For those of you who are unsure of what a tambourine is, it is a shallow drum-like instrument with metal discs arranged around the edge. It belongs to the family of percussion instruments and is played by being shaken or hit with the hand or drumstick.
To muffle a tambourine, you can make use of devices like tambourine dampeners, also known as “tamb damps,” that help muffle the instrument. Alternatively, you can use a drum dampener to muffle the sound if you don’t have a tambourine dampener available.
A tambourine is an ancient instrument that is still being used today in many modified versions of its original. There are quite a few types of tambourines today and various methods in which they are played. Muffling is one such method which is employed while playing. Let’s look at this in detail!
What Is a Tambourine?
Tambourines are musical instruments that generally belong to the hand percussion family. They consist of a wooden or plastic circular frame, with many metal jingles (also known as zills) arranged around the outer frame. These jingles have three varieties, which are brass, copper, and silver.
How Does It Work?
The instrument is either played with the hand by striking it repeatedly in a rhythmic motion, or with a pair of drumsticks.
Some tambourines have a double row of jingles or zills, which adds to the richness and loudness of the tones produced. Also, some variants of the tambourine do not have any drumhead at all and only contain the metal discs on the frame.
Why to Muffle a Tambourine
Most of the time, you may want to muffle your tambourine in order to change the instrument’s sound. This is to prevent the tambourine from sounding monotonous and flat. When you muffle it, you get more control over the airflow and resonance of the tambourine without affecting the sound.
How Do You Muffle a Tambourine?
This can be done through a variety of means, depending on the reason you want to muffle it. If you simply want to prevent the instrument from jingling, you can silence it by turning it to a 45° angle. This is usually done during concerts and such when you no longer need to play the instrument.
However, if you wish to muffle the tambourine in order to change its tones, you can try using tambourine dampeners, which are also called “tamb damps.”
Another product that is often used is “drum gel,” which dampens the overtones that need to be silenced. Although its name suggests that it is used for drums, tambourine players make use of this product as well. Let’s take a look at the steps to muffle a tambourine below:
Place Your Dampener Near the Drum Frame
Never place your dampeners in the middle of your tambourine, as the sound will begin to sound choked and also affect the balance of the tambourine. Always place it close to the frame.
Distribute Your Dampener Evenly
While placing the dampeners around the edge, make sure you leave even space between them. You can also imagine your tambourine is a clock and make use of this placement guide below:
- If you’re using 1 dampener, place it at 12 o’clock.
- If you’re using 2 dampeners, place them at 12 and 6 o’clock.
- If you’re using 3 dampeners, place them at 12, 4, and 8 o’clock.
- If you’re using 4 dampeners, place them at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock.
Make Sure the Dampeners Are in Place Before Use
Most dampeners are adhesive gels that stick to your tambourine head, but if they are not placed properly, they can fall off while playing. To avoid this, make sure your dampeners are properly stuck to the surface and aren’t peeling off.
Always Re-Pack Your Gel
Always put your gel back in its case after you’re done using it, as it will dry out and lose its stickiness.
Muffle Ring Placement
Muffle rings are fairly easy to use as they just need to be attached to your drumhead. They are usually around 1 inch (2.5 cm) and are placed around the diameter of the drumhead.
How Does Muffling Work?
Muffling can also be called muting or dampening. So what does muffling exactly do to the sound produced by the instrument? Here’s a list of its benefits below:
- Less ringing
- Fewer overtones
- Less high-pitch frequencies
- Less tone
- Less volume
- Less sustained notes
One of the main problems that percussion instrument players face is the clashing of sounds due to overtones of the previous notes and its interference with the rhythm. Dampening methods and tools help do away with these overtones by strategically silencing them.
Types of Dampeners
Tambourine dampeners are circular pads that can be attached to the base of the drumhead in a tambourine. These are usually made out of silicon and resemble circular gel pads. They are also called “resonance pads” or “drum dampeners.”
The pros of using tambourine dampeners are that they come in a variety of sizes and can be switched easily. They stick to the surface of the drumhead and easily peel off as well.
Additionally, they cause no damage to the drumhead skin and can last for many years.
If you are interested in using dampeners of this kind to muffle your tambourine, I recommend checking out Moongel Resonance Pads (Amazon) as it’s one of the most well-known and highly touted tambourine mufflers available. Drum Dampeners Gel Pads (Amazon) is also a product worth checking out as it gives you a large number of sizes for a great price!
Drum gel is another dampening product that is used by tambourine players. It is similar to gel pads, except that it is not sold in small circles. You will need to measure the circumference of your tambourine and cut the drum gel to suit its measurement before you use it.
This also offers the same benefits as drumhead dampeners and serves the same purpose of controlling ringing and overtones. Drumdots – Drum Dampening Control (Amazon) is something that you might want to check out if you feel this is for you.
These rings work by dampening the edge of your tambourine’s drumhead. Most of the ringing and overtones occur in this area; hence, installing these rings can work wonders in muffling your tambourine.
They come in a variety of sizes, so you will need to make sure you get the right size for your tambourine. Additionally, they are very easy to put on and remove, which makes it easier to use during concerts and such.
If you are not convinced by the idea of using drum gel or pads, this might be the best option for you. I’d recommend trying Remo MF1122-00 Muff’l Ring Control (Amazon) as it comes at a great price and has a triple notched system which enables them to stay on without the use of any adhesive.
Now you know three great products and methods you can use to muffle your tambourine. Based on the size of your tambourine and the control you will like to have over the overtones in your instrument, you can select the size, material, and thickness of the muffler.
If possible, try your best to make use of temporary dampeners instead of investing in permanent ones. By doing so, you will be able to change the tone of the instrument as and when you wish. It is also advisable to avoid drum gels that are not deemed as non-toxic.
Also read: 4 Ways To Soundproof Your Electric Drums
Check out my recommended products for soundproofing.