude: 4.5 – Like the mesh heads, these silencing pads will give you loads of noise reduction.
  • Realism/Feel: 3.5 – I never really liked how these mutes felt when I played them, so they are getting a slightly lower score here. The primary issue is that the rebound from these pads is exponentially higher than the actual drum, which takes some getting used to.
  • Overall: 4 – As I mentioned, the primary benefit here is the easy & quick installation. I’m not a huge fan of how they feel when played, but it really just depends on what your goals and needs are.

Drum Mute Product Recommendation:

The workhorse of this product category has pretty much always been SoundOff Drum Mutes. Now owned by Evans, they’ve been around for years and are highly regarded in the industry. While competitors exist out there, the price difference is negligible, so you might as well go with the king of mutes.

SoundOff by Evans Full Box Set, Standard
List Price: $99.99
Price: $99.99
Price Disclaimer


Low Volume Cymbals

This is a very recent introduction to the percussion market, but one which I am extremely excited about. Why? Well, they are essentially real cymbals with a ton of holes drilled in them. What does that mean for you? Low volume. Realistic feel.

One of the most prominent cymbal makers, Zildjian claims that their product is 80% quieter without losing any of the feel of traditional cymbals. Well, after having tried a set of these magnificent instruments, I can tell you that their findings seem to be 100% true. It is a lower volume cymbal without compromise.

  • Quietude: 4.5 – Given how loud cymbals normally are, the dramatic reduction in volume rates very highly in my books.
  • Realism/Feel: 4.5 – They are phenomenally close to playing ‘normal’ cymbals.
  • Overall: 4.5 – There have been many attempts to dampen cymbals over the years, including mutes, pads, etc. None have come even remotely close to the effectiveness of these cymbals. The primary reason I haven’t given them a ‘5’ is because for budget-conscious drummers, a new set of cymbals can be cost prohibitive.

Low Volume Cymbal Product Recommendation:

Zildjian is pretty much the only game in town when it comes to this type of product…and they are phenomenal. They call them the L80 Low Volume Cymbals. Available as either single cymbals or in convenient sets, they are well worth the investment for beginners and vets alike.

Zildjian L80 Low Volume 14/16/18 Cymbal Set
List Price: $299.95
Price: $299.95
Price Disclaimer


Cymbal Mutes

If the aforementioned Low Volume instruments are a bit too rich for your blood, rest assured that there are still some good alternatives out there. Various incarnations of cymbal mutes have been out there for decades, some better than others for sure. The problem with the majority of these mutes is that they consist of wedge-shaped slivers of neoprene (the same material used for the drum mutes) that doesn’t cover the entire cymbal…and also gives each cymbal a very odd should and feel.

I for one, always hated using them because of the feel and also because it was, and still is very easy to miss the mute entirely, causing you to still hit the cymbal itself. Not fun.

Luckily, there have been some recent innovations in the land of cymbal mutes which makes the above much less of a factor. The more modern mutes consist of a cloth or rubber ring which hugs the outside edge of the cymbal and prevents it from excessive vibration. With a mute like this, you’ll still get the decent feel and stick response from the instrument but at a substantially reduced volume. As these are definitely superior products, I’ll base my ratings on the ring-style cymbal dampeners instead of the old-school wedges.

  • Quietude: 4 – A fair amount of noise reduction with dramatically reduce sustain.
  • Realism/Feel: 4 – They definitely don’t sound natural with the silencers on, however you’ll still get some of the feel elements of a real cymbal
  • Overall: 4 – These are great, low-cost alternatives to actual quiet cymbals.

Cymbal Mute Product Recommendations

Cymbomutes are an excellent and relatively inexpensive choice for muting your cymbals


In Conclusion

There are so many great products out there to silence your drums that disgruntled neighbors and family members should be a thing of the past. As I mentioned earlier in this article, my recommendation is to always go with the solution which least compromises realism.

Happy drumming!

Best Drum Sticks for Beginners in 2017


What are the best drum sticks?

Back when I first started playing drums, the phenomena of “signature” drum sticks were exploding – where stick companies endorsed big name drummers and created, marketed and sold sticks with their specifications.

I’m sure this is a fantastic business practice for stick companies, however it often leaves new drummers stranded in the drum stick section of their local musical instrument retailer, not knowing which stick to pick!

…and this is precisely why I thought that I would write a quick guide to help those of you who are newer to the world of drumming make a decision.

In this article I’ll talk first the variables that go into picking a stick. Then, we’ll dive into some techniques you can use to pick the right sticks for you, after which I’ll give you some specific product recommendations.

Ready? Let’s roll!

