Rock Band : Drum Quieting Edition

So, has anyone successfully quieted their Rock Band drumset? One of the aggravating things about Rock Band, for me, is that the drums tend to drown out everything – the music, the beat, all of it. So you end up cranking the audio to ridiculous levels so you can hear the drums over the speakers and not the tok tok a tok tok tok of people wailing on plastic drumheads.

Some ideas…

Anti-vibration sticks

These do nothing to reduce noise, just easier on your hands. My wife prefers these, as she says they help with hand vibration fatigue.

Nylon-head drumsticks

Easier on your hands, more “bounce” with the nylon (vs. wooden) drum tips, but no change in sound levels really. I prefer these over the anti-vibes as I like the extra bounce. Nylon tips is definitely what we should be using on the Rock Band electronic style drum heads.

Rubber “silent tips”

Looks really promising, but out of stock everywhere until Dec. 14th. I have some ordered.

Plasti-dip rubber dip

Trying this now, dipping the tips of two sets of sticks. Going for many, many coats (5+). I expect it will help, but not sure how much.

Jason’s “rubber tubing”

Go to your local hardware store and buy a foot of surgical tubing or other similar silicone hose/tube. Cost you like 2 or 3 bucks. Then snip off enough to cover the tip of the drumstick, slip it on, and voila - cheap drumstick dampeners. And it improves the “bounce” factor, too.

I found that it cut the noise of my stick in, like, half. Which is still WAY, WAY too loud.

I tried washers but it’s too difficult to get something that stays on the end of the stick. I think Jason’s idea of tubing is the right way to go, assuming you can get it to stay put. One idea I had is to drill holes into small superballs and glue them on to the end of the sticks. Haven’t tried that yet, but it’s a lot more likely to work than washers.

Drum Mutes

This is basically neoprene in a circular shape; you place it on the drum surface. I’m unclear how it stays attached to the drum heads. Haven’t tried it, but I suspect this might have the greatest potential for quieting the drums. Other materials might work as well, mouse pads, t-shirts? Like to hear from anyone who has tried it…

I posted this in the hardware section:

This was done using some leftover flooring cork (designed to go underneath floating-style hardwood floors, etc.). It’s functional (probably reduces the effective target area, though I haven’t noticed that I’m missing hits – I aim for the center) and noticeably quieter. I’d like to see about putting some dampening material underneath the pads instead. Btw, Ziploc round bowls (7 cup size) make a pretty good template; mark at a very sharp angle and cut inside the sharpie lines. I used some very thin, wide clear double-sided tape (putting it on both surfaces to get a good grip).

The foot pedal needs something, not sure what yet. Mine seems to be a bit clackety in the area of the hinge, especially if I’m not hitting it dead on.

I think I’d like to find some rubber silencer-type practice pads – basically round rubber mats with a raised, thicker central section. I’m not sure if they make them smaller than snare size, but they are nice and bouncy.

I tried the rubber tips - no luck. Maybe a 3% reduction in noise - barely noticable. :(

Yeah, I’m thinking the tips are kind of a red herring. A lot of the noise comes from the pad itself-- so perhaps neoprene on the pads is the way to go?

EDIT: to see what I mean, try smacking the drum pad with some household item made of relatively soft rubber (spatula?). That’s as good as it gets, so no matter how much soft rubber you put on the drumstick, the pad is still a problem.

My 360 got the 3 rings yesterday so my drums have been extremely quiet since then. Good thing there aren’t a ridiculous number of good games that were just released or I’d be more upset. At least I got to play about 10 hours combined on Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed, and Rock Band before it died.

Good luck figuring out the drum problem - hopefully it’s solved in the next few weeks while I’m waiting!

Resonance seems to be a big part of it. I’m thinking that something underneath (for dampening) could help with that without affecting the drum surface. The cork does okay (no problems registering hits with expert songs so far, bass fatigue trouble aside), but it doesn’t have the same bounce.

I put some foam earplugs on the ends and secured them with electrical tape. That worked pretty good for reducing the sound but they eventually stretched out and they took away too much of the bounce.

What about timpani mallets? Would those work? They look pre-damped…

Somewhere John Bonham is spinning in his grave when talk turns to quieting drums.


I realize this solution doesn’t scale well, but have you considered wearing headphones?

Here’s the result of about 9 dips in the rubber plasti-dip:

The larger one on the left is the rubberized anti-vibe sticks, which had a larger tip to begin with; the middle is a rubberized set of Rock Band sticks, and the right is a plain vanilla rock band set for size comparison.

They’re not quite dry yet, but dry enough to test side by side with their wooden brothers. As expected, most of the noise comes from the drum surface itself… so even heavily rubberized, there’s very little noise reduction. I really need to try some of those neoprene drum pads…

EDIT: after some more A/B testing, the big rubber tips do reduce some of the noise. There’s less high pitched wood-on-plastic sound, which is maybe 25% of the overall drum sound. The other 75% is still sound from striking the drum surface itself. So I think rubber tips are worth exploring, but they are no panacea.

Those drum sticks don’t like badass. They look rather silly.

Those drumsticks are wearing clown noses.

Well, you can get it in black, or clear, as well. I dunno, I thought red would be interesting. I guess I was shooting for that matchstick / bozo nose effect.

After playing a song with a pair modified this way, I have to say the plasti-dip is more effective than I thought it would be at reducing noise on the Rock Band drumset. I am now officially recommending it as a starting point for noise reduction.

Some tips on dippin’:

  1. Dip in vertically directly straight down. Rotate a bit to get good coverage.

  2. let the excess drip off for about 10 seconds. Shake it a bit, so a tip forms on the end.

  3. Flip the stick over quickly and hold it straight up for 30 seconds. (prop it this way if you’re worried about gravity distortion, but I found laying it down on the edge of a table worked fine as long as I didn’t goop it on)

  4. let it dry for 30 minutes

  5. repeat previous 6-10 times

  6. Let it dry overnight. Trust me, DON’T try to drum with it after a few hours. Sure, it seems dry, but it isn’t. You will warp it permanently.

We fixed the sound issue for about five bucks.

Go to a craft store and get a two foot square sheet of black felt, the same size sheet of some thin black plastic foam padding that kids use to make cut out crafts with, and some rubber cement.

Cut the padding and felt to fit the drum heads. Glue the padding to the drum. Glue the fled to the padding. Let dry. Play.

It cut the sound down by at least half.

OK, but what if I’m not willing to glue stuff permanently to the drums? Is there another way to attach it that’s not so… permanent?

I’m officially on the drum-quieting case and will be checking out the mute pads this week. I’ll also be checking out home depot / Bed Bath to see if there’s some kind of cork/foam/rubber padding I can use.

Also, for the kick pedal, I’ll be putting a big plushy rug under the kit. My floor’s already carpeted, so it won’t move around – this is just to keep me from pounding the floor and driving my neighbors insane.

I don’t have Rock Band yet myself but would a large ballon stretch over the drum surface itself or perhaps something similar like those large rubber balls you can buy for kids that have the huge tube to blow them up with. I would think you could snip the end off and get the ball over the drum head unless there is something on the bottom that would interfere.

I think you guys should just embrace the rocking out.

But the donk donk donk of the drums hitting the pads reduces the rocking out experience, because you’re not hearing the actual drum noises, you’re hearing donk donk donk.