Maintaining your kit

Posted: 14 May 2019

Updated: 30th June 2022

The modern day drum kit has been around since the early 1920s and has been the backbeat of music ever since. Here are some care and maintenance tips to keep your drums in prime playing condition.

Read time: 4 mins

In case you haven’t noticed, drums often take one hell of a beating. Be it the constant set-up and dismantling, the drubbing they are subjected to at a show, or the endless cycle of lugging them from rehearsal to show to studio and back again.

As much as your kit was designed to take a bashing, there are ways to look after a kit without wrapping it in cotton wool and barely touching it. We’ve pulled together our top tips to improve your kits’ sound and reliability and keep your gear in prime playing condition.

Re-skin and refresh

Drum skins aren’t designed to last forever, and worn-out heads can sound dull and flat. When you notice this then you know it’s time to replace your heads and bring some life back to your kit.

Don’t forget that your bottom heads can lose their tone as the plastic will stretch over time. The bottom heads, often called resonant heads, won’t need replacing as often as the top ones. Good indicators of when they need changing are that you can’t tune it evenly or it carries no lasting tone.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that snare skins may need changing more often than the rest of your kit, usually because the snare is played more regularly. Beat it more = look after it more. Simple maths.

Tune up before you turn up

Guitarists, bassists and pianists all fine tune their instruments to make sure they sound at their best, so why should drums be any different? The only issue is there’s no exact pitch to tune them to, it’s all down to your personal preference. Having said that there are some definite do’s and don’ts when it comes to tuning:

Lock and roll

What’s the use of cleaning and maintaining your kit if it ends up covered in dust or possibly even ruined, all because you haven’t stored it properly? A proper storage spot will keep your equipment clean and significantly increase the lifespan of your kit. Your ideal stash space should be not too hot, not too cold, not too damp, and not too dry. A good rule of thumb is if it’s not right for Goldilocks, then you might as well chuck it to the bears.

When it comes to storage solutions you should aim to keep your kit in well-padded drum bags that have a snug fit. This means your drums are well protected and unlikely to suffer any damage whenever they’re moved. However, if you regularly transport them, including on planes, you should probably go for a hard case option, for maximum protection.

Check it before you wreck it

Regular checks can help you spot issues before they occur and fix them before they get worse or cause other problems. These issues have a habit of causing you grief at the most inopportune time; usually during a performance. Some key things to look out for are:

  • Damaged hinges, springs or chains (particularly on your pedals);
  • Loose screws; or
  • Scratches and dints.