The Factors To Watch Out For

We all have different hand sizes and shapes. Our arms aren’t all the same length either. In other words, no two humans are created equal. This is why picking the right drumstick can really have a profound impact on the beginner.

Drum Stick Weight

Picking a drum stick that’s too heavy leads to quick fatigue and having to do more work than you need to in order to get the desired result. Sticks that are too light may lead you into some bad habits as you’re learning your basic rudiments.

A stick should feel like an extension of your arm and hand as opposed to a weight that’s dragging you down. So, chose a stick that you can hold and manipulate comfortably.

Top Tip: If you have gotten a bit more advanced and are looking to build up more stamina, go out and pick up a pair of sticks that are heavier than your normal stick. Use the stick during your warm-up routine and well into your practice session before switching to your regular sticks. You’ll find that long sustained double stroke rolls come a bit easier. Just be careful not to over exert yourself, which could lead to muscle and tendon fatigue.

Stick Circumference

Circumference also critical. Sticks that are too wide or too narrow could lead to some additional bad habits, not to mention that if you’re a heavy hitter, small diameter sticks will quickly explode your stick budget. As with weight, make sure you can comfortably hold the stick you’re trying out.

Wood Or Nylon Tip?

I’ve often been asked whether wood or nylon tipped drum sticks are better. If I’m in a rush, I’ll advise students to stick with wooden tips, as they generally feel more natural to play with and won’t leave nylon streaks all over your cymbals. That is an ‘easy out’ answer though.

If you know Bob Ross (the famous TV painter), or any painter for that matter, you’ll know that they use a variety of different paint brushes to achieve certain effects. This analogy translates perfectly to the question of wood vs. nylon. Wood tips will generally result in a warmer, less harsh sound where nylon tips bring out a lot more clarity and rawness from your cymbals and drums.

It really depends on what kind of sound you’re after and, perhaps most importantly, what makes you comfortable. You might pick up a pair of each type of stick to try the difference out yourself.

How To Pick Drum Sticks

OK…now to the good stuff. If you want to try out a bunch of sticks the next time you’re at Guitar Center, here are some tips you can use to determine whether a stick is right for you:

  1. Find The Balance Point: In order to know where to grab the stick, you’ll first want to find the balance point of the stick. To do so, hold out one finger and try to balance the stick perpendicularly. Once you’ve done so, you’ve found the point at which your fulcrum (the main part of your grip between your index finger and thumb) should be.
  2. Start Bouncing: Without gripping the stick, try some exploratory bounces just with your fulcrum to get a sense for the balance of the stick and how well it rebounds. When you’re ready, go ahead and use your full grip.
  3. Use a Loose, Natural Grip: When you first grab a pair of sticks, do not strangle them! What did they ever do to you? Grip them with a firm but not tight grip so that you can really get a feel for them.
  4. Play Some Rudiments: OK, so you’re at the drum shop – there are loads of other drummers around – and I’m sure all you want to do is to show the world your latest licks and stick tricks. Well, if you are serious about picking some sticks out, now is not the time for you to show-boat. Take your time here. Play some single stroke and double stroke rolls. Really get a feel for, what could be your new partners in crime. Then bust out some paradiddles and accent patterns. Again, take your time here. Become one with the stick.
  5. Try Different Pads: You won’t necessarily be able to use these shiny new sticks a lot of actual drum gear as to not mess them up. That said, try out every possible surface variation you can, which usually consists of a few different drum pads they provide. You’ll want to get a sense for how the sticks in your hand react to a variety of surfaces.

Repeat these tips with each new stick you pull off of the shelf. You will quickly develop a sense for your favorites. Put three of your favorites aside so that you can come back to them once you’ve gone through all of the sticks you want to try.

A word of caution: I know you’re tempted to take those brand new sticks you have in your hand and head over to that beautiful sunburst DW Collectors kit to really take them for a test drive. DO NOT DO THAT! There is a reason drum shops provide test sticks – so that their inventory of new sticks won’t get messed up.

My Personal Recommendations For New Drummers

  • Vic Firth American Classic 5B: The 5B size stick, which is made by multiple manufacturers, has been an absolute workhorse for beginning drummers for decades! It is probably one of the most-stocked and used sticks in existence and has a good balance of all the factors mentioned in this article.
  • Vic Firth American Classic 7AThe 7A is a lighter, narrower version of the 5B, which is great for younger or smaller drummers who need something with less weight. If you are a heavy hitter, this may not be the stick for you as it is a bit thinner.

Closing Thoughts

No matter how great the sticks you picked out are, there will still be a period of adjustment for you once you get them home and start rocking out to a Rush tune. That is normal. Whatever you do, enjoy this process of selecting your new pair of drum sticks as there are surprises around every corner!