Once you’ve initially tuned your kick drum to the lowest possible pitch, flip the drum back into playing position. You can fine tune from here by either striking the batter side with a stick or your pedal beater. After you’ve tuned the bass drum to your taste, there are several additional steps to getting that bass drum sounding better. Again, there is no right or wrong here. However, here are a couple of my favorite muffling and adjustment techniques.
Keep it Simple
Before you toss a blanket or pillow inside the drum and start playing, take a moment to determine the sound you’re after. Muffling the kick drum can be the best or the worst thing you do to the drum, depending on how you go about it.
For example, in a big band or jazz setting you may want to keep muffling out of the drum all together. If you prefer a low pitch with added attack, then muffling is your answer. When it comes to muffling, I recommend using something small like an EQ Pad, small pillow or a rolled up towel. The point here is to keep it simple.
There are basically three options to consider:
● Batter Side Only - More attack from the beater, bigger tone and sustain.
● Resonant Side Only - Less attack from the beater, sustain is also lessened a bit but with brighter overtones.
● Both Batter and Resonant Sides - Both the beater attack AND tone and sustain is more focused, yet not as ―boomy and loud.
Kick Drum Angle: Try adjusting the angle of your kick drum to be fairly flat on the floor. If you angle the drum towards you too much, it puts tension on the hoop and raises the overall pitch. Your drum should be off the ground slightly but not angled too high.
Pedal Beater: For even more of an attack, try using a plastic or wood beater. Drum companies like DW and Pearl offer multiple sided beaters to allow for a quick adjustment.
Experiment! Try a combination of different scenarios and multiple muffling options to find the best sound that suits your taste.