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.
As 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.
To 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! (email@example.com)
All 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.
With 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!
These 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!