Are they small kits that are not that loud?

Bass Mike

Member
Hi!
I’m a long time bass player (I also play other instruments) and I’ve decided to play drums. My first idea was to go with an electronic kit and I rented one just to try it out first and see if I can actually play. It’s fun!

Now… the thing is… an acoustic kit would be appealing for a first purchase too, but I would like to keep the noise level down.

Are smaller kits, like the Pearl Roadshow with an 18 inch bass drum for (a very random) example would be less loud… or any other type of kit?

Just trying to see if I have other alternatives than an electronic kit to play at home.
 
On the one hand, yes: smaller kits can be quieter, and there are things you can do to lower the volume of any kit, like fabric over the heads, or certain heads designed for low volume. On the other hand, if you have complainy neighbors, they will complain about a small kit too.
 
I've heard people say they don't play a 10" tom because it lacks projection in a live setting. So maybe there's something to that (smaller drums).

Smaller/lighter cymbals too.

And maybe the heads tuned just above wrinkle with some damping rings.
 
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The band I joined a couple of months ago rehearses at the house of the guitar player and an acoustic kit is too loud, both for the small room and the neighbors.
I got a slightly smaller (20-10-12-14) than my home studio kit (22-12-13-16) which I can leave over there.
I've tried Evans dB One silent heads and cymbals to reduce the sound level but it felt too much of a compromise.
So I switched to using rods with normal heads and cymbals and put an EMAD2 on and a piece of acoustic foam in the kick.
Now the sound level is up to par with the others and I can play with not too much impact on my playing technique.
It is still isn't silent though, an e kit has the advantage of a volume control...
 
Thanks for all the replies, I’ll try to be more specific.

I don’t have problems with the neighbours. I live in a semi detached house, but the next door neighbours are very friendly and we have an unspoken agreement with noise level (nobody does anything at crazy hours, we try to get louder when the other isn’t there, I drive my SVT louder when I hear they are listening to louder music, etc.). In fact, it would be easy to rent a kit for a day and run tests to know if the noise bothers them, which is quite cool, actually.

The drum would be in the basement (concrete walls), I would keep it far from the mutual wall with the neighbours’ house, I could use bass traps, etc.

There’s also the “my own ears” factor. I know that the volume depends on how hard I play, but there’s a minimum volume just by hitting the drums. I have only played an electronic kit, yet. I know that I don’t really hit it hard (I had to adjust the sensitivity of the cymbals), naturally.

So, I think I’ve pretty much covered every aspect except the form factor of certain drum kit, hence my initial question. With acoustic guitars, for example, you can expect less projection out of smaller and thinner bodied instruments. I kind of wonder if the same logic is applicable to drums?
 
Smaller drums produce less volume, overall, but they also produce higher pitches, which have the ability to cut through a mix easier.

I find them to also be easier to play quieter and still have a pleasing, full drum sound (playing super-quiet on an 18” floor tom sounds a little “womp womp” to me…). Right tools for the righ job.
 
A small kit with twin ply heads (eg. Pinstripes) tuned low, can sound deep and full like a bigger kit, but much softer than larger sizes.
I do this with a 10/13/18 Yamaha kit.
Be aware that the cymbals and snare will still be loud, although you can get smaller size cymbals (Zildjian City set) and you can muffle the snare.
 
Nice to know. As a reference in terms of volume, could you use such a kit with someone playing an unamplified upright bass without drowning it ?
 
Great! That’s more of a volume reference for me. I’m trying to figure out if it’s doable to have a small acoustic kit at home rather than an electronic.

I’m pushing the idea to phase 2 : go in a music store to look/try some!
 
My 12” tom isn’t quieter than my 16”. A 10” I used to have was, though, but not enough to matter.
 
If an acoustic is too loud, you want a more realistic sound than mesh or muffled heads and low volume cymbals, but you don't like the form factor of less expensive electronic kits, you can do a simple conversion of a cheap beater acoustic kit to electronic with electronic cymbals. Great sound through IEMS but super quiet. More expensive than entry level acoustic or electronic kits, but way cheaper than the higher end electronic kits that look like real drums.

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Volume is more about how the kit is played, than what dimensions the drums are. Yes, technically a 16" bass drum doesn't push as much air as a 22" so one could argue it's quieter, but not to the extent that your neighbors wouldn't notice if you stomped on it with all your might. And cymbals are cymbals, snares are snares - they're made to cut and penetrate to all corners of a room. If you wanted to play acoustic drums in your house, you'd need to play at very moderated volumes and intensities - which is a great skill to develop for sure, but may not feel like the funnest thing in the world, especially if you're just starting out with drums.

If you're looking to have fun playing but also want to keep the peace in your 'hood, an electronic kit or a practice kit is really the best solution.
 
Thanks for all the replies, I’ll try to be more specific.

I don’t have problems with the neighbours. I live in a semi detached house, but the next door neighbours are very friendly and we have an unspoken agreement with noise level (nobody does anything at crazy hours, we try to get louder when the other isn’t there, I drive my SVT louder when I hear they are listening to louder music, etc.). In fact, it would be easy to rent a kit for a day and run tests to know if the noise bothers them, which is quite cool, actually.

The drum would be in the basement (concrete walls), I would keep it far from the mutual wall with the neighbours’ house, I could use bass traps, etc.

There’s also the “my own ears” factor. I know that the volume depends on how hard I play, but there’s a minimum volume just by hitting the drums. I have only played an electronic kit, yet. I know that I don’t really hit it hard (I had to adjust the sensitivity of the cymbals), naturally.

So, I think I’ve pretty much covered every aspect except the form factor of certain drum kit, hence my initial question. With acoustic guitars, for example, you can expect less projection out of smaller and thinner bodied instruments. I kind of wonder if the same logic is applicable to drums?
Don't be concerned with the size of the drums for volume. You control the volume with lighter sticks, softer playing, towels on the heads , etc.
The size of the drums depends on what style of music you want to play. You can damnpen the heck out of your basement walls and ceiling to help with volume. To protect your ears, buy Vic firth Headphones and mic everything through a Mixer
 
Any drum kit can be made quieter, just put cloth on the heads and cymbals. I suggest that you look for a kit with 20 or 22 inch bass drum, because if you ever want to play un-dampened then the 20 or 22 inch bass drums may sound better.

This is a good time to buy used equipment. There don't seem to be many buyers now.

I spend more time on my practice pad than the drum kit and it's a lot quieter. I can play at night and nobody complains.
 
I haven't read any reviews of these TAMA Soft Sound Rings, but I know the Soft Sound Beater works well. If you use these in conjunction with low-volume cymbals, you can play pretty quiet, and then just swap out the cymbals and beater and remove the rings for when you have the opportunity to play at normal volume.
 
We can all dance around the idea of low volume acoustic kit, but let’s get real. Acoustic drums are inherently loud. To me, Modifying acoustics does not inspire one to sit down to play and hear that. Playing them soft… is that what you really want to play? Blankets, towels, etc…. going to make the kit sound well… like crap. Cymbals just cannot be low volume… period. And I’ve heard plenty of folks say they have great neighbors. I say you will be testing their patience. Stand outside while someone is bashing on the kit… then imagine your neighbors putting up with that for an hour, 2 hours… more. Even in the middle of the day.

I advise an E-kit as well. So many advantages for your situation. Practice when you want. Loud as you want. Hard as you want.
 
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