Tricks for getting interesting sounds out of your drums


Lay a cut-out head on the snare better to modulate the pitch and decay in a way that tuning and muffling cannot do. It's fat, wet, gated... just lovely! Works on a high-pitched snare, or makes a depp, loose, wet snare even deeper and loser!

Definitely worth sacrificing a new head for.

Cut a circle from a head about 1/2-3/4" smaller than the diameter drum it will go on. Overlay shouild be new, so it's flat and has good integrity with the batter. Batter shouild also be fairly flat, this doesn't work quite as well on a severely dished head. Coated or clear works just as well.

If you're not familiar with this old studio trick, you will be amazed! I always keep an overlay with my most-used snares.

Works on toms, too!

I never realised this was a 'proper' technique but I used it all the time on my cheaper kits to get a good sound; also works with sheets of paper/card (different thickness or layered sheets to achieve the desired effect). Think I might revisit this one...


Junior Member
13" single flange hoop dropped on a 16" floor tom batter. Grap some sticks and keep it jumping. Great fun. Found that one changing the 13 head.

Anon La Ply

I like getting a backwards whoosh sound with cymbals or hats by swelling and cutting off fast.

A trick I picked up from JimmyK, which he'd picked up from Herlin Riley is where after a crash you cup your hand over the bell and kind of "draw the rings out" - a slight wah effect.

There's a lot of things I've done at home that I've not played with a band. Like Tympanista and TColombia's splash on the snare to mimic an electronic drum.

Or the cymbal wail by scraping with the tip of the stick.

In a previous thread Duncan Bacterium inspired me to try the violin bow. It needs to either be recorded or mic'd up well.

Riding the snare with butt of the stick while playing the hats with the shank - it can sound like an extra player (or a total mess).


Platinum Member
Lay a light wooden tambourine on top of the hihats to get some jingle when played with a stick and a full tambourine sound when played with the foot. I have a 6" tambourine that I use for just a little jingle effect, I slide the thumb hole over the pull rod to keep it in place. Using a smaller tambourine keeps the jingle subtle and doesn't effect the weight of the cymbals played with the foot.

Lay a light tambourine on a cymbal, hanging it on the tilter. When you strike the cymbal you get a long tambourine note along with the cymbal. You have to experiment to get the right combo of tambourine and cymbal to get the sustain you want.

Bathtub chain makes a quick sizzle effect hung around the tilter of a cymbal.

Adjust the height of a cowbell clamped to the BD hoop to get a cross-stick sound on the SD combined with the cowbell. The butt end of of the stick extending past the rim of the SD plays the cowbell. Can also be done with a woodblock or Jam Block.

Stuff a shaker in the sock of your hihat foot and play it using your heel. Or use a string of ankle bells for the same purpose. Ankle bells can also be laid on the hihats or on drums for a neat effect.

Play toms and snare (snares off) with maracas or with a shaker.

Place the wires of a brush equally on either side of the edge of a cymbal. Move the brush quickly up and down to get a one-handed cymbal roll.

Using a stick with grooves in it (like these:!) place the stick on the drum head in the same way you would to play a cross-stick sound. Rub the grooves back and forth on the rim to get ratchet-like sound. This can also be done with a regular stick for an interesting effect. This also works on the edge of cymbals.