Taping drum heads

The Gedge

Member
I'm planning to tape the heads of my toms and snare to muffle some of the sound and give a less sustained tone. I have some questions about it.
1: Is it worth bothering with?
2: What would sellotape/scotch tape do to a clear plastic drumhead if left on there for a long time?
3: Is it more effective on the resonant or the batter head?
4: Where would be the best places on the tom and snare heads to apply it?
Advice please!
 
A

audiotech

Guest
I wouldn't tape any of my heads but instead tune them differently. If I really had to, I would use Gaffer's tape on the batter side. If it's not on the head too long, it will come off cleanly without residue. A lot of time taping heads is just a real short cut for proper tuning. Another popular alternative would be "Moon Gel", but again most of the time it shouldn't be needed.

BTW, please don't use Scotch tape.

Dennis
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I'm planning to tape the heads of my toms and snare to muffle some of the sound and give a less sustained tone. I have some questions about it.
1: Is it worth bothering with?
2: What would sellotape/scotch tape do to a clear plastic drumhead if left on there for a long time?
3: Is it more effective on the resonant or the batter head?
4: Where would be the best places on the tom and snare heads to apply it?
Advice please!
1. It's really up to you. When I was younger, I used to use tape. Now, I don't tape my drum heads at all. If I'm recording and I need to control overtones, I might use moongels instead.
2. Like anything else you put tape on, the longer it stays on, the harder it will be to get off. Any tape will do that.
3. You can muffle either side of the head, but most drummers apply the muffling to the batter head, be it tape, moongels, internal mufflers, snare rings, etc.
4. Probably towards an edge in a place on the head that you don't usually strike it.

I'm not sure why you're planning to muffle your drums, but drums don't sound the same behind the kit as they do in front of it. A lot of the sustained tone you're talking about is inaudible to your audience and removing it actually makes your drums quieter and less full-sounding. Just my 2 cents.
 

konaboy

Pioneer Member
1. It's really up to you. When I was younger, I used to use tape. Now, I don't tape my drum heads at all. If I'm recording and I need to control overtones, I might use moongels instead.
2. Like anything else you put tape on, the longer it stays on, the harder it will be to get off. Any tape will do that.
3. You can muffle either side of the head, but most drummers apply the muffling to the batter head, be it tape, moongels, internal mufflers, snare rings, etc.
4. Probably towards an edge in a place on the head that you don't usually strike it.

I'm not sure why you're planning to muffle your drums, but drums don't sound the same behind the kit as they do in front of it. A lot of the sustained tone you're talking about is inaudible to your audience and removing it actually makes your drums quieter and less full-sounding. Just my 2 cents.
X2 one of the most common mistakes drummers make is tuning for what they hear behind the kit and not what is heard in front. Stand 10 ft in front of your kit and have someone else play it, If not happy with the sound adjust the tuning. Also keep in mind the tone of the drums will dramatically change depending on the room you are in. If you play out in different rooms you will need to tune the kit to the room.
 

uniin

Gold Member
if you're taping your heads i think you're using the wrong head or tuning it wrong.

my 2cents.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Muffling toms and snare is frowned upon here generally speaking. If you're unmiced, you're killing your tone in the audience by muffling. But if you must muffle, a little tape near the edge should do it, but even with the most minimal amount of muffling, you are still killing your tone from the audiences perspective. Those overtones are what makes a drum sound like a drum and when you muffle your overtones out, it doesn't sound like a drum anymore. Instead it sounds like you're hitting sheets of cardboard. But if it makes you happy, muffle away.
 

The Scorpio

Senior Member
Don't do it man it's a trap!!!!!! If you feel the need to muffle, do it VERY VERY VERY sparingly. A little tape goes a long way. If you find that you need a whole bunch of tape (in my book that's a piece of tape the length of my pointer finger or more) you have a tuning issue or you need new heads. Sometimes old heads can have some funky overtones. I encourage you to look up Bob Gatzen's tuning videos on youtube.

Good luck,

-Kyle
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
It's also a mental shift into forcing yourself to realize that those overtones sound good. My guess is the OP has never heard a recording of himself with his muffled toms. That's what stopped me from muffling, a recording of my lifeless, cardboard-y sounding, very lightly muffled toms.

I like the overtones because they make the note's duration a little longer. When it's muffled and the note just stops short....I can't stand that sound.
 

nickg

Silver Member
It's also a mental shift into forcing yourself to realize that those overtones sound good. My guess is the OP has never heard a recording of himself with his muffled toms. That's what stopped me from muffling, a recording of my lifeless, cardboard-y sounding, very lightly muffled toms.

