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How to sound isolate a garage?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Kyon`, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. Kyon`


    Aug 17, 2007
    Boston, MA
    Well we got a friendly neighborhood warning by the police. I still think it's a bunch of bollocks, but either way I need to find a way to isolate volume. From what I know foam really only gets the lows and mids right? What about drums, I think the biggest problem was just with drums, I know we could play quieter and all that but just what are some solutions. We were already pretty low volume, I'm not going under 3 notches on my ashdown XD. Anyone know of anything, also it seemed it might of been the fact that the garage door was more then 2/3's open, hot day. I'm wondering if closing it makes a big difference, hopefully. Sorry kind of rushed thread, late for a gig.
  2. Rick Auricchio

    Rick Auricchio Registered Bass Offender

    Foam only absorbs high frequencies. To stop bass you need mass---lots of it. You need several layers of plywood and drywall on the walls, carefully sealed at all seams. And you need to do the same with a full ceiling.

    Unfortunately, the garage structure will probably not support all that weight.

    If air can leak, sound will leak, so everything has to be airtight. The garage door is not a good enough seal even when fully closed. Once you make a room airtight you need air conditioning.

    You really have little choice but to turn down the volume. Use the smallest amps you can find. Damp the drums and cymbals and have the drummer use thin sticks.
  3. fenderhutz

    fenderhutz Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Harpers Ferry WV
    A digital drum kit. Would be much cheaper that soundproofing your garage and you can control your volume.
    PanRap likes this.
  4. build a room inside the garage. I Used 2"x6" for wall studs, fiberglass insulation between the studs, 1/2 drywall on the outside wall and 5/8" drywall on the inside, build a sub floor and using 2x4 studs (pressure treated) and 1/2 plywood. Bought a metal foam core door with door jam included. Carpeted the whole room using commercial grade (cheap).. If you can do the work yourself or know someone that can guide you. I built a room like this for a 20x22 foot garage. I built the room 14x14 foot for under $1,000.00 in materials. I was able to play my acoustic drums at 3:00 in the morning with no issues. The important thing here is to make sure you still have airspace surrounding the room. It is important that the room you build is self standing (nothing attached to existing garage wall structure).
  5. I've had the same problem over the years. Other than finding a good rehearsal spot or spending a whole lot of money sound proofing the garage there isn't anything you can do... cheaply.

    However, there are a few things you can do:

    1) Find out who complained and go to them and apologize. Then find out when they are home and when would be a better time to practice. If you are playing at 10pm (or 3am) find a better time... be a good neighbor. A short note a few days later apologizing (and signed by the whole band) helps too. Schmoozing gets you everywhere.

    2) If you practice with a PA... turn it off. Or down. Get the drums off the PA. If the drummer is the loudest instrument, everyone else should be "just loud enough" to hear themselves over the drummer. Good dummers understand dynamics and can play at a reasonable volume... even metal drummers. I have been playing drums for a while and I use "hot rods" instead of those big baseball bats folks seem to like. My daughter (also a dummer... and better than me at 8 years old) uses jazz 7a's and she can play very quietly... or loud as hell.

    The volume competition needs to stop. We all do it... I'm guilty of it too. A band does not need volume to practice, rehearse, or write. Have a talk with your bandmates.

    3) Sound proofing. If your garage isn't finished you may want to ask the band to spend a Saturday helping to insulate and drywall. Expensive, but if you get the noise under control it is cheaper than renting space. Also, turning your space into a "studio" makes for a more creative environment.

    4) Rent a space. Contact a commercial Realtor. Tell him you want to rent on temporary basis a commercial space that is currently not being rented. You agree to leave as soon as he rents it. I have done this in the past. I was in a band that need a space... there was a storefront downtown that was in a kind of out of the way location and hadn't been rented for six months. I contacted the Realtor and told him I wanted to use it for rehearsal space. He let us use it for half of what rent normally was... he just wanted the space to make some money. We agreed to keep it neat, not play after 10pm, no alcohol on the premises, no parties and such. We agreed to leave in 24 hours notice. We were there 3 months. It works great... for a working band.

    Good luck to you... the good news is- someone is listening!
  6. Put mutes on the drums?
  7. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    It is nearly impossible to soundproof a garage - there are too many sound leaks. Even a very small sliver of space such as under a door can let out all kinds of sound. Air vents are necessary, but like an open door.

