Balancing Volume and Playability for Practicing

SlyDrumGuy

Member
Hey, everybody!

I'm looking to start knuckling down and practicing the way that I know I need to be in order to improve to the level that I want to be at, but I need to keep noise in mind. It's not the neighborhood that I'm concerned about, rather the in-house volumes.

My Mom suffers from frequent and severe migraines, so I usually play when she's not home, but sometimes she's dealing with a migraine that lasts for days, and then I don't get to play for days. I also have a dog who doesn't like me very much when I play for too long, and when you practice, you tend to go for hours at a time.

So, I need to know how I can balance volume and playability when practicing. I want to be able to practice with the entire kit, but have the volumes relatively low when necessary. I won't be using the cymbals as much as I will the actual drums.

Here's a couple of ideas I had.

First Idea:
- Vic Firth Double-Sided Snare Practice Pad
- Gibraltar GBDP Bass Practice Pad

Second Idea:
- Vic Firth, Evans or HQ Percussion Drum Mutes (hi-hat, snare, bass, toms and crash)

Third Idea:
- Vic Firth Double-Sided Snare Practice Pad
- Gibraltar GBDP Bass Practice Pad
- Vic Firth, Evans or HQ Percussion Drum Mutes (hi-hat, toms and crash)

Fourth Idea:
- Vic Firth Double-Sided Snare Practice Pad (snare, toms)
- Gibraltar GBDP Bass Practice Pad

Which of these sounds like it would work the best? I've heard that drum mutes don't work all that well, especially on the bass drum (which I need to practice a lot), and can even ruin your cymbals and heads. However, I don't know if buying multiple practice pads and setting them on the drums would or not.

Help me, please!

Thanks! :D
 

SlyDrumGuy

Member
Best idea: Room inside a room. And hand out earplugs to anyone inside the house
Uh, no.

I don't have the space or the money to build a "room inside a room," and it's not likely that my Mom is going to want to wear ear plugs in the house so I can play my kit. Not to mention, they don't make ear plugs for dogs (that I'm aware of), and she'd probably run if I tried to shove something in her ears.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
You could always buy some of that pillow stuffing and fill your drums with it. It will deaden and quiet your set. The sound is really flat and unlively, and your stick response is somewhat compromised (its not too bad really), but it does work. I did this in the studio while using triggers. We went back and listened to the cymbal mic tracks alone and the drums were barely audible. You would have to somehow muffle the cymbals though.
 

SlyDrumGuy

Member
You could always buy some of that pillow stuffing and fill your drums with it. It will deaden and quiet your set. The sound is really flat and unlively, and your stick response is somewhat compromised (its not too bad really), but it does work. I did this in the studio while using triggers. We went back and listened to the cymbal mic tracks alone and the drums were barely audible. You would have to somehow muffle the cymbals though.
Again, no.

There are plenty of times where I'm able to, and want to play at full volume. If I were to use pillow stuffing, or any other similar type of muting, I would have to remove my heads every single time that I wanted to either lower or raise the volume, which would in turn require me to re-tune my kit every time as well.

That's so much more trouble than it's worth, and isn't likely to be very effective either.
 

Davo-London

Gold Member
What sticks do you use? Are monsters or rods an option?

Obviously, you would need some bass drum mute as well.

Your second idea would leave the kit pretty much as it is with everything muted. Thus, your playing would be the same with the exception of bounce/feel.

Davo
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
There are plenty of times where I'm able to, and want to play at full volume.
In that case just use mutes.....super quick and easy. They take second to put on or take off. They don't feel like a real drum head.......nothing does. But if you still get plenty of opportunity to play the kit as it is then they are a viable shorter term alternative though.

Just don't hit the cymbals too hard and they won't break on you. I've never broken one and I need to use mutes at home often. As for the bass drum, I just remove it and use a Gibraltar kick pad instead for the times when I have to practice with the mutes on.

If mum is suffering from one of her migraines there really isn't anything that's gonna make playing drums acceptable to her I'm afraid. You're just gonna need to be sensitive during those times and either not play, play elsewhere or tap quitely away on your knees etc.

Screw the dog......it can go outside for the duration of the practice session.
 

SlyDrumGuy

Member
What sticks do you use? Are monsters or rods an option?
Monsters or rods? What does that mean?

I currently use On Stage 5A Nylon.

In that case just use mutes.....super quick and easy. They take second to put on or take off. They don't feel like a real drum head.......nothing does. But if you still get plenty of opportunity to play the kit as it is then they are a viable shorter term alternative though.

