How to Muffle Your Bass Drum
Muffling your bass drum can have a lot of benefits when it comes to producing sound. When you muffle your drum, you’re cutting out different frequencies for that drum to sound more concise and controlled. By that definition, it’s also used to control the amount of resonance inside the drum.
Different drummers want different sounds from their drums. Some like full sounds with a lot of resonance, while others want to control that sound and make it sound perfect and clear. How people achieve that with their bass drum is by muffling it.
The way you muffle your bass drum is completely different from other drums on your set. With snare drums and toms, you would use some products like drum gums, gels, and drum rings. But that won’t work with your bass drum. Instead, you have a completely different set of products and even some DIY solutions that work well.
Ways to Muffle Your Bass Drum
You have three options for muffling. Use products such as the Evans EQ Pad, which is sort of like a pillow that you place on the bottom of the bass drum. There are also a lot of different rings you can put on the batter head of the bass drum, which also work pretty efficiently. There are also pre-muffled bass drum heads.
But what if you don’t want to invest a lot of money into muffling? The good thing is that you can do it pretty well using common household items like a towel or pillow, and it will get the job done.
1. Evans EQ Pad
The Evans EQ Pad is a product specifically designed to muffle your bass drum. It’s easy to install, and once you get it there, it stays in its place for a long time. The pad comes with two adhesive pads that you apply to the drum shell and then attach the EQ Pad to them with velcro.
- Easy to attach
- Dampens both the batter and the resonant head
- Very popular
- A bit pricey when compared to other solutions
- You can’t take out the pads that stick to your drum shell easily
2. Pre-muffled bass drum heads
Pre-muffled bass drum heads have gained a lot of popularity these days, as they are one of the better solutions to kick drum muffling. Evans EMAD series is one of the most popular models out there.
EMAD stands for: Externally Mounted Adjustable Damping, and as the name suggests, you have multiple options built into the drum head for adjusting the damping. They come with different foam rings placed against the drum head’s parameter. You have a PVC tray that is adhered to the drum head, which serves as a slot for you to swap the foam rings.
- No need to put stuff inside the shell
- A controlled amount of muffling
- There are both batter and resonant drum head options
- The drum heads can be a bit pricey, depending on the models
3. DIY Solutions to Bass Drum Muffling
To achieve this, you have to roll a towel or duvet in a cylindrical fashion (or use a pillow) and place it resting on the bottom of the bass drum, pushed against the batter’s head. By doing this, you cut off a lot of “unwanted” resonance and noise, and if it sounds good, you can leave it there.
If you need more muffling, you can do the same thing on the other side of the drum to achieve the amount of muffling you want. Also, different sizes of towels and different materials will have different effects, so keep that in mind.
- Inexpensive DIY solution
- You can decide how much damping you need
- The towels are not fixed inside the shell, so they can be hard to adjust if they fall over
How to Control the Resonance of the Bass Drum
The bass drum is a more complicated drum than a lot of people think. It produces a lot of resonance and overtones because of its size. Most drummers don’t want those uncontrolled overtones; therefore, they decide to muffle the drum to get the drum to sound more controlled, fast, and powerful.
This can be a double-edged sword if you do not understand precisely how to do it and why you are doing it. I’ve seen bass drums dampened and muffled to the point that they don’t even sound like a drum anymore and have lost all the tones. The key to controlling resonance properly is to do research.
There are a lot of different variables to determine how much muffling you want to put on your kick drum, such as personal taste, the drum, the room you’re playing in, how you’re placing mics, etc. And as a bonus, the sound engineer for live performances will love you if you do a good job muffling your bass drum as it mixes well.
When you muffle your drums, they also tend to be quieter, which can help you with the loudness problem. Here are some other ways to make your drums quieter.
Tuning Your Muffled Bass Drum
Tuning your bass drum is important regardless of whether you muffle it or not. If you do not tune your bass drum correctly, it will produce a lot of unwanted, clashing overtones, and a lot of beginner drummers think that’s because they need to muffle it.
This is so important to mention because you don’t want to muffle your bass drum even a tiny bit more than it needs to be muffled, and a simple (and wrong) solution to a non-tuned bass drum is to use a lot of muffling.
So, make sure your bass drum is tuned correctly before you use any kind of muffling, whether you use the products specifically made for this or decide to do it yourself with a couple of towels.
Perfectly tuned and muffled sound will sound a lot better, especially in recording or live performance situations. Part of the job of a sound engineer is to cut off all the frequencies that create problems while mixing the whole drums, or the whole band for that matter. And by tuning and muffling your bass drum, you pretty much do half of the work and make your drums sound bigger, better, and more impressive overall.