How can I play Drums in an Apartment?
How can I play drums in an apartment?
“Can you also play quieter?”
Acoustic drum kits are inherently very loud. Every drummer who regularly plays with other musicians has at some point heard the phrase: “Can you also play quieter?” Of course, the volume also depends on the type of music you play. Rock music and in particular heavy metal simply has to be played loudly so that it sounds powerful, while traditional jazz simply requires a completely different dynamic. Playing softly is not that easy either, and this is also something that needs special practice. We drummers don’t have a volume knob that you just turn down. All the motions and hand movements work completely differently when we play soft. Furthermore, you have to develop a feel for getting the right volume ratios between the individual instruments (bass drum, snare drum and HiHat) right. This is an important point in order to be able to sound powerful and energetic despite playing quietly!
So how can you play the drums in an apartment?
Acoustic Drums vs E-Drums:
Electronic drum sets have become very popular, especially in recent years, and I myself recommend e-drum sets for beginners who live in apartments in a city. The advantage is obvious, because e-drums are very quiet and are now also available for the price of an acoustic beginner drum set, which is around €600. You can use the internal sounds or trigger external sounds from a computer via a MIDI interface. This is actually where the really interesting potential of an e-drum set lies, since you can create sounds that cannot be implemented with acoustic drums.
If you’re a beginner and have access to a room that’s soundproof or away from other apartments, I always recommend a real, loud acoustic drum kit. The feel just isn’t nearly the same as an e-drumset. Not even a €8000 high-end e-drumset can match the feel of a real drum kit. Especially when performing live with a band, the fun factor is often neglected and I find an electronic instrument completely unsuitable for very dynamic music such as traditional jazz.
Can you turn down the Volume of an Acoustic Drum Kit?
Short answer: Yes, and there are several options. First of all, it is already possible to make the instrument quieter purely by selecting the drum sizes and also the thickness of the drum sticks. In any case, a bass drum with an 18″ diameter is quieter than one with a 22″ diameter. There are also very big differences in various Cymbals. Thin cymbals are generally quieter than thicker cymbals. Another problem, which also exists with e-drums, is the footfall noise caused by playing the pedals on the floor. A thick carpet can help and if this is not enough, use a small pedestal on which the instrument can be placed. In order to be able to use acoustic drums in an apartment, however, these measures are not sufficient. Another possibility to reduce the volume are strongly dampening drumheads especially made for practicing: Here are two models from well-known brands:
– Remo Silentstrokes
These are so-called mesh heads like those used on e-drums. These drumheads are made of synthetic fabric and are pulled over the drum shell like real drumheads.
– Rtom Black Hole
These drumheads are similar to the Silentstrokes, however these drumheads are placed over the drums. The feel is better than with the Silentstrokes and you can remove them in a very short time if you want to play the undamped drums. The sound is also much better than the Silentstrokes. In contrast to the Silentstroke drumheads, you can still hear the original sound of the drums. You can even tune these drumheads. The Rtom Black Hole drumheads are also much more expensive than the Remo Silentstrokes. However, in my opinion, they are currently the best drumheads for practicing drums on the market. But what about the noisy cymbals? Here, too, there is a solution from two well-known manufacturers:
– Zildjian L80
– Sabian Quiet Tone
The two cymbal series are quite similar. There are many small holes in the cymbals, which makes them much quieter and the feel is still much better than e-drum cymbals. By using these drumheads and cymbals, the volume of the drum kit can be reduced by around 80%. I personally prefer the Zildjian L80 Cymbals. They are a bit quieter than the Sabian Qiet Tone Cymbals. The Sabian Cymbals also have a bit more mid tones than the Zildjian L80s.
In this video drummer Nick D’Virgilio demonstrates the Rtom Black Hole heads together with the Zildjian L80 cymbals:
How can I play drums in an apartment?
In my opinion, the easiest and cheapest option for playing drums in an apartment is an electronic drum set. The volume is even lower than with the dampened drumheads and cymbals (Rtom and L80s). For the price of the drumheads and cymbals alone you get a complete e-drum set. For drummers who are very sensitive to the feel of real drums, the drumheads and cymbals mentioned above make sense!
About the author:
Mag.art. Florian Stöger
- IGP – Jazz drums/percussion instrumental studies at the university of music and performing arts in Vienna. Jazz drum lessons with Manfred Krenmair, Prof. Fritz Ozmec and Prof. Mario Lackner, classical percussion lessons with Prof. Oliver Madas.
- Guest Student at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles/Hollywood.
- Private lessons and Masterclasses with: Thomas Lang, Jojo Mayer, Bernard Galane, Dave Elitch, Gorden Campbell.
- Many years of teaching expierience: Drum teacher at the Musik- und Kunstschule Waidhofen an der Ybbs, VHS Heiligenstadt and Borg Krems an der Donau. Since 2020 Drum I am the drum teacher at Borg St. Pölten.
- Many concerts with Coverbands und songwriters different musical styles.
- Teacher at the Vienna Drum School