What Is Damping?
Damping (or dampening if that’s how you roll) is controlling the decay and overtones of a drum. Damping the drum is NOT a way to deal with a poorly tuned drum.
Knowing how to effectively control the sound of the drums through damping is essential for every drummer, producer and recording engineer.
Here I’ll cover some inexpensive products, some do-it-yourself options, and then some kick drum specific methods. This article is dealing with recording live drums, not damping and muffling for practicing.
Moongels—These are great inexpensive, reusable jelly pads that stick to the top head of the drum to control the ringing.
Super simple to apply. I like these a lot. Two sets should last you for years. These work best on the top head of a snare or tom and fall off the bottom.
O Rings/E-Rings—These are my favorite method of damping toms. They’re thin clear plastic rings that sit on top of the drum head. I love the instant gratification they provide.
On snare it’s not always my favorite sound, and can get in the way for brush work. They’re also inexpensive and should last a long time unless they get folded or bent.
Do It Yourself Options
Gaffer tape or masking/painter’s tape—NEVER use duct tape or electrical tape on drums, it’s just gross. Gaffer (Gaffa), masking tape or painters tape will apply and remove cleanly from the drum.
There are a couple techniques for using tape to damp. Try making a loop of gaffer tape sticky side out, stick it about an inch from the rim. With masking or painters tape take a 4-inch strip folded so there is a small “handle” for easy removal.