Keep The Drum Noise Down..
This has to be one of the most difficult topics for any budding drummer. You need to practice, but you also need to keep the noise down because either your family or your neighbours are complaining about the noise. Thankfully your options are much more comprehensive than they were 30 years ago so all hope is not lost yet.
There are a number of things you can try to reduce the noise which weíll run through below.
Sticks / Brushes
If youíre just wanting to bring the volume down a little, you may wish to try some Pro Mark ďHot RodsĒ which are basically j ust a lot thin pieces of dowelling bound together. It feels like a stick, but isnít as loud as it absorbs a lot of the energy from your hit. They are by no means silent, but are certainly the ones which feel most like youíre still playing a drum kit.
Brushes are also another option, though they arenít particularly good for preserving the feel of a normal stick. They are extremely quiet though and it gives you a chance to work on your Jazz lessons with the brushes.
Sound Dampening Pads
You can buy a set of rubber pads that you lay over your drums and cymbals that act like a cushion for your drum stick. These are excellent at killing a lot of the sound, but they also create a distinctly unnatural feel to the drum kit. You need to be careful when using these pads that you also get a go on a proper kit regularly as some drummers come to rely on the rubberised surface to generate bounce. Ensure you put some time in on the practice pad if these are your only option.
However, even with these pads on your drums, you wonít be whisper quiet, especially the bass drum.
These are by far the best option on the cards as they preserve a lot of the feel of playing on acoustic heads, but are actually the quietest solution here. You can tune them to a tension that suits you and are fairly cheap depending which brand you buy. Although Roland make mesh heads, you wonít be able to get them in any sizes that are useful for acoustic kits. The largest size they make is 14Ē and that is VERY expensive.
I recently bought a set of Arbiter Flats mesh heads that are made for their compact drum kit. It comes with a selection of heads, so make sure they are the right sizes for your kit before purchasing.
By FAR the most expensive, and space consuming option if you also have an acoustic kit. Electric kits have come a long way, but they are still very expensive for what you get. A decent entry level e-kit will cost around £800 and for that price, you could get a very nice acoustic drum kit with some cymbals. They are as quiet as mesh heads, and obviously you also get some sounds with headphones or an amp, but they arenít for everyone. I own an electric kit for practice and recording that I built myself (DIY guide coming soon) and itís very close to an acoustic kit, but I know which one Iíd rather be playing 24/7.
Talk to Your Neighbours/Family
This is by far the best option if itís still on the cards (i.e. youíre still on speaking terms). Try to thrash out a practice schedule and stick to it like glue. Some neighbours will become very reasonable if they know that they will only be subjected to drums at reasonable hours.
For gods sake donít start playing your drums at 10pm if you have neighbours anywhere near your property, thatís just asking for trouble. I was lucky enough to have understanding neighbours when I was learning, but I also respected them and never played too early on the weekends of too late on a weeknight.
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