Why doesn't anyone make quieter drums?

motleyh

Senior Member
Actually, we do make a snare that is quieter -- our Asheville Series. The volume issue is only one part of the specialized design, but it's a model that's made to be played in "hybrid kits" -- kits that are a meld of world/hand percussion with conventional western drums and cymbals. One challenge in the goals of the design is that a normal snare drum tends to overpower the hand percussion instruments, requiring the player to use a different stroke on that drum alone -- pretty tough to accomplish when you're moving around the kit.

So, elements that are involved in reducing the volume include: shell species, bearing edge profiles top and bottom, interior finish, head selection, hoops, and dimensions. And then, of course, tuning.

Would this design work with a normal Western kit? I'm not sure -- my guess is that it wouldn't be aggressive enough to achieve the usual balance of the kit.
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
Actually, we do make a snare that is quieter -- our Asheville Series. The volume issue is only one part of the specialized design, but it's a model that's made to be played in "hybrid kits" -- kits that are a meld of world/hand percussion with conventional western drums and cymbals. One challenge in the goals of the design is that a normal snare drum tends to overpower the hand percussion instruments, requiring the player to use a different stroke on that drum alone -- pretty tough to accomplish when you're moving around the kit.

So, elements that are involved in reducing the volume include: shell species, bearing edge profiles top and bottom, interior finish, head selection, hoops, and dimensions. And then, of course, tuning.

Would this design work with a normal Western kit? I'm not sure -- my guess is that it wouldn't be aggressive enough to achieve the usual balance of the kit.
In Steve Smith's Sonor video on YouTube, he talked about his Jungle kit being used as a "quieter alternative" because he was using it with Indian hand drummers and wanted something that wouldn't obliterate them, and he really liked how that worked out. So there's a solution - The Sonor Jungle kit! (Because Steve said so!)
 

DrumDoug

Senior Member
Actually, we do make a snare that is quieter -- our Asheville Series. The volume issue is only one part of the specialized design, but it's a model that's made to be played in "hybrid kits" -- kits that are a meld of world/hand percussion with conventional western drums and cymbals. One challenge in the goals of the design is that a normal snare drum tends to overpower the hand percussion instruments, requiring the player to use a different stroke on that drum alone -- pretty tough to accomplish when you're moving around the kit.

So, elements that are involved in reducing the volume include: shell species, bearing edge profiles top and bottom, interior finish, head selection, hoops, and dimensions. And then, of course, tuning.

Would this design work with a normal Western kit? I'm not sure -- my guess is that it wouldn't be aggressive enough to achieve the usual balance of the kit.
That sounds cool. Do you have any sound samples online. Maybe a comparison video with a regular snare. Would these concepts work if you make a whole kit this way?
 

JosephDAqui

Silver Member
I recommend the Sonor Safari kit. I bought one years ago for a band I joined (and later quit) because my drums (and the drummer) were too loud for the small clubs we played at times. They did the trick no matter how violently I played - those were the words of the pansy guitarist. :)
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
At one of the local jam sessions the guy who supplies the regular house kit has a set of 60's Slingerlands .....
And that's basically where you're gonna find drums that "project" less than more modern drum designs. Vintage Slingerland, Ludwig, Rogers, etc. Thin shells with reinforcement rings. Want a kit with less projection still? Try a 60's era MIJ stencile kit. Luan shells, reinforcement rings. They go for $300-$500 on eBay.​
As amplified music took charge, drummers needed/wanted more projection. Ludwig answered the call with a 6 ply straight shell in 1976. Rogers, the 8 ply, in 1978. And ..... the dial has never really been turned down, since. But the difference between a "quiet" kit, and a "loud" kit .... hey, they're still drums. Mostly made with wood shells.​
 

dajazz

Member
I would love to have an acoustic drum set that only puts out 1/3 to 1/2 the volume of regular drums. I don't usually play in stadiums or large theaters or big clubs. I play in smaller venues that are always complaining about how loud the bands are.
I totally know what you mean, had a go the other day on an old Premium kit from the 60s, way quiter than my Tama and I have a 12-14 18 kick but I just suppose manufactures in 70s and 80s made drums louder to cope with amplified instruments.

I'm looking to the vintage market as it's much nicer sound than modern kits, just wish to find a brand that does drumks like in the 60s, 3plys and right bearing hedge and m/p/m wood and all that, plese let me know if you know something!

by the way I'm reading that gretsch and ludwig got a softer sound then the oter brands back in the days, anyone can confirm it???


Just want to hear that motleyh's snare drum if possible!
 

Dizzy

Junior Member
As far as cymbals go,
I find most flat rides to be generally much quieter than other types of rides.
The whole no bell thing usually makes them quite lacking tonally though I find.

