The drums are a particularly loud instrument. You can hear them even two to three stories below in an apartment building.
If you’re a drummer, you’ll be pleased to learn that there are certain steps you can take to control the volume.
Even if your neighbors are kind and haven’t said anything yet, it’s best to avoid potential conflict.
Thus, this article offers different ways that you can practice drums in an apartment.
Practicing Drums in Your Apartment – Adjustment to Make
If you want to enjoy your musical instrument the way it was meant to be played, you can make adjustments to your apartment.
When you’re buying a drum kit, you can start a renovation project.
There are a few different solutions you can try.
Some of them are more effective than others in controlling the sound.
However, the changes may cost more.
Create a Home Studio
We go into great detail because this project is a complicated process, which exceeds the scope of this guide.
That said, you can create a home studio by creating a room within a room.
How this works is that you put up drywall panels on every wall of the room, including the floor and ceiling.
In addition, you must leave some space (about six inches) between the panel and the wall. The gap allows air to act as an insulator.
Creating this room will require installing an additional door (provided there’s just one in the original design). Therefore, the additional door will seal the second room you created using drywall.
It’s best to use a solid wood door for the additional door. Solid wood doors prevent sound from leaking better than hollow-core doors do.
This entire project is an expensive and time-consuming process.
However, it’s your best bet for controlling the volume. You should only consider this project if you meet the following factors.
- You plan to stay in your apartment for several years
- You’re dedicated to the instrument, and you’re certain you won’t give it up
- You plan on recording drums in your apartment
The third point is the most important. This is because you’ll only need the true sound of your instrument if you plan to record with it.
However, you can make simple adjustments to your kit if you don’t want to record.
Hang Blankets on the Walls
A relatively cost-effective way to minimize sound leaks from drumming in your apartment is to hang thick blankets on the walls.
You can buy dedicated noise reduction blankets or hang regular blankets.
Thick blankets significantly help absorb the sound. Thus, they’re an effective method of soundproofing a room.
You should also note that thicker and heavier blankets are better at absorbing sound than others.
You could also install blankets on the doors and over the windows. Doing so can help control the sound leakage. You should note that this step will increase the weight of your door.
Thus, you may need to install appropriate hinges to keep your door in working order.
What’s great about this solution is that it will also acoustically treat your room. Thus, it will control the reverberations, allowing for a better sound during recording.
Reinforce Your Doors and Fortify Your Windows
One important change you can make is to reinforce your doors and fortify your windows.
All you have to do is install weatherstripping around the doors and windows.
The weatherstripping will help prevent the sound from escaping the room. You could also install a sealing threshold on your door to seal the bottom.
Raise Your Drum Kit
When you play your drums, the impact of the drums travels to the floor. If there’s nothing between the kit and the floor, your downstairs neighbors will feel the impact.
So, you could use high-quality rugs made for controlling drum sound. Other than that, you could create an insulation platform.
It typically includes a sheet of plywood placed over materials that insulate sound.
Pick the Right Room
A simple yet important point is to choose the right room in your apartment. Ideally, you want to choose a room that’s as far away as possible from neighbors’ homes.
If you have a room in the middle of two other rooms, that’s a good choice.
This is because the presence of the other two rooms can help minimize the sound from reaching neighbors on the same floor.
In addition to that, if you have an apartment with a basement, you can choose that room. You can prevent the sound from reaching street level better when you’re underneath it.
Making Adjustments to Your Drums/Instrument
When referring to drums, we mean acoustic drums. Those drums are loud and don’t have any volume control.
That said, you can control the volume through the intensity of your strikes (discussed below in greater detail).
Moreover, high-quality drumheads can allow better resonance than low-quality ones, producing more sound.
Nevertheless, there are some adjustments you can make to your instrument to minimize the volume. You don’t have to give up your dream of becoming a great drummer.
Here are some steps you can take.
Throw Towels or T-Shirts Over Each Drum
If you’re familiar with the concept of drum dampening, you must know about the effect of placing a cloth over a drum.
So, you could place a towel or t-shirt over each drum to control the sound.
Cloths Over the Drums Changes the Sound and Reduces Volume
Doing so will greatly change the sound of the drums and lower the volume. In the case of the toms, it will make the sound warmer.
It will also remove some attack—the sound of the stick making contact with the drumhead.
In the case of the snare drum, it will give you a “fatter” sound. The overtones will be eliminated, and it’ll sound a little lower than without dampening.
Cloths Over the Drums Changes the Feel of the Drum
If you played a musical instrument long enough, you must know that its feel is equally important as the sound.
Thus, placing cloths over the drums can change the feel significantly.
It reduces the amount of rebound you’ll get from your drums.
You’ll feel the difference more significantly on the snare drums and rack toms.
This is because those drumheads are tightly tuned compared to other slack drums, such as floor toms.
With less rebound, you’ll have to use your wrists more than your fingers for certain rudiments, such as the double stroke roll. Therefore, it can become an effective practice method.
The Solution Won’t Work For Those Recording Drums
This solution is not ideal for those of you who plan to record drums in your home.
The towels will change and possibly ruin the sound. In that case, it’s much better if you make adjustments to your apartment.
Consider Investing in Drum Mutes
If you don’t want to use towels, you could consider investing in drum mutes. These are pad-like objects that you place over your drums.
The pieces are made to the measurements of the drums. Therefore, it’s important that you measure your drums (or look at the kit’s box for the details) before you buy the mutes.
Typically, there are mutes for cymbals as well.
You won’t get any ring from the cymbals, but you’ll still hear the sound of the stick hitting the metal or the rubber (depending on where you strike the cymbal).
Use a Practice Pad
A practice pad is a great way to practice your rudiments (only for the hands) quietly.
A practice pad is inexpensive and is useful for warming up before a gig as well.
You can also buy several practice pads and hook them to make a practice kit. You also get a practice pad for the feet, allowing you to keep your footwork in excellent form as well.
Consider Buying an Electronic Drum Kit
If nothing works, you could consider buying an electronic drum kit.
They are an effective solution for practicing drums in an apartment. They’re relatively quiet and still offer a lot of different sounds.
All you have to do is program the sample you want in each drum, and you can listen to it in the playback. Electronic kits, like acoustic ones, can be expensive depending on the make and quality.
What’s also great about an electronic kit is that you can use it to record drums in your apartment. You also don’t need to purchase any recording microphones to do so.
Simply plug the kit into your sound card, and use a digital audio workstation (DAW) to record it.
You should note that an electronic kit is that it can be relatively easier to play.
The drumheads are made of materials that can offer more rebound than slack drumheads on acoustic drums.
More rebounds can compromise your wrist control because you’ll get more help from the drum. Thus, it’s a good idea to buy an electronic kit with mesh heads because they have a more realistic feel.
Learn to Play Quieter
In addition to the apartment and kit adjustments, it’s important for you to learn to play quieter. Dynamics, i.e., the musical element that has to do with volume control, is crucial to drumming.
To become an effective drummer, you should learn to keep certain notes soft.
For example, jazz drumming involves lightly playing the snare drum and bass drum. However, the ride cymbal controls the rhythm and must be louder than the other pieces.
The more you focus on dynamics, the better your stick control will be. In turn, you can play fast and slow with control and appropriate intensity based on the song.
Play Drums at the Right Time
If possible, try and play drums during busy hours. Chances are that your neighbors won’t be home, or may not mind a bit of drumming noise.
Avoid playing early in the morning or during the night as that’s the time when people prefer a little quiet.
Again, this might not be in your control as you may only get time to practice drums in night, but if you can adjust this, you’re neighbors are far likely to not complain about it.
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