How to dampen cymbals

How to dampen cymbals

Cymbals can be very loud and dampening them lowers their volume so you can manage to go through a practice set without being a nuisance to others or to tone it down during a recording session.

Are you the drummer that is part of a band and needs to tone it down for a recording session to complement the sound of other instruments? Or the drummer that needs to lower their cymbal volume for a gig due to noise constraints? Or you simply just want to practice at home without being a nuisance?

The good news is that there are inexpensive and simple DIY solutions that can dampen your cymbals such as using Gaffer tape, Moon Gel and Cymbal mutes.

Cymbals can be quite loud and these solutions help make a difference to the tones and volume so that you can get through your practice set. This is helpful for drummers who have acoustic drum sets which are known to have an inherent volume and are required to always have their instruments with them.

Dampening your cymbals is also essential for recording sessions so that you are able to complement a band’s sound without overpowering it. Recording engineers say it is much easier to record something that will naturally fit into the rest of the recording.

Keep reading for cheap and quick, easy DIY solutions that will help dampen your cymbals.

Moon Gel

This gel was especially designed for dampening the sound of cymbals, drums or most percussion instruments. Moon gel makes small gel pads that you can stick to your cymbals or drums.

You can experiment with the amount of the product and where you place the product on your cymbals or equipment to find what works best for you. For example, it can either be placed at the edge or the base of the bell of a cymbal.

Advantages of this product over other products include:

  • It is reusable and can work for a long time.
  • It is very easy to wash off and doesn’t leave any residue on your equipment.
  • It is inexpensive compared to professional music equipment. However it is the most expensive DIY solution compared to other products recommended in this article. It goes for around $7 on Amazon.

Gaffer Tape

This is a classic DIY solution as it was one of the earliest solutions to dampening cymbals. Gaffer tape is most recommended compared to Duct tape since it leaves a lot of glue when you try taking it off.

Using Gaffer tape is an easy and cheap way of controlling the sound on cymbals. All you have to do is stick a patch of the tape on your instrument.

Also, it can easily be found wherever you are playing whether it’s in a music studio or a concert gig, since it is normally used for cables. You don’t always have to buy the tape.

When you compare Gaffer tape to other DIY solutions, it offers the least amount of dampening. It doesn’t really make your cymbals quieter but fine-tunes the sound you get when playing them.

It greatly reduces the amount of ringing sustain of the cymbals preventing the ring from building up into wash that can overpower other instruments in the mix. The sound from the cymbals should complement other instruments not overpower them.

Cymbal mutes

Cymbal mutes do more than just lowering the volume on cymbals. They mute the sound on cymbals. They really dampen the sound.

They come in various forms and shapes but their main feature is a piece of cloth or other material that you put over the cymbals.

You can buy cymbal mutes or use the ones that come with your drum set. They are meant to cover both drums and cymbals.

Cymbal mutes are only essential for practice since they bring the sound down to an acceptable level. This is the downside of using them since they shatter the sound of both your cymbals and drums. This applies the same concept of using practice pads. You can practice all you want but you will never get the sound right.

Using low volume cymbals as an alternative option to dampening

You can opt for low volume cymbals to reduce the volume instead of using the DIY solutions. Low volume cymbals are made as normal cymbals but with holes on the surface that make them emit a similar sound only quieter.

The disadvantages of opting for low volume cymbals include:

  • They can’t be used on big stages because they are very quiet. Only essential for small venues.
  • They are expensive.
  • You will be required to have two separate sets of cymbals since you cannot practice on the same set you will use to play with on stage. It is tedious to always have an extra set for back up since cymbals are quite heavy.

How dampening cymbals affects the sound

The sound from cymbals is due to vibrations. Therefore when you affect those vibrations you alter the sound the sound that comes off when cymbals are played.

Using Gaffer tape and moon gel to dampen your cymbals does not lower the volume but they instead affect the sound that comes off. This is in comparison to using cymbal mutes and low volume cymbals which keep the volume of the cymbals as low as possible.

A summary of How to Dampen Cymbals

Moon Gel
Most expensive DIY compared to other products
Easy to wash off.
Cheap compared to professional music gear.


Gaffer  Tape
Easy to use
Offers least amount of dampening
Easily available. You can always find it where you are playing e.g. studio or concert.
Fine tunes the sound by reducing the amount of ring sustain on cymbals.
Cymbal Mutes
Completely shatter the sound of your drums and cymbals.
Mute the sound on cymbals instead of just lowering the volume.


Meant for practice sets only.
Low volume cymbals-alternative option
Offer a nice quality sound without the noise
Heavy to carry around as a backup set.
Can only be used for small venues.



You can choose all these options to dampen your cymbals depending on how much you need to affect or lower the sound or what you need, whether it is for a practice set or a recording session.


How can you dampen your cymbals?

You can dampen your cymbals through quick, easy and cheap DIY solutions such as using Gaffer tape, Moon gel and Cymbal mutes.

What does dampening your cymbals mean?

It is simple reducing or lowering the volume on your cymbals.




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