Honestly, I don't think you can play a set of drums at significantly lower than average volumes without compromising tone and feel considerably.
 

FritzDrummer

Senior Member
Every Pearl kit I've ever witnessed live has sounded too quiet for my taste.
Was there a certain line from Pearl you noticed that were "quieter" and what sort of venue was it? Stangely, I have never heard of a whole brand as being quieter than other companies.
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
From Frank:

"I'm a drummer, and even I think many drummers are obnoxious.
Nothing worse than being out wanting to enjoy live music over drinks, only to have a drummer make everyone deaf for the night.
Crashes and snare hits played by bashers can be really irritating to the live music patron."

I agree and in many small bars the snares are simply too loud! Even if I am close micing I don't close mic the snare. Just too loud.

If drums are often considered the instrument which sets the minimal volume it does seem like quieter drums could be a viable market. The church and shield world seems like a perfect market for it.

Andy would the features you listed result in more expensive or less expensive? Generally speaking anyway.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
If your drums are too loud, it's not your drums. If your car is too fast - it's not the car.
 
D

drumming sort of person

Guest
They are short hand abbreviations for music terms. Piano (p) is soft and Forte (f) is loud. An (m) is short for mezzo which means medium. So (mp) is mezzo piano or medium soft and (mf) is mezzo forte or medium loud.
Mezzo is Italian for "half" or "middle". Mezzo forte would be half as loud as forte. I wonder why they never uses "double" (or doppio) as a prefix to indicate twice as loud? Instead, they just repeat the letter: ff (fortissimo) or fff (fortississimo).
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
This thread topic is indicative of the "I don't want to work hard" mentality. Kind of pisses me off a little TBH. Why? Laziness. Lazy people piss me off. The value of hard work and earning skills is largely lost on the young people of today, at least that what it seems like to me.

I had another of my quiet gigs last night. There wasn't a lot of people in this hard surfaced room to absorb sound. It's a restaurant/bar, so the first set is a dinner set.

I use a 22 x 18 non muffled, non ported drum. I'm half tempted to post some songs just to prove that it can be played at a volume where you can still hear conversation.

I mean the volume is completely where it should be, and the drum sounds really nice.

Then when/if the room fills up later on, I just play it harder. But it can be played so friggin soft. It can be played at whatever volume is needed. It's a big bass drum for this room. But I am in control of it, so it's always appropriate volume-wise.

The thread title should read, "Why don't I understand the value of learning skills?" Or, Why do I look for everyone else to solve my problems?" Or, Why am I too lazy to learn how to control my instrument?"

Learn your friggin instrument.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
This thread topic is indicative of the "I don't want to work hard" mentality. Kind of pisses me off a little TBH. Why? Laziness. Lazy people piss me off. The value of hard work and earning skills is largely lost on the young people of today, at least that what it seems like to me.

I had another of my quiet gigs last night. There wasn't a lot of people in this hard surfaced room to absorb sound. It's a restaurant/bar, so the first set is a dinner set.

I use a 22 x 18 non muffled, non ported drum. I'm half tempted to post some songs just to prove that it can be played at a volume where you can still hear conversation.

I mean the volume is completely where it should be, and the drum sounds really nice.

Then when/if the room fills up later on, I just play it harder. But it can be played so friggin soft. It can be played at whatever volume is needed. It's a big bass drum for this room. But I am in control of it, so it's always appropriate volume-wise.

The thread title should read, "Why don't I understand the value of learning skills?" Or, Why do I look for everyone else to solve my problems?" Or, Why am I too lazy to learn how to control my instrument?"

Learn your friggin instrument.

Right on Larry.

Come to think of it, why don't they make quieter saxophones? Or quieter violins? Or quieter acoustic guitars?


.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
This thread topic is indicative of the "I don't want to work hard" mentality. Kind of pisses me off a little TBH. Why? Laziness. Lazy people piss me off. The value of hard work and earning skills is largely lost on the young people of today, at least that what it seems like to me.

...

The thread title should read, "Why don't I understand the value of learning skills?" Or, Why do I look for everyone else to solve my problems?" Or, Why am I too lazy to learn how to control my instrument?"

Learn your friggin instrument.
You lost me, Larry. Who here has said anything about not understanding the value of control? The closest one who's said anything remotely like that would be me.

I don't consider myself lazy in the least, but my skill set and motivation for playing isn't at all driven by the thought of entertaining diners wanting chit-chat in a restaurant. If that makes me lazy to you, then so be it.

Actually, I'd love to see how you're pulling it off so do post a video of yourself at one of these quiet gigs. Doesn't really apply to me, but I'm still curious to see how you can do everything as well at ppp that you can do at your most neutral and natural volume.

