DRUM DAMPENERS – Which One Is Best For You?

Over time drummers are getting more and more options for getting rid of the overtones on drums and dampening them.  When I first started drumming moon gels were the main dampener of choice, and to a large extent they still are.  However, with all the new dampening systems coming into the market, it’s become worth exploring which one works the best for your purposes.  In this article I will discuss a handful of dampening options and what their particular strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to dampening the sound of your drums.


Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 8.21.26 PMAs seen in the picture above, these are very different than the stick on circular dampeners that are becoming popular with drummers.  These are plastic, laminated rings made to fit the inside diameter of your drums so you just throw it on their and let it do its thing.  Many different companies make these but the REMO version pictured seem to be the most popular.

You don’t have to stick anything and it comes off as easily as it’s thrown on.  It can also look cool on your drums, especially the white rings.  They are also very cheap and come in packs so you can use them on all your drums.   These are great for beginners who just want to get rid of the overtones and not necessarily get too technical about it with gels and other dampeners.  The issue with these are that they can look tacky at a gig and don’t do the best job getting rid of overtones.  Plus, unlike the gels you don’t have too many options with how much ring to take out and leave.


Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 8.24.40 PMTo be honest I haven’t personally used these myself, but I’ve listened to a lot of drummers that use these as dampeners and I love the way their drums sound.  They come in packs of four for $10.95.  From appearance, they look like an upgraded version of the traditional moon gels, at a slightly higher cost.  Since they are clear they won’t leave colored splotches on your drumheads when you remove them.  I can’t say too much more on these because I haven’t used them but if you guys have feel free to email me and let me know how you like them! (attorneydrummer@gmail.com)


Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 8.26.17 PMAll Right! These babies are one of the most commonly used methods of dampeners.  Although they feel and look like sticky boogers, they were a major innovation in dampening when they first came out many years ago and really allowed drummers to customize the amount of dampening they want.  Just like the drum dots and other gels, you can place these in different places on the drumhead (batter side), and experiment with different levels of dampening.  You get 6 pads for $7.39, so definitely more bang for your buck.  BUT! Be warned.  These can get really gross as they get older.  They are really sticky and hair, dust, and wood chips get stuck to them over time making them gross and un-reusable.  They will also leave behind a little color on your drumhead, it bothers me but it might not be an issue for you.  If you’re new to the dampening these are a good starting point.


Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 8.28.06 PMWith a creative name that fits its purpose, next up is Vater’s Buzz Kills. A pack of 4 will run you $13.46.  I actually have tried these and anticipate them to be similar to the drum dots, although I could be wrong.  These are a little larger than I expected, but only slightly.  I really wasn’t expecting to like these but I was pleasantly surprised!  I like my drums really damp and one of these buzz kills goes a long way.  I usually use Drumtacs (see below), and I found myself needing to use less buzz kills than I do drumtacs because they dampen more.  I haven’t had them for a long time so I don’t know if they will stick onto the dust, wood chips and other debris, but they seem a lot cleaner than moon gels and have a denser feel than other dampeners. You can also try to cut them in half for less dampness but I think that would get messy and these are best used as they are.  I highly recommend you try these if you like a really dry sound!


Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 8.30.30 PMThese are slowly becoming the new industry standard in drum dampeners.  They are foam based so they don’t stick onto dirt and debris like the gel based dampeners, and they are easy to cut, customize and re-use.  These also stand out because they are more versatile than other dampeners.  For example, you can put them on the resonant side of your drum, on top or  bottom of your cymbals, and virtually anywhere else you want to try!  You can cut them with a pair of scissors with no mess, and if you want to reuse them all you have to do it use alcohol on the adhesive side of the drumtac and it will re-ignite the stickiness.  They are more expensive though – a pack of 4 is $19.99, over double the price of moongels.  They are worth it in some ways because they do last a while if you take care of them.  However, I noticed that I need to use a lot of these to get the level of dampening I want on my drums.  They definitely look cleaner and nicer than gel dampeners; it’s all a matter of preference.  Regardless, if you are looking for a serious dampening tool these are a must try!

