Brian J. Harris Method
Free Tips

Muffling Your Snare Drum

Hi. I have a 5 1/2" Yamaha snare drum. I play classical music Salvation Army style. Please tell me the best way of muting a snare drum. Thanks.

M. Kitney, Canada

Dear Marvin,

Thanks for your note.

The method you use to mute, dampen, or muffle (I use all three terms) will depend on how "dead" you want your drum to sound. I cover this subject briefly on page 8 of my beginning snare drum book, The Snare Drum Plays The Zoo. Here are some additional ideas:

For light muffling, you can place (or tape) one or more business cards or other cards at the lower edge of the drum. Some drummers use only a piece of duct tape or gaffer's tape at the edge. Realize that this can leave a residue on your drum head if you leave the tape on too long. Moleskin is a good self-adhesive product to try. You'll find this at any drugstore.

Here's an idea I've used for temporary muffling: Take a cymbal felt, split it in half, and glue a half dollar or two in the center (like a sandwich cookie). This is usually heavy enough to stay on the drum, and very easy to remove quickly, if necessary.

Another idea is to cut some thin leather into a 6 inch strip with a 1.5 to 2 inch circle at one end. To add weight, glue additional smaller leather circles on the initial circle. Tie the strip end to a top tension rod on your drum, and place the leather circle on the drum whenever you need to muffle. Remove the circle so it dangles at the side of the drum whenever you don't need it.

For even more muffling, you can purchase Evans E-Rings in 1 and 1.5 inch widths. Visit for more information.

These are placed over your drum head to control unwanted ringing. The down side is the poor feel you'll get if you ever play on the areas covered by the E-Ring.

You can make a muffling ring out of an old drum head. Just use a compass to draw a circle 1 to 2 inches in from the edge. Then use cuticle scissors to cut the head at the edge and on your circle. Place the ring with the old playing side down over your current head. If you're not sure how wide to make your ring, start large and slice slivers off until you hear the sound you like.

Older snare drums often come with internal muffling devices. These are often undesireable, as they push in the opposite direction of your sticks' motion, and they affect the air flow inside the drum. Many pros remove them and use one of the methods I've mentioned above. Be sure to SAVE the muffler, though. If you ever sell your drum, it will be worth more money WITH the muffler.

Thanks for asking, Marvin!

Brian J. Harris Method
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