How To Build A Tennis Ball Drum Riser

If you have an electronic drum set and live in an apartment you may be looking for ways to quiet the vibrations coming from your kick drum, high hat, and drum rack. Do you want to learn How To Build A Tennis Ball Drum Riser? A Tennis Ball Drum Riser is a great way to stop unwanted noise from your kick drum and high-hat pedals transferring through the floor and bothering your neighbors.

How To Build A Tennis Ball Drum Riser

If you have an electronic drum set and want to practice in an apartment without bothering your neighbors a tennis ball drum riser may be a good option for you. Let’s look at How To Build A Tennis Ball Drum Riser. You will need two sheets of 3/4 inch MDF board, 13 or more tennis balls, zip ties, carpet padding, carpet, rock wool insulation, a drill, a hammer, 2-inch hole saw drill bit, 5/8-inch drill bit, razor knife, and some scissors to get you started. I will show you a simple and easy plan to build a tennis ball drum riser for your electronic drum kit and your drummer’s throne. It is possible to build a tennis ball drum riser that will give you excellent results and I will give you some tips to help supplement the noise reduction on your Tennis Ball Drum Riser If you need more noise reduction.

Materials You Will Need

Let’s start off with a complete list of materials that you will need.

Most electronic drum kits and the drummer’s throne will fit on a 4′ X 8′ Sheet of MDF Board. (1.22 meters X 2.44 meters)

So, we are going to go with this size for most electronic drum sets.

If you do not need this big of a size, by all means, you can make yours a 4′ X 6′ or similar size. (1.22 meters X 1.83 meters)

It’s important to include the drummer’s throne on the platform that we will be talking about today. This will look much better and perform much better.

List Of What You Need:

  1. 2 Sheets of 3/4 inch MDF Board 4-Feet X 8-Feet (Can Cut To Smaller Size If Needed)
  2. 13 Tennis Balls (Can Use More But Don’t Over Do It)
  3. Rock Wool Insulation
  4. 18 Inch / 175Lb Tensile Strength Cable Ties (Similar Size and Strength Will Work)
  5. 2 Inch Hole Saw Drill Bit
  6. 5/8 Inch Drill Bit Long Enough To Drill Through Both Sheets Of 3/4 Inch MDF Board
  7. 1 Roll Of Standard Carpet Padding (Enough To Cover The Top Of The Riser)
  8. 1 Roll Of Carpet (Pick Something You Like) Large Enough To Wrap Around The Riser And Attach On The Bottom
  9. Fabric Nails To Attach Carpet (You Can Also Use A Little Glue)
  10. Utility Razor Blade
  11. Scissors
  12. Skill Saw (You Can Have The Hardware Store Cut The Sheets To The Size You Want)
  13. Drill
  14. Enough Hand Clamps To Clamp Your MDF Boards Together For Drilling (8 or 10 Clamps Should Do)
  15. Hammer
  16. Straight Edge or Yard Stick
  17. Measuring Tape
  18. Pencil

Be Sure And Watch The Video Below For Helpful Tips And Information.

Video Credit: Blue Line Drums

Step One: Measure The Area Around Your Drum Set

The first thing you want to do is set up your drums the way you like to play them.

Next, take a measurement of the length and width of your drum set and drummer’s throne.

Give yourself a little extra room so that none of your stands or drummers throne is right on the edge of the platform.

Keep your layout in a rectangular shape. (4′ X 8′, 4′ X 6′ etc.)

If you have a little extra space on your platform that is fine.

Step Two: Purchase Supplies

You can probably get most of your supplies at one of your local hardware stores like Lowes, Home Depot, etc.

If you want the hardware store to cut your MDF boards to the size you want, be sure and ask them if this is something they can do for you.

Most hardware stores are set up to do this for you and this way you don’t have to mess with a skill saw. Let them know you need both MDF boards the same size.

Most hardware stores will also have a carpet section where you can pick out some carpet that you like and get some carpet padding.

Do not skip on the carpet padding or the rock wool insulation.

You will probably have to purchase the tennis balls from a sporting goods store.

How Much Do The Supplies Cost?

I’m not going to go into the exact cost of the materials.

The cost varies greatly depending on where you live.

Don’t go the cheap route on everything.

Build yourself a nice drum riser that you can be proud of and use for years to come.

Step Three: Cut The MDF Board To The Size You Need

It’s time to cut the 3/4 Inch MDF board to the size you measured and decided on.

You can have the hardware store cut the boards for you or if you have a skill saw, you can cut the boards yourself.

**Note: If You Have Never Used A Skill Saw, Get Someone To Help You.** Wear Safety Glasses.

You want to make sure both boards are the same size.

Step Four: Clamp The MDF Boards Together

Now that you have your MDF boards cut to the same size, lay one sheet on top of the other and clamp them together.

