How should I drill a hole in my snare to give it a formal muffler?

TxGroove

Junior Member
My 10x14 Slingerland Marching snare drum has no formal muffler. How should I go about drilling a hole in the side of my snare to give it a custom muffler? I'm not to sure how exactly I should go about doing this? I need some tips from someone with experience such mechanical work. I just don't feel comfortable drilling a hole through it. Especially, since I'm no professional mechanical engineer. Is there a way I should do this? I'm afraid I might drill and make the wrong diameter size. Or, even worst; have it crack on me! How should I measure to get the right pocket hole for installing a particular snare muffler?
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
You don't need to be a mechanical engineer to drill a hole. Determine where you want the hole, put a piece of masking tape over the spot, and a piece on the inside to prevent tear out. Use a sharp bit, let the drill do the work. Use a bit the same size as the hole in the mounting hardware where the screw or bolt fits through. If the bit fits through the hole the screw will. If the drum is of any real value, find a friend more skilled, or take it to a drum shop for service.
 

Xeno

Member
Maybe before actually drilling into your snare, try some other dampening techniques.. Moongel is a good alternative or you could try different heads. Evans Genera Dry heads take out a lot of the ring, as would, say a pinstripe or reverse dot.
If you really want to drill, find the diameter of the hole you need to drill and use the matching drill bit size. Put a piece of painters tape over the spot you're going to drill to prevent splintering and possible slips with the bit and TAKE YOUR TIME! Let the bit do the work and don't force it in.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
I did a practice run on a piece of plywood, mounted the muffler, checked the height, hole diameters, etc.

On the actual drum I drilled through with a smaller drill bit, then drilled halfway through with the correct size, then continued from the inside out, so there would be no splintering.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Use the inside mount of the muffler as a template. You can trace the hole locations to the shell so you won't have to measure them. As others said, let the drill do the work. This means don't push on it. If you push the bit, it breaks the wood instead of cutting it and you will get a ragged hole. Or your bit could break. New set of problems...

If you drill half way from either side you will need pilot holes to guide the bit. This will ensure the hole is straight through.

It's real simple. If your bits are sharp and you take your time you can do this in an hour.

One more thing, don't use a step-bit.
 

TxGroove

Junior Member
You don't need to be a mechanical engineer to drill a hole. Determine where you want the hole, put a piece of masking tape over the spot, and a piece on the inside to prevent tear out. Use a sharp bit, let the drill do the work. Use a bit the same size as the hole in the mounting hardware where the screw or bolt fits through. If the bit fits through the hole the screw will. If the drum is of any real value, find a friend more skilled, or take it to a drum shop for service.
So, when you mean "same bit as the hole", you mean the same sized bit as the screw is on the muffler mount respectively right? Also, should I start to drill from the inside of the drum or, the outside? And what particular drill bit is ideal, or can I just use any bit that's the correct diameter I'm looking for, and does it depend what threads are on the bit?

Thanks for you're feedback!
 
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TxGroove

Junior Member
Why is a muffler necessary? Isn’t moongel sufficient, or gaff tape?
In my opinion, I always thought a internal muffler was necessary, and if it didn't have one it was no good... I'm more into that "snappy controlled tone" with the benefit of adjusting the sound, ect.... But it's good to know that it is not necessary to have a internal muffler. Maybe I will go that route and see how I like it. I have used gaffer tape and it works great. Does you're snare have a muffler mechanism attached?
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
The internal mufflers weren’t really for muffling, but rather volume control. Not sure how they got that name, but I wouldn’t drill for that when there are so many alternatives.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
In my opinion, I always thought a internal muffler was necessary, and if it didn't have one it was no good... I'm more into that "snappy controlled tone" with the benefit of adjusting the sound, ect.... But it's good to know that it is not necessary to have a internal muffler. Maybe I will go that route and see how I like it. I have used gaffer tape and it works great. Does you're snare have a muffler mechanism attached?
None of my drums have mufflers. I own about 10 snares, and have no need. A ringy snare sounds just fine in the mix. People overmuffle.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
In my opinion, I always thought a internal muffler was necessary, and if it didn't have one it was no good... I'm more into that "snappy controlled tone" with the benefit of adjusting the sound, ect.... But it's good to know that it is not necessary to have a internal muffler. Maybe I will go that route and see how I like it. I have used gaffer tape and it works great. Does you're snare have a muffler mechanism attached?
I have a couple of supras with internal tone control and in all the years I've owned them I've never used the internal tone control. On older snares they have a habit of coming loose. I have a baseball bat tone control on the acro and it's not very reliable at all.

