The Lowly Pillow - How I Have Neglected Thee . . . .

gdmoore28

Gold Member
Because I'm a traditionalist, I feel . . . naked? . . . deprived? . . . incomplete? . . . when I don't have my ride cymbal "riding" on my bass drum, and my splash cymbal splashing away atop a similar L-arm on the opposite side. So, today I installed the latter of the two appendages to accommodate my splash cymbal. All goes well.

86974

While I had the front head off, I grabbed a light pillow from the pile and threw it inside. What the heck? I haven't used a pillow for over thirty years since learning how to get a good bass drum sound without one. But I had to satisfy my newfound curiosity. Is the pillow a fast, viable way to find a nice, thumpy bass drum sound?

Hmmm . . . yes, it is. I was surprised by what I heard - again. For playing inside my laundry room, in fact, it sounded darn near perfect. Playing live? Don't know yet.

But what pleasantly surprised me the most was the lovely new pedal response. I'd noticed over the years that it seemed that the less damping material I installed in my bass drum, the more sluggish my pedal felt. I just chalked it up to advancing age, or global warming, like everything else.

But with the pillow in place and resting firmly against the batter head, I had new-found speed like I haven't had in years. Time to think about this a little. Past experiments had shown me (a pedal-burying, heel-up player) that when I abandoned vented resos for solid heads, my bass drum abilities when to pot because of the excessive rebound that the practically-sealed drum now presented. I was having to fight the air pressure, and the pressure won. (I even experimented with some of those expensive little plastic holes installed on the batter head, and that exercise was a total flop.)

I think that this outcome is due to the simple fact that I'd grown up using no bass drum reso head, with a pillow thrown in for good measure. For the era, it sounded great, but nonetheless, my bd playing became totally dependant on having the batter head move with me, with almost all rebound dependant on the pedal spring and not the batter head. At my age, that method is ingrained and is not going to change.

So, I'm thrilled at finding my way back to that familiar rebound and response. The pillow may live yet again in my bass drum. There are problems to be conquered, of course. The pillow size, density, and placement will need some experimentation, as the big, resonant boom I like is now muted. And, I will need to do some head experimentation. I'm thinking that any additional damping provided by the factory-damped batter head (Powerstroke) is too much, and will respond better toSlingerland BD Cymbal Arm 002.JPG the pillow with a change to a clear Ambassador batter. The reso is already an undamped coated Ambassador with a vent. I'd love to replace it with the same head but without the vent hole, but that may re-introduce the excessive rebound problem. Experimentation is needed.

Anyway, sad as it is, that's my big adventure for the day. But this adventure may actually pay off for me. We'll see!

GeeDeeEmm
 

trickg

Silver Member
I know that there are purists out there who believe drums should be wide open - no dampening at all, and nothing in the kick. I'm not one of them - I've always put a small pillow in my kick, and the best part is that I can change both the volume (to a degree) and the tone by how I have the pillow adjusted.

I don't think there's a right or wrong - just personal preferences.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
A couple of years ago I played a gig at a large music club that had a sound engineer running the sound board. My bass drum was too boomy so I put a large beach towel inside the drum. The sound engineer mic'ed up my bass drum and made it sound great! The next evening I played a gig with the same band at a little bit smaller club. There was no drum amplification. I forgot about the towel in my bass drum. As soon as the band started playing I realized that I had almost no bass drum sound. (It's a loud rock/blues band) So before the second song I jerked that towel out and all was well. It was kind of embarrassing doing that live on stage between songs................


.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
It's been a while since I've done this, but I've usually taken a neck pillow (the ones that are filled with heavy beads/husks, none of that memory foam stuff), and played it against the front head if too boomy. From the audience perspective, it doesn't look like much either. It's just a thing laying against the head. I play an unported head, so there's be no adding/removing towels/pillows mid set. Volume is also way louder when unmic'd. I've had some pushback from sound engineers in the past, but nothing they didn't get over pretty quickly with the above solution.
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
p.s.-that is an AB-SO-LUTE-LEE beautiful kit...
Thank you, Mongrel!

I think it's safe to assume that there are a bunch of pillow users who wouldn't be caught dead showing one on a discussion site, don't you? Which reminds me - I didn't picture mine, either!!!!

GeeDeeEmm
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
Thank you, Mongrel!

I think it's safe to assume that there are a bunch of pillow users who wouldn't be caught dead showing one on a discussion site, don't you? Which reminds me - I didn't picture mine, either!!!!

GeeDeeEmm
Lol....yep....

I never knew how bad my bass drum sounded until I joined a drum forum!

And, really now, who needs to hear it? You can tell just by looking at it my bass drum sound sucks!

Lol
 
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Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
The trend lately is to add weight to the bass drum. 10 - 15 pounds, Guys are using sand bags inside the drum. It doesn't even need to touch the heads. Yamaha is using lugs with weights in them. More stuff to haul if you're gigging but cool for a home or studio set up,
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I've been considering a pillow again as well. Getting some weird overtones when miking my kit if the mic isn't just right.
 

philrudd

Senior Member
I like the thud that a pillow gives but it's easy to overdo it. Once I find the 'right' size pillow, I hold on to it like a premium cymbal.
 

jansara

Junior Member
Pillows, paint cans, bowling balls, laundry, blankets and sand bags are yesterday's news. Go organic. 26" bass drums with large, clay, filled flower pots are where it's at. Add fertilizer if you're into funk. Trust me.
 
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Mongrel

Silver Member
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I would tend to agree with this, but since I have no idea what it even says (I don't think it is proper King's English now that I think about it),
I'm gonna have to say, no, you are wrong. Just flat out wrong man.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I remember putting a cinderblock(to keep it from moving) in front of my bass and stuffing it with a pillow (which the cinder block helped it from rolling out lol) and no reso head in early 70s. Had no resemblance to a bass drum sound but I liked it LOL.
 

dwsabianguy

Senior Member
For rock kick drum sounds it's hard to beat the right-size pillow. I have a couple Yamaha pillows in my Yamaha bass drums and they just ever so slightly touch both heads, but it's poofy, so it does the trick juuuuust right. I have some nice big beach towels in my two Gretsch kicks and they work just as well, though they do often need some massaging to get them touching the heads just right.

The Rogers and Ludwig kicks from the 60s just get Powerstroke 3s and Fiberskyn Ambassadors, and no muffling. Those are allowed to boom.
 

Tamaefx

Silver Member
I generally use an empty bass drum with eventually a t shirt against the reso skin, and a small port. I always played with a ported head.
As I was restoring a Premier XPK, I put a plain G1 reso,... and a blanket : revelation indeed ! The blanket stiffen the batterhead so no curious rebound problem, and sound wise : big big sound, Full of lows, yet controlled. Much more lows than with a hole, less attack, so not ideal depending on the sound sought after of course.
Still it was an interesting experience to do the contrary of what I’ve done for decades.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
If you just want thud the pillow is the undisputed king. Very easy to mic up as well.

I have a towel in my bass drum, I just make sure it's touching both heads and it sounds and feels great. Only problem is it's a bugger to mic up even with a sound port.
 
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