I like the overtones because they make the note's duration a little longer. When it's muffled and the note just stops short....I can't stand that sound.
thank don henley for that. of course ringo's drums were muffled on later recordings.

but henley abused the frikkin' privilege!!! how much duct tape, foam, wallets, kotex can you put on one drum??????
 

Biscuit

Senior Member
I'm not sure why you're planning to muffle your drums, but drums don't sound the same behind the kit as they do in front of it. A lot of the sustained tone you're talking about is inaudible to your audience and removing it actually makes your drums quieter and less full-sounding.
I'm going to third this. Also i would never put tape of any kind on any drum. To me, it just looks unprofessional and can make a really beautiful drum look like garbage. If you need some dampening pick up some moongel or dampening rings.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Okay, I'll provide another perspective, but first I'll say that like everyone else so far, I don't muffle my drums with anything, not even my kick drum.

BUT. There are sounds that only massively taped up drums can get. As nickg pointed out, there was Don Henley and Ringo using rolls of duct tape and towels to kill any hope of a tonally rich sound that most of us like, but there are also a lot of modern drummers (and some really good ones) who are going for some of that retro-vibe and are doing a lot of muffling. Bands like MGMT, Phoenix, and The Black Keys all have drummers that dampen the hell outta everything. Seems to work for them.

Not my sound, but it has a certain vibe to it.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I must admit when I was a young lad I went through a stage where I applied tape to my heads.
When I learned how to tune I stopped because I wanted to hear the wonderful tone that I created.

I use heads with built in dampening on my bass drum and sometimes on my snare.
If I am recording I use factory dampened heads on my toms sometimes.

With the factory dampened head choices that exist there is no reason to put tape on drumheads.
 
S

sticks4drums

Guest
I must admit when I was a young lad I went through a stage where I applied tape to my heads.
When I learned how to tune I stopped because I wanted to hear the wonderful tone that I created.

I use heads with built in dampening on my bass drum and sometimes on my snare.
If I am recording I use factory dampened heads on my toms sometimes.

With the factory dampened head choices that exist there is no reason to put tape on drumheads.
Well said Bob. Luckily we don't have to tape heads anymore because of the great head choices out there. Hopefully we will never fall back into the concert tom, kill the drum sound era. :)
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Well said Bob. Luckily we don't have to tape heads anymore because of the great head choices out there. Hopefully we will never fall back into the concert tom, kill the drum sound era. :)
It's kind of funny, I was doing some close mic recording with my Pearl Rhythm Traveler kit recently. The toms of course have no bottom heads.
I had Evans Coated EC1 heads on the toms and I tuned them tight.
I got a really great warm sound with a long sustain.
I was shocked.
 
S

sticks4drums

Guest
It's kind of funny, I was doing some close mic recording with my Pearl Rhythm Traveler kit recently. The toms of course have no bottom heads.
I had Evans Coated EC1 heads on the toms and I tuned them tight.
I got a really great warm sound with a long sustain.
I was shocked.
Must of been the room more than the drums I would think.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
I'm planning to tape the heads of my toms and snare to muffle some of the sound and give a less sustained tone. I have some questions about it.
1: Is it worth bothering with?
2: What would sellotape/scotch tape do to a clear plastic drumhead if left on there for a long time?
3: Is it more effective on the resonant or the batter head?
4: Where would be the best places on the tom and snare heads to apply it?
Advice please!
What kinds of heads are you using? It sounds like you need to use thicker drum heads.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
When I was younger, I used to use tape. Now, I don't tape my drum heads at all. If I'm recording and I need to control overtones, I might use moongels instead.
Same here. Seems to go with age, like playing increasingly dark cymbals.


It's also a mental shift into forcing yourself to realize that those overtones sound good.
Yep, especially with snare. I used to think overtones sounded "amateur" ... holy mother of Mergatroid!


X2 one of the most common mistakes drummers make is tuning for what they hear behind the kit and not what is heard in front. Stand 10 ft in front of your kit and have someone else play it,
Good point. These days I rely on others' feedback because no one in my current band seems keen to get behind the kit. The poor creatures don't understand the joys ...


