The bass drum is the driving force behind what you are playing. Without it your drumming will just sound empty, especially if you are playing rock, pop, funk or metal.
There are various ways to get a decent sound out of your bass drum. Some of them involve buying extra pieces, whilst some of them involve just tampering with the drum using household items.
Whatever you decide to do, it’s down to personal preference.
This is the most common form of bass drum dampening. Bass drums can sound very loud and can have too much sustain if nothing is done to them in the first place. The first thing most people do when they get a bass drum is cut a hole in the back skin.
This way the drum will be able to push the air out to give a more punchy sound. The hole should be roughly 15cm in diameter. However, this can vary depending on the size of the drum.
The second step is to fill the drum with material. Most people use and old duvet or pillow. I’d recommend filling the drum up about ¼ of the way with material, however if you want to dampen the sound even more then you can certainly add to this.
There are a few methods that people often use to make the kick drum sound punchier. The first is to tune the drum tighter. To tune you must place your hand on the skin and push downwards so that the skin creases at the sides. You should then tighten up the lugs until all of the creases disappear. The tighter you go the less sustain your bass drum will have.
Another less common technique is the credit card method. This is a relatively unknown method that was used by drummers in the 80’s. All you need is an old credit card and some gaffer tape. At the point on the skin where the beater hits the drum you should gaffer tape the credit card to the skin. This absorbs the impact causing the drum to make a completely different sound all together.
Some people decide to place a whole other drum on the end of their kick drum. This creates one large drum with a lot of depth. This is great if you want to get a heavier sound with more sustain. To do this you need two drums.
You must take the back skin off the first, and the front skin off the second. Then you should gaffer tape them together at the centre. Most people choose to keep both drums empty when using this method as it creates a much bigger sound.
As you can see there are many ways to create different sounds with your bass drum, you just need to experiment and come up with the options that suit your playing style the best. Remember to always listen intently to the room, especially if you are in a recording situation. The ambiance of a room can sometimes be more than enough to create a different sound.
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