Drum muffling has been around as long as drums. No doubt, when hollowed out trees were being pounded with sticks, the drummer was not satisfied with the sound, thinking, how can I make it sound different? |
Today, many drum mufflers can be purchased at local music stores or online, such as O-rings or Moon-gels, but why be limited to these ideas. Why not come up with your own mufflers to make your drums sound like you want them to sound in any given song or occasion.
Many different drum mufflers have been improvised by drummers to use personally over the years, like billfolds at different positions on the snare, or duct tape at certain points on toms, on both top and bottom heads. I have tried them all over the years. My favorite is a floating muffler, which is not attached to the drumhead, but is secured to the drum rim. I have seen them online made from felt that lift up when the drum is struck with the stick. I thought, why not improvise here as well. I remembered having some soft cowhide left over from a project, so I cut it into different size strips and begin to secure them to the drum rims with tape to see the different sounds I could make. I quickly found, I could eliminate the degree of overtones desired, simply by the size strips I used. The trick is to use limber cowhide. If it is too stiff, there will be a slight vibration as the stick strikes the drumhead. If you do not want to use tape to secure the cowhide, use large women’s elastic hair bands to stretch around the drum rim to hold the cowhide in place.
The strips work best when placed at the top of the drums, where gravity can work, bringing the strip directly back down on the drumheads. Also, tune the bottom heads a little higher than the tops to make the sound fall off even quicker, like the sound falling off a cliff.
When these cowhide mufflers are attached to the rim, instead of the drumhead, they can be quickly flipped back with the drumstick to bring in more overtones, even in the middle of a song. They can be lifted with one stick just for a couple of notes with the other stick when desired. They are so much more versatile than mufflers which are attached to the drumhead.
Remember, drums are musical instruments that are capable of producing many different sounding notes. Don’t limit your drums to one sound. It is like a trumpet playing middle C for the entire song. Muffling is just one way to do that. Using different drumsticks is another. Why limit your sound by always using your favorite pair of chops. How boring is that? People want to hear you play, not just your drums, sounding out the same familiar sounds. How many different sounds can you get out of your drum kit, including stands? Every time your stick strikes a different object it makes a different sound. Every time you turn a drum key on any drum, top or bottom, it makes a different sound. Try different heads on different drums. The heads don't have to match. Hold your sticks with different degrees of tightness, and you will see that they will make different sounds. Be creative, find out what your kit and sticks are capable of! You have unique grooves and fills in you, now, that no one has ever heard before. Listen to nature around you and you will hear new sounds to play on drums. Maybe it is a bird singing, or the wind gently blowing a branch on the side of a building. Or maybe it's a carpenter pounding a board in the distance, or the wheels of a train as it goes by at the crossing, or car horns in traffic. Rhythm is all around you. Just listen! New drumming companies have come into existence because someone was not satisfied with the sounds drums produced. See pictures at: Vintage Jammer
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