Topic: deadening cowbells  (Read 3936 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Bob Pettit

  • Cafe VIP
  • Posts: 888
  • Designated Driver
deadening cowbells
« on: May 01, 2006, 10:52 AM »
I've tried a number of ways to reduce volume of my foot pedal played cowbell, none of which are quite satisfactory. All the ways I've tried end up changing the cow bell tone to a clacky sound. Does anyone know a good way to deaden but preserve the hollow bell sound of a cowbell.

Things I've already tried:
1. tape
2. foam rubber
3. sock stuffed inside
4. tennis ball stuffed inside
5. plastic coke bottle stuffed inside
6. coke bottle with end cut off stuffed inside
7. coke bottle with tennis ball stuffed inside
8. various woodwind mutes

Currently I'm using the cut off coke bottle with tennis ball stuffed inside. Does not sound much better than anything else, still clacky rather than hollow cowbelly.

At this point I'm working more on foot technique to control volume. I also play left foot woodblock, which also is deadened with foam. The woodblock also loses something with the deadening.

Offline Bart Elliott

  • Chef de Cuisine
  • Posts: 15199
  • Founder & owner of DrummerCafe.com
    • bartelliott
    • bartelliott
    • w w w . B a r t E l l i o t t . c o m
deadening cowbells
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2006, 11:00 AM »
Few questions ...

1. What kind of beater are you using on the Cowbell?
2. Where is the beater striking the Cowbell?

Something I've used is a sweat-band ... like what you use on your wrist. It's elastic which makes it easy to add/remove as you desire. You can also slide it around to dampen different parts of the Cowbell, thus getting different tones/sounds.

Offline Dave Heim

  • Honorary VIP
  • Posts: 4938
  • August 26, 1955 - November 16, 2012
    • daveheimdrums
    • daveheim
    • Dave Heim
deadening cowbells
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2006, 11:34 AM »
Also try a Ridge Rider cowbell (LP), and have the beater strike the plastic ridge.  Gives a good tone - but not too clangy.
Working with: Second Time Around, James Curley, Scraps of Brass, The American Wind Band, and other notable Chicago musicians.

Teaching through Quinlan & Fabish Music Stores.

Offline James Walker

  • Cafe VIP
  • Posts: 3267
    • malletjazz
    • www.malletjazz.com
deadening cowbells
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2006, 11:45 AM »
Few questions ...

1. What kind of beater are you using on the Cowbell?
2. Where is the beater striking the Cowbell?

Also, are you dead-stroking ("burying the beater") or letting it come off the bell?

If you're using a harder BD beater with your pedal (wood, or synthetic), try putting a layer of Dr. Scholl's moleskin on the beater, to take a bit of the edge off of the attack sound.

I can't remember who suggested it, but a refrigerator magnet can be used to take some of the ring out of a cowbell's sound, and it can easily be removed, or moved to adjust its influence on the bell's sound, either outside or inside the bell.

There are also the obvious suggestions/questions:

- what does the cowbell (and woodblock) sound like from out front of the kit, in the context of the entire band playing?  If it's a matter of volume, not sustain (You're deadening the wood block?), I'd try a change in (or alteration to) the beater, rather than the bell (or the block).  (Dave's suggestion would probably accomplish the same thing.)

- Would it make more sense to buy a different cowbell, that might not be as loud as the one you're currently using?  I've got a big, BIG LP cowbell that I bought back in high school (I think it was made to be hung around the neck of a bison), that was just "too much" when played with a foot pedal.  I switched to a smaller bell, and I'm much happier with the sound (and volume) of the bell in relation to the rest of the kit.
"I played with Holdsworth, Fripp, and Belew...I wish we drummers could play that differently. Drummers are starting to homogenize into the same guy, which frightens me." - Bill Bruford

Offline Jon E

  • Cafe VIP
  • Posts: 3592
  • Gaaaah!
    • Things Very Special
deadening cowbells
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2006, 12:15 PM »
What kind of cowbell are you using????

Some are going to sound like crud no matter what you do to 'em!!

Start with a nice sounding cowbell and move forward from there.

Danno

  • Guest
Re:deadening cowbells
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2006, 02:57 PM »
Try Moongels inside the cowbell. Works for me.