Use the clamps and make sure the clamps are good and tight, so the MDF boards aren’t sliding around.

This step is important because both MDF boards need to be the same.

Step Five: Measure And Mark The Location For Each Tennis Ball

Now that you have the MDF boards clamped tightly together, it’s time to lay out the location for each tennis ball.

1. Start with your tape measure and measure in 4 or 5 inches from each corner and mark with an X.

You should have an X marked on each corner that is 4 or 5 inches from the edge on both sides.

2. Next, find the middle between each corner X on the top, sides, and bottom. Measure in 4 or 5 inches and mark your top, sides and bottom with the middle X.

So now you should have an X marked in each corner and an X marked on the top, bottom, and sides between each corner X for a total of 8 X’s around the outside edge of your MDF board.

3. Now, find the exact center of your MDF board and mark it with an X.

Draw a line from the Top Left Corner X to the Bottom Right Corner X.

Draw a line from the Top Right Corner X to the Bottom Left Corner X.

4. Draw a line from the Top Center X to the Right Edge Center X.

5. Draw a line from the Top Center X to the Left Edge Center X.

6. Draw a line from the Bottom Center X to the Right Edge Center X.

7. Draw a line from the Bottom Center X to the Left Edge Center X.

You should now have something that looks like the drawing below. The little target looking circles are where the cable ties can go.

Tennis Ball And Cable Tie Layout For A Tennis Ball Drum Riser

Where the lines intersect is where a tennis ball should be placed.

If you want to add extra tennis balls you can but, do not add too many tennis balls. It’s important that the drum riser has some flex.

You do not want it too rigid.

You may find it beneficial to add a couple of extra tennis balls under the drum throne area depending on your weight and the size of the riser you are making.

This layout is good for a 4′ X 6′ riser and a 4′ X 8′ riser.

Step Six: Drill Out Two-Inch Holes For Your Tennis Balls

Now that you have your tennis ball layout drafted it’s time to drill your 2-inch holes for the tennis balls.

Make sure you have your line intersections clearly marked so you know exactly where to drill the holes.

**Note: If You Have Never Operated A Drill, Get Someone To Help You.** Wear Safety Glasses.

With your drill and 2-inch hole saw drill bit start drilling your holes.

It’s best to do this part outside because the MDF board is very dense and will smoke and create a lot of dust coming from the cuts.

Drilling Out 2 Inch Holes For Tennis Balls
Photo From Above Video

Let the drill bit do the work. Apply even pressure on the drill and push down to help the drill bit cut through the MDF board.

Pull back on the drill occasionally to let the drill bit clear itself from saw dust debris and cool off.

Take your time and make sure you are using a new and sharp 2-inch hole saw drill bit.

After you drill through both sheets of MDF board, you may need to take a hammer and tap the center of the cut to knock the wood out of the hole.

Drill out each hole before you move on to the next step.

Step Seven: Mark and Drill Holes For The Cable Ties

It’s time to drill holes for your cable ties.

I would do four evenly spaced holes across the top and bottom edge about 1-inch in from the edge and three evenly spaced holes on the left and right sides.

You can do more holes for your cable ties if you want but it’s not really necessary.

The cable ties are there to keep the MDF boards together after you have placed your tennis balls and rock wool inside the MDF boards.

If you bought good and strong cable ties, this should be enough.

Step Eight: Separate The MDF Boards And Place Tennis Balls

So now you should have two MDF boards that are exactly the same and drilled out with 2-inch holes for the tennis balls and 5/8-inch holes for the cable ties.

Make sure you have all of your holes drilled before you take off your board clamps and separate the MDF boards.

If all of your holes are drilled, take off your board clamps and separate your MDF boards.

Take a minute and clean off any saw dust and debris from each MDF board.

Now lay one MDF board flat on the floor and place your tennis balls in each of the 2-inch holes you drilled.

Step Nine: Place Rock Wool Between Tennis Balls

Now you should have one MDF board lying flat on the floor with all of your tennis balls in place.

It’s time to break out the rock wool insulation and lay it in rows between the tennis balls.

**NOTE: Rock Wool Insulation Will Make You Itch So I Recommend Long Sleeves, Gloves, And Face Mask To Protect You From The Insulation. ** Not Super Dangerous But This Is Best Practice.

Lay out the rock wool insulation in strips between the tennis balls.

Place The Rock Wool Between The Tennis Balls
Photo From Above Video

You will need to peel off the top layer or two of the rock wool so that it is just a little thicker than the tennis ball height.

You do not want your rock wool insulation too thick because it will be over compressed.

You want the tennis balls to take most of the weight and the rock wool will help absorb noise and vibrations.

Do not skip on the rock wool insulation. This is an important step.

Step Ten: Place The Top MDF Board On Top Of Tennis Balls

Now that you have the tennis balls and rock wool in place, it’s time to place the top MDF board on top of the tennis balls.

