Drum Dampening, A Necessary Evil
When you’re looking for a solution to stop the annoying overtones your drums are producing, finding the best drum dampeners can be a headache.
Plenty Of Dampening Choices
The best choice for drum dampeners for your drum kit are the following 8 based on ratings, reviews, and personal experience:
- Moon gel
- Remo RemOs tone control
- Big Fat Snare Drum Steve’s Donut
- Snareweight M1B leather tone control dampener
- Remo Muff L Ring Control
- Aquarian TA1 t-Tab Tone Modifiers
- Pearl Clip-On External Drum
- Gaffer tape or duct tape (DIY dampening)
Listen, I know the struggles you have with getting that perfect live sound. The tone of the drum is a mystical and beautiful thing. The good news is, you have plenty of options!
The Best Drum Dampeners Unleashed!
Whether you are a professional drummer or just starting, drum dampening is something you will or have spent a lot of time on.
Acoustic Drums can give off unwanted overtones and we have to control them if we want to be happy with our sound.
To help your sound, you can only tighten your snare wires so much and forget about your drum keys, tuning is only a part of the battle. Let’s talk the best drum dampeners.
1. Moon gel (or rather, Moongel)
Moongel damper pads are made from a soft, non-toxic gel and come in a plastic case with 6. They measure about 1″x1.25″ and are available in blue or white, with blue being the originally available color.
You can control unwanted overtones effectively with this. They can be stuck on any surface of your drums, cymbals, and most percussion instruments.
You can experiment by moving the gel around the surface of the drumhead or the cymbal. Just throw one or several of these on any edge of your drum and you’re good to go.
These little things can completely change the sound of your drums and are also reusable. If you get them dirty, just wash them with mild soap and warm water.
Then, clean them off with a rag and they’re good as new. They really do last a long time. Other drummers have talked about how they’ve cut them in half (or more) for less dampening and more variety.
You could also use multiple Moongel on one drum for even more sound control. You can also use these on your resonant heads, but if you are a hard hitter (or play out a lot), you may lose them.
Some other great things that have been said about them is they give a little more punch to the sound of your toms, cuts ring back and adds just enough attack, and they also are cheaper than a lot of other options.
Some negative reviews drummers have left are about them sticking together and being difficult to remove, or that they are too small.
I’ve been using Moongel since at least 2007/2008. I like that I can still retain the full volume of my drums with these bad boys and remove the right amount of overtones.
Although, I just use them on my snare drum. I will agree that they can be hard to pull a part, but really only when you leave them in your car or anywhere the heat effects the consistency of the gel.
They also can leave residue on your batter head if you leave them, especially (once again) when heat is involved.
As of this writing, I was trying to find my extra Moongel packs and found one in my car. The elements have destroyed it and it is one gooey mess.
However, this is always an excellent product to use no matter what percussive instruments you may need dampened! These are the best drum dampeners for me.
There are other drum gel products by different brands, such as Evans, Meinl, and Drumdots. I think I’ll stick with the reliable moon variety.
- Easy dampening that won’t move and removes just the right amount of overtones
- Reusable and long lasting
- Cheaper alternative
- Sticks together – difficult to remove
- pads too small
2. Remo RemOs tone control
Remo products are known for their superior performance and for associating with famous drummers like Dave Weckl and Benny Greb.
These rings are constructed of mylar and allow for easy control of unwanted overtones on your toms and snare.
They are quick and easy to help control your sound in the studio or in live situations. Just throw this on the top of your drums and bam, you’re good to rock!
These are various packs available with different sizes for all your drumming necessities.
Drummer have said these are sturdy, deepen the sound and don’t quiet the drums, but makes them sound better by keeping sustain and reducing just enough ring.
These work well for a tighter sound on drums and aren’t as messy as Moon gel. Some complaints are that they are a little pricey, become more ineffective if bent at all, and that the packing adhesive is difficult to remove from the rings.
Drummers have also mentioned that they wish the rings were wider the bigger the size. This would help control larger drums and those overtones better.
Evans E-Rings and Aquarian studio rings are another product similar to these Remo rings. I think Evans e-rings may be a bit thicker than Remo from what I’ve heard.
I’ve been using Remo rings, heads, and even heads with dampening control built in. These rings make my toms sing! I’ll agree with the drummer that said they keep just enough sustain.