Offline Bob Pettit

  • Cafe VIP
  • Posts: 888
  • Designated Driver
Re:deadening cowbells
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2006, 05:17 PM »
LESS COWBELL!!!!!!!!

To answer your questions.

The bell I'm using is a good sounding 7" Toca with a ridge down the center, wrapped with black electric tape, which keeps the ring down without changing the tonal quality. If I could just reduce volume it would be perfect. I also have an LP Black Beauty and an LP Mambo.

My woodblock is a Pearl Ashwood Tone block with black foam pushed into the crack, which also hurts the tone. I have both the large and small Tone Blocks, but perfer the larger one. I also have used LP Jam blocks, which work well but are even louder.

The beater for both cowbell and woodblock is a hard felt, and strikes at about the center of the woodblock, and 1/3 the way in from the open end of the cowbell.
I use a L-rod clamped in the foot pedal with the cowbell and woodblocks held horizontal. The beater is a reverse type Roland made for striking horizontally. I do not bury the beater, must be able to play nimbly on cascara and clave.

The stuff I do with my hands is play conga, so the context the foot parts are played is to compliment conga drums and be somewhat lower in volume than the drums. I find my feet are strong (smelling and playing) and overpower the congas out front.

A side issue is I also play a 14" djun djun layed on it's side with a double pedal. I have to watch it's volume too.

I have a fairly balanced sound now, but the cowbell in particular has this unpleasant clanky sound.

I'll try all your suggestions. The wrist band sounds interesting. Moleskin or something else on the beater might help, and moongel inside the bell possible will help. I've also wondered about silicon rubber sealant being added in the right spot, maybe where the beater hits. Magnets? hmmm, worth a try.



Offline Bart Elliott

  • Chef de Cuisine
  • Posts: 15199
  • Founder & owner of DrummerCafe.com
    • bartelliott
    • bartelliott
    • w w w . B a r t E l l i o t t . c o m
deadening cowbells
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2006, 05:36 PM »
If the volume is the issue, the solution is going to come in the performance (aka player).  :)

Don't let the beater travel far from the Cowbell while you are playing. A greater distance equals increased volume. If you keep the beater about an inch or two from the Cowbell, the sound will be as soft as you can get it and still play.

To solve this problem, adjust the beater so that when your foot is OFF the pedal, the beater is close to the instrument. Adjust the tension of the pedal tighter so that when you play your foot on the pedal, relaxed mind you, that the beater doesn't move. Now all you'll need to do is barely move your foot to strike the Cowbell.

I personally don't like having this type of set-up because when I want to play dynamics or play louder, I can't because the beater won't swing back far enough. The only way to get any volume is to stomp on the pedal ... and that's not exceptable to me. So my preference is to practice and work with the pedal to gain complete control of it ... being able to play soft or loud.

Cowbells are like Cymbals ... you can only play them so soft ... especially when using a pedal.  8)

Offline Bob Pettit

  • Cafe VIP
  • Posts: 888
  • Designated Driver
Re:deadening cowbells
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2006, 07:49 PM »
The first thing I tried was a strong magnet I had on the fridge. It works! The volume was reduced quite a bit while maintaining a nice tonal quality. It does matter where I placed the magnet, some spots are a lot better than others.

Now I'll see what I can do about the woodblock. I'll work on my finess Bart.

Thanks you all.

Offline Bart Elliott

  • Chef de Cuisine
  • Posts: 15199
  • Founder & owner of DrummerCafe.com
    • bartelliott
    • bartelliott
    • w w w . B a r t E l l i o t t . c o m
Re:deadening cowbells
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2006, 08:39 PM »
The first thing I tried was a strong magnet I had on the fridge. It works! The volume was reduced quite a bit while maintaining a nice tonal quality. It does matter where I placed the magnet, some spots are a lot better than others.

Very interesting about the magnet. You're not striking the magnet on the Cowbell are you? I assume you just have the magnet acting to reduce the vibration of the Cowbell and placing it in various places to create different effects. I'll have to check that out!

