Drums have been an integral part of music for centuries. The drum kit as we know today it is a more recent invention, dating back to the 1930s. It’s common knowledge that drums are one of the loudest instruments ever created, but what are the loudest parts of a drum?
Depending on what part of a drum you are playing, the sound ranges from 90 to 130 dB. A snare drum and cymbals produce the loudest sound in terms of the Decibel level. However, factors such as the style of music and the frequency of sound also influence how loud different parts of a drum are perceived to be.
Drums are an awesome instrument to play and they look amazing under the stage light, especially when drummers put water on their drums. However, keep in mind that playing drums can pose certain health problems and even hearing loss. You should take some precautions, such as wearing earmuffs, drummer headphones, or earphones or using drum mutes. Hearing protection is vitally important when playing drums.
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Acoustic drums vs electronic drums, which are louder?
Acoustic drums haven’t lost their popularity even after the invention of electronic and hybrid drums. The most common configuration is a 5 piece acoustic drum set and Hi-hats and other cymbals don’t count there. A 5 piece drum kit with a hundred cymbals is still a 5 piece drum kit. These are the parts:
- a bass drum
- a snare drum
- 3 toms – high, mid, and low/floor tom
Acoustic drums are bulkier and louder in comparison to electronic drums. They take more space and their sound can reverberate through a whole neighborhood. On the plus side, acoustic drums offer a range of nuances when it comes to the depth of sound, that electronic drums cannot deliver.
When it comes to electronic and hybrid drums, with them it’s much easier to change the volume and bring it to a safer range. You can fiddle around with the settings, or lower the volume on your headsets. Electronic drums are a great option for making music at home since their electronic properties enable you to control the volume easier. If you are into electronic drums, read our blog to find out how tight your electric drum heads should be.
How loud is a bass drum?
A bass drum, also called a kick drum, is the largest drum. It stands on the floor and it’s therefore out of the reach of drummers’ hands. That is the reason why drummers use a foot pedal to ”kick” the drum and play the drum that way. Hence, the name kick drum.
Despite its size, it is not the loudest part of a drum. Surprisingly, it’s one of the lowest in volume and hits a decibel level of 105 dB. For comparison’s sake, it’s a sound of Boeing 707 one nautical mile before landing. It can cause serious hearing damage after eight hours of exposure.
Some drummers even put a pillow or some dampening material inside a bass drum to further reduce the noise level. The noise generated inside a bass drum is very loud, but with a lower frequency. The sound of the bass drum travels the furthest, simply because lower frequencies travel further and are able to pass through many objects.
How loud are tom drums?
Tom drums, more commonly known as ”toms” or ”tom-toms” have a cylindrical shape, and they create quite a ”boomy” sound. Their sound is higher in pitch. When you hit them, their sound resonates for a longer period of time. The high, mid, and floor tom’s volume is around 110 dB, which is an average human pain threshold.
How loud is a snare drum?
A snare drum is one of the most important and certainly one of the loudest drum parts. It is the most shallow drum, which is situated between the legs of drummers while they play. The shell of a snare drum is made from metal or wood, and if you want to customize your drum shells you can read here what you can use to paint on drum shells.
It’s worth mentioning that the loudness of a snare drum depends on where you hit it. If you hit the head, the volume is 120 dB. A hit on the rim can reach 125 dB. To put that into perspective, the sound of a snare drum is similar to that of a chainsaw or oxygen torch. According to OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, only 15 minutes of exposure to the sound that is 120 dB or greater can cause your hearing to be damaged forever.
How loud are cymbals?
Cymbals are also one of the loudest drum parts. We should distinguish between these most common types of cymbals:
- Crash cymbals
- Hi-hat cymbals
- Ride cymbals
How loud are crash cymbals?
Crash cymbals got their name from a sharp ”crash” sound that they make. They are smaller than ride cymbals and are meant to be hit quite hard. A crash cymbal is the loudest one in a drum set. It can reach a volume of 113 dB, which is the equivalent of a turbofan aircraft at takeoff power at 200 ft. This is close to an average human pain threshold.
How loud are hi-hat cymbals?
Hi-hat cymbals consist of two cymbals sandwiched on one stand. In terms of sound, they produce high-pitched sounds. They can be played by using the attached foot pedal or by using drum sticks. Depending on the position of the Hi-hat cymbals, they can produce a variety of sounds. A closed high-hat cymbal typically reaches a volume of 101 dB, while an open high-hat cymbal can reach a volume of 114 dB, similar to that of a steel mill.
How loud are ride cymbals?
Ride cymbals are the largest cymbals and sit on the right-hand side of a drum kit. They aren’t meant to be hit with excessive force, as opposed to crash cymbals. Compared to hi-hat cymbals, ride cymbals ring out for longer. You should play them with the tip of your drum stick to get that distinctive ”washy” sound. The volume of ride cymbals ranges from 101 dB when hitting the rim to 115 dB when hitting their bell.
How loud are other instruments?
For the sake of comparison, you might be interested to find out how loud some of the most popular instruments are. This is the typical volume for some of them:
- Violin – A violin’s volume usually ranges from 84 to 103 dB.
- Cello – A cello’s volume is quite low and is typically between 82 to 92 dB.
- Piano – If a piano’s volume is not amplified with a microphone, during typical practice it is between 60 and 70 dB.
- Trumpet – A trumpet volume is often heard at around 80 to 110 dB.
- Saxophone – A saxophone’s volume range is similar to that of a drum and it is between 84 and 134 dB.
How drummers can prevent hearing loss?
According to some studies, listening to sounds that are 85 dB or above for a longer period of time will eventually damage your hearing. If you experience tinnitus, muffled hearing, or any similar symptoms, take them seriously, as they may precede hearing loss. If you are a guitar player and want to know how to play the guitar with tinnitus, check out our blog.
In order to protect your ears, you can consider buying noise reduction earmuffs. They are inexpensive and are worn by many people who are frequently exposed to high volumes. They prevent higher frequencies from causing damage to your ears.
If you actually have to listen to music, a better option could be noise-isolating headphones or earphones. They are more expensive but will enable you to listen to tracks. There is also an option of different types of earplugs, with foam plugs being the cheapest and custom-molded earplugs being the most expensive. You can try out different types and see which one works best for you.
You can also consider buying an electronic drum set that can manage the volume easier than an acoustic drum set. Drum dampening or muffling is another option. It basically means adding something to the drums that change their sound. Drum mufflers can mute your drums to a certain extent. They also control the tones of certain notes and the amount of resonance on your drums.
Drums are one of the coolest instruments to play. The benefits of playing drums are numerous. Playing drums reduces stress, boosts your brainpower, and develops your confidence. Plus, it burns calories, so it is a great exercise too! Take a look at our blog to find out how many calories playing drums burn.
Despite its many advantages, always keep in mind that drums are loud and can cause hearing problems. Take all the necessary precautions to protect your ears when drumming. We hope that we have managed to provide you with invaluable information on what the loudest parts of drums are, as well as give you useful advice on how to protect your ears while drumming.
If you take proper care of both your drums and ears, you can safely play drums and rock on for many years. Want to know if drums sound better with age? Take a glance at our blog.