I only use these specific rings on my toms, although I’ve used them on my snare before. It gives it more punch!
- Sturdy and removes just enough overtones
- Adds deepness to your drums
- Not as messy as Moongel
- Can become ineffective if bent
- A little pricier
3. Big Fat Snare Drum Steve’s Donut
With tons of different dampening gel pads to choose from, you may be looking for something that’s potentially less messy.
Big Fat Snare Drum has been storming the drumming industry with some of the best drum dampeners and tons of unique ways of dampening our drum set.
Steve’s Donut (comical) is perfect if you want that medium, beefy and thudding snare sound without loss to the feel of your snare head.
Place this bad boy on top of your snare head and you’re golden! The custom mix of their patent pending rubber and plastic instantly gives life to your medium to high-pitched snare.
It really delivers the authentic deep and warm tone we all want more of. It is equipped with a thumb cut out for easy removal and has weight and balance to it via a rubberized gasket.
It was created for the drummer, by a drummer. Now, you can achieve that desired studio sound with one snare and less tuning with Steve’s Donut. Sorry Steve..
Drummers have said this delivers excellent punch and definition in your tone. They have said it’s worth the cost and they tried everything and that this gives their snare that fat vintage sound.
Ghost notes also sound more articulate. Some negative stuff I’ve heard about this device is that the sound difference is not as drastic as expected.
Another thing said is that you lose all tone, volume, and everything. Also, this thing is a little smaller than the head – probably a 1/4″ gap on the top side.
So complaints about that are known too. I think BFS make high-quality materials. If you want a different sound (in a good way), I’d recommend looking into some of their other stuff!
I have their one with jangles on it. It definitely gives that 70s rock snare sound. I don’t remember what it’s called, but here it is.
- Delivers excellent punch and definition to your drum tones
- Perfect vintage sound
- More articulate playing
- Not as drastic sound difference
- Takes away too much sound
4. Snareweight M1B leather tone control dampener
The Snareweight M1B (and really all Snareweight m products) are designed to encapsulate resonance without sacrificing that beautiful brightness of your drum tone.
Made of premium California leather, these dampeners clip on your hoops and use magnetics for a constant realistic sound.
They also won’t warp as time goes on, no matter how much or hard you play. This thing has four different control settings, ranging from medium to really light, or off if you’d like.
These fit shells ranging from 8″ to 18″ and work with a lot of hoop styles, including die cast, angel, triple flange, and true hoops.
Drummers have mentioned that this gives enough dampening to control the ring and won’t fall off the snare. They’ve also said it looks great and installs/uninstalls easy.
Also, it keeps the snare more sensitive and allows for better dynamics. There is no loss in attack and a more natural tone happens the harder you play vs. a lot of other dampening devices.
Some drummers have complained that they wish the clamp was more compliant with their snare hoop. They’ve also said the magnets are weak and the leather is too stiff. This causes the positions to change after a few snare strokes.
I just used this thing to film the video for this blog post and I freekin LOVE IT! It fits perfectly on my hoop and I was able to use each setting with complete ease.
I was wailing on my snare and that magnet didn’t budge. I like that there is complete control with where you want your snare sound to be with it.
They have a range of products for your drumming needs.
- 4 different control settings for optimal sound manipulation
- No loss in attack
- Easy install/uninstall
- Clamp could be more compliant
- Leather is stiff and causes the positions to change
5. Remo Muff L Ring Control
These control rings feature foam rings mounted in drums with trays that are specifically designed to hold them in place to give partial dampening for toms, snare, and kick drums.
They easily mount under the head on top of the bearing edge. There is no worry of these falling off due to the triple notched system that secures the pads with no adhesives.
Don’t worry, it can handle low tension kick drums. You can also put these internal dampeners on your bottom head.
Drummers have said this works for both batter/resonant heads and are prefect for improving the overall tone. They give a quick punchy sound to the bass drum and remove just the right amount of overtones.
This is not in the way like all the other dampening products we’ve talked about so far. There’s no need for a pillow in your kick drum and you’ll get lots of compliments.
Alas, there are some negative comments like issues with foam rings falling on certain sides and complaints of rattling in the newer control rings being sold by Remo.
I guess they decided to change the design. I’ve heard the rebuttal to make sure the tabs where the foam is sitting to stand up all the way, to fix the falling.