Offline Bob Pettit

  • Cafe VIP
  • Posts: 888
  • Designated Driver
Re:deadening cowbells
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2006, 11:45 PM »
No, not striking the magnet. The magnet I'm usiing is a 1/2 inch thick and 3/4 x 1 inch square, fairly heavy and very strong in it's magnetism. I've got it just in front of where the beater hits.

windhorse

  • Guest
deadening cowbells
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2006, 07:25 AM »
Nothing to add except,, THANKS FOR THE GREAT ADVICE Y'ALL!
 :)

OldGuyAl

  • Guest
deadening cowbells
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2006, 01:50 PM »
Wow!  I was going to post the same question!  

My setup is different but I think the solutions you guys have given will work for me, too.  The bell I want to mute a little is a super-sweet JR mounted on my percussion rack.  I need to be able to play it with one hand while playing something else with the other (and I need to use regular sticks to do it so I can go immediately back to my SPD-S with both sticks) so, the situation is very similar.

Once again, it pays to be able to talk to experienced players!  Thanks!

Al

Offline Bob Pettit

  • Cafe VIP
  • Posts: 888
  • Designated Driver
Re:deadening cowbells
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2006, 03:40 PM »
I continue to search for the perfect cowbell sound at a reduced volume.

The magnet was interesting: the best spot was right in front of the beater, but noticed the metal beater post was effected by the magnetic pull. It would sometimes 'stick' the beater down, the magnet was so powerful. I moved it further away and the sound was not as good.

Today I went to a toy store and bought a little rubber ball and a little rubber square dice. I drilled a hole through them and mounted them on the beater posts.

Neither ball nor dice worked on the woodblocks or jam blocks, they just did not produce an audible sound. The rubber ball was no good on the cowbell either, but the dice produced a good attentuated authentic bell sound. If I turned the dice so the square edge hit it was very soft, too soft, the flat part work just about perfect.

For the left foot clave I am back with the small blue jam block and hard felt beater. I have adjusted the beater throw so it only travels an inch or so, reducing the sound but still getting a nice hollow woodblock sound.

Isaac

  • Guest
deadening cowbells
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2006, 07:57 AM »
Have you tried any of your
previous solution on the bell
beeater itself - not the bell.
I don't know if it'll work but it's
worth a try, and maybe a combination
of both will do the trick.

For at home playing my foot bell
is also way too loud, but on the
bandstand it's just right.

Isaac

Offline Bob Pettit

  • Cafe VIP
  • Posts: 888
  • Designated Driver
Re: deadening cowbells
« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2006, 06:15 PM »
To update: The toy hard rubber dice has proved effective for a beater head on the cowbell, but I still have not been satisfied with the woodblock sound. LP Jam blocks and Pearl woodblocks were all too loud and if I muffled them they would lose there hollow sound.

So recently I bought a Nigerian log drum from African Rhythm Traders in Portland and this has been working very well with a reverse beater mounted with a rubber dice. I like it cause I can roll the log and get a different sound, one high and more clave like and the other more hollow woodblock. It is good in the 'cool' department too, it looks African.

This combination for cascara and clave have good volume and tone to work with my conga drums.

Offline He Bie

  • Copper Member
  • Posts: 2
Re: deadening cowbells
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2017, 07:07 PM »
I know this is a 10 year old topic, but related to mine.

I'm looking for a cowbell, that will fit my practice drum kit.
I have an adult drum set, and bought the Zildjian Quiet Pack with perforated cymbals, and Remo silent stroke drumheads .

This all, to get the feel of a real drum, without the volume levels that will disturb my neighbors.

My question is, I want a cowbell that fits these volume settings.

According to the review videos on their website, the quiet pack should reduce the drum volume from 100-120dB, down to 87dB, which doesn't top a loud conversation.

My idea was to go with a plastic cowbell, tape it off with a bit of electrical tape. and perhaps stuff something in the end (a cowbell's sound is amplified via the cone shape. One way to muffle it, is to close off the cone shape, perhaps by electrical tape).

Anyone got any other ideas?

 

Drummer Cafe RSS Feeds Drummer Cafe on Twitter Drummer Cafe on Facebook Drummer Cafe on Google+ Drummer Cafe on YouTube Drummer Cafe on Pinterest Drummer Cafe on Instagram