Drums produce tones that change according to how they’re tuned. A lot of drum kits have significant ring to them even if they’re tuned well. This is where drum dampeners come in.
Dampeners control sound, and come in the form of gels, mufflers, and rings. Every drummer has used some form of dampening in their lives. Muffling drums is a normal thing to do.
There are a few drum dampeners that do the job seriously well. I’ve picked those out so that you can choose which one is best for you.
Best Drum Dampeners - Mufflers, Rings & Gels
1. RTOM Moongel
When it comes to dampening drums, Moongels are one of the most popular products amongst drummers and sound engineers. They’re industry-standard, thanks to their smooth design and easy use.
Moongels come in packs of 6 in a round plastic box. They are non-toxic self-adhesive blocks of gel that stick onto any surface of your drum kit. The purpose of them is to cut away ring.
One block of Moongel is quite large, meaning you'll usually only need one per drum. However, you can just put more if you still need to cut more ring. Many drummers put two or three Moongels on their floor toms.
You can cut a piece in half if you find it dampens the drum too much for your taste. They last a long time if you take special care of them. They tend to lose their stickiness and get dirty if you leave them on your drums constantly. So, it’s better to pack them away in the box when you’re finished playing.
The one downside to Moongel is the aesthetic aspect of it. Its large blue presence will stick out on your drums. Some drummers may not like how they look, yet other drummers won’t mind at all. When it comes to sound, Moongels are one of the best dampeners around.
Almost every drummer has done something to their kick drum to stop it from booming so much. Boomy kicks are great for jazz and big venues. However, a boomy kick is a bit overwhelming in a practice space or studio.
This is why putting pillows and inside a bass drum has become a normal thing in the drumming world. The Evan EQ Pad Bass Drum Muffler is designed to take the place of the pillows and blankets.
It has a hinged dampening pad, allowing you to control how much attack and resonance your bass drum has. This muffler stays very securely in place inside your kick drum, so you’re going to get a consistent sound every time your move your kick drum to a different place.
It has one small side and one large side, allowing you to choose just how much muffling you want. It sits comfortably in your kick drum without being seen through any reso head ports. This makes it way more aesthetically pleasing than blankets and pillows.
It doesn’t provide as much dampening as some drummers might want. However, you can just add a towel or something similar on top of it for extra muffling.
Big Fat Snare Drums are drum dampeners to put on your snare that alters the pitch and cut away a lot of overtones and ring. The Big Fat Snare Drum company is fairly new and has provided some great innovative products. I’ve put Steve’s Donut on this list because it has a hole in the middle that causes the snare not to be dampened too much.
This product is going to make your snare sound like it came from the 80s. You get a low thuddy sound that many drummers try to achieve with intricate tuning. Just place this thing on your snare and you’re good to go.
The great thing about it is that it has a small finger cutout near that bottom that makes it easy to remove. This allows you to get two different snare sounds at any point when you play. You put it on your snare in the verse of a song and then take it off again for the chorus.
It’s a product intended for specific purposes, hence it’s not a versatile dampener. You may want to dampen your snare without lowering the pitch. Steve’s Donut won’t do that for you.
Drum rings are another form of drum dampener. There are a lot of them out there, with Evans producing the most popular one in the E-Rings Rock Pack. This pack includes a set of drum rings that are 10”, 12”, 14”, and 16”. These sizes are perfect for most standard drum kits.
These rings tighten up the sound of your drums by removing most of the overtones. The great thing about the Evans E-Rings is that they keep the sustain of your drums, allowing for a fairly open sound. Many drum rings completely cut the sustain and resonance.
They’re great for recording and playing in tight practice spaces. When recording, they give your toms a beefy sound that isn’t too overwhelming. When practicing in a tight space, they cut out the harsh frequencies of your drums.
The one potential issue is that they can fly off the kit when you play an outside gig. You’d need to strap them down depending on how windy it is.
The drawcard of TruTones drum dampeners is that they are way more subtle than other drum dampeners. This is a product for drummers that love the open tone of drums but need to do some slight fine-tuning.
These things are seriously durable, lasting a very long time no matter how much you play. They have a transparent appearance that makes them blend into drumheads very well. If they get dirty, they can be easily washed with soap and water.
They’re incredibly difficult to pull apart once they’ve been stuck together in the box. This is just a small inconvenience for an otherwise great product.
Controlling Drum Sound
The basic way of controlling the sound of a drum is to put something on it. When nothing is on a drumhead, the sound will resonate and ring freely. This is the sound that you want most of the time.
It sounds really good in pro drum kits, but not entry-level or intermediate drum kits. Lower-priced kits don’t have the same level of internal tone control, so you’re going to have to do some muffling to get a pleasant tone.
The more stuff you put on a drum, the more you deaden the tone. It’s up to you to decide how much ring you want. It’s a personal preference thing that will take a lot of trial and error.
You’re going to need drum dampeners at some point in your drumming journey, especially if you gig and record frequently. The overtones of your drums might be too harsh for a particular venue, which means you’ll need to tone them down a bit with a dampener.
Dampeners are something you should have in your stick bag to use whenever you need them. Whether it be gels, mufflers, or rings, it’s important to have something to tone down the drum sound a bit whenever the situation demands.