... There are sounds that only massively taped up drums can get. As nickg pointed out, there was Don Henley and Ringo using rolls of duct tape and towels to kill any hope of a tonally rich sound that most of us like, but there are also a lot of modern drummers (and some really good ones) who are going for some of that retro-vibe and are doing a lot of muffling. Bands like MGMT, Phoenix, and The Black Keys all have drummers that dampen the hell outta everything. Seems to work for them.
Yep.


bobdadruma said:
It's kind of funny, I was doing some close mic recording with my Pearl Rhythm Traveler kit recently. The toms of course have no bottom heads.
I had Evans Coated EC1 heads on the toms and I tuned them tight.
I got a really great warm sound with a long sustain.
I was shocked.
That happened to me at a gig in 2009. I was shocked too and commented to the engineer, who said "Yeah, those little drums scrub up great".

Thing is, we don't like to admit that a drum whose design flies in the face of all we consider essential for a good sound can sound great :) Acoustically they're pretty quirky but when they're close mic'd they suddenly get a tasty boom.
 

Ed4820

New member
Old thread, but oh well. Whoever stumbles across this, cheers.

A lot of people are ready to shoot down taping drum heads, and going a natural path to achieving “control” or less sustain. Instead of assuming, I’m going to answer this scenario with an open mind and one question. Asking yourself, are you recording in the studio, or playing a gig not mic’d up? The pros sometimes have different sets for studio and live situations, and that’s down to the fact that some choices would dictate wether or not head muffling would project enough in live un-mic’d situations. For example, if a drummer is playing live and has muffling like tea towels or gels/tape... and those heads are not close mic’d, that’s going to get lost in the live mix of the band. In this scenario I would not say, “Don’t freaking muffle your drums with anything! How could you even think that would be ok to do man! You sicko!” Lol!
I would say, you have two choices; muffle drums if you are recording in the studio or close micing live gigs. Or don’t muffle and use thicker heads or just embrace a different sound than on your record. I don’t like the last choice, because if I want my signature sound to retain its studio quality... it would completely be ripped of that original sound.

I personally am in the mindset of, tape is going to give me what I want after I like my tuning. I don’t want to have to use crazy thick heads, I’d rather do weatherking coated ambassadors and ease into muffling... rather than having too many plys permanently removing too much of what I’m trying to control.

I would trust yourself, if it sounds good to you... it’s good. Then next step is sounding the same in live and studio situations. You end up on the more versatile end of the spectrum, because nothing is preventing you from not translating your original sought after tone for an audience... just mic it up! If you love very live and resonate sounding drums, do you. If you like short sustain and tune your heads to the same note,or like low tuning tone and don’t want to sacrifice the tone you like... mic it baby. When people ask how you got your beautiful sound... tell em something “unconventional” and remain confidant in your decisions.Your sound will speak for itself. Ringo muffled a lot, and I personally love that sound, dry. In the mix, I might use some reverb to create “room” spaces if I want that kinda thing.

one last thing, I tape my Tom reso’s on my 1966 Ludwig Super Classic (13/16/22) and love the sound I get with compression on the mono overhead. Deep single note hits with mid range punch and a tapered sustain. I use two cuts of black Duck tape on both my reso’s, and tea towels for the batter. Snare is a Supraphonic lm400 from 1968, weatherking coated controlled sound batter and clear ambassador on reso. I tape a small wash cloth to the edge and let the excess hang off. Mic the top with a 421 and a 57 on the side of the shell. These little decisions give me what I want and no silly tuning that messes with the sound. Everyone is different, to each their own.

have fun playing and recording friends!
 

MntnMan62

Junior Member
I've never taped my heads. I like a nice tone from my toms. I have built in mufflers that muffle the batter head and have never used them on any drum. That said, I've been using Evans Hydraulic heads on my toms and bass drum for years, simply because they are bullistic and never wear out. You can't puncture them even if you try. So I guess I've saved a ton of money in heads over the years but at the expense of a deadened tone. I have Clear Remo Ambassadors on my toms on the resonant side (I think). I'm thinking of going with a similar head that is thinner and provides better tone than the Hydraulics.........Remo Pinstripe. I know they are also double layer with the oil in between but my understanding is they are much thinner and will provide better tone and probably a better rebound to the stick when hitting them. I'll buy them just for my toms. Using a Coated Ambassador on my snare and will leave the Evans on my bass drum.....maybe. If I can get a better rebound and tone from my bass drum as well, then I'll replace that one as well. But I want my drums to give me a nice sustained ring. Since the Evans don't do that I have no need for muffling. Who knows? This time next year I could be using a single ply batter on my toms instead of sticking with the doulbe layer oil filled heads.
 
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