You may or may not have noticed when observing bands on stage that the drum set is set up on a rug. However, if you play the drums yourself, you will quickly notice the lack of this unnoticed piece of equipment. Drum rugs are not just for show. They are an essential part of a drummer’s kit, but why do drummers use rugs?
Drum rugs serve three important functions for a drummer:
- Keeping the drums in place
- Preventing damage to the floor
- Absorbing sound
While you can technically play a drum set without a drum rug, the rug allows a drummer to play at their best and helps their drums to sound their best.
If you want to keep your drums from sliding away from you and avoid unpleasant echoes, a drum rug is a must. Keep reading to learn all about how drum rugs help when playing the drums and how to pick the best one!
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What Is a Drum Rug?
Are drum rugs a specialized piece of equipment, or does it simply refer to any rug that you throw under a drum set?
As the name implies, drum rugs are rugs specifically made to go under a drum set. They are sized and designed with this purpose in mind, so while a normal rug might do part of the job, you need to buy a drum rug and not just a plain rug, although you can convert an area rug into a drum rug.
Drum rugs differ from a normal rug in several ways. They tend to be thicker and more durable than an average rug. They often have an anti-skid material on the bottom as well as weighted corners. They are also sized specifically for drum sets and can be easily folded to make taking them to different events easier.
In short, a drum rug is not an ordinary rug. Now, what makes these special rugs so vital for drummers?
What Does a Drum Rug Do?
A particular drum rug can become a part of the style and signature of a particular drummer, but they are there to do much more than decorating.
As a drummer, you need a drum rug, and here is why.
Stabilizing the Drums
The most important role a drum rug plays is keeping your drum set from moving. If your drums are on a wood floor especially, all of that playing can start to cause sliding. It is not just the force of the drum stick that causes sliding. The sound produced by the drums creates shockwaves that can cause your drums to move. The bass drum in particular is notorious for this.
Your drums may not go flying across the room, but keeping your equipment exactly where you want it is crucial to playing well. The last thing you want is to feel your bass drum moving away from you in the middle of a song.
A drum rug is thick, giving your drums something to sink into helps stabilize and prevent movement. It also uses an anti-skid bottom and sometimes weighted corners to ensure that the whole set stays exactly where you put it. With a drum rug, you can rock out at full force and trust your set to stay in place.
Protecting Your Floor
For most people, keeping your drum set steady is reason enough to buy a drum rug, but there are other reasons to invest in this piece of equipment. Besides keeping your drums in place, a drum rug is a necessary protective layer between your drums and the floor.
- When you play your drums, you apply force, and that force has to go somewhere
- While a lot of it goes into the drum head, some of it is dissipated throughout the rest of the drum and into your floor
- Beating on your drum that is sitting on the floor is indirectly causing your drum to beat on the floor
The legs of the drums can thus over time dig into the floor causing scratches and gouges. A drum rug completely prevents such damage. Not only can you keep your own floors in top shape, but this also ensures that you do not upset any venues by damaging their floors.
A drum rug is thus a necessary tool for all drummers who play in different locations. You never want to guess as to whether a floor can handle your drums.
The final purpose that drum rugs serve has to do with the music itself. Hard surfaces produce echoes. Think about the sound when you bounce a ball on a wooden floor versus on a carpet. A drum set on a wooden floor is creating a lot of noise that the floor then echoes back.
The sound of these echoes is not the only problem:
- The echoing sound waves reverberate back up through the drum set which can cause your drums to vibrate, producing even more unwanted sounds
- These echoes are sounds the drummer cannot control
- It can make your playing sound less precise and also makes it much harder to control volume
The soft surface of a drum rug absorbs this sound instead. The result is playing that sounds less chaotic and which allows the drummer to far more precisely control the sound.
What Should You Look for in a Drum Rug?
So drum rugs are a necessary piece of equipment, but they are not all the same. If you start searching for a drum rug to buy, you may be shocked by the variety of options.
You need a drum rug, but what do you need your drum rug, in particular, to do for you?
Size is of the utmost importance with a drum rug. If your drum set will not fit comfortably on the rug, then it will not be able to do its job. However, a larger rug will cost you more, and a rug that is too large can become cumbersome depending on where you play.
To pick the correct size for your drum rug, you need to measure how much room your set takes up when you are playing. Different drummers need a different amount of leg space, so the size of your drum rug is not just dependent on the size of your set but on the size of the set when you are in it and everything is where you want it.
Once you have determined the dimensions of your set when you are sitting in it and playing, you know how big your rug needs to be. In general, you will probably want to pick a slightly larger size (but not much larger!) to ensure that everything fits comfortably.
Some drum rugs are designed to be folded up and carried around with you from gig to gig, while others are meant as a permanent fixture for a drum set that does not move locations.
This is an easy question to answer but still vital for selecting the right drum rug. Do you move your drum set often? If you use your drum set for gigs at different venues, then you will need a portable drum rug. Look for a rug that can be folded and comes with a carrying case for easy transport.
If your drum set stays at home, then a permanent drug rug is a better option. Some drummers may wish to invest in both a permanent rug for their home and a portable rug for events.
Drum rugs all do the same basic job, but they still differ slightly. Here are some optional features that you may want to consider when looking for a drum rug.
- Weighted Corners: These serve as an addition to the non-kid bottom to prevent your drum rug from sliding. If you are a drummer that plays hard and your drums move a lot, a rug with weighted corners might prove necessary.