Treasure in disguise From Church Pew to Drum Set

From Church Pew to Drum Set

We would love to build a one of a kind drum kit from wood that is special to your congregation or from the pews we salvaged from an old church in Calhoun, GA.  These kits not only have a rich, spiritual history attached to them; they also sound amazing! Contact us at 229-347-2853 or email us at michael@outlawdrums.com

Outlaw Drums has distinguished itself from other drum companies through their use of recycled wood to build their classic drums. DSC_5031
Instead of cutting down trees at a time where it is critical for the world to become more eco friendly, Outlaw Drums uses old buildings, structures, or any other wood they can find that is no longer used or needed, and turns them into their classic drums.  As they say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, and this is nothing short of the inspiration on which Outlaw Drums functions. This method of using recycled wood isn’t just environmentally friendly, rather, the aged wood allows for the grains of the wood to tighten up making for a beautiful and unique sound with each drum built.  Every piece of wood used it unique and has its own story, thus, once built into a drum, that uniqueness is carried over to the drum, giving it a one of a kind voice and story that is different from every other drum in the world.

DSC_5002            In 2015 Outlaw Drums took this concept to another level when Gillionville Baptist Church in Albany, GA was in need of a drum set for the worship services. That’s when Michael Outlaw took old church pew that came from a church in Calhoun County GA, and with a lot of hard work and some incredible skills, Mr. Outlaw turned that old pew into a gorgeous one of a kind Outlaw Drum set. That same drum set is now used at the Gillionville BaptisIMG_1261t Church and Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 9.51.08 PMallowed another opportunity to serve!  Click on the link below to see the beautiful rejuvenation and Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 9.49.51 PMtransformation of this old church pew into a gorgeous one of a kind Outlaw Drum set.  Watch Michael Outlaw as he removes 30 year old gum from the pew and create a work of art for Gillionville Baptist Church!


Product Review by Brian Hill


Anytime I come across an early American drum, I’m interested. When the drum in question can be somehow identified, I’m really interested. But how often do you come across a drum maker that identifies the origins of his drum making story to a civil war soldier and his house? Now you have my attention. Michael Outlaw attributes the origins of the drums he builds to an old dilapidated building he saw on the verge of being torn down and destroyed back in 2006. DSC_4942Looking for something different to build with, he asked for some of the wood from the house and took a load of it away to his shop.

The wood came from the former home of Charles Edward Wilder, who as a youth in the 1860’s, enlisted in the 17th Georgia (GA) Infantry as a private. A large portion of the 17th GA’s service was as part of Benning’s GA Brigade in Hood’s Division, Longstreet’s Corps, operating in the Army of Northern Virginia. Wilder fought in many of the Civil War’s most notable battles in both the Eastern and Western Theaters. Surviving the War, Wilder received 10 acres near Albany, GA from the State for his service as that was about all that was available to the returning veterans for any means of compensation.1---Copy-(2) The land was rich with virgin long leaf pine trees suitable for building. Charles Wilder built the house from the wood of those trees in the 1880’s; the very same house Michael Outlaw procured wood from to build the first Outlaw Drums well over 100 years later.

Why is the wood so special? Most of it dates back toward the 1600’s. These trees grew at an exceptionally slow rate of growth. DSC_9004_1They were virgin American trees that typically lived over 300 years and could grow to over 150 feet high. The resin in the wood was thick and the grow rings tight. Harvested from houses, mills, and barns built before 1900, the wood has had plenty of time to age and dry naturally. This results in very special sound quality characteristics that new growth wood just doesn’t seem to have.

Hailing from Sylvester, Georgia, Michael Outlaw, the master wood craftsman behind Outlaw Drums, combines his skills as an accomplished furniture maker with the drummer within him. DSC_2005 (1)I’ve found in researching the company that Michael has done a fine job in marketing the brand, so I’ll try not to be too redundant in what he has already made available. His presence on the web is solid and informative. He includes the history, current reviews, process, galleries, sound bites and videos.

