Why doesn't anyone make quieter drums?

DrumDoug

Senior Member
I wish I had phrased my opening post differently. Maybe it's just the nature of public forums, but I wanted to talk about gear more than playing. What started this whole thought was an afternoon of listening to samples of drums online. Of all the stuff I listened to, the Yamaha Live Customs were the ones that I liked the most. They are marketed as being able to project more in acoustic situations. The video on Yamaha's website has several of their endorsers playing them and making comments, and a couple of them mention how loud they are. Are they just regurgitating the marketing hype, or are they really louder? If I were to buy a set, would I have to play more softly than I do now? Then I started thinking about why no manufacture goes the other route and makes drums that are marketed for quite playing. Thats what I wanted to talk about.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
It's all about the head though isn't it? Think about Rototoms. No shell at all, but still loud with just the head.

The only way to get a quiet head is to use mesh heads. Mesh heads alone are too quiet, right? So they need amplification. I'm pretty sure e drums are the only thing that would do what you want.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I wish I had phrased my opening post differently. Maybe it's just the nature of public forums, but I wanted to talk about gear more than playing.
While I do not know of any quiet brands/models, my gear related advice is that lower tunings and coated heads are generally perceived as being quieter despite their mathematic equivalence.

My other suggestion is to rethink this. Do you want a quieter kit, or do you want a kit that performs great when played quietly? You might really desire the later, and this would lead you to thin shell, low mass, high resonance drums.
 
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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
I wish I had phrased my opening post differently. Maybe it's just the nature of public forums, but I wanted to talk about gear more than playing. What started this whole thought was an afternoon of listening to samples of drums online. Of all the stuff I listened to, the Yamaha Live Customs were the ones that I liked the most. They are marketed as being able to project more in acoustic situations. The video on Yamaha's website has several of their endorsers playing them and making comments, and a couple of them mention how loud they are. Are they just regurgitating the marketing hype, or are they really louder? If I were to buy a set, would I have to play more softly than I do now? Then I started thinking about why no manufacture goes the other route and makes drums that are marketed for quite playing. Thats what I wanted to talk about.
Give a listen to Carter Mclean playing his set of George Way drums in this clip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1XJNBvIpWY

Marketing "quieter" drums is not a quest of the industry. That would be like marketing a slow car. It doesn't make any sense. On the other hand, if you can create the illusion that your drums are naturally louder than others, the other side of the coin would be that you wouldn't have to work so hard to get a decent sound out of them. Buddy Rich used that phrase a lot when describing his use of larger than 24" bass drums - he doesn't have to work so hard to kick the band.

Consequently, you would be putting a lot less energy playing loud drums, enabling you to play more interesting things since you're not outputting lots of energy to execute.

But you can't really separate the playing from the drums, that's why I linked to Carter Mclean - he's using thicker heads, tuning down, and sounding very full without expending a lot of energy. I'm sure people in adverts are just preaching what the choir wants to hear, and our history is replete of such advertising.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Todd, I've noticed this as well. It't almost as if the band getting quieter results in the audience getting louder, making things kind of screwing. Like you, I've found that a bit more bass drum works toward achieving a better balance and making the rest of the band feel more comfortable.
A few years ago there was just an egregious case where everybody definitely came to hear this guitarist, but our volume was so low that by the third tune everybody was talking. The bass drum is a stealthy way to bump it up a little bit without being obnoxious. It helps to have a drum that's easy to control, like an 18.

Could you say something about what you mean by "more cutting cymbals?" Thanks!
I've just been using heavier cymbals-- like Paiste Sound Creations-- their dark rides and hihats are virtually rock-weight cymbals. You generally lose definition as you get softer, but with those cymbals, even when you play them softly, the whole room hears them, and the band has something defined to work with. I was using the Bosphoruses for a long time, and they're great when you really don't want to be heard, but I think they messed with people's heads.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
DrumDoug:

It is actually a good question. I think the drum companies know they are better off making loud drums and letting the customer dampened them if they want to. There would not be a very large market for quiet drums. eDrums are what most quiet drummers would use.

However, I'm sure Andy at Guru Drums can make you a nice sounding quiet set of drums. They would become a very rare set of drums.

Here is some drum hardware that might help. Special drum towels.






.
 

DrumDoug

Senior Member
Marketing "quieter" drums is not a quest of the industry. That would be like marketing a slow car. It doesn't make any sense.
I think there's a huge market for quieter drums. There's an entire industry built around isolating drums to make them quieter. It's not just people gigging in small venues. Even on large stages with "pro" drummers, they are behind shields. Churches put drums in isolation booths or in other rooms off stage. Orchestra pits put the drummers in other rooms and have them play along with video monitors and in-ears. Just imagine the tag lines. "No drum shields!" "Real drums instead of E-kits!" "Bring down the stage volume!" "Bring the drummer out on stage with everyone else! "No more isolation!" "Now you can feel like you're part of the band!" "Big drums sounds without the big drum volume." "Tired of tippy-tapping in small rooms? Now you can play like you mean it!" If someone really made a kit like that and some appropriately quieter but real sounding cymbals, you could sell one to every church in the world. Put some adds in Christian music magazines and demo them at the Christian music conferences and they would sell like hot cakes. "Can't tame your drummer? Now you can tame his drums!" We can talk all day about the merits of learning to play quietly, but in the real world, most drummers aren't going to do that. When the sticks meet the skins, wouldn't you rather play a kit like that instead of playing behind a shield or in another room?
 
