You may have noticed on occasion that a drummer performs behind a series of tall, plexiglass shields that usually form a half-circle shape.
You’ll see these plexiglass formations most frequently in churches and recording studios for a live band recording setting. I’ve seen them in a few live concerts as well, though they’re comparatively less common on the stage.
So, why do drummers play behind glass in the first place?
The main reason is that these plexiglass shields block the harsh overtones that an acoustic kit often produces when played. Especially if the said kit is being played with great vigor.
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Drummers, We’ve All Heard this Before!
“Can you play softer?”
“Your drums are bleeding into the vocal mics!”
As drummers, something we must be hyper-conscious about in any venue is how loud an acoustic drum kit can be.
The goal when performing is to provide your accompanying musicians and the audience with the optimal level of sound so that the performance can be appreciated by all.
Why Do Live Sound (FOH) Engineers Love Drum Shields?
You will find that FOH engineers who work in venues like a theater, church, or larger warehouse-type clubs are usually huge fans of drum shields!
A drum shield will block the sound of harsh high frequencies that often resonate from a snare drum and crash cymbals that often bleed into other mics. Both the engineer and your fellow musicians on stage will thank you.
The drum shields allow the engineer to dial in sound more precisely and much quicker than if you were optimizing an open kit. A good FOH engineer actually is able to enhance the sound of your drums. Effects like reverb can be added as well as controlled volume reduction can be applied when needed.
Having additional choices with more control available will serve to strengthen your performance and garner much appreciation from your live sound engineer.
Should I Use a Drum Shield?
The question of whether or not a drum shield is right for you depends on a couple of variables.
What kit you are using is an important thing to consider. If you are playing something larger, boomier, and resonant with larger cymbals, then the answer is yes.
If you are playing a smaller jazz-style kit with a smaller kick drum and accompanying toms, then maybe it wouldn’t be entirely necessary.
At the end of the day, it all depends on knowing your environment.
It should also be noted that if you are using a drum shield you should utilize some hearing protection as well. Some of the sounds will bounce back and you don’t want to damage your hearing. Always protect your ears!
How Much Does a Drum Shield Cost?
Drum shields vary in price by a large margin. This is because drum shields can be heavily customized for different instances.
More often than not, most drummers will probably utilize the common three to four-panel setup that would shield your kick drum and left and right sides respectfully. You can acquire one of these drum shield setups within the $200-$600 range. For example, check out this 4-panel drum shield on Sweetwater.
Also available are much larger setups (like this one) that fully encompass the perimeter of the drums. Some even have a ceiling you can place on top for full isolation. For something like what I just described, you’d be looking in the $1500-$4000 range. Setups like this are mostly used in high-end studios.
We, drummers, make a lot of beautiful noise. Because our instruments are on the noisy side, we should always try to be considerate of the people with whom we create our music.
A drum shield is a great way to maintain your style and feel or play without harming others around you.
I hope you have found this to be informative. Happy drumming!