O-Rings are a cheap, quick, and easy way to reduce ringing and sustain, fatten up your sound, and control hard-to-tune drums.
O-Rings are rings of plastic that sit on top of your drumhead. They cut out the overtones that occur around the edge of the drumhead, and reduce the sustain to provide a much more focused sound. What does this mean? With O-rings you’ll remove strange ringing from your kit, and get a nice deep thud. O-rings will cut out ringing overtones, especially with medium and higher tuning, or will allow you to tune very low for a deep fat sound. If you’re having a hard time tuning your drums, these will help. They’re easily removable, with no sticky reside – stop using duct tape on your drumheads!
You can Make O-rings yourself with your old drumheads… Cut them into flat rings (thinner for a more open sound, thicker for more dampening).
There are also different inexpensive retail O-ring options available if you don’t have old drumheads just lying around. Remo RemOs and Evans E-Rings are cut to different sizes to suit your drums. They’re also (probably!) more consistently cut than your home-made O-rings from old drumheads. The Evans version is slightly thinner than the Remo rings (with Evans therefore giving slightly less dampening) – keep this in mind if you’re choosing between the two.
Another option is the Remo Muff’l control rings, which give a more extreme amount of dampening due to the foam rings mounted to the underside. These O-rings will cut overtones and sustain more, and give your drums a much warmer tone. If you have extremely hard-to-tune drums, these may be a good solution.
For an even more dramatic change to your sound, see the Big Fat Snare Drum. This product takes O-rings to the next level, and can give a great deep fat thud to your drum sound.