My most visited blog post over the past year (by a long shot) was on building a new drum booth. Call it a drum booth, drum shield, drum cage, whatever – the bottom line is that sometimes the acoustics of a room will create a need to control the sound of your drums. I wanted to get a little more detailed with the specs, materials used and the things I learned so I’ve written an updated post here.
Start talking about building a drum booth and some people start talking about using an electric drum kit. Not me, no way…I believe electronic drums are of the devil. My feeling is that if you’re gonna have drums in your band, then play with an acoustic kit.
There were some specific challenges I had in building this particular booth due to the room it was in. I’ll try to leave out things that won’t apply to everyone. There were also some political matters that I won’t go into here….you know, sometimes there’s the insane pastor’s wife you have to deal with.
My goal was to build a booth that contained sound and visually kept the drummer as unobstructed as possible. I wanted it to look and feel feel like he was part of the band, not tucked away in a box. My first choice would be to go without a top/lid, but the acoustics of some rooms will amplify sound shooting up. You’ll also need to consider reflected sound exiting the back of the booth. Something will need to absorb those reflections wether it be theater walls, curtains or sound panels. This will be determined by the room and space you’re dealing with.
Front Panel: 7.5′ Wide x 6′ High
Side Panels: 5.5″ Wide x 6′ High
Cost: Apx. $650
These panels are heavy but two people can move them pretty easily. The main issue I had with the size was preventing a slight warping or bending as the panels stood. I could see wanting a thicker plexi in the hopes it would be a bit stiffer but my concern would be the sheer weight of it.
To attach the corners, we decided to use 1″ x 1″ x 6′ solid plexi strips. We glued them to one surface and then drilled holes and attached the other piece with a bolt (see schematic.) To prevent the slight bending/warping, we also glued one of these strips at the back end of each side piece for additional support. Worked great.
Owen’s Corning 703 Rigid Fiber Insulation
Sheet Size: 2′ x 4′
Weight: 3 lb
Cost: Apx. $1.60 sq/ft (depending on qty)
These sheets of insulation do a terrific job of absorbing sound. We used three aluminum rods and fashioned ‘u’ brackets on the ends to sit on the top edge of the plexi-glass and serve as cross-brace supports for the lid. The insulation sheets were wrapped with an acoustic burlap fabric. We used 6 sheets for the lid and 4 sheets to absorb early reflections at the back of the booth. To create connected panels of 3 lid sheets for easier handling, we took 4′ x 6′ pieces of 1/8″ plyboard, painted to match, and ran bolts through the sheets and plyboard. That gave us two panels for the lid, much more convenient than 6 smaller sheets.
The next matter is lighting. This should be handled depending on your current platform lighting scenario. One thing to consider, if you place floor lights near the drum booth, use LED lighting. Traditional PAR cans generate a great deal of heat and will melt and warp the plexi-glass.
The overall results were dramatic. We finally had control the drum volume in the room, were able to mic the drums and mix them into the house. The main mix improved as ton because we could get sonic clarity and separation with the band. Aesthetically I really like the solid plexi front of the booth rather than the vertical lines created by the 2′ panels from typical consumer drum shields. Like I said, my first choice would be to go without a lid, but unfortunately it’s a necessity in some rooms.
I welcome any questions you might have. Feel free to post your thoughts or questions as comments below and I’ll do my best to help and answer what I can.
Have you built a custom drum booth? Are you building one?
Do you have any questions about building a booth for your space?
Leave a comment below…
As they come in, I’m going to post pics sent to me from those of you who have built your own custom drum booths…