Whether you’re new to drumming or have experience, you’ve probably heard of drummers putting pillows in their kick drums. From the outside, this probably seems odd, but putting a pillow in your kick drum can have a powerful influence on the sound.
Putting a pillow in a kick drum muffles the resounding boom created by reducing the resonance. The pillow is a common way for musicians to achieve a punchier, more definitive sound from the kick drum and makes it easier to record songs without the kick drum overtaking other parts of the drum track.
Dampening the drum is another term used to mean the same thing as muffling the drum.
Let’s go into some more detail about using pillows with kick drums and see whether it’s right for you.
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Where Do You Put the Pillow in a Kick Drum?
There are a few different places where you can put a pillow in a kick drum, so where do you put it?
The pillow should be placed inside the kick drum flat along the bottom with the long side parallel to the drum heads, to provide some muffling but not much. If more muffling is needed, place the pillow with the long side perpendicular to the drum heads such that the pillow will lie against the front or back of the drum.
Putting the pillow directly against the resonant head is one of the most popular ways to employ this technique, but it’s not the only way to do so. The position of the pillow in the kick drum will determine how much muffling you get. Here’s a YouTube video on how to place a pillow inside the bass drum.
Results will vary based on where you put the pillow and how large it is. So, if you try this method, don’t be afraid to adjust the pillow based on the sound you’re going after.
For the least amount of muffling when using a pillow, line the bottom of the interior of the kick drum with the pillow. Depending on the size of the pillow, it may lay in a subtle curve, or the pillow may be almost U-shaped. Once the pillow is placed, try playing the kick drum to see if it creates a significant enough difference in the sound.
Consider placing the pillow vertically instead of horizontally inside the kick drum to dampen the bass drum more. What I mean by vertically is that the edges of the pillow would be against the front and back of your kick drum rather than lining the bottom. Adjusting the pillow to be touching more surface area causes less vibration and results in a more muffled sound.
I encourage you to play around with the pillow placement and see what works to produce your desired sound. These are the best positions to start with to ensure you are successful when trying to muffle the sound of your kick drum.
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Should I Put a Pillow in My Kick Drum?
Putting a pillow in your kick drum can be an effective way to reduce the resonance of the bass drum and modify its sound. If you’re not happy with the sound of your kick drum, consider putting a pillow in there and see what happens.
You should put a pillow in your kick drum if you want to reduce how long it rings after being struck. A pillow can be adjusted within the kick drum to reduce the sustained sound slightly or nearly entirely for a punchy sound.
While there is nothing wrong with putting a pillow in your kick drum, other options are available if you have the money to spend. You can check out a few of the options on Amazon by clicking here. (Affiliate link)
However, if a pillow doesn’t work for the sound you want, I would suggest trying a blanket next before moving on to other items made specifically for this purpose.
If you don’t have money to spend on something to help muffle the sound of your kick drum, that’s okay. A pillow and a blanket both pose no danger to your drum. So, don’t be afraid to try them out.
It’s important to know that putting a pillow in your kick drum to help with muffling won’t hurt your drum. The only downside to using a pillow is that it may not do as good of a job as other things designed to help with this.
If the pillow or blanket options don’t work as well as you want or you are just ready to upgrade, then there are plenty of other options for you. Some musicians use other objects in their homes to get just the right sound.
While pillows are very common, some people use towels to get the job done. Beach towels are handy because of their size compared to other towels. Here is a video from Drumeo on how to use beach towels.
For those with some extra money to spend on getting that perfect punch from your kick drum, you can try pads or rings. Pads are made to lay in the bottom of the kick drum. They fit right inside of your drum and are a quick and easy way to get that punch. They’re also convenient for removing unwanted high-frequency sounds from your kick drum.
Rings work a little bit differently than the options we have already discussed. These rings are usually made out of plastic, and they attach to the outside of your kick drum. You can get them in different levels of thickness to lessen or maximize the amount of damping that you get by using them.
Whichever option you choose, I realize how important it is to find the right sound for you. For some artists, that’s easily accomplished by putting a pillow in their kick drum. For other artists, it isn’t that easy. So, try a few of the options above and figure out what you like best. Experimenting is part of being a musician, right?
There are benefits and drawbacks to using a pillow in your kick drum, so it’s essential to try it out and see how it affects your sound.
Some benefits of using a pillow in your bass drum include:
- You can achieve a punchier sound
- The sound of the drum is more defined
On the other hand, some drawbacks of using a pillow in your bass drum include:
- You may lose some resonance or depth in the sound of your kick drum
- The pillow can affect how you tune your drums
How To Take a Kick Drum Apart? How Do You Remove a Bass Drum Head?
Whether you’re adding a pillow or one of the many other objects we mentioned to muffle your kick drum, it’s important to know how to take it apart to get the item in there. So, let’s break it down.
A bass drum head can be removed by slowly loosening each drum rod using a drum tuning key. Once there is no tension on the drum head, completely remove the drum rods from the lugs. The hooks can be left on the rods. Lift off the wooden bass drum hoop and then lift off the drum head.
The drum head can be put back together using these steps in reverse. The important part is to make sure the wooden drum hoop is placed correctly such that the pedal guard is correctly lined up with where the kick pedal will be attached.
Here are the steps to remove your bass drum head:
- Loosen the tension rods using a tuning key
When loosening the tension rods, you will want to loosen them evenly until there is no tension across the drum head. Do small turns on each rod to begin with.
The tension rods screw into the lugs on the drum and are used to tighten the claws or hooks that hold on the drum head.
The claw hooks can be left on the tension rods when they are removed. This will help prevent losing any washers that are also on the rod.
Also, be careful where you place the tension rods because they should have grease on them where they screw into the lug.
- Remove the drum hoop
The drum hoop is that ring that the claw hooks go over. The hoop can be lifted off the drum once the hooks have been removed.
- Remove the drum head
Once everything is removed, you can place them to the side and add your pillow or whichever item you decide on. Carefully put all the pieces back together, tune your drum, and try out your newly muffled kick drum.
Putting a pillow in your kick drum is a well-known idea for a reason. It works. So, if you’re tight on money or just pressed for time, try using a pillow to help you get that punch you are looking for from your kick drum. If that doesn’t work, consider some of the other options discussed above to ensure you get the sound you want.