I have emergency moon gel, o-ring and the old wallet trick but that's only if I'm in a really lively room.

Much easier to add mass to the top of batter head to dampen and acquire the right level of dampening that stays that way.

You can get the tone controls that clamp onto the top of the batter if that's the sound you need and it would prevent the need to drill:

https://www.drumfactorydirect.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=15_120&products_id=3827
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
My overall philosophy is that musical instruments are tools, and anyone should be able to do anything to an instrument to best make it do what you need it to do.

With that said, I don't find the internal muffler (or whatever it's called) necessary. Back when drum makers were putting those in snares, I don't think there were a lot of options back then when it came to drum heads. These days, the options almost seem endless. Sometimes it's really difficult to find the perfect balance of getting the ring out while keeping a certain level of sensitivity, and some drums are more ornery than others.

Although I've struggled finding this balance, I think I have finally found it. My go-to combo these days is an Evans Reverse Dot coated head along with a Snareweight M80. The Snareweight is perfect for me. You can choose different amounts of ring control, and it's still sensitive enough to get a nice buzz roll. I have attached a pic below.

If you are apprehensive about drilling into your drum, there's a reason.

 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Agreed that an external muffling product is probably your best bet, but on the chance that you really want that old-school muffler, you should use a step-wise drill bit to make the holes. It will keep the wood and wrap from splintering off as you drill. Before drilling, put a piece of masking tape over the spot too, just to be careful.

https://www.zoro.com/irwin-unibit-step-drill-bit-hss-13-sizes-18-12-in-unibit-1/i/G1647502/
No no no! Don't use a step bit. It's way too easy to make the hole too big with a step bit. They are for making holes in thin metal, not wood.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
No no no! Don't use a step bit. It's way too easy to make the hole too big with a step bit. They are for making holes in thin metal, not wood.
Really? Why not? I just used it to drill some shells for internal micing. What would you suggest so that you don't get splintering?
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Really? Why not? I just used it to drill some shells for internal micing. What would you suggest so that you don't get splintering?
A pilot hole and a wood bit. If the bit is sharp and you don't push, there will be a bit of tear out at the end, but it's easily fixed with sandpaper. Sure a step bit can be used, but if one goes too far the hole becomes too big. That's all.
 

TMe

Senior Member
Does anyone still use internal dampers? I thought the first thing you did with an old kit was remove the internal damper and throw it away.

As for drill technique, if you're not familiar with power tools I'd ask someone else to drill the hole. It seems like a simple task, but...
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
Easiest way to drink a clean hole is pilot hole first, then drill the opposite side (in this case, from the inside) part way through with the correct sized bit, enough to get a clean edge, then finish drilling from opposite side (outside of shell in). It’s already been mentioned, there’s no need to push, just let the bit do the work and it won’t splinter.
 

Buddy Roach

Junior Member
The internal mufflers weren’t really for muffling, but rather volume control. Not sure how they got that name, but I wouldn’t drill for that when there are so many alternatives.
In over 40 years of drumming, scouring drum and music magazines and catalogs, going to clinics, talking with other drummers, etc.....I've never heard that internal dampeners were for volume control.

If they were/are, indeed, for volume control then they truly are useless as they don't control volume at all. I can't speak for other drummers but the velocity at which I deliver the mallets into the membrane is what determines volume for me.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Internal dampers IMO are a really bad idea, bordering on terrible. They interrupt the head vibrations, from the most undesirable side of the head...in one spot only.

Furthermore, in my opinion, they make a drum sound like ass lol.
 
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