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Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I think there's a huge market for quieter drums.
I agree, & if you read my previous post, that's pretty much a features list on how to achieve it. The problem is this, even with all the elements in place, if you were to perform clinical db testing, the difference would only be small percentage points. Factor room context into that, & that difference could disappear instantly.

Amplitude is a measurable element, perception isn't. Take away the features that offer the perception of high volume, & you're at the start of your journey, but only the start.
 
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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
I think there's a huge market for quieter drums. There's an entire industry built around isolating drums to make them quieter. It's not just people gigging in small venues. Even on large stages with "pro" drummers, they are behind shields. Churches put drums in isolation booths or in other rooms off stage. Orchestra pits put the drummers in other rooms and have them play along with video monitors and in-ears. Just imagine the tag lines. "No drum shields!" "Real drums instead of E-kits!" "Bring down the stage volume!" "Bring the drummer out on stage with everyone else! "No more isolation!" "Now you can feel like you're part of the band!" "Big drums sounds without the big drum volume." "Tired of tippy-tapping in small rooms? Now you can play like you mean it!" If someone really made a kit like that and some appropriately quieter but real sounding cymbals, you could sell one to every church in the world. Put some adds in Christian music magazines and demo them at the Christian music conferences and they would sell like hot cakes. "Can't tame your drummer? Now you can tame his drums!" We can talk all day about the merits of learning to play quietly, but in the real world, most drummers aren't going to do that. When the sticks meet the skins, wouldn't you rather play a kit like that instead of playing behind a shield or in another room?
I must be one of the fortunate ones then because I've never played behind a shield, or stuck in a whole 'nother room. Even with my big loud drums, I'm up on stage with the rest of the band cooking along at low to moderate levels when necessary. Heck, the last church I played at years ago was a big arena-type church, and I was actually mic'ed up and slamming at 8 in the morning! That was really kinda' weird since I'venever played with those people before and was basically sight-reading their music. I don't think I ever worked so hard for $200 ;)
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Unfortunately there's no such thing as a quiet drum kit, just a lot of control practice and the patience of a saint to cope with the noise police.

I've been in that scenario more than once but I don't know the size of the venue or room I'm playing until I get there so kit choice is a blind stab and I have shown up at a tiny venue with a 26" bass drum before.

The gigs where they have a noise limiter that cuts the power are particularly annoying. People who book bands without realising the noise that accompanies them are one of the reason guns aren't legal in the UK.

I'm 6'3" and weight train a lot so playing quietly is difficult as physique plays a big part in dynamics but through years of practice I can play very quietly if need be, getting paid plays a big part too!

Anyone going on about Gadd playing quielty should know Steve Gadd is not the biggest of blokes, plays with small sticks and is sponsered by gaffa tape so he will be a lot quieter than someone with an open sound. Still the mutts nuts of a drummer mind!

Speaking of Gadd, if I have to play as quiet as possible I use his signature sticks, they're great!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Threads like this piss me off because no one wants to work to earn the skill, and that is disheartening. It's always about the easy fix, and being as lazy as possible.

Just an atrocious work ethic. A terrible thing to pass on to the kids.

Drums are supposed to be hard, that's what makes them great.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Threads like this piss me off because no one wants to work to earn the skill, and that is disheartening. It's always about the easy fix, and being as lazy as possible.

Just an atrocious work ethic. A terrible thing to pass on to the kids.

Drums are supposed to be hard, that's what makes them great.
In that case, I'll make sure your next kit is extra loud so you have to work extra hard ;) ;) ;)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Make em as loud as you want Ands. I know how to play them at a whisper.

In my mind the real question of this thread title should be:

Why doesn't anyone want to work hard anymore to develop skills?

(said like the church lady) Could it be, I just don't know, is it possible that it's

SATAN!
 

Salty Dog

Senior Member
My drums are very quiet but I did pay good money for them. But when I sit behind them and beat the crap out of them they're not so quiet anymore.

Disclaimer: It's Monday, It's cold & raining in June so yeah my mood is going to be reflected in my comments today. Today's forecast: 90% chances of sarcasm.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Unfortunately there's no such thing as a quiet drum kit, just a lot of control practice and the patience of a saint to cope with the noise police.

I've been in that scenario more than once but I don't know the size of the venue or room I'm playing until I get there so kit choice is a blind stab and I have shown up at a tiny venue with a 26" bass drum before.

The gigs where they have a noise limiter that cuts the power are particularly annoying. People who book bands without realising the noise that accompanies them are one of the reason guns aren't legal in the UK.

I'm 6'3" and weight train a lot so playing quietly is difficult as physique plays a big part in dynamics but through years of practice I can play very quietly if need be, getting paid plays a big part too!