I first ran into Outlaw drums at the 2014 Nashville Drum Show. The display was very eye-catching, built to resemble the old shacks the wood for his drums originated from. DSC_0373But it was the drums within the booth that weren’t something I could just walk away from. They were beautiful! Something I don’t think I’ve seen before was the textured wood on the outside of the shell. After taking a good look I started tapping. They sounded as good as they looked. By the end of the show, Michael ended up sending a drum and a wooden bass drum beater home with me to review for Not So Modern Drummer Magazine.

The drum I picked was one from the Heart Pine Reborn group; a stave construction combination of new growth maple and old growth heart pine. The shell measures 5”x 14” with 24 half inch thick staves of pine and maple equally alternating. The combination of the two woods made a great sound; lively and solid no matter how I tuned it. It also contained that “thump” I’ve come to love in those old growth, stave constructed drums that makes them sound like much beefier tubs.

The sensitivity and snare response was also incredible. Everything from a hard hitting backbeat to ghost notes came out crystal clear regardless of tuning. Cranking it up brought out very crisp, solid notes. Low-end tuning brought out even fatter sound qualities. Very quiet playing still netted great snare response, again, regardless of the tuning pitch. No matter how hard I hit the drum, I couldn’t get it to choke; performing very well in the big rooms and outside situations. DSC02759With snares off, the drum has a great sound, full and clean. The lively-ness of the drum without the snares on sounded great with Latin tunes. My personal opinion is that this is a top-notch, all-around “go-to” drum.

Since the overall vibe of Outlaw drums tends to pull on the heart-chains of my American history “Jones,” the notion to try a calf skin head naturally came to mind. I generally keep a few mounted skins in my shop that I receive from CT Pro Percussion for just this purpose. The sound of calf skin on this drum was truly exceptional. Very warm and responsive, the drum took on the tone of a much older sounding instrument while remaining quite sensitive and crisp over-all.

This particular model came with chrome plated hardware including triple-flanged hoops, tube lugs, vent grommet, and a George Way “beer tap” throw off by Gibraltar.DSC02753 Top and bottom feature Evans Level 360 heads along with sixteen-strand Puresound snares. The Outlaw Drum badge is solid brass and made to reflect the U.S. Forestry Service badges in honor of the history and repurposing of this native American wood. The bearing edges are a double 45 degree design.

Each Outlaw drum I played had a uniquely individual sound quality. This is in part to the actual lumber used as well as the combinations of wood, dimensions, heads, and hardware selected. Wood choices include, but are not limited to, White Pine, Maple, Oak, Vintage Cypress and Fur, Sapele, Lyptus, Southern Yellow Pine, and of course…..Heart Pine. There is a full and ever-changing selection of wood and hardware finishes also available for your choosing.

Complete stave constructed drum kits are available in a variety of sizes and finishes to match any snare they make.   There is also a line of kick drum beaters affectionately known as the “Hammer.” This wooden beater will bring exceptional power and massive thump out of your kick with its incredibly dense wood, each with three angled impact choices.

outlaw1Michael Outlaw has hit a complete home run as a drum builder, all while managing to bring the history of the wood that has touched countless lives in countless ways back to life in the voice of a drum. From out of the Southland, these drums look good enough to be thought of as fine American furniture. There is even a hand-cut nail still attached in the wood shell from when it was part of a building. Closer inspection of the interior found an old nail hole still present in the old wood. If the history is still with the wood when comes into the shop, there’s good chance it will still be attached when it leaves the Outlaw Drum Shop as a drum. All-in-all….this drum just sounds great!

From Lancaster County, PA…….Thoughts from the shop.

Brian Hill




Thinking about making a YouTube drum video? If so, you’re reading the right article for you! And if you’re not, a lot of the things I talk about here will be good information if you decided to every make any kind of video on YouTube! (Things with an “*” will be discussed in later articles).


