As far back as August 18, 1962, when Ringo had his first rehearsal as a Beatle at the Cavern Club, he can be seen using John's Harmonica case to dampen the sound of his snare drum.
Other clothes such as this chamois were also used.
Ringo also removed his front drum head and placed a blanket inside the shell. It was reported that a special sweater with eight sleeves was used early on. Note: The movie Help was originally to be called Eight Arms To Hold You. This sweater was made for the film and discarded only to be used as a bass drum muffler.
From the very beginning, one of the main focal points of Ringo's drumming was the sound that he got out of his drums. When you listen carefully to The Beatles' song catalog, you hear many changes not only in his style and technique to suit each song but the sounds that he got from his kits and cymbals. Below are a select group of photos that give you a glimps into Ringo's world.
Whether it be how hard or light he hit a drum, a cigarette pack or wallet on his snare, masking tape or tea towels on a tom, creative mic placement or the type of mic used, the tightening, loosening or complete removal of a drumhead, the use of calfskin or mylar drumheads, etc. Ringo was a creative genius in the use of basic drum kits and getting the most out of them. It's amazing. This list of techniques may seem ordinary by today's standards but Ringo is the guy who knocked down the door in the recording studio with these simple and effective ideas.
Ringo may not have always been the one to come up with an idea but he was the one that would decide on what the final sound was going to be. Ringo taught drummers that you certainly don't have to be technical to know what you want to get out of your drums. Genius!
Another early muffling technique was to use a cigarette pack on his snare.
Edges of tea towels were sometimes taped or drawn behind the tension rods and pulled tight or knotted.