Anyone going on about Gadd playing quielty should know Steve Gadd is not the biggest of blokes, plays with small sticks and is sponsered by gaffa tape so he will be a lot quieter than someone with an open sound. Still the mutts nuts of a drummer mind!

Speaking of Gadd, if I have to play as quiet as possible I use his signature sticks, they're great!
I think if one were to train his small muscles in the way they train their big muscles, playing with dynamics would not be an issue. I am sure there are plenty of big drummers that can play whipser quiet if they choose or learn to do so. Blaming weight training is just a cop out. But of course going to the gym to work on your small muscles may cause some ridicule.
 

DrumDoug

Senior Member
Make em as loud as you want Ands. I know how to play them at a whisper.

In my mind the real question of this thread title should be:

Why doesn't anyone want to work hard anymore to develop skills?

(said like the church lady) Could it be, I just don't know, is it possible that it's

SATAN!
Some of my perspective comes from where I play. I think I'm going to go resurrect the Drum Shields thread and repeat some of this there. I played without a shield for years and it was fine. The church hired a new sound company to overhaul the system and without ever hearing me or the band, they threw a fit that there was no shield. Now I'm behind a shield again. I had talked them into getting rid of it a few years ago. My playing was fine. When other drummers were playing, not so much. Just last weekend a new guy couldn't play softly enough even with the shield so he used my rods I had left back there. He completely destroyed them. I have learned how to play softly, but the fact that other drummers can't makes my life harder. Unless you are having to always deal with the consequences of other drummers volume it's easy to just say "learn to play quieter". But that is an issue almost exclusively related to playing in churches, so because it's such a big deal to me, doesn't make it a big deal to the drumming world in general.


PS: Sorry Larry, I meant to quote the "piss me off" comment.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Unless you are having to always deal with the consequences of other drummers volume it's easy to just say "learn to play quieter".
I agree with you. Most drummers play too loud and without proper dynamics. ( But I'm afraid those drummers would not buy quiet drums... LOL )


.
 

Tommy_D

Platinum Member
Playing with dynamics is a completely different thing to loud vs quiet drums. Learning dynamics is a very valuable tool that all drummers should learn, but playing at an ultra quiet level while practicing your endurance for a 2 hour set does no one any good. In that case, you need to play at a high level, equal to how you would play on stage for the audience. A quieter drum set would greatly benefit a drummer in this case. Honestly, how many people buy electric kits to have "quiet practice"? Its probably 99% the reason why there are electric drums in the world. Again, this isn't a dynamics problem. Its strictly a volume issue for the playing style.

In the case of drums, loud vs quiet is all relative. You can't compare the volume of an acoustic drum kit to the volume of a whisper. You can compare a thin shelled mahogany kit to a thick shelled oak kit and there will be a volume difference. Is it drastic? Maybe to the well trained ear, but to the great majority of regular people, its all still really damn loud.

This is why I mention mesh heads with mylar reso's tuned how you want the kit to sound. The volume is drastically reduced, even to the point that regular people say, "Wow, that's really quiet". The next problem is cymbals, which is why I mention Gen16's. Yeah, they don't sound exactly like high quality bronze pies, but they are quieter by a good margin and the feel is still pretty good on them.

Its either this, or you go full on electric. I have 2 electric kits and they are great.
 
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MikeM

Platinum Member
I don't get it. If you're playing at mp with brushes with tons of restraint and are still too loud, then that sounds like a no-win situation to me.

You also mention horns, but horns can get awfully loud when played across their full dynamic range and what's more is that their timbres are heavily dependent on how hard they're blown.

Dynamic range is just that; a range. If you can't get where you need to be with small diameter drums using thicker premuffled heads on some soft mahogany drums with a rounded bearing edge, then I don't see how you can pull it off.

They're acoustic instruments and being limited to mp or below has pretty much chopped off any dynamic range at the knees.

Suffice it to say that I would never take a gig that imposed such restraints. Doesn't sound like much fun.

I agree though that dynamics are lost on a lot of drummers. My chosen genre has almost the opposite problem where everyone is loud so there's often not much room below full on loud. Granted we are not playing dinner joints, but still. I can play all accents as loud as I want, but everything else is at a much lower volume. Ghost strokes don't do anything where everything is at full blast, but similarly, if your loudest accents are mp or below, you're stuck not being able to convincingly differentiate any dynamics, which is just as bad.

They are acoustic instruments, after all.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
I think if one were to train his small muscles in the way they train their big muscles, playing with dynamics would not be an issue. I am sure there are plenty of big drummers that can play whipser quiet if they choose or learn to do so. Blaming weight training is just a cop out. But of course going to the gym to work on your small muscles may cause some ridicule.
Good job one has dynamics and can play softly if needed.

I did Moeller at uni and it taught me to take care of myself in particular carpal tunnel/tendonitis so I do train my wrists and forearms. Everyone else trains them so nobody makes fun. I train the rest of me so I don't get Popeye arms :).

Not blaming weight training for being loud as I hit harder when I was getting into Moeller Technique due to increased looseness but the same effort as when I held on too tight and took a white knuckle ride, which was the point I was trying to make re: physique and bigger people being louder than littler people. But years of practice and acquiring taste solved the problem.
 
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