To begin, there is the biggest factor: being a great drummer. This will obviously help you get hits, but believe it or not you could still be an amazing drummer and get very few views. I’ll get into the other factors shortly, but before that I want to talk about why drumming in a YouTube video is different from drumming in real life. In a real gig, the main thing you focus on is playing the song right. In a YouTube video not only do you have to do this, but to be “great” on YouTube means you have to be visually captivating and entertaining to watch play. I’m not saying you need to set your drumsticks on fire and do fire drumming for your videos! However, to be engaging you need to look like you are having fun while playing. That will go a long way. On top of that you see a lot of drummers hitting harder than they normally would at a gig, or doing stick tricks a lot during a video when in a live gig that’s something the drummer would tone down quite a bit. Thus, when recording your drum video don’t be afraid to let loose a little and really get into it! Don’t forget that the tricks and flashy stuff are still the cherry on top and the foundation must still be a solid play through of whatever song you are recording.


Another big factor is the quality of your audio and visuals. Beginning with AUDIO – Personally, this part annoys me because recording drums are more difficult than recording any other instrument. Not to mention it’s very expensive to get all the equipment you need for a “pro” sound. If you have the money or access, you want to mic all your drums and have some overheads at the least.* STAY TUNED FOR AN ARTICLE ON RECORDING DRUMS FOR MORE INFO!* If you don’t have the money, do what you can. Even one mic on the snare and one on the bass drum can go a long way. If you can’t afford any mics, don’t worry about it! Make do with what you have and just record without mics, with technology on our phones and cameras these days the sound quality will actually come out fairly decent. Outlaw Drums uses a very simple un expensive setup. 8 channel interface audiobox combined with garageband on a mac book pro.

Note: mics need to be connected to an interface* You will also need some type of music recording software like Garageband or Pro Tools.*


Moving on to VISUALS: The same general rules go for visuals. In a drum cover, the more camera angles you have the better. People have a low attention span and by changing angles every 5-10 seconds it will help keep your audience more engaged. There are two ways to get multiple camera angles: 1) record the song over and over placing the camera in a different location on each take, or 2) get multiple cameras and record the different angles in one take. Option two will cost you a lot more money than option one, so once again, make do with what you have. Editing will be more difficult with option 1 and if you don’t play the same thing in every take, the final edit may come out weird and choppy. If you only have one camera, maybe just use one angle for your first video until you get the hang of things more.

Note: You will need editing software to put the music together with the visuals and for editing the video footage. Most computers come with software like iMovie or Windows movie maker; the most popular and easiest to use software is Final Cut Pro.*



Finally we have the “other” visual aspect of your video. Filming in a big empty field or somewhere in nature has been a popular and successful choice for drum cover location shoots, and if you can make it happen go for it. Realistically, you will be in a studio or at home. In a studio you can’t really decorate your surroundings so focus on your drum set up.* Don’t worry if you don’t have a super tricked out drum set with lots of cymbals, it’s all about how you play the kit you have, not about what your kit looks like. With that said it doesn’t hurt to dust off your drums, (if you’re OK with this) polish your cymbals, change your drumheads, and try to keep things looking clean and shiny so they look nice on camera.

The home setting is where you can really do a lot to distinguish yourself and make your video appealing to viewers. Ideally, you have your drums set up in an area where you have walls around you or behind you. Decorate these walls! Make them an expression of who you are and show people your interests and passions through art, posters, pictures, and accolades, whatever it is that reflects who you are. This will take you from being just another drummer playing a song, to someone who people can relate to that viewers want to subscribe to, follow, and get know better! Don’t forget to use your bass drum to put stickers of your favorite drum companies!




Those are the three major factors. To recap: 1) drumming skill and entertainment factor 2) audio and visual quality and 3) surroundings and physical location and drum setup. There are other smaller things to consider as well which I’ll cover briefly.

Timing is something to consider. If a new hit song comes out chances are people are going to be YouTubing it (YouTube is the #1 place people listen to music). So if you release a drum cover of a song that just went viral, your chances of getting views will increase.

