For those of us living in close quarters with other people, maybe in a flat or an apartment, this is an important question you may have when considering options for a drum kit. Although, depending on your definition, what constitutes a silent drum kit will vary widely.
Acoustic drum kit
We’ll start here, because the first thing that comes to mind with acoustic drum kits is noise. And a lot of it! When you’re trying to cut through wailing guitars and heady vocals, you want and need this volume. But when it comes time to practice, there are a couple of options for giving your poor neighbours a break.
One option is drum set mutes, also known as silencer pads. These sit within the rim of the drums, and the cymbal variants sit directly over the cymbal, which are secured with the nut. Once these are in place, the volume comes way down. But your rebound is decreased a fair bit. For some of us, it’s just not nice.
Another option is mesh heads. These fit and tune just like a normal batter head. They offer a bouncy stick response, quite the opposite of the silencer pads. Pair these with low volume cymbals, which are essentially alloy cymbals with hundreds of holes drilled in them, and you’ll have a good combination for noise reduction.
The best thing about this solution is that the heads can still be used to trigger an electronic module, giving you options for all kinds of creativity.
While the volume will be reduced a lot from the normal heads and cymbals, neither of these options could be called silent.
Electronic drum kit
These are like the well-behaved children of the drumming world. They are quiet, intelligent, and make great conversation. They are also much quieter than any acoustic set, even if it has been tamed with mesh heads or mutes.
An electronic drum set with mesh heads is about the closest thing to a silent drum kit you’ll find. They keep the volume low, while maintaining playability. Often the cymbals are rubber and produce a bit more noise, but no more than rapping your fingers on a wooden table.
The biggest challenge you will face with noise reduction is with the bass drum pedal. Any beater slamming into a mesh or rubber pad is going to make some level of noise. The best option is to find a kit which has beater-less pedals.
These will reduce the impact to a minimum, but even these will transfer a small amount of shock through the floor.
So, the answer is no?
Based on these observations, no drum set in any configuration could be classed as truly silent.
Acoustic sets can be reduced significantly in volume, but at the expense of playability, feel, and satisfaction.
Electronic drum sets are inherently much quieter, which makes them the best candidates. They are generally very quiet, but to call them silent is a bit of a stretch.
Don’t let this stop you in the pursuit of drumming. Talk to your neighbours, your husband/wife. Maybe they don’t mind so much if you practice at certain times of the day, you never know.
Have you found a silent drumming solution? Please do leave a comment below with your thoughts, I would love to hear from you.