You will probably need someone to help you lay the top MDF board in place.

If you have done everything right up to this point, the top MDF board should just press down on the rock wool insulation and sit perfectly on top of the tennis balls.

If everything is lined up, give yourself a nice pat on the back. You’re doing great!

Step Eleven: Zip Tie The MDF Boards Together

Let’s break out the cable ties and use them to connect the top MDF board to the bottom MDF board.

Take a cable tie and put it through the 5/8″ holes you drilled for the cable ties.

Run the cable tie through the top and bottom holes and then pull the cable tie tight.

It doesn’t have to be super tight. Just sinch it down nice and snug.

Zip Tie The MDF Boards Together
Photo From Above Video

You will want the buckle portion of the cable tie to end up in the space between each MDF board and the buckle facing in towards the center of the drum riser.

This may be a little tricky but will make it easier to get your carpet looking nice when you get to that step.

Now, go all the way around the edge of the MDF boards and connect them together with the cable ties.

After you Have all the cable ties in place take your scissors or some side cutters and trim off the long leftover tail.

Step Twelve: Cut The Carpet Padding To Fit The Top MDF Board

Your Tennis Ball Drum Riser is really starting to come together.

Let’s measure out your carpet padding and get it cut to fit the top of the drum riser.

Lay the carpet padding on top of the drum riser and use some of the upholstery nails and glue to hold the padding in place.

Once you have the carpet padding in place it’s time to get the carpet ready.

Step Thirteen: Cut And Wrap The Carpet Around Both Layers Of MDF Board

For a nice look, you want to cut the carpet to a size that will wrap around the top and sides of the drum riser and attach to the bottom of the drum riser.

This will give you a professional look that you will appreciate when the project is done.

Make sure you cut your carpet large enough to completely warp around both layers of MDF board all the way around.

Get someone to help you hold the carpet in place and pull the carpet tight as you put it on.

You can use the fabric nails to help hold the carpet in place while you pull the carpet nice and tight.

Wrap The Carpet All The Way Around Both MDF Sheets
Photo From Above Video

Take your time and get the carpet attached. You may have to spend a little time on the corners to get them looking just right.

The fabric nails will primarily hold the carpet in place, and you can also use a little glue on the corners if you need to.

The corners may be a little challenging, but you can do it.

Take your time and make it look nice.

Once you have your carpet on. You are done!

You have worked hard and should be proud of yourself.

This Tennis Ball Drum Riser Should Serve You Well.

Step Fourteen: If Your Apartment Does Not Have A Carpeted Floor

If your apartment does not have a carpeted floor, then you should probably put down some carpet padding and a layer of carpet under your tennis ball drum riser.

You already know the size padding and carpet you will need, and this extra layer of padding will serve you well.

You could also put down some thick rubber mats if you don’t want to do a layer of carpet padding and carpet.

I do recommend you put padding down under your riser if your apartment has hard wood floors or some kind of hard flooring.

Relevant Article: Are Electronic Drum Kits Quiet Enough For An Apartment? Be Sure And Check This Article Out!

Bonus Tips

Let’s say you have your Tennis Ball Drum Riser built but you feel like it could be a little better.

Here are some bonus tips that will help make your Tennis Ball Drum Riser even quieter.

Roland Noise Eater NE-10

The Roland Noise Eater NE-10 is a thick rubber pad that you can lay under your kick pedal and high-hat pedal to absorb vibrations created when you are playing your electronic drums.

If you read the reviews on the Roland Noise Eater products you find mixed results.

Roland advertises a 75% reduction in vibrations by using the Roland Noise Eater NE-10.

Some users claim this thick pad works great and others say it reduces the noise but still needs more noise reduction.

Thick Rubber Floor Mats

Some drummers swear by thick rubber floor mats under their drum set.

I think if you are going to use rubber floor mats, I would get 3/4″ to 1″ thick rubber matting.

The thicker the pad the more vibration the padding can absorb.

I’ve read where some drummers only use a thick rubber pad and this is all they needed.

Again, I think results will vary depending on how your apartment building is built, how hard you play, and the quality of the rubber matting you choose.

Noise Isolation Pads

Noise Isolation Pads are individual pads that you can place under each of the kick drum and high hat stands individual legs.

Roland makes the Roland NE-1 Noise Eaters which is a pack of six pads to use for your kick drum and high-hat stand legs.

There are also products made of thick ribbed rubber or ribbed rubber and cork that are made to absorb vibrations for air conditioning units and washer and dryers that may work well.

Kick Drum And High Hat Noise Isolation Pads

Thick Rug

Some drummers report using a thick rug to help stop vibrations. I think a thick rug will help but, in most cases, will not be enough to stop the vibrations coming from your kick and high-hat pedals.

