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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Drumheads

5. Dampening

The bigger the diameter of the shell, the more focus has to be put on dampening in order to get a handle on the unwanted part of the overtones. The kick drum would be an extreme example – you put a cushion in it. There are 3 approaches to dampening – built in, on the head and on the shell.

Dampening in the drumhead

This variation employs one ore more sound control rings on the inside of the drumhead. The bigger the drum head, the more this method is used. A very good example is the Powersonic by Remo. It has 2 inner control rings. They enhance the low end without building up.

Another internal solution is the before mentioned oil fill. The oil plays an
ActiveDescribes an instrument or speaker system that has its own electronic functions built-in, as opposed to requiring external devices. Active speakers have their own amplifiers built-in, while an active instrument such as a guitar or bass will have electronic controls or a pre-amplifier.
active
roll as a dampener. At the same time the oscillating mass gets higher – the tone lower.

Dampening on the drum head.

This is mostly applied as an extra. Live gigs or studio recording for instance come to mind. The task is to adjust the sound by putting more or less dampening material on the drum heads. Sometimes a tissue and some Gaffa tape will do the job. This is however a rather inelegant approach and also minimizes the playable area of the drum head. On a 8” or 10” tom this can really cause a problem. It better to use sound control rings. They are approximately 2cm wide plastic rings, that just sit loosely on the outside of the drum head. Sound control rings come in sets for the most usual tom sizes. They are excellent to use on a snare drum in particular.

The Powersonic head we were talking about earlier also has an external cushion, that can be attached with buttons. Evans has developed a similar external dampening system called “EMAD”.

TIP: Sound control rings are readily
CutTo make a break or split in a piece of audio. Traditionally this was done with a razor blade where magnetic tape was physically cut.
cut
from old drum heads. Old pinstripes are best – not only do you get 2 rings from one head, the line to
CutTo make a break or split in a piece of audio. Traditionally this was done with a razor blade where magnetic tape was physically cut.
cut
along is already on them.

Dampening on the shell

A foam ring is put between shell and drumhead. The result is an excellent if not extreme grade of dampening. This is best used on the resonate head of the kick drum.

Another internal device that
DampTo reduce vibrations - in music this usually refers to the technique of reducing an instrument's vibrations and overtones by touching it in some way, to shorten the length of the note and deaden the timbre of the sound. For example, a percussionist may place the palm of his hand on the skin of a kettle drum, or a guitarist might use the wrist of his plectrum hand to rest against the strings. Also used to describe the effects of acoustic treatment.
dampen
on the shell are felt
Pad1) An attenuation switch found on many microphones and mixing desks, allowing a signal to be attenuated by one or more fixed amounts, such as -10 or -20dB. 2) A soft, sustained sound used in arranging or sequencing as an unobtrusive harmonic backdrop. This may be a synth sound or a natural sound, typically strings.
pads
, that get more or less pressed against the drum head by an adjustable mechanism.

Dot and Reverse Dot

Both offer a certain dampening and slightly enhance the low end. The tone becomes more focused however. Most of all they lend the drumhead more durability. Often used on a snare, which gets beaten up most anyhow. The reverse dot is glued to the inside of the head. The advantage is a more even play and more consistent rebound compared to the “on top” dot.

Falam patches for the kick drum serve the same purpose – more
PunchTo activate/de-activate recording (punch in/punch out) while a tape machine or DAW is already playing, either manually (typically with a foot pedal) or at a pre-set point.
punch
in the beat and the head lasts longer.

TIP: Tip. You can also use a length of Gaffa for the kick drum. An (expired) credit card underneath delivers an excellent
AttackThe beginning of a sound. Attack defines the time taken for the sound volume to go from silence to maximum level; a critical consideration when applying processing such as compression, gating, etc.
attack
. Make sure to have the writing to the outside.

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