Drums Too Loud On Stage – What Can I Do?

Posted by Mike Schumacher

Worried about drums too loud on stage?

You probably have thought of ‘caging’ the drummers to dampen the sound.

But will a huge glass fort look cool on the stage? Probably not so much!

It would have been great if drums came with a volume dial but sadly, they don’t. But it doesn’t mean you can’t control your dynamics, at least to some extent.

Drummers on stage use different noise reduction techniques to counter the problem of drums too loud on stage.

It means you can ditch the drum cage and use other better ways to reduce drum noise.

Let’s dive in without further ado!

1. Pick the Right Drum Sticks

One of the best ways to reduce drum noise is by playing with lightweight drumsticks.

Many drumsticks available today are specially designed to cut the acoustic volume by half. And the best thing is that they bounce almost as great as the regular drumsticks.

You just need to learn how to adjust the gain and you’ll feel little to no difference in the sound produced.

Disclaimer: These lightweight drumsticks are usually susceptible to breaking if used carelessly. So, make sure you handle them with care.

Ideally, you should have a few extra pieces with you for times when the odds aren’t in your favor.

2. Use Gaffer Tape on the Cymbals

Typically, the reason behind the ‘drums too loud on stage’ issue is the loudness of the cymbals.

Now, an obvious resort will be to try out different cymbals and see which model works best for you.

But if your budget doesn’t allow much experimentation, you can purchase different types of tape and play with that instead.

That being said, experts suggest using a piece of gaffer tape on the cymbals to dampen the sound.

Just stick a one-inch piece under the cymbal near the bell and your drum noise will be significantly reduced!

3. Use Sound Absorption Panels

Another great technique is to place sound absorption panels near the drum when possible.

When you’re on stage, one ideal position will be behind the drums. Pick a color that blends in with the back wall of the stage and the public won’t even notice there’s anything there!

You can also hang a few panels on the ceiling over the drums.

Absorption panels are meant to absorb any excess drum energy before the sound is allowed to leave the stage.

This ultimately results in considerable dampening of the drum noise.

4. Muffle the Bass Drum

One of the simplest ways to reduce drum noise is by dampening the sound of the bass drum.

First, remove the resonant head of the drum (it’s the one facing away from you when you play) and then use items like old towels, rugs, or pillows to stuff the cavity.

This will help tone down the sound to a great extent.

Typically, the bigger the object, the more the dampening of the sound and the more your audience will like it!

5. Try Silencer Pads

Similar to ‘practice pads’, silencer pads are made of rubber to muffle the sound of your acoustic kit.

Simply attach these pads with your drum set when you think the sound is getting deafening and you’ll love how they solve your problem in a snap!

This option is the best for drummers who play at different locations and for different audiences, and need a temporary solution for the ‘drums too loud on stage’ problem.

6. Dish Cloths, Masking Tape

Drummers who’ve no idea of noise reduction techniques usually assume that replacing their kit is the only solution for deafening drum noise.

You don’t have to spend that much when there’s a much cheaper option available!

We can use household items to dampen the drums: dishcloths, masking tape, bandanas.

Ringo used to put a cigarette box on his snare drum to dampen the sound. And he recorded many parts of the later Beatles albums with cloths on his drums.

Simply use clothespins to attach fabrics or use a combination of tape to really reduce the echo and get a muted sound out of your drums. Not only does it save you money, but this can give your set a unique look and feel.

7. Go for Low-volume Cymbals

Low-volume cymbals are characterized by tiny holes for a significant mass reduction.

They can reduce your drum volume up to 80% while not compromising even a bit on the tone and feel of the acoustic cymbal.

8. Reduce the Sound of Your Snare Drum

The snare drum is generally the most used drum in a drum set – and perhaps the loudest too.

Hence, one of the best noise reduction techniques is to reduce the sound waves produced by your snare drum, lessening the energy of the wave amplitude.

You may use any of the following items to dampen your snare drum and tone down your acoustic volume on stage.

  • An old t-shirt
  • A spare towel
  • A newspaper
  • An A4-sized paper
  • Pieces of gaffer tape
  • Wallet
  • An upside-down drumhead
  • An internal and external tone control

Once you’ve dampened your drum with any of these items, you should aim to strike it with less velocity right in the center.

This simple trick will work wonders in changing the tone, pitch, and volume of the sound produced.

9. Communicate Openly with the Drummer

If you feel the drums are too loud on stage and there’s something the drummer can do to take it down a notch, don’t hesitate to talk to them.

Because oftentimes, you may get excited while playing the drum and start over-playing without even realizing it.

This is where a sound tech may help ensure the sound is acoustically pleasant by openly communicating specific thoughts to the drummer.

And if you are the drummer, make sure that you always step up and ask for feedback on how you sound on the other side of the stage. No hard feelings, just open and honest communication.

With these tried-and-tested ways to reduce drum noise in mind, you won’t have to stress over the problem of drums too loud on stage.

Just don’t forget to adjust your drum mix, especially when you’re using different drum sticks. Using in-ear monitoring also helps greatly when you’re going with uncaged drums.

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