The rattling, I’m not sure about. I’ve used Remo Muff L Rings in years past and always loved how beefy the toms sounded. I never had them on my own kit.
I actually imitated the Remo control by just sticking adhesive weather strips right below my batter heads on the inside of my drums. I always got compliments and it was cheaper.
- Easy mount and doesn’t take up any space on your heads
- Won’t fall off because it’s held by your hoops
- Improves overall tone while removing overtones
- Complaints of rattling
- Issues of falling foam
6. Aquarian TA1 t-Tab Tone Modifiers
Aquarian make a lot of great drumheads, dampening devices, including these tone modifiers, which are about the size of a bandaid.
They are 10-mil adhesive patches that help damp unwanted overtones, focus attack, and deepen tone.
They works well for close miking, are reusable, and it also comes with a plastic sheet you can hang around your lug screw. So, you can keep them clean and protected.
This set includes 5 patches with 3 being coated and 2 being clear. Obviously, Aquarian is looking out for us by offering these matches meant to match different drumheads.
Best of all, they can be played on, unlike other drum dampeners. They are perfectly shaped for the edge of the drumhead and eliminate the tones, but the action is still present.
Put these smaller pads along any edge and don’t worry about messing up while jamming. This is a popular brand among the drumming community.
Drummers have said these give their kit a deeper tone, while being cheaper and also not leaving any residue like other dampeners.
Apparently the adhesive is resilient, but I have heard that they are a hassle to remove and that they can take the coating off a drumhead.
Also, drummers have said they are too big for smaller drums and too small for larger drums. I haven’t used these specific tabs, but I’m no stranger to Aquarian.
I’ve used their heads and other dampening devices in the past with much success. A lot of their other stuff are some of the best drum dampeners on the market.
Their Superkick bass drumhead is phenomenal. I also have always used their super-thin kick pads to add more punch to my kick drum.
- Focus attack and deepen tone
- Pack of 5 with coated and clear
- Hassle to remove the adhesive/takes coating off
- No variety of sizes
7. Pearl Clip-On Dampener
Pearl is known for their phenomenal drums and hardware. This is an adjustable dampening device that fastens to your drum hoop.
You can decide how much pressure you’d like against the drum head, which is awesome even having that range of adjustability and control for a dampening effect.
You completely control what level of overtones you want. Drummers have said this has worked better than anything they’ve used (common theme here) and that it stays on while you’re playing.
I’ve heard that it doesn’t work well with triple flanged hoops though, which is what a lot of drummers have on their kit. I have never personally used this product, but I’m extremely familiar with Pearl and their top-notch quality products.
- Complete control of dampening
- Stays on
- May have difficulty with triple flanged hoops
8. Gaffer tape or duct tape (DIY dampening)
DIY solutions are sometimes the best drum dampeners because they are free. You can literally use gaffer tape/duct tape to dampen your snare drum and toms.
Also, you can shove a pillow or blanket in your kick drum to sculpt how you’d like that to sound. I’ve used a half sheet of paper towel duct taped at the top edge of my snare and toms with success and I currently have a blanket shoved in my kick drum.
I also have an Aquarian super-thin kick pad and a Remo dampening batter head. You don’t need those things with DIY. I assure you that there are things around your house you can use.
- Cheap or free
- Does the job right
- May deaden your drums tone
- Residue from tape/hassle of potentially more maintenance
If you get a double ply drum head, it will have less overtones than a single ply and a lot of snare heads on the market have dampening rings or dots built in.
You could also cut up old heads to dampen. An old drum head is pretty much the same thing as using any dampening rings.
Drum mutes should only be used when you want to completely kill your drums’ character. Regardless, you can choose to use free methods or go with the other ways we talked about. Sometimes you can find special offers and save some money.
For dampening a kick drum, you can never go wrong with an Aquarian super thin pad or an Evans EQ bass drum patch.
Explore All Dampening
There are definitely lots of dampening choices available to us as drummers! Some are different than others, but they all have the same purpose of making our drums sound better.
You pretty much have to experiment with lots of things until you find out what works for you. I’m still always changing my mind on things.
What Do You Like?
What are your favorite dampening devices? Are there some that I didn’t mention that are your go to? Let me know in the comments!
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Until next time, stay attuned!