Is this possible on an acoustic kit?


Active Member
Ok, all, sorry for the vague title to this thread, but it's all I could think of.

Here goes. I currently only own a Roland TD-15 (heavily upgraded) electronic kit, but I now have to buy an acoustic kit, but there are a few caveats.

The reason I need an acoustic kit is because I'm working on (in the UK) the Trinity College Grade 8 Rock & Pop Drum exam and for their Grade 7 and Grade 8 exams you are not allowed to do them on an electronic kit (you can only do grades 1 to 6 on either), it has to be done on an acoustic kit for the purposes of fitness etc - which I get.

So this is going to be loaded with several questions and I'm really hoping folk on here can advice me, especially on the first part of the question.

I have an adjoining neighbour, who I don't want to disturb while practicing. Well, let's face it, with an acoustic kit you'll probably be heard across the entire village. So my first question is this. Is it possible to somehow reduce the volume of the overall kit (cymbals included) by about 80 percent, give or take, but while retaining the finest and intricacies in sound of said acoustic kit. So no practice rubber or foam pads on the heads and cymbals - the reason, I have to do a video/audio recording for said Grade 8 exam and this it still has to sound like a full on acoustic kit, only with much reduced volume. I was wondering if filling the drums by tipping, and filling to the brim, those little prawn-shaped polystyrene packing things into them, if this would heavily mute the volume by about 80 percent, while still sounding like a well-produced Phil Collins record (ok, don't start fellas, you know what I mean here ;)). I'm going to have to mic the kit up for this video/audio recording so it can't sound totally dead and crap, has to sound good.

If the previous is at all possible, I'd like to buy a used smaller kit with preferably an 18-inch bass drum as I like a compact tight sound, and will take up less space also, with four toms, 8, 10, 12 and 16 perhaps, again, smaller fusion sort of sizes as I like that tight jazz funk sort of 'club' sound. Definitely no John Bonham sizes.

I don't want to spend much. I was thinking of buying second hand, complete kit with cymbals for no more than £700. I don't need kick pedal or throne as I have those on my Roland kit.

I've been looking around on eBay etc and there is a Sonor Force 2003 kit with Paiste cymbals -

Most used kits I'm looking at these days seem to be made in China, or Indonesia or somewhere, unlike back in my day (I'm middle aged) when Sonor was Germany and Yamaha Rock Tour Customs etc were Japan. Not sure if these Chinese kits are any good, or just garbage.

So if it is possible to reduce the volume by whatever DIY means to get it 'a lot' quieter, I'd love your recommendations for decent make/model drum kits used for my price range of about £700, all in, cymbals and hardware - not much of course, but it won't end up being my main kit, the Roland is due to headphone use. I might even end up just selling the acoustic kit on after I've used it to get through my exam.
most used kits I'm looking at these days seem to be made in China, or Indonesia or somewhere, unlike back in my day (I'm middle aged) when Sonor was Germany and Yamaha Rock Tour Customs etc were Japan. Not sure if these Chinese kits are any good, or just garbage.
You can find Yamaha 9000, 8000, 7000 series drums from the early 80's, that were made in China. The Chinese are more than capable of making high end drums.

Low volume cymbals and heads ...... here's a video.

You won't be able to get Zildjians (on your budget) ..... but there are plenty of more affordable options. $145 for Stagg 20, 18, 16, 14 (hats) w/cymbal bag is what I went with.
I'm not sure I'll be allowed to submit an exam video with the silent cymbals and mesh heads - has to be traditional so I need to figure out the best way to quieten down an acoustic kit without interfering with the sound nuances.
I'm not sure I'll be allowed to submit an exam video with the silent cymbals and mesh heads - has to be traditional so I need to figure out the best way to quieten down an acoustic kit without interfering with the sound nuances.
That's something you need to ask Trinity College, then. You might have to rent a studio/rehearsal space, for your exam.
If I were in your position, I would rent rehearsal studio time if there's one close by. This would save you a lot of time and effort and probably money. The going rate is about 10/hour. You may have to hire breakables like cymbals, snare and pedal depending on their policy. You also may be able to get a discount as you wouldn't be using guitar amps etc and can use a small room and may be able to do last minute cash deals

If you do buy a 2nd hand kit, I would recommend the trusty Yamaha stage custom. They are fairly light, are easy to track down, have a good reputation and the hardware is pretty reliable

I have a set of silent stroke heads in 20,14,12,10,14 and a set of Zildjian L80 cymbals that I am prepare to sell. PM me if your interested
I use rods instead of sticks when I want to keep the volume down without ruining the feel or sound of the drums.

