How to Easily Build an Effective Drum Cage for Half the Money
Most everyone who’s tried it can tell you a plexiglass shield by itself won’t actually dampen the sound of the drums one iota. It’ll just toss the sound back where it’ll bounce off something else and eventually all over the place as it did before you spent all that money. You need something to both dampen and break up or contain the sound waves. The ultimate solution is a drum room or booth that is completely enclosed (preferably with ventilation so the drummer doesn’t pass out halfway through the set!). But for those of us without either deep pockets or bored handymen at our disposal, we need a quick & easy cost-effective solution.
When my grand electric drum experiment hit the fan, we had to figure out a new solution on a minimal budget. To pay for a quality ready-made drum cage, you’re generally talking $2,000+. But with helpful advice from a sound guru we’ve worked with, I pieced together a drum cage that has served us quite well. Here’s how to do it yourself…
Step 1: Find a Corner
We’re going to take advantage of existing structure on your stage so that we don’t have to buy more expensive drum cage material and paneling to surround the back. Another advantage: This cage does not have to swallow an entire section of your stage. We have lighting that I was dreading to block out with a drum cage. But as you can see in the picture above, you can see right through to the wall. Some of you may have questions about the effectiveness of using drywall for part of the cage…we’ll come back to that. Cost: $0
Step 2: The Plexiglass
This is the biggest expense. But go ahead and pay the little extra for all 7 panels of plexiglass to give you the flexibility you need to completely wrap around the drum set from one wall of your corner to the other. The last panel can act as something of a door for your drummers to close behind them. You’ll also want it to be at least 5′ tall. Cost: $739
Step 3: The Lid
More often than not, the biggest culprits of drum loudness are the cymbals and snare. Without something on top to contain and absorb some of the “edge” from those particular pieces, we’re not going to achieve much at all. This part of our drum cage setup may be the most critical. The one I used comes with a cross bar and 3 panels that look professional and dampen sound effectively. Cost: $270
Step 4: The Back Wall
As I promised, we’ve come back to our issue of using drywall for the back of our cage. Look, it’s really not optimal but we are on a budget here. Just steps 1-3 will help a lot by mostly enclosing the set and putting an absorbent lid on it. But you’ll still have sound bouncing off the plexiglass, then the back wall and escaping out any gaps. To help with that problem, I bought 24 one-foot square acoustic panels and stuck them all over the back wall. Turning them in different directions helps scatter the sound a bit. Also, I didn’t want to use their adhesive directly on our wall so we glued them to smaller cardboard squares and tacked the cardboard to the wall with little nails. In our case, a sheer curtain we use for lighting blocks the foam from sight. But they do come in a few different colors if yours would be more visible. Cost: $110
I did use Sweetwater.com for this project and that’s why all my links went to their site, not because of any sort of commission I’m receiving…because I’m not getting a dime! Maybe someday, ha! Also, I recommend that you work with Jeff Green. He’s a great sales engineer there who will take good care of you and, on a purchase of this size, he might even be able to take a bit off the price.
Any more cost-effective solutions out there? Throw ’em out there and maybe they’ll be an even better fit for somebody else.
Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”