An acoustic drum set is a wonderful thing. You can express yourself without restriction, practice dynamic playing and be as creative as you like. Maybe you’re not interested in an electronic set when it comes to quiet practice, so you would like another option. In the past I often used mutes for practicing without disturbing others. Could drum set mutes help you out?
What are they?
Drum mutes, also known as silencing pads, are non-slip rubber pads which dampen much of the noise associated with playing a full on acoustic drum set.
They fit nicely into the rims of your drums, and mount over top of your cymbals. They are relatively cheap to buy, and very effective at noise reduction, they are a tempting choice for the acoustic player.
It might go without saying that sticking a bunch of rubber pads over your playing surfaces will have an impact on playability.
The first thing you will notice is they drastically alter the sound of each drum to a dull thud, and cymbals will produce a slightly metallic, but vibration-free tone. It takes a little getting used to, but the drums and cymbals do maintain their own unique pitches despite this.
Stick response is reduced as the rubber tends to absorb a fair bit of the drum’s natural rebound and it becomes quite difficult to practice dynamics, buzz rolls, ghost notes and so on.
If you’re so inclined, you won’t be able to play with brushes as the rubber surface will grip onto them, however placing a coated practice pad over the snare drum would easily solve this problem.
The reduced rebound makes you work a little harder when playing hard or fast and may actually aid in muscle development for endurance when playing without the mutes. Just be careful not to sprain or strain yourself.
Are mutes right for me?
Not all of us, and I’m guessing it’s a majority, have access to a soundproof room or otherwise suitable space for playing with wild abandon 24/7 – if you do, hold on to it!
But otherwise, we must find workarounds. Maybe a budget electronic drum set would bridge the gap nicely between performance and practice sessions, but a budget electronic set will not give you the authentic feel of an acoustic drum set.
Mutes are by far the quickest, easiest, and cheapest option for reigning in the volume. You may only need them on for a couple of hours at a time, and when they come off again, you’ll be right back to harnessing your full expression and ability.
- Easy to take on and off
- Huge reduction in overall sound
- Reduced dynamics
- Rubber surface absorbs stick rebound
There are a wide range of silencing pads on the market. Each of these are going to have a slightly different feel, but overall they’re all very similar. If you feel that mutes will suit your requirements, check out the options below.
A full set of silencing pads at a great price, this set promises near silence and a natural feel:
For a price only slightly higher, you can’t go wrong with the well-loved Vic firth branded drum mutes. Offering 70% noise reduction, you’ll be able to bash away without annoying anybody.
Be careful to select the right sized mutes for you kit, the above sets are for Rock kits as an example.
Please note – you can spend even less on mutes, there are some seriously cheap ones online, but I’m hesitant to recommend them until they get some decent reviews.
Here’s a good clip of some Vic Firth mutes in action so you can get a better idea of the sound:
If you decide that drum set mutes are not for you, there are other options available, such as mesh heads and low volume cymbals. They go well together to create a very low volume playing solution. These carry their own unique pros and cons.
Quick and easy to set up with an impressive reduction in volume, drum set mutes are an effective way to quickly switch between performance and practice time to stay on top of your game.
Have you tried using mutes? What did you think? Please leave a comment with your experiences and opinions, I look forward to hearing from you.