Promark Lightning Rods are my favourite. Worth a try!

I think you’re missing the purpose of the school requiring you to play on an acoustic kit. You’re not just learning patterns and coordination. They want to make sure you can play a regular kit, get good consistent sounds and control your own volume. None of that you learn on an electronic or “quiet” kit. You need to find some place where you can practice on a regular, full volume kit.
I agree with the other posts a rehearsal room would be your best option i would take up Jonathan Curtis offer if you live near by good luck.
Ok. My reasoning for buying a used kit and using it for a month then selling it on is it would be cheaper then renting studio space.

I’m based near Cambridge in the UK and there are little to no options within 30 miles of here. I’m actually 25 miles outside Cambridge.

I figured I’d learn up all three exam piece on my decent Roland kit, which I’ve almost done, and polish them, then spend an hour a day for about 10 days practicing them on an acoustic kit and then spend about three hours at the end of those 10 days in the same studio making a video/audio recording of the three pieces in one continuous take/clip, as per Trinity requirements.

Now, the studio I’m thinking of charge £10 per hour, plus I’d have to pay £10 in petrol each visit to get there and back so I”m up to £200 in rehearsal studio and petrol for my 10 visits, plus another £50 for my four hours rental on the day and petrol so it would cost me £250 in total to do this. I figured I could buy a used kit (via winning an auction on eBay) for perhaps £500 or so and then after two weeks or so, when I’m done with it, stick it back on eBay and get my money back hence it would not cost me a penny and I’d save the £250 on studio/petrol, not to mention the driving and having to lug my camera/lighting/recording equipment to another venue to record it all. Having a kit in my house for 3 to 4 weeks makes better sense, financially, and otherwise - all my video and lighting gear is at home set up anyway.

Trinity definitely require an acoustic kit, not an acoustic with mesh heads and silent cymbals, has to be the real deal so I was thinking of filling the shells up with something to quieten them down a little, but while they still sound 100 percent like drums, same for cymbals, but the latter might be harder, unless I can tape something to the undersides perhaps.

Course, if I can’t quieten them down at all I’ll just have to use them as is, during the day for just an hour won’t bother my neighbours as they will be out at that time anyway.

I can’t use rods, again, for the exam, it has to be sticks to get a decent performance on the video or it will get rejected. Can’t imagine doing Tool’s ’Schism’ with rods anyway ;)

Not near Nottingham, but very much appreciate that offer, Jonathan.

DrumDoug, deffo not missing the point of school requiring acoustic kit, I know exactly why they require the higher grades of 7 and 8 to be played on one for the exam, because at the higher levels there are intricacies and nuances that need to be expressed, musically, that you simply can't do on an electronic kit. Don't get me wrong, I used to own and play an acoustic kit and there are definitely pros and cons to both and I wish I could have both, but my current accommodation does not allow for acoustic due to the mega volume they produce. Even when I did play acoustic I never played it without my custom (£240) earplugs with 20dB attenuating filters.

In an ideal world it would be good if I could find somewhere local to stick my new/used acoustic kit purchase in, where I can drive, locally, for an hour or so a day with my ear-plugs and do it that way.

Oh to be a millionaire with a detached house and dedicated music studio ;)
Can you rent a village hall, or find a friendly farmer with an outbuilding? You'd be surprised at how friendly people can be if you just ask.
Chris, not near where I live. Village halls near me are a total rip off at best. Village halls seem to think they are London conference halls these days and they seem to think everybody who is going to rent it is Bill Gates. My local village hall charges £15 per hour, plus vat for the small one. Being a professional photographer I laughed at them when I enquired and told them I could rent a full equipped photographic studio with lights and backgrounds etc for less than that. Trust me, I've asked around near me and the drum studio in Cambridge, with kit, is cheaper than what I could rent a tatty hall locally, which would be cold and have crap acoustics.