Just don't hit the cymbals too hard and they won't break on you. I've never broken one and I need to use mutes at home often. As for the bass drum, I just remove it and use a Gibraltar kick pad instead for the times when I have to practice with the mutes on.

If mum is suffering from one of her migraines there really isn't anything that's gonna make playing drums acceptable to her I'm afraid. You're just gonna need to be sensitive during those times and either not play, play elsewhere or tap quitely away on your knees etc.

Screw the dog......it can go outside for the duration of the practice session.
While I do get plenty of time to play at full volume, that's just when I'm playing for fun, or recording a cover. I don't currently do any actual practicing, because I don't have the materials to practice what I need to work on. Once I do, I'll be practicing for what is sure to be hours at a time, and that's where the volume will be a problem.

My Mom has been getting these migraines of hers a lot more frequently than usual, and they last a lot longer too. That means there's even less time for me to play than there normally would be, and honestly, it's getting on my nerves. I know she's my Mom, and I know what it's like to have a migraine, but it gets irritating when I can't play for days because she's got a migraine... That's why I need to get something that will be quiet enough that it won't bother her when I practice. I can do without playing at full volume for days at a time, but once I get the materials to start practicing, it's going to tick me off.

As far as the dog is concerned, she can't go outside; we don't actually have much of a yard, and part of the adoption contract with the shelter that we got her from says she cannot be left outside unsupervised unless she's in a fenced area, which we don't have. So, she's an inside dog, and she gets really antsy if I play for too long, which will make practicing difficult.
 

BigDinSD

Gold Member
Those would work. But I had to get 2 of them to cover cymbals since I have a 5 piece + Bass drum. They give more bounce than a drum head, so I wouldn't spend too much time on them.

I say like PFOG and use the drum mutes. I've used them for 3 years and haven't ruined any cymbals. They'll lower the volume by at least 75% and you can use the whole kit. Different bounce though, as that is reduced. Get a thicker mute for the bass drum (I prefer Vic Firth). The BD is not as reduced as the others so fill it with blankets to deaden the sound. When you go full volume, then just take off the reso head, pull blankets out and a turn or two past wrinkle to tune reso.
 

SlyDrumGuy

Member
Those would work. But I had to get 2 of them to cover cymbals since I have a 5 piece + Bass drum. They give more bounce than a drum head, so I wouldn't spend too much time on them.

I say like PFOG and use the drum mutes. I've used them for 3 years and haven't ruined any cymbals. They'll lower the volume by at least 75% and you can use the whole kit. Different bounce though, as that is reduced. Get a thicker mute for the bass drum (I prefer Vic Firth). The BD is not as reduced as the others so fill it with blankets to deaden the sound. When you go full volume, then just take off the reso head, pull blankets out and a turn or two past wrinkle to tune reso.
I'm thinking I might combine the Vic Firth Snare Pad, the Gibraltar Bass Pad, and a couple of Evans mutes for my toms, hi-hat and 18" crash.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
I'm thinking I might combine the Vic Firth Snare Pad, the Gibraltar Bass Pad, and a couple of Evans mutes for my toms, hi-hat and 18" crash.
Exactly how I do it.

Forgot to mention the pad instead of a mute on the snare......it's definitely quieter and I prefer it as I'm still able to work on more intricate stuff with the left hand due to the pad offering better rebound than the neoprene mute.
 

SlyDrumGuy

Member
Exactly how I do it.

Forgot to mention the pad instead of a mute on the snare......it's definitely quieter and I prefer it as I'm still able to work on more intricate stuff with the left hand due to the pad offering better rebound than the neoprene mute.
I might even start with just the snare pad and the bass pad, and buy mutes if a decide that I need them at a later date, because I don't know how much I would end up using them.

Like someone on another forum said, you really only need to work on your rhythms in theory, and then the fluidity around the kit will come naturally. It makes sense, because once you've practiced your stick control, rolls, rudiments and things of that nature, then your fills, tom rolls, transitions, etc. should come smooth and natural.

I'm still undecided though.
 

Brian

Gold Member
It's nearly impossible to get distracted during practice with a cheapo, minimalist setup. That is what it boiled down to, for me anyway. I always loved that aspect.
Also love the vic firth real feel practice pad. Bought one in the early or mid 2000's and it's served me well, still in great shape. Not sure it's the "best", but better than any previous ones I have owned.
 
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