A Combination

The solution to your problem will most likely be a combination of the above techniques.

The tennis ball drum riser has been reported to work very well but a lot of drummers also placed a rubber pad under their tennis ball drum riser or used noise isolation pads under their kick drum pedal and high hat pedal.

This is all trial and error and you may have to experiment to find what works best for your apartment and neighbors.

Talk To Your Neighbor

If your neighbors have let you know that your drums are vibrating and making too much noise, talk with them and let them know that you will take care of the problem.

Let them know that you are going to build a Tennis Ball Drum Riser, and this should take care of any noise problems.

Heck, your neighbor may even help you build your Tennis Ball Drum Riser.

I think the main thing is to talk with your neighbor and not ignore them. Build a relationship with your neighbor and let’s get this problem taken care of.

What Others Are Saying

Direct QuoteSource
“When you start building your riser build it in exactly the spot you want it to stay in as they are heavy and difficult to move. Also, ensure that it is not touching the wall as this will allow vibrations to travel straight into the wall making your riser completely ineffective.”
“For testing, I used an app called “vibration meter” from Gama Play (Android) resting on the floor, on the carpet, on the drums riser, etc. I think it is the same as the one used on the vdrum tips Youtube channel. With the riser and the mobile on the floor, it detects nearly to zero vibration, even though there are still some.”
“I copied other designs with the zip ties. I think it transfers less vibrations, using something like nails or screws would be a no-no.”
“A common solution to the problem of noise emanating from an electronic kit is the ‘tennis ball riser’, in which tennis balls are placed between two boards and held together with cable ties. However, the drummers who opt for this construction aren’t actually sitting on the riser, so they have to raise their drum thrones in order to play.”
“How to make a neighbour friendly platform for electric drum kit that has impact noise isolating elements.”
“(I live in a two family house on the 2nd floor, the drum room is in the basement). Because the ceiling of the drum room is attached to the upstairs floor, the vibration of the kick pad travels through the drum floor, up the walls, into the ceiling and throughout the first floor. It was actually bad enough to cause their vinyl player to skip. So my father and I built a two layer tennis ball drum riser that fixed the problem completely.”

In Conclusion

The Tennis Ball Drum Riser we talked about today is simple to build and will do a great job at quieting down the vibrations being caused by your kick pedal, high-hat pedal, and drum rack.

Feel free to make any modifications that you like but this design will do a good job.

Don’t go the cheap route when you build your Tennis Ball Drum Riser. Spend a little money and time and do the job right. You will be much more satisfied in the end.

Important: Do Not Put Your Tennis Ball Drum Riser Against The Wall. Keep The Drum Riser 1/2 Inch Or More Away From The Walls. If The Tennis Ball Drum Riser Touches The Walls It Will Transfer Vibrations Into The Walls.

Everyone’s apartments and homes are built differently so different people will have different success rates with this Tennis Ball Drum Riser.

If you like playing, writing, recording, and producing music then take a minute and look around my website.

There are many great articles to help you with your home recording studio setup and great informational articles to get you headed in the right direction.

Feel free to leave your questions and helpful comments below.

6 thoughts on “How To Build A Tennis Ball Drum Riser”

  1. Your How To Build A Tennis Ball Drum Riser article is an interesting article. It seems as if I’d have to have a lot of experience to build this. I knew nothing of this topic until I read your post. As I’m understanding it, a tennis ball drum riser provides isolation from the floor of an apartment or condo unit to keep noisy vibration to a minimum? Do you think my teenage son could build his own?

    • Hi Shalisha, Yes, a tennis ball drum riser is a great tool to help keep the noise/ vibration that are generated when playing an electronic drum set to a minimum. The tennis balls, MDF board, rock wool insulation, carpet and padding all work together to absorb the vibrations so the neighbors do not hear you playing your electronic drum set. 

      If your teenage son has experience with some basic hand tools, I think he can build his own tennis ball drum riser.

      This is a good design and is not difficult to build. 

      I have another article you may find helpful: Are Electronic Drum Kits Quiet Enough For An Apartment. 

      I hope this helps.

  2. Wow!  What a great step by step blueprint for building a Tennis Ball Drum Riser for my drum set.  Drums are my favorite instrument, but the noise and vibrations disturbing others is always a hassle.  You make this process seem a lot more doable with the directions and examples of how to do this.  Even a lay person like me can do it!  Thanks!

  3.  Hi,

    Thanks for the great information. I have been looking for this exactly. I hope this helps keep the noise down. Electronic drum sets are much quieter but can still get those vibrations and thumping so this tennis ball drum riser should help.
    Looking forward to practice whenever I want.
    Thank you

    • This tennis ball drum riser will definitely help keep the noise and vibrations down.  I hope it works good for you.

      Let me know what you think or better yet what your neighbor thinks.



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