Song choice will also make a little difference. Still, a good video is a good video. If you like metal music and want to play a less popular metal song as opposed to a top 40 pop hit, go for it. If you happen to like top 40 music then you’re in luck because it’s easier to get people to watch a drum cover when it’s played to a song they know or like.

Other things to consider are to keep upping your game with each video. Try to do different things and keep it fresh with your videos. Take feedback you get and incorporate it into your videos. Collaborate with other drummers and musicians. This is your channel, don’t be afraid to get creative!

Otherwise, have fun guys! That’s what it’s all about. You don’t have to do any of the things I talked about in this article but I am willing to bet you it won’t hurt your chances of getting more views! You never know what video will go viral so if you’re trying to monetize your video, make sure you select the ads in your settings so that you don’t get a million hits later and realize you never monetized your video, there’s no going back at that point.


HOPE THIS HELPS! If you have any questions about drums or music law, or requests for topics email me at drumm3rgrl@gmail.com. Thanks!

5 Bad Habits Drummers Must Break To Become Great

5 Bad Habits Drummers Must Break To Become Great


In this article I will discuss five (5) bad habits that most drummers find themselves doing and must break in order to become a great drummer. Hopefully you have already broken these habits, even if you haven’t, this will be a great refresher course to remind you of the things you should try to do consistently in order to improve as a drummer. Let’s get into it!



I cannot stress this one enough, which is why it’s the first habit we discuss. If you don’t play with a metronome, stop right now and go order one. More than any other instrument, keeping time is of vital importance to being a great drummer. In fact, it’s everything! When you record in a studio you will almost always have a click going on in your headphones when you play to a song, and you must be able to comfortably follow that click tempo. Also, you will notice that other people in the band you play with or other non-drummers aren’t on top of the time, which is another reason you need to be. They will slow down and speed up and it’s up to you to have a steady pulse.

There shouldn’t be an excuse not to use a metronome when you practice. They can be small so you can carry them around with you. You can even buy a metronome app for very cheap and always have a metronome on your phone, which will really give you no excuse not to use one!

If you have the money, I suggest purchasing a “Tama Rhythm Watch”. This metronome is in my opinion the best and allows you to easily switch tempos and play around with the type of click you get, whether it’s a triplet pattern, sixteenth note pulse, or simply quarter notes.

The drummer is the heart of the band; the steady pulse and heartbeat that keeps the rest of the group together, you must harness this skill to become a Jedi drummer.



I don’t really teach lessons, but sometimes I’ll teach my friends how to play something, and EVERY time, they try to play way faster than they are ready to. This habit is one that I still have trouble breaking because we want to be able to play something up to tempo, but if we don’t have the fundamentals down, we will play really sloppy and sabotage our drumming ability.

Technique is what allows you to play well, and you cannot develop technique if you have a habit of playing faster than you are ready for. How do you know if you’re playing too fast? Ask yourself, does this beat sound as smooth as when the pros play it? Is it in sync with the metronome? Am I relaxed when playing or am I tensing up to be able to speed up? You want to be able to answer “Yes” to those questions before moving up in tempo. If you can play it slow, you can play it fast, but you can’t always play something slow if you can play it fast. Try it, it’s true.

So bottom line, make sure your grip is relaxed and your technique is correct at a slow tempo, and slowly speed it up while maintaining those attributes. Breaking the playing too fast habit will really make your drumming sound MUCH better and cleaner.



Similar to bad habit #2, do not attempt things on the drums that you are not ready for. I am talking about things like stick tricks, fills, double bass, brushes, and more, in addition to the speed factor. Here’s an example: we know that to make a successful YouTube video you have to be entertaining and engaging. In drum videos this translates to smashing into your drums with passion while doing crazy stick tricks.

This bad habit really bugs me because it’s so frustrating to see someone be able to do an awesome stick trick in a video but barely be able to keep time and play the drums properly. Get your priorities in check! You must learn to play the song well on the drums before adding the flare and entertainment aspects into your drumming!

