Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rockin' out!

I'm a Rock Band addict. So is my wife. My kids play as well, but not nearly as much as my wife and I.

My wife gave me an XBox 360 for Christmas. The following week, I bought Guitar Hero II. This was the seed that got my wife addicted. A week or two later, we got Guitar Hero III, with a second guitar. A month or so later, we picked up Rock Band. Just the game, since we already had the two guitars.

Being the typical guy who doesn't read manuals unless he has to, I wasn't aware that the Xbox headset could function as a microphone for Rock Band. After someone told me, THEN I read the manual. My daughter loved it. I ordered a Logitech USB microphone from Dell's web site and it was at my door within 2 days.

We knew that at some point we'd get the drums. That point arrived about a month ago after we had to send one of the guitars back to Red Octane for warranty servicing.

It didn't take long to realize that the drums are loud. The hard rubber/plastic surface makes a very distracting "thwack" when you play, unless you tap really lightly. Light tapping works great, but it definitely lacks that "rock out" feeling.

Something had to be done.

I came across these, as I was searching for a source of the stand-alone drumkit. (turns out that it simply wasn't available at the time)

Gum Rubber Pads

I watched all the videos and read a few reviews, and all seemed positive. I had come across other "solutions", but this one seemed to stick with me. So, I ordered a set for $35 Cdn (S&H included).

Unfortunately, do to the apparent high demand, all orders would be delayed by 2 weeks. No big deal.

I actually ended up waiting 3 weeks. Two week wait... 1 week travel time? Regardless, it was well worth the wait.

The first thing I noticed was that they were thicker than I expected. I'm bad with measurements though. They are 1/8" thick, as the web site states they should be. I think my brain thinks of 1/8" as being thinner.

Anyway, the second thing I noticed was... the smell. Rubber stinks, and these were no exception. Or maybe it's he adhesive...

The third thing I noticed is that these were high quality. They felt durable. They felt like they could really take a beating, and survive.

The adhesive backing covers the ENTIRE back of the pad too. Apparently these can be removed easily if there's a need to ship the kit back to Harmonix? I wouldn't like to try that.

Installation was simple:
  1. Make sure the drum heads are clean.
  2. Carefully peel the paper off adhesive backing of the pad.
  3. Center on the drum head and...
  4. Press down firmly.
When I say carefully peel the paper, I mean carefully. It's quite easy to accidentally peel the paper AND the adhesive off the rubber pad, if you can't get a finger nail between the paper and the adhesive. Take your time finding that edge to grab.

We happen to have a small wooden roller in our kitchen that I used to roll a few times across the rubber pad to make sure it was glued down properly.

Now repeat the four steps 3 more times. The instructions included also say to let them sit for 15 minutes to dry. I couldn't wait after the first one was glued on and test it out for one song. I didn't want to go through putting all four on, only to discover that I didn't like it.

I'm pleased to report that they work great! The drums are a little less sensitive, but that's more than made up for with the freedom to "rock out" harder.

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