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Church Sound: Controlling Drum Sound On The Platform

Walling the musician off in a "fish bowl" isn't the only option

By Gary Zandstra February 20, 2013

Is this where you stick your drummer?

A client of mine recently called asking for advice on controlling the stage volume (and in this case overall room volume). She told me that even with a shield around the drums, it was just too loud. 

She went on to say she was considering using a “drum cave”. Immediately she had my attention, as I had never heard of a drum cave. In my mind I could picture what one might look like, complete with the caveman on the drum throne. I can refer to the drummer as a caveman as on a good day. Heck, I am one (a drummer that is). 

So, with the caveman image burning in my mind, I had to ask, “What is a drum cave?” The client then went on to describe a room that the church was preparing to build on the back corner of the stage. 

After listening to what and how they were going to build this room, the only way I could describe it would be to compare it to a really small drum booth at a recording studio. Oh, and it also was to have a very low roof.

As I thought about her predicament regarding stage volume my mind drifted to options:

    1. Ask The Drummer To Play More Softly
    2. Hot Rod Sticks
    3. Drum Shield
    4. Electronic Drums
    5. The Drum Cave

Bang The Drum Softly
It seems kind of obvious, but still, have you asked the drummer(s) to play with less gusto? It may not work, or it might only work initially because some players might control themselves for a time but then their instincts are too strong to keep in check, but it’s certainly worth a shot.

Hot Rod Sticks
I’ve had good success with Hot Rod Sticks in helping tame heavey-handed drummers.  he biggest benefit I’ve experienced is their ability to tame the loud cymbal crashes. 

The best way to think about a Hot Rod stick is that it is between brushes and regular sticks. In general, drummers are receptive to using them because they have close to the same feel and bounce back of a regular stick. 

The potential drawback is that the tonality of the drum sound will be different, just as when a drummer hits the drum softer with regular sticks the tonality is different. 

I have also heard that some drummers have a hard time staying “in the groove” on the high hat. Even with Hot Rods it can still be too loud (particularly in small rooms)

Drum Shields
Many times I have walked into a small worship center that has placed the drums against the back wall of the stage with a Plexiglas shield around them.

Almost always the wall is constructed of drywall and the shield is using virtually no absorption. The complaint is always “the drums are still too loud!”

To me, it’s obvious that the back wall is going to reflect the sound back out into the room, but not everyone understands that. 

The best Plexiglas shields have absorptive material on the front lower part of the shield and are then enclosed on the back side with absorptive panels

Read the rest of this post


About Gary

Gary Zandstra
Gary Zandstra

Consultant, Dan Vos Construction, Writer for Worship Facilities and ProSoundWeb
Gary Zandstra has worked in church production and as an AV systems integrator for more than 35 years. He’s also contributed numerous articles to ProSoundWeb over the past decade.


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