Going back to other aspects of drumming, such as double bass, make sure you can play with one foot well before you add the other. If you jump in the water with a double bass drum pedal, chances are that you will never develop your single foot abilities and that will really come back to hurt you in your drumming career. Brushes are lower on this scale, but don’t buy a pair of brushes and smother them all over your drums causing bent wires and other bad stuff. Learn how to use them properly by watching tutorials online, or learning from your teacher or a friend. These tools are precious and you don’t want to get into the habit of buying something, not knowing how to use it, destroying it, and then figure out you were using it incorrectly only to need a new tool because you ruined your old one.

Again, DO NOT play something faster than you can really play it! Learn how to play something slow and in time. Then, SLOWLY increase the tempo by 5 bpm at a time until you get to your target tempo. Watch out for fills in particular, we all tend to play these too fast and speed up when we play fills. BOTTOM LINE: take it easy and learn how to do something right before doing it, and start slow.



We’re now at bad habit #4, and that is breaking the habit of not using practice time efficiently and effectively.

Let’s look at examples of efficient use of time vs. waste of time.

Efficient Use of Practice Time:

  • Using a metronome
  • Going through rudiments in a book that you’ve been working through
  • Learning a new fill, groove, or beat
  • Working on speed
  • Strengthening fundamentals (i.e. double stroke roll, buzz rolls, single stroke roll)
  • Active listening

Waste of time:

  • Playing your favorite beat that you always play over and over again.
  • Playing to a songs you already know really well and have played many times already
  • Just jamming around
  • Playing things you already know how to play well

Using practice time in an effective manner will do wonders for you as a musician and drummer. This is a really bad habit that SOOO many musicians have and want to break, but they get lazy or just don’t change for some reason. Learning one new thing a day is a great way to improve.

I get it though; sometimes it’s fun to play your favorite beat or song over again for some confidence boosting. Jamming is also something that’s really fun to do! I love sitting behind the kit and just playing around, and don’t get me wrong, it’s good to do these things if you feel like it because it’s important to have fun playing drums. Just don’t do it all the time. Whether you’re playing as a professional or just for fun as a hobby, a strict practice regiment is still important for you to grow and not get bored or stuck with where you are musically.

ONE MORE THING! Note that you won’t always get a chance to sit behind a drum set. Sometimes it’s late or we don’t have our drums with us etc. Thus, learning to practice away from the drums is very important! You can do this by playing on a practice pad, on a pillow, using your hands and feet and patting your knees while stomping on the floor, or just actively listening to drum parts on songs!

If you need a good book to start going through check out my blog post on 5 BEST BOOKS FOR DRUMMING and you can pick one of those to start incorporating into your practice sessions. Using your time well means that you can get more done in less time, leaving you more time to do whatever you want on the drums when you’re finished practicing!



Last one! Keeping a positive Attitude will go a long way in music and in life. If you’re like me, sometimes watching videos of drummers like Mike Mangini, Thomas Pridgen, Thomas Lang, Anika Niles, Hannah Ford Welton, Travis Barker, Matt Garstka, Mike Johnson, and other pros can be cool, but also discouraging because they are just SO GOOD! You wonder if you can ever reach that level…but don’t let that discourage you my fellow drummers! Let them inspire you and teach you new things. Drummers need to work as part of a community and not as competitors!

Especially when you first start off, playing drums can be SO frustrating! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve throw my stick across the room or smashed it into my snare drum because I was mad I kept playing something wrong. But hang in there, be patient, and take it slow. I promise you will get to where you want to be if you stay patient and work hard, and efficiently 😉

Use the tools around you to constantly learn new things and to challenge yourself. We are lucky to live in a time where the Internet offers everything we could need at our fingertips! Go on YouTube and watch other drummers. Check out blogs like this and read more about drumming and the drumming greats. Listen to all genres of music and learn to play drums to all of them even though you may not like certain types of music as much as others. Being open minded as a drummer is part of having a great attitude, which you need to succeed in life and as a drummer.


Thanks for reading guys! If you have any questions about drums or law email me at drumm3rgrl@gmail.com. Also, feel free to email me requests for topics you want me to write about!