Make a Joyful (Quiet) Noise

Your noises can still be joyful, but in many situations involving Houses of Worship, you need to keep the volume under control. Here are some tips on how to keep your congregation happy and engaged—by keeping the noise levels down.

Electronic Drums

They may not feel exactly like acoustic drums, but they make hardly any noise when you play them—you need to plug them into to an amplifier or PA system, and as soon as you do that, you have a volume control. Easy! Models range from the mid-line Roland TD-25KVX-S V-Drums (Fig. 1) to the affordable Behringer XD80 USB 8-piece electronic drum kit. (Fig. 2).

Fig 1 Roland TD-25KVX-S
Fig. 1:  Roland’s high-end TD-25KVX-S V-Drums features mesh heads and a sound engine based on Roland’s TD-30 V-Drums.
Fig 2 Behringer XD80-USB
Fig. 2: The Behringer XD80 USB has 10 factory presets, 5 user-programmable drum sets, and the HDS240USB sound module.

Acoustic Drums

Check out the article on Sabian FRX cymbals which reduce acoustic cymbal noise considerably. You can also dampen acoustic drums with products like the Evans Sound Off Drum Mutes (Fig. 3) or the Vic Firth MUTEPP6 drum mute pack.

Fig 3 Evans SO-2346
Fig. 3: Evans’ Sound Off Drum Mute 4-Pack has dampeners for 12″, 13″, 14″, and 16″ drums.

So what’s the tone like? Not exactly the essence of drums, but surprisingly good, as you can hear in this demo video. A bonus is that if you use drum triggers on acoustic drums to drive electronic drum sounds (where you can indeed control the volume), the drums will still trigger reliably with the Sound Offs. For kick drums, there’s Pacific Drums’ PDAXPL18. It’s a pillow that muffles a kick drum from the interior.

Electric Guitar

This one’s easy—in theory, because the electric guitar has to plug into an amp. However, many guitarists depend on turning up an amp to get “their sound,” and that means volume. Fortunately, there is a solution: software guitar amp simulators that can give the sound of loud, overdriven amps at any volume level you want. See the companion article on amp sims and multi-effects for more details on how amp sims can control volume levels.

Acoustic Guitar

Although acoustic guitars can be electrified, an acoustic guitar can be loud on its own when someone is strumming away. Enter the Yamaha SLG200N-TBS Silent Series Guitar (Fig. 4), which is 90% quieter than a conventional classical guitar. If you need it to be louder, plug it into an amplification system.

Fig 4 Yamaha SLG200N-TBS
Fig. 4: The nylon-string Yamaha SLG200N-TBS Silent Series Guitar is quiet, but plays and feels like a standard nylon-string guitar.

Percussion

Electronics to the rescue—the inexpensive Alesis Sample Pad Pro (Fig. 5) comes with 200 drum, cymbal, and percussion sounds, but can also trigger sounds stored in drum machines, keyboard samplers, or computers, as well as load new sounds from an SD memory card. You can even use it as the core of a compact drum set, because it has inputs for kick drum and hi-hat trigger pedals (not included).

Fig 5 Alesis Sample Pad Pro
Fig. 5: A set of pads, like the Alesis Sample Pad Pro, is not only one of the least expensive ways to get into drums, but is excellent for triggering percussion.

Piano

There’s nothing like a physical piano…or is there? Electric pianos have made tremendous strides over the years in terms of sound quality, feel, and affordability. And you don’t have to tune them! Casio’s PX780BK is a classy-looking and fine-sounding electric piano (Fig. 6) with a built-in amplifier, which may be all the volume you need. If not, you can patch it into a PA system.

Fig 6 Casio PX780BK
Fig. 6: Casio’s PX780BK is naturally quiet because it’s electric, but also features an 88-note, scaled hammer-action keyboard.

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