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Question regarding drum volume

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Vorago, Aug 23, 2004.

  1. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Well, let me explain this to you. I'm in a band for 3 years now (which isn't doing that great lately, more on this might follow)..anyway, we have a rather talented drummer, but there is a problem. We have a rather small rehearsal room, maybe 15ft on 15ft (5 meter on 5?), and its all stone, lots of resonace indeed. Fact is that we have decided to jam alot more then we used to do (wether or not this is working out I still have to see), but our drummer doesn't seem to be able to drum in a quiet way...you know, if we'd rehearsal without earplugs I'd be deaf already...because of the loud drum volume the gee-tars and the bass have to go up too, resolving in us playing very very loud. Now, you can see, this isn't very helpfull for the bands communication...everytime we remark this he says that it is impossible to play silent.

    another problem is that this drummer is a real "strekendrummer" as called in dutch, meaning he is always playing some kind of showy drum part, without seeming to know that music occasionaly needs a simple beat to be good...

    Anyway, what do you think, especially on the first part of the post, personaly I think the "I think it is impossible to play silent" comment is a load of Bull****, sorry but I've played with various drummers (including a very talented one) and they were all able to put a hold on their drumming, so why can't he?
  2. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    Some drummers "think" they can only play correctly if they are really pounding on the drums. At least how I had it explained by a ridiculously loud drummer I jammed with.


    Give him a set of these for when you are jamming, that or the real sticks with several tips, I believe they are called Thunder Rods. These type of sticks by their nature produce less impact and volume than a solid wood/plastic tip.

    Or try experimenting with "motivators". Since drums carry extremely well and will fill up the room with their sound, have everyone in the band point their cabinets directly at him and let him know how it feels to be overwhelmed. :D

    Other things to try are

    1. Drum shield
    2. Drum deadening pads
    3. Electric kit, just keep the controller near you and adjust the volume as you see fit
  3. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Would hanging up carpets against the wall help against the volume?
  4. Eldermike


    Jul 27, 2004
    I have found that it's better to split up and only pratice "full band" right before a gig. Guitars pratice, singers pratice and full band only when you need too. Record new songs and make folks learn the parts away from pratice. I find that a full band pratice has to be limited to arrangments, you can't actually learn parts with a drummer, lead guitar and a bass player in the room. Just my opinion.
  5. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA
    All of these are good ideas. I use Pro Mark Cool/Hot/Thunder Rods to ease things up a bit. Hot Rods seem to be the best compromise, at least for me. He could use lighter regular sticks, ( I normaly use Vic Firth 2b ) 5a or 5b instead of 2b. I have gone to 7a with wood tip in order to tone things down a bit.

    The one thing that wasn't metioned was whats called "touch". A skilled drummer should be able to tone it down a bit with good feel and command of his instrument. He needs to learn how to play like that. Just watch jazz drummers they don't pound away but they make a lot of sound. You can adapt some of that to rock or whatever you play.

    I understand what you are saying. But a lot of that falls on your drummer to make the adjustments needed.
  6. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI

    We have a small, but 'acoustically correct' room - I mean calculated and reasonably optimized room dimention ratios, low reverb time with well-distributed REAL Sonex panels and several deep broadband absorbers (we still need to build a couple slat-type bass traps to finally even-out the sub-one-second reverb in the low-end). This all INCLUDES a drum cage that has completely-absorbtive broadband walls about four feet high all around the kit (there's a swinging portion of it that opens up), and almost the entire corner where this booth is is solid sonex (not all broadband behind him, but whatever low-freqs make it off that back wall, and hit the front walls are STOPPED). His drums are still so loud that we just went out and bought Vic Firth super-isolating headphones; we mic and mix everything, and all wear the 'phones when we practice.

    Our drummer abloutely can NOT play quiet.

    Those V.F. phones isolate to the MAX, but their frequency response is limited, so usually I run my Hartke head and 4X10 cab up so everyone can feel the bass a little. The guitar amp is run quiet and miked. Those headphones isolate so much that we usually run drum overheads into the mix (else they get picked up by the drummer's vocal mic, but it isn't a good mix, and when his compressor squashes down, it leaves the drums quiet).

