Pillow in Bass Drum: Pros & Cons [2024]

When it comes to setting up a drum kit, one of the most important elements is the bass drum. Not only does it provide the foundational rhythm of a song, but it also has the potential to produce a wide range of sounds depending on how it’s played and set up. One popular technique that drummers use to get a specific sound out of their bass drum is by placing a pillow inside the drum. In this article, we’ll explore why drummers put a pillow in their bass drum, when this practice became popular, and what some of the advantages and disadvantages of doing so are.

Why do people put a pillow in their bass drum?

There are a few different reasons why drummers might choose to put a pillow in their bass drum. One of the most common reasons is to reduce the amount of resonance or overtones that the drum produces. When a bass drum is played without any muffling, the sound waves inside the drum can bounce around and create a lot of unwanted frequencies. By placing a pillow or other dampening material inside the drum, drummers can absorb some of those sound waves and create a tighter, more focused sound.

Another reason why drummers might put a pillow in their bass drum is to increase the overall volume or projection of the drum. When a pillow is placed inside the drum, it can create a more solid surface for the beater to hit, which can result in a louder and more defined sound. This can be especially useful in live performance situations where the bass drum needs to cut through a lot of other instruments.

When did putting a pillow in the bass drum become popular?

The practice of putting a pillow in a bass drum has been around for several decades, but it really became popular in the 1990s with the rise of grunge and alternative rock music. Many drummers in these genres were looking for a way to get a big, punchy bass drum sound that would stand out in the mix, and placing a pillow inside the drum was one technique that they found worked well. Since then, the practice has become more mainstream and is used by drummers in a wide variety of genres, from jazz to metal to pop.

Advantages of putting a pillow in the bass drum

As mentioned earlier, one of the main advantages of putting a pillow in a bass drum is that it can help to reduce unwanted overtones and resonance. This can create a more focused and defined sound that can be especially useful in recording situations where every instrument needs to have its own space in the mix.

Another advantage of using a pillow in a bass drum is that it can make the drum easier to tune. When a drum has a lot of unwanted overtones, it can be difficult to find the right pitch and get the drum to sound the way you want it to. By using a pillow to dampen some of those overtones, you can make it easier to hear the fundamental pitch of the drum and make adjustments accordingly.

A third advantage of using a pillow in a bass drum is that it can help to increase the sustain or “boom” of the drum. While the pillow will absorb some of the initial attacks of the beater, it can also help to create a longer sustain by allowing the drumhead to vibrate more freely. This can be especially useful in genres like metal or hard rock where a big, sustained bass drum sound is often desired.

Disadvantages of putting a pillow in the bass drum

While there are certainly advantages to using a pillow in a bass drum, there are also some potential drawbacks to be aware of. One of the main disadvantages is that it can limit the range of sounds that the drum is capable of producing. By dampening the overtones and resonance of the drum, you’re essentially sacrificing some of the natural tonal qualities of the drum. This can be a trade-off that some drummers are willing to make in order to achieve a specific sound, but it’s important to recognize that using a pillow in a bass drum isn’t necessarily the right choice for every musical situation.

Another potential disadvantage of using a pillow in a bass drum is that it can make the drum feel less responsive or “bouncy”. When a pillow is placed inside the drum, it can absorb some of the energy from the beater and make it feel like the drum is harder to play. This can be especially noticeable for drummers who are used to playing without any muffling or dampening in their bass drum.

Finally, it’s worth noting that using a pillow in a bass drum isn’t the only way to achieve a tight, focused sound. There are a variety of other techniques that drummers can use to achieve a similar effect, such as using a felt strip or a commercial drum muffler. These alternatives may be worth exploring if you’re looking to experiment with different bass drum sounds.

In conclusion, putting a pillow in a bass drum is a popular technique that drummers use to achieve a specific sound. While there are certainly advantages to using this technique, such as reducing unwanted overtones and increasing the sustain of the drum, there are also some potential drawbacks to be aware of. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to use a pillow in your bass drum will depend on the musical context and the specific sound that you’re trying to achieve. As with any aspect of drumming, it’s important to experiment and find what works best for you and your playing style.

FAQ: Pillow In Bass Drum

Do I need to use a specific type of pillow in my bass drum?

No, you can use pretty much any type of pillow or cushioning material that you have on hand. Some drummers prefer to use a small pillow or cushion that’s specifically designed for bass drums, while others may use a towel, t-shirt, or other similar materials. Ultimately, the goal is to dampen some of the unwanted overtones and resonance in the drum, so any material that can achieve that effect should work.

How much should I stuff the pillow into my bass drum?

This will depend on your personal preference and the sound that you’re trying to achieve. Some drummers may only use a small amount of stuffing to achieve a subtle muffling effect, while others may stuff the drum more heavily to create a more dramatic sound. It’s important to experiment and find the right balance that works for you and your playing style.

Will the use of a pillow in my bass drum damage the drumhead?

No, using a pillow in your bass drum should not damage the drumhead as long as you’re not stuffing the drum too tightly. It’s important to leave some space for the drumhead to vibrate and breathe. If you’re concerned about damaging the drumhead, you may want to consider using a commercial drum muffler instead, which is specifically designed to be placed on the drumhead without causing damage.

Can I still use a kick drum pedal with a pillow in my bass drum?

Yes, you can still use a kick drum pedal with a pillow in your bass drum. In fact, some drummers find that the added resistance from the pillow can actually make the pedal feel more responsive and easier to control. Just be sure to adjust the pedal settings accordingly to get the right feel and response.

Can I achieve a tight bass drum sound without using a pillow?

Yes, there are a variety of other techniques that drummers can use to achieve a tight, focused bass drum sound without using a pillow. Some options include using a felt strip or a commercial drum muffler, adjusting the tuning of the drum, or using a different beater on your kick drum pedal. It’s worth experimenting with different techniques to find the one that works best for you and your playing style.




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