I said it before and I'll say it again: drums are acoustic instruments played by people whose touch determines everything related to volume, attack, and timbre. There comes a point when hitting hard that a drum won't do anymore, but similarly, there's is also a lower limit where, if not hit hard enough, the shell doesn't get involved and cymbals don't open up. That's just physics.

Also, as I mentioned earlier in this thread (to which no one responded) was the idea of having horns in a band at these volumes. They are just as acoustic as drums and the character of their tones is dependent on how hard they're blown. Don't hire a horn player if you can't handle the volume.

Think about the other players in your band; are you suggesting they haven't learned to play their instrument if they can't pick a string at 10% intensity all night? Of course not. They have volume knobs for that, so them getting to a lower volume doesn't require any change in their technique. They get to keep strumming/picking/plucking along just as they always do, so it seems pretty unfair for them, or anyone else, to be chastising drummers for playing comfortably.

Just to emphasize where I'm at on dynamics; I'm not saying, and have never said, "to hell with it all, just go ahead and bash away," but I am saying there is a lower limit to how quiet you can go before the integrity of the instrument and the music begins to suffer.

My beef is centered around someone hiring a full band with the expectation that people will want to talk quietly over them. For a setting like this, a full band is probably not a great idea to begin with, and a band leader imposing an unrealistic physical restriction on the other instruments not equipped with volume knobs is kinda lame.

Ultimately though, it comes down to what you can tolerate. If you're cool with it, then far be it from me to criticize, but you'll never find me at one of those gigs - not as a player or spectator.

If I want live music, I want it in all it's glory, not as some bland piece of restaurant "art" sitting along side the mood lighting, IKEA paintings, and plastic plants. If I want relaxing and nice quiet conversation, I'm not going to a venue advertising live music.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I get a little defensive at the word "lazy", and money before art always gets my hackles up.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I wasn't directing my comments at you in any way Mike. What I said is meant for drummers alone as a whole. Electric guitarists aren't part of this rant, that's not an acoustic instrument. I also have to disagree with you about the lower registers of the instrument. IMO it's just plain untrue that drums don't/can't sound good at low volumes. I do it on a regular basis. It's the drummer that has to be able to play quietly yet still be able to sound good and retain intensity, it has nothing to do with the drums themselves, other than appropriate heads for low volume playing. I get wonderful tone playing low volume on every drum and cymbal.

The lazy I'm referring to is strictly limited to the attitude that companies should invent something so the people don't have to work to develop their fine touch on an instrument that practically demands that the player develop the proper skills, so they can exercise complete control of their dynamics. I mean on my recording, you can hear the dinner conversation along with the music, and I'm very satisfied with how my drums sound.

My point is there is no need for quieter drums, but there is a burning need for drummers to develop their dynamic control.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
With all due respect to Larryace and MikeM , playing quietly the same way you play at normal volume is not an easy thing to do.

I am used to doing 16th note fills from my high tom to my low tom while playing Rolling Stone songs. If I have to play the same song quietly and do this same fill while people are sitting in front of me and carrying on a normal conversation, it would be very difficult to do. But it can be done.
(wouldn't be too much fun)

.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Okay, fair enough, Larry.

Just seems to me that the OP was in a situation where he was already exercising the utmost control and restraint and was still too loud. I have to take it on faith, based on his self-description, that he is versed in dynamic control, so the problem was that his drums, and perhaps all modern drums, were inherently too loud for the limitations imposed by the venue.

It's a lot easier for me to accept the idea that some venues are simply not appropriate for full bands than it is to just pin it all on the drummer's ability to play that quietly. I also have no trouble imagining that some restaurant owners believe they can have their cake and eat it too, with respect to live music, and that many don't understand - or even care - what the sonic ramifications are to having a live band in their cozy establishment.

I also don't have any trouble seeing where a band leader might think it's appropriate to take such gigs, thinking that all he has to do is turn down, because let's face it, practically nobody but drummers can understand how hard it is to get down that low and stay there while still being effective, and it's not usually the drummers booking these gigs.

I do agree with you that beat placement has more to do with how energetic the groove sounds than just how hard the hits are, and I won't argue that drums can sound good at lower volumes, but the execution of that is much easier said than done.

As with pretty much anything else, there's a trade off; the whole mid to upper end of a drum's timbre and mix of attack and resonance has to be avoided and crash cymbals can't be fully crashed. You can lightly shank a thin ride, but it's not the same thing. None of this is impossible, of course, but it's still a big ask.

At some point, if playing lightly after going down to smaller vintage style drums fitted with Fibreskyn heads using some dampening isn't enough, the music might just be better off without drums at all. Perhaps just use some percussion instead.

And maybe it's just me, but I really like to hear the full range of instruments in music, and I actually don't like the way drums typically sound at dynamics that low, especially cymbals and snare drums.
 
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