    Bytheway: if any of you are interested, I'll be happy to send you the Excel app that I made for calculating modes on all the room dimentions, and approximating the amount of absorbtive area for different reverb times.

  7. Any good musician can play at low volume. Don't fall for that "I can't play it unless it's loud crap''. Tell him/ her to go home and learn how to PLAY their instrument and not to cover up the mistakes with volume.
  8. our drummer is closed up in a "sound resistant" booth, the rest of us are DI to the board and we're all on headphones. Funny thing happened when drummer got a decent set of sealed phones (they have the Vic Firth logo on them) to replace his walkman style - he asked US to turn down! He's a good guy, just new to the studio environment. Those brushes with the sliding collar are cool - he can open them all the way up for a soft sound, or tighten them about haflway to get the Thunder Stick effect. As previously stated - either everyone learns dynamic CONTROL or we all call it a night. 3 strikes - Yer OUT
  9. No need for spending money, hang blankets on the wall and drape the drums with towels to dampen the sound, lots and lots of bath towels. Or those bristle stick things as shown.
  10. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Audio and acoustics is rather a specialty of mine, and if I could add a little perspective to this suggestion..

    Remember that the thickness of the absorbtive material that you use is tied to the range of frequencies that will be absorbed. A blanket flat against the wall is going to be nearly transparent to even upper midrange frequencies; lows and lower-mids will reverberate as much as they ever did, and now your room will sound 'woofier' - this might not be a help. Pleating them like draperies to about half-area or better (make a ten-foot length of cloth cover five-feet of wall) helps considerably, but you can't much expect to get economical broadband absorbtion with cloth. This fact is why carpeting can be a problem - you're lowering reverb times in the treble, but not mids or lows; this can be worse, especially for recording.

    In more advanced treatments where there has to be carpet, a good idea is what I've heard called "contra-carpet", where they let the carpet absorb highs and reflect lows, but then put resonant-type absorbers on the cieling that absorb lows, and reflect the frequencies that the carpet is absorbing to even-out the reverb.

    One of the best absorbtive materials is fiberglass fluff; six inches thickness will pretty much completely absorb and elliminate reflections from the wall area where it's mounted.

    One thing that seems to be commonly misunderstood is based on the fact that the ultimate absorbtive device is an opened window. What's important about this is that nothing can absorb more sound than what waves actually strike it! Some people seem to think that there are absorbers have the capability to 'suck sound into them', as though they'll grab waves that don't acually impinge on them - this is not true. The closest that this can be to true is that if you damp CORNERS of a room, then you have a geometric advantage having to do with 'reflections terminating in corners'.

    If you're planning on treating a room for acoustics a little, and don't want any unpleasant surprises, it's best to use fairly evenly distributed, fairly broad-band absorbtion. The cheapest, generally most effective, and very common method is to make four- to eight-inch thick panels (4in at absolute minimum to avoid some real potential troubles with wooofy, bassy, thuddy sound!) that are something like 2ftX4ft, or maybe 2 or 3ft by 6ft (something like that, it's not critical) in dimention. These panels can simply be one-by lumber frames mounted directly to the wall (no need to have a 'back' on them) with little L-brackets, filled with regular pink insulation, and then covered with cloth stapled to the frame. Make them as polished and fancy as you like, but just stapling the 'glass to the wall would work (it'd make you itchy, though).

    These panels are mounted vertically on the walls. The easiest way to go about this is to just decide on how many of these things you're willing to construct. any number of them (including ONE) only helps, up to about half the total wall area being covered - then the returns are diminishing (this is all just generally speaking). You can't go wrong by just distributing these evenly, and in a manner that one panel is not directly across from another. Also, if you're installing more than one or two it's best to distribute them between both the north-south, and the east-west walls, else modes and flutters that occur because of the un-treated dimension could 'stick out' and be more noticeable than before.

