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One of the first things a newer drummer often tackles in terms of sound is questioning the tonal quality of the snare drum.
I bet you first were curious about how to stop snare drum ring. That’s why you ended up on this article, no?
Fortunately, dealing with snare drum ring is relatively painless. Today I’ll be sharing five of the best drum dampeners available, as well as some DIY ideas.
Before I get started here, I know there are purists among our ranks — those who believe one should never dampen their drums. They think we should tune our drums properly and let the drum sing out naturally.
I hate to burst their bubbles, and if you’re one of them, sorry, but you’re full of it.
There is nothing wrong with dampening a snare drum to remove the nasty ringing overtones. In some styles of music, having an open and natural snare sound is applicable. For others, not so much.
That said, I would advise you to study the art of tuning drums and develop a solid ear. It’s crucial to have a great sounding drum before you add dampening products.
Best Drum Dampeners at a Glance
Why Eliminate the Snare Ring?
The tonal quality of a drum is complex. Even the most perfectly tuned snare drum will have a lot of ringing overtones.
As I said before, some styles of music cater to the harsher and more aggressive nature of a ringing snare drum.
Let’s first talk about the two ways to eliminate snare ring.
The Internal Muffler
In the 70s, dead and dry drums were all the rage — to a certain extent, that period of tone has returned to modern music. Big and lively drum kits aren’t as big a thing currently, for now.
Snare drums even used to have internal dampeners that used a felt pad pressed against the batter head (top).
Sonor and Benny Greb are bringing the internal dampener back this year with his latest signature snare drum featuring two MonoRail adjustable dampeners.
Internal dampeners were useful, but I’ve never been a big fan. I remember hearing the sound of broken mufflers inside snare drums at my middle school. The rattle was real.
Also, since the hardware pushes up against the batter head, it tends to warp the head’s playing area in one spot. It doesn’t look the best.
Batter Head Dampening
These days, most pros opt for external dampening via products like Moongel or gaffers tape.
In the 70s, it was commonplace to use tissues and duct tape to achieve a muffled sound.
Another common practice was the old wallet on the snare drum trick. A lot of drummers still swear by it. The wallet tends to bounce around, so you may need to tape it to the rim.
With those tricks in mind, let’s now dive into the best products available for eliminating snare ring.
These dampening rings were my first dampeners when I started playing. I still have them somewhere.
Evans, Remo, and others also make similar rings for eliminating overtone ring. The experience is mostly identical, though Evans E-Rings are a bit wider by comparison (more dampening).
The rings sit atop your batter head on each drum, eliminating most, if not all, of the overtones generated from a drum head.
To use, place each ring to the correspondingly-sized drum. There’s nothing to it.
The rings’ widths are small enough (1″) to not eliminate the drum’s natural tone. They’re less intrusive than some products on the market, and despite their older look, they hold up great to today’s standards.
A full set of rings for your kit is very affordable. I like the rings a lot — I’ve had my set for twenty years.
Moongel, Drumdots, and SlapKlatz
Arguably the most popular dampening product to eliminate snare ring is Moongel. I’ve seen more drummers using Moongel than any other dampening product listed.
Moongel is a self-adhesive gel applied to the surface of a drum. They come in a pack of four, allowing you to cover a standard five-piece drum set with one gel each. Moongel is one of many dampening gel products available on the market. SlapKlatz and Drumdots come to mind. Whichever you choose, your experience will be similar.
Using Moongel provides a less-intrusive experience when eliminating snare ring. A drum using only one Moongel will still have a bit of ring. Compared to the Studio Rings, using Moongel is more customizable to the sound you desire.
But with the good comes the bad. Moongel does not last quite as long, despite the company’s claims of being able to refresh the gels with warm water and dish soap. You can wash them and get decent results, but still, I find that they degrade over time and disintegrate.
The most significant difference between all the gel products, in my opinion — Drumdots and SlapKlatz are a bit firmer in terms of the silicone gel and may last longer.
To use, open the canister and peel each Moongel apart from each other. Place each gel near the rim (about 1″ away from my experience).
Experiment with placement, as the distance from the edge will determine the level of snare drum ring still present.
Big Fat Snare Drum
Similar in nature to studio rings, the Big Fat Snare Drum is a plastic circle that sits on your drum head.
There are many variations of BFSD (like the donut ring), but the original provides the most dampening of any product listed.
Some of their products have jingles, eliminating snare ring and adding a bit of jangle to your backbeat.
I like products made by Big Fat Snare Drum, but I think they kill the tone of the drum far too much. I use the donut variant, but even that is a little extreme to my ears in many cases.
One of my favorite products of recent is Snareweight — they make a solid brass dampener. The Snareweight #5 magnetically attaches to your drum’s hoop, allowing for easy use each night.
I love how robust they are — it has a nice weight to it, no pun intended.
Snareweight makes a plethora of different products to aid in eliminating snare ring, but I like the #5 the best. The M80 is okay but fails to make enough of a difference to my ears.
DIY Solutions to Eliminate Snare Drum Ring
Now that we’ve talked about some products that help alleviate snare drum ring, let’s talk about some DIY solutions.
In a separate article, I’ve detailed how you can make your own drum dampeners from some cheap supplies from your local dollar store. But for a quick solution, I recommend either gaffers tape or tissues and some duct tape.
Gaffers tape is expensive, however, and you may have to order it online if you don’t have any around the house.
Take a tissue and fold it into a small rectangle. Place a piece of tape over the top of the tissue, covering all sides. Be sure to leave enough tape to allow adhesion to the drum’s head.
Place the tape on your drum head about 1″ from the rim opposite of your body. Test your drum and experiment. There is no right or wrong when it comes to dampening. Use your ears!
Eliminating snare drum ring is a topic on the minds of many drummers. I hope this article has helped in your quest to remove overtones to match better the style and sound you desire.
But what say you? I’d love to hear how you’re dealing with snare drum ring.
Do you use dampening products? Which ones? I’d love to hear from you down below in the comment section. Thanks for reading!