- Velcro Security Strips: This feature is not as common as weighted corners, but like weighted corners, Velcro security strips help to better secure your set. You will typically find these on lighter-weight mats that might need extra security.
- Cable Management: These rugs have ports that allow you to easily connect your equipment. A rug with this feature will be more expensive, but it can be useful for those using an electronic drum set or with lots of electrical equipment. Drum rugs in recording studios often have this.
These additional features can make all the difference when it comes to securing your drum and avoiding any potential damage to your drum.
This may go without saying, but for drum rugs, you need to pick a rug made of quality material. Drum rugs have to stand up a lot, and if it wears down too quickly, then you will just be losing money.
The best way to check for quality is to check out customer reviews. You should always expect some bad reviews, but if you notice a consistent pattern of complaints about the rug’s durability or performance, then you may be better off spending your money elsewhere.
If you perform, then the look of your drum rug is nothing to be ignored. You do not want something that will destroy the look of your band or the personal style you wish to cultivate.
A lot of drum rugs come in basic black, which is a great design for minimal distraction. However, there is one problem with black rugs. It is easy to see when they are not clean, and for drummers particularly, it is easy to spot stick shavings.
If you are the type of drummer who finds that they chip and break their sticks a lot, you will need to work to keep a black drum rug clean. You do not want your audience to notice a messy drum rug because it looks unprofessional.
If you want your drum rug to be more eye-catching, you can find them available in different patterns and colors. Just remember that these will probably cost more than your basic black.
Is There a Difference Between Drum Rugs and Drum Mats?
If you begin searching for a drum rug to purchase, you will probably notice that some brands market their products as drum rugs and others as drum mats. Is there a difference, and does it matter?
The terms mat and rug can be used interchangeably to describe products that serve the same function. However, in general, a product designated as a drum rug will be thicker and more heavy-duty than one called a drum mat.
An exception to this is isolation mats. Isolation mats may sound similar to drum rugs, but their focus is primarily on sound rather than on preventing the drums from moving. If your main goal is to stop echoing and improve the sound, an isolation mat is probably a better choice.
If you have an isolation mat but are also having trouble with skidding, you can improve your isolation mat by adding a non-slip pad on the bottom.
What If My Drum Rug is Not Helping?
Some drummers may find to their frustration that the drum rug is not doing its job. Their drums are still skidding! While it could be that the rug itself is not of the highest caliber, there are a few other reasons this may occur.
- Sometimes the floor is so slippery that even a drum rug cannot stop all skidding
- It is also possible that the type of floor might be making it hard for your drum rug to get a grip
- The anti-skid material used on the bottom of rugs may not stick as well to carpets as to hardwoods
If you are having problems with your rug, you do not have to rush out and buy a new rug. There are some ways you can improve things on your own. If the bass drum is the problem, then you may need to add a bass drum stop bar to your arsenal of tools. This goes behind the bass drum to prevent it from sliding.
You can also invest in some additional anti-sliding material. Non-slip pads for normal rugs can be used as well as cabinet liners. If your drum rug only seems to slide at particular venues, double-sided tape for carpet can be an effective way to secure it.
What Is the Best Type of Drum Rug?
Drum rugs can range from less than a hundred dollars to several hundred dollars in price, and there are a lot of different options on the market. Is there a standout feature that the best drum rugs have?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. The best drum rug depends on what you need it to do, which will depend largely on your own playing style.
Aggressive drummers will need a more durable rug with an excellent grip to prevent slipping. Some players may need a large rug to accommodate a large setup, and others may need a small rug that will fit easily in the venues they play. Drummers with an electronic kit may need cable management. It all depends on the drummer.
That being said, if sound quality is a major concern, many drummers swear that traditional woven rugs are the way to go. These will cost more than some of the options made with less traditional materials like rubber and PVC, but their sound absorption is better than other rugs.
If you choose to go this route, then you will probably be buying a traditional rug and converting it into a drum rug. Drummers typically use a basic Persian area rug and add a non-slip pad underneath the rug to make a simple and effective drum rug.
Buying a traditional rug and converting it into a drum rug allows you to use a unique rug and gives you the benefit of both preventing slipping and creating better sound quality.
Best Drums Rugs on the Market
Knowing what to look for in a drum rug is great, but there are still a ton of different ones available. If you want to get an idea of what brands and designs score well with drummers, here are some of the best drum rugs reviewed:
- DW Drum Rugs: DW is a top brand in the drumming world, and their rug speaks to that quality. Their rug is simple and effective.
- Meinl Cymbals Drum Rugs: Meinl Cymbals makes a quality drum rug that is available in multiple styles and sizes for a bit more personalization.
- Tama Drum Rugs: If you want a woven drum rug, but do not want to take a risk by buying a normal rug, then Tama is the brand for you as they make traditional woven drum rugs.
- Black Widow Drum Web Anchoring Drum Mat: This is not a traditional drum rug. This mat is very small and relies on Velcro strips to secure your set. It gets points for being easy to set up, carry, and clean, but it may not keep your set as still as you would like.
If you are looking for the best drums sold on the market, then consider these brands. Most of these brands make high-quality drum rugs that can be personalized for you.
Why Drummers Use Rugs, Conclusion
Drum rugs are not just for show. Although often overlooked and forgotten, drum rugs do the crucial task of keeping the drum set stable. No drummer can play their best with a moving drum set! Besides that, drum rugs also protect floors from damage and aid in preventing echoing and unwanted vibrations.
Drum rugs help drummers play at their best and are an absolute must for any serious (or even semi-serious) drummer.