Drummers are often discouraged when they can’t get their drums to sound good in the room they are normally kept in. To complicate the issue, they will most likely sound very different in other rooms you play them in. I recall buying a new sweet set of Pearls back in the day and spending many weeks thereafter thinking I made a mistake since the things just didn’t sound good in my basement. They sounded AMAZING underneath the high ceilings of Sam Ash…??? Well, this was my first lesson in acoustics. Now I’m not going to act like I have this down to a science but after many tears and sticks thrown at the wall, I became much better at tuning my drums and more conscious of the way they should sound outside of the room I practiced in. A ballroom, a concert hall, a tavern, an unfinished basement, a recording studio… Your drums will sound very different in all of these rooms. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Keep a muffling device nearby. Whether you use tone control drum rings, duct tape, or moon gel is up to you but something should always stay in your gig bag in case you need to make some last minute adjustments.
- To the same effect, always bring a drum key with you when you set your kit up in another place. You do not want to be on a gig and realize your drums should be tighter and have no way of making that happen. A lot of drum keys nowadays are also keychains. If you are like me, you frequently lose drum keys. Putting them on your keychain will help… Hopefully you don’t frequently lose that too…
- Don’t expect your drums to sound like a recording. The raw sound of a drum is like opera to us drum geeks when tuned correctly but to my points above, they will never sound like a recording that has been EQd, mixed, and mastered without the proper production tools.
- Arrive early to tune your drums. If you are playing in a large room with high ceilings but are used to practicing in your garage, you will need to make adjustments. Allow for the proper time to do this.
- Consider putting studio foam around your practice space if it is an unfinished area. This type of foam absorbs sound so it doesn’t bounce all over the room, creating undesirable and uncontrolled tones. Maybe talk with your buddy who knows a thing or two about sound control to make some recommendations.
- Make sure your heads are not dented and your sticks are not cracked. Your drums won’t sound good ANYWHERE if you don’t take time to address the basics.