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Studio Hacks for Drummers

Updated: Mar 24

Hey everyone, Jack here! In this tutorial, I’ll be going through some basic studio drum hacks that I and countless other drummers use during recordings. It pays to be resourceful!


Gaffer tape on drums

Gaffer Tape


First of all, gaffer tape is super useful to dampen your drum sound, because you can use as little or as much as you need. It’s mighty sticky though - if you have new drum heads on, expect them to get dirty. You can use small strips for incremental dampening, or go further by covering a whole area on a drum. You can also use it to tape down other dampening items if they keep moving around on the drum itself.


Is your cymbal stand slipping? Did you leave your stop locks at home? Or do you want to prolong the life of a stand that just sucks? Loop gaffer tape around the cymbal stand tube 3-4 times at the preferred height to keep your stand from moving during your session. This also works for other pieces of hardware on the drum kit.


If your cymbal stand has no cymbal sleeves, cut a 2cm wide piece of gaffer tape and wrap it around the bottom of the thread of the cymbal tilter to help relieve any unwanted rattle coming from the cymbal into the stand.


Sometimes cymbals can be a bit harsh in the studio. Applying some gaffer tape to the underside can help make crash cymbals less washy and give ride cymbals more definition.


If you’re worried about busting your brand new bass drum skin and you don’t have an impact patch, cut about 2-3 pieces of gaffer tape 10cm in length and stick it on the head where the beater meets the skin. Adding more layers of gaffer tape will increase the attack of the beater, so it can be very useful if you are looking to play heavier styles of music.


Cardboard rim on a snare drum

Cardboard


Cut out a disc of cardboard that is just a tad smaller than the inside of your floor tom and put it inside the floor tom for a naturally gated sound. This works best with lighter cardboard. Another method is to gaffer tape cardboard to the rim of your drum, with the cardboard touching the head, to create a gated sound - maybe even with a small piece of blue tack on top of the cardboard to provide extra weight.


You can also cut a small piece of cardboard and put it between the bass drum pedal and the bass drum hoop to protect the hoop from getting wrecked, or cut cardboard into a ring to use as a dampening ring.


Old Drumheads


You can create your very own snare drum or tom tom dampener by taking an old drumhead and making a cut out just after the collar curve. You can cut the head into a ring, for a mild effect, or keep it whole, for that full vintage dampened sound.


For added longevity or dampening without losing the feel of your snare drum skin, cut a 10cm round piece from a drumhead and glue or gaffer tape it to the back side of your snare drum skin.


Also, if the snare wire on the bottom of your snare drum falls off, never fear. Cut a 20cm long and 2cm wide strip out of an old drumhead, and you will instantly have a new snare drum wire strap to hold your snare wire for the whole session.


A chain on a cymbal for some jazz sizzle

Miscellaneous Stuff


For jazz vibes, get an instant sizzle sound by tying a small ball style chain together in a loop and placing it on​​ top of a cymbal.


Tea towels from the kitchen can be useful if you are looking for that deadened Beatles drum tone. Alternatively, a piece of paper on top of a snare drum can help you get a fatter sound.


A leftover cymbal stand can be a handy cowbell holder if you don’t have a cowbell mount on you.


For a super heavy attack on your bass drum sound, tape a 50 cent piece to your bass drum skin at the point of impact. You could also try a Vegemite jar lid. And make sure you use a wooden beater for that super clicky sound - I got that trick from my cousin who played in punk and hardcore bands.


A fun studio hack for a boomy, rounded bass drum sound is to grab a microphone windshield and put it over the top of your bass drum beater. Make sure you put something over the windshield to protect it, or it will rip very quickly. Alternatively, bunch some socks over the beater… smells good!


And lastly - if you’re in a pinch and need more cymbal felts, you can simply rip the ones you have in half to get a spare.


There are sooo many more drum hacks out there - especially from drummers like rdavidr on YouTube. Next time you’re in a spot of equipment-related bother, or you have a tonal challenge in front of you, try to use some of these ideas to innovate and get yourself in business. Have fun experimenting!

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