    Another misconception seems to be that acoustics can make a sound source quieter - this is definately untrue. The sound coming directly from a source is the volume that it is, and only distance from the source can make any difference. Now here's where dampening in the room can help: if you were in a completely absorbive ('dead') room, then you can benifit from sound volume following the true, theoretical 'square law' that says sound energy will decrease proportional to the SQUARE of the difference in distance (move twice as far away, and the audio energy will be one-quarter of what it was - the square of two - three times as far, and the sound goes to 1/9, etc.). The more reflective a room is, the more sound WON'T follow the square law, because the sound isn't dispersing away (remeber that a broadband absorber is the same as an 'open window'); the room is containing the sound by just reflecting it around. These two facts, bytheway, are why you need tons of power when you play outdoors -- square-law!

    You can, of course, put absorbtive material BETWEEN the source and listener (our 4ft.-high walls really DO quiet the drums considerably; he just plays so LOUD!) - that way you're eating-up some of the sound that's on its way.

    (I'd better get back to work. I'm supposed to be writing a document for my BOSS right now... but I wish I was playing the Bass)

  11. "hot rods" . Personally, I like rehearsing quiet, that way you can hear everyone and work out arrangments ect more effectivley.
  12. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I agree fully. The best drummers I have played with had the ability to play softly and loudly.

    The drummer controls the dynamics of the band. A change in sound volume can have a drastic effect on the feel of section of a song. Loud and louder is dynamics, but won't nearly have the effect of soft and loud.

    A loud drummer makes for a loud band. If the drummer lays back a little, the rest of the band will as well. If you can't hear the beat, what are you going to play to? Unless you're a total wanker, in that case as long as you hear yourself nothing else matters. Wankers don't need a band, so show them to the door.

    A loud drummer can cost you gigs. As many bands lose gigs for being to loud as they do for lacking talent. In some cases volume will have more effect on the goodwill of a client than talent.

    A loud drummer is less useful in the studio. A drummer who doesn't have a control over their dynamics will require more adjusting to compensate for their style. A heavy hitter may require more compression to avoid clipping. Loud cymbal crashers will need more adjusting so that they don't wash out other instruments when they slam on their 20" rock crash.

    I don't buy the I can only play loud BS. It's like saying, I don't want to adjust for the situation or I don't to learn something new. You don't need to get hot rods or whatever, if you have control of the stick. But, a change of sticks is an easy way to compensate for a lack of technique. Hot rods are sort of a capo for the drum.

    Like all things, playing softly takes practice. If the guy can't do it, it is because they never practiced it.
  13. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    It's about playing with touch and feel. If your drummer is crushing his drums and cymbals all the time then he/she is not playing with touch and feel. The loudness is the result of poor technique which is another problem in itself. Drummers should play quiet, loud, build from quiet to loud which is all done by how much pressure you hit with. So if he is loud all the time, then he more than likely lacks good technique (think blues or jazz drumers how much touch they have) if he has good technique and just plays loud all the time then he is a hacker or worse Lars..." can you hear my drums now"?
  14. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    It definitely takes more skill to play quietly, and at slower tempos too, for that matter.
    That's why the main complaints against drummers tend to be: 1. Too loud 2. Speeds Up.
    Granted, plenty of decently skilled drummers play too loud also, but they should have the ability to tame it if they really wanted to.

    I think a few posts back someone mentioned draping towels over the drums. That's what I took it to mean anyway. This was going to be my suggestion. Lay a bedsheet over the drums, or a similar, relatively thin fabric. It will mute them somewhat but allow them to retain their pitch and some resonance. Much less volume than just dampening them per drum. Plus, he can still get pretty good stick response without having to use brushes or the like. Good luck getting a stubborn, loud drummer to acquiesce to this though.

    If he's reasonable, try sitting him down for a band meeting and explain that in order to expedite progress at rehearsals, and to ward off DEAFNESS, you'd appreciate it if he could tone it down a bit.

    Then you've got the whole strekendrummer issue... that's a tough one. Knowing what not to play takes musical maturity and discretion- and that can take a while to acquire. Sounds like you guys may have to teach him what you're looking for.
    Hope it works out for you.

    E-drums would be perfect for your situation, but I haven't met a Strekendrumming Tubwhomper yet that would even consider thinking about the possibility of perhaps maybe playing Electrics...