Rhythm Top Ten Tips: Damping (Part 1)

Drummers are very quick these days to cover their heads in gaffer tape or try out the latest new-fangled gadget, but we say don´t be wet, here's everything you need to know about damping!

1. Damping should be a last resort. The whole idea of a drum is it´s built to resonate and sustain.

2. If you damp your drums too much, they will sound dead and you´ll struggle to make yourself heard over the rest of the band.

3. Be careful when tuning. Getting the same pitch all around the drum, will in any case often remove the need to dampen.

4. Alternatively, once the head is in tune, sometimes de-tuning a single lug will take away just the right amount of the ring.

5. Damping should not be a substitute for careful tuning. Nothing is worse than a kit plastered in bits of sticky tape.

6. Having said that, now and then a small amount of damping is necessary - especially when being close-miked live, or recording.

7. Traditional solutions include a string of tape positioned near the edge of the drum, maybe continuing just over the top metal rim.

8. To cut out a few more overtones, put a small, folded piece of tissue paper underneath the tape.

9. For even lighter damping, a loop or two of tape (sticky side outwards) can be dropped on the head in strategic positions.

10. You can cut your own ‘O´ rings out of old heads. Try using just a quarter or third of a circle and taping it very lightly at the edge.

Chris Barnes

I'm MusicRadar's eCommerce Editor. In addition to testing the latest music gear, with a particular focus on electronic drums, it's my job to manage the 300+ buyer's guides on MusicRadar and help musicians find the right gear for them at the best prices. I dabble with guitar, but my main instrument is the drums, which I have been playing for 24 years. I've been a part of the music gear industry for 20 years, including 7 years as Editor of the UK's best-selling drum magazine Rhythm, and 5 years as a freelance music writer, during which time I worked with the world's biggest instrument brands including Roland, Boss, Laney and Natal.