How to Get a Great Drum Sound


May 12, 2023

Getting a great drum sound is essential for a well-recorded mix. Ultimately, the sound of your drums comes down to the drum kit and the drummer playing. The drummer playing the drums, however, is more important when it comes to sound, but there are many ways you can help improve the sound of your kit. Typically the first thing to do is change the drum heads, both the top and bottom. Tuning your drums is also important for a great drum sound. Tuning your drums can sometimes make a cheap drum set sound better than an expensive one. If you want to produce a fuller and clearer tone from your drums, tuning them should be your next step.

You also need to consider that while you can achieve a wide range of pitches, it can also be limited for your overall drum sound. Loose drum heads can result in a thinner and choked drum sound. So how do you find the right pitch for your drums? Now there are many ways you can do this, but the some important factors are the drum’s diameters, thickness of heads, and the type of shell. Usually wider diameters, thicker heads, and lighter drums tend to give you a lower pitch than smaller drum heads with thinner heads. Start with the lowest head tension and gradually increase the tension until you are satisfied with your sound.

To start, each head must be in tune. Then after, the top and bottom heads need to be in tune with each other. Finally, each drum should be in tune with the entire kit. If you want to see if your drum head is in tune, check to make sure there is even tension across the area of the head and it is free of wrinkles. Tap the drum at each point of the tension rod in order to check these. If the pitch is at the same point for each rod, then your drum head is in tune.

Now that we have made these adjustments, here are 5 steps to get your optimal drum sound for your recording set up.

See If You Want to Change Heads: If you find that the sound of your drums are inconsistent and have tuning issues, there is a chance that your heads might be old. The overall condition of a drum head is essential to having a great drum sound.

Now what are the best drum head options? Luckily, there are many types of drum heads in the market that can have an impact on your drum sounds. Usually, you will find 1-ply heads for your bottom heads, while a 2-ply can be excellent for your batter heads. Snare-side heads can be great for the bottom of a snare drum as they provide extra thin materials. Two other great choices include coated and clear heads. Coated heads can provide great overtones and warmth to your drum sound, while clear heads tend to produce more sustained sound.

You can also combine different heads to develop a unique sound out of your drum kit. For instance, you can combine 2-ply coated and 1-ply clear heads to get a mix of two different sounds. This will depend heavily on the genres you play so try to find the best heads for your drums.

Mess Around With Different Stick Types: Different stick tips can help generate various sounds for the way you hit the drums. Some of the most basic types of drumstick tip shapes include oval, acorn, drop, ball, and barrel. Now which one is the best for your style you might ask? Typically you will find drumsticks labelled with a number; lower numbers are thicker sticks and higher numbers are thinner sticks. The most common numbers you’ll see are 2, 5, 7, and 8. The numbers will also be followed by a letter, which are usually ‘A’ or ‘B.’ ‘A’ refers to a lighter stick, while ‘B’ means the stick is a bit heavier. The most common drumstick sizes you will see in the market include 7A (a lighter stick, great for jazz, 5A (a good moderate stick for all types of playing), 5B (a bit heftier than 5A), and 2B (heavy, best for hard rock).

You will also find many drumsticks made from a select group of woods and other materials including maple, hickory, oak, carbon fiber, polyurethane, and aluminum. Maple is a good lightweight wood while aluminum is a lightweight metal option. Hickory and maple are the most common drumstick materials. The type of wood largely determines the weight of the sticks and how they sound.

Play Drums With Little to No Cymbals When Recording: One classic way of recording drums that can be heard in countless recordings throughout the 20th century is playing the drums with little to no cymbals. If you ever become a studio drummer, this technique is essential to have in your bag of drum tricks. Typically in a recording scenario, the cymbals will be recorded right afterwards which will provide more room for bigger sounds with the kick, snare, and toms.

These days, you will see many drummers play with a minimal setup for their drums. For instance, you will see Nate Smith playing mostly with a snare, kick, and hi-hat cymbal. But playing with little to no cymbals can make it easier for recording your own grooves, especially if you’re not as technically proficient and play the drums as a secondary instrument.

Try Muffling Your Drum Sound: One of the more fun modifications you can make to your drum sound is to muffle your parts of your kit. Although drums are designed to have a lot of resonance, sometimes it can get in the way of your sound with an excessive amount. This results in a more “boomy” and less tighter sound with your drums. There are many ways you can achieve this. The most popular method is stuffing a pillow or blanket inside of your kick drum. This will give you a much tighter kick drum sound, removing the excessive resonance of the drum.

With toms and snares, you can utilize gaffer tape to attach some Kleenex to the drum head. It is a simple and cost-effective way to dampen the sound of your drums. This option is not exactly the classiest looking one out there as it can make your drum kit look kind of ugly. If you want a more professional looking dampening option, check out tone rings. Tone rings are thin plastic rings that do an excellent job controlling the overall ring and resonance of your toms and snare drum.

Add a Hole/Port to Your Kick Drum: If you want to improve the sound of your kick drum, adding a hole or port to it can be a great modification. There are many benefits to adding a port to your kick drum. The first being that kick drum ports allow sufficient air to escape when the beater makes contact with the drum. This will significantly improve the resonance of your kick drum, giving them a punchier sound. Another benefit has to do with recording. Having a port on the front of your kick drum allows you to have a microphone to be placed without removing the drum head from the front of the kick drum.

Fadr allows you to extract the instruments, vocals, midi, and chords from any song, then use AI to create great remixes and mashups instantly. And best of all, it's largely free for life, with a couple pro features saved for the premium subscription. Use the Stems Page to start uploading songs, and the Remix Page to try AI remixes!

As always, thanks for using Fadr, and we can’t wait to hear what you make next! Send us your creations on Instagram and Tik Tok! If you have any feedback or suggestions for the site, please fill out our Contact Form.

Sources: [Drum Magazine] ( [Drumeo] ( [Evermore Sound] ( [Drumming Insider] (