    If you have a dedicated garage, building a room inside is a good idea. The concrete floor is a good start. You need TWO layers of drywall with the seams staggered so that they are not on top of each other and long, padded flexible air ducts to block the sound. The door must be very heavy and have double weatherstripping all around. Of course the big garage door has to be covered on the inside with a wall and can no longer be used until the room is removed.

    If this is not possible, then the other suggestions are a good idea, especially using electronic drums and practicing with headphones.

    Currently, with the 2 Classic Rock bands I play with - all guitars practice in my living room a low levels (NO PA for singing) and then every couple of weeks in a rehearsal studio with the drummer, as he is familiar with most of the songs. We pick the slow hours and it is only $10-20 a person for 3 hours or so.

    Good Luck!
  8. Steve66 hit the nail on the head.

    When I started to get into home theater this is what most people do when they convert a basement. It's really the only effective way of sound proofing. Anything else is a waste of time and money.

    Do some google'n for "soundproofing"
    Lot's of good information available as well as products if you want to go the extra mile. Basically you need to stop the sound from travailing on the air as well as vibrations which is why the "room in a room" thing works.

    One downside I see is this being a garage. If you need access to the overhead door for a car or whatever this "room in a room" may not work as well unless you happen to have a well insulated overhead door.
  9. Kyon`


    Aug 17, 2007
    Boston, MA
    We don't use a PA for anything but vocals. I do admit there are times we just get excited and get into it but we'll look into putting up some foam for the time being. We were playing from 12 to 2 I guess and the office said they were parents who complained, children nap times... Either way I think we'll just rent a space, just might be cheaper for the short run.
  10. GeneralElectric


    Dec 26, 2007
    NY, NY
    Two words.

    Nerve Gas.
  11. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    We used to cover the garage walls/ceiling with carpeting and stuff it with carpet padding as we installed it (start from the bottom up for the walls). The garage door got the same treatment (it was kinda heavy after doing it but it still opened). Covered the whole garage floor with carpet also. Not sound proof by a long shot but we never had any complaints.

    Get the amps up to ear level. Put some sound board around the drums. This will reduce the drummer's volume quite a bit.

    Get the drummer to learn about dynamics. The drummer sets the volume level for rehearsal. I think the electric drums idea is a good one.
  12. whitedk57


    May 5, 2005
    Franklin, NC
    I believe the door being 2/3 open is a huge part of the problem.
  13. Nigel Rahmshard

    Nigel Rahmshard

    Jan 3, 2004
    do like i did and buy a house in redneckistan on many acres and if you dont complain about gunshots they dont complain about music. I use my living room and have double paned glass and close the thick drapes i have over the windows and sliding doors just to be nice though. But it does work out good not to have anyone close by.
  14. derekd


    Feb 16, 2009
    Great advice.
  15. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I've heard that egg cartons work well as a low-budget sound insulator. The old-school (gray paper/fiber) kind, NOT styrofoam.
  16. We recently went through a sound-reduction exercise. First culprit was the thin aluminum garage door. We bought a roll of fiberglass insulation, and stuffed it in the door. Then we covered the exposed fiberglass with thick paper and duct taped that to the garage door ribs. We did it smooth and neat, and now the door is insulated. Does it help? You bet! Can you still hear us halfway down the block - you bet! BUT - the volume is dramatically reduced. Before we did that, there was no difference in sound outside the garage if the door was open or shut. Surprisingly, the closed door did nothing to reduce sound!

    In addition, we bought some acoustic curtains, and hung them inside the garage, in front of the door. This helps even more.

    Overall the project was a couple hundred bucks, and a few afternoons - but well worth it. Next step is to cover the concrete floor with a washable carpet of some sort.

    The "proper" way to sound proof a room is to build a room within a room. And then any opening has to be addressed. You have to get air into the room somehow, but the a/c vents will allow sound to escape - though I'm sure there are tricks to help with that.
  17. Drummer? Learn?
  18. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois

    Egg cartons are only of limited use in a listening room to absorb a tiny bit of high frequency echo. They are useless for sound proofing a garage.

    The only way to make your garage quieter (other than playing a lot quieter) is to do what was suggested above by steve66 and build another room inside the garage. It will be very expensive to do this properly (and you have to spend a good deal of time researching exactly how to do this) and when you're done you won't be able to use the garage as an actual garage anymore. But if it's that important to you it's really the only option you have. The laws of physics regarding low frequency transmission of sound waves aren't going to change because the cops were called to your house. :D
  19. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    How did you do the ceiling?

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