Care and maintenance advice to keep your drums in prime playing condition.
Posted: 14 May 2019
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.
Cleaning your drum kit is one of the best ways to help prolong its life. You should always clean any visible dirt from your kit straight away, and it’s also well worth giving it a thorough spruce up every year or so. The best way to do this is to properly break down your kit, including removing the drum heads, rods and lugs, before individually cleaning each element.
Cleaning the shell with a soft cloth is a great way to remove any build-up of dirt that’s affecting the sound quality. The same technique should be used with the heads too, and you could even use a lightly damp cloth to get rid of any stubborn marks. Just be careful not to get the skins wet or you could risk damaging them permanently.
For the cymbals you could use a damp cloth or any cleaners available that are specifically designed for cymbals. Just remember never to use any products that contain harsh chemicals otherwise you could erode the metal.
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.
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:
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.
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:
A drum kit is an expensive piece of equipment, with lots of components that could go wrong if not properly taken care of. Spending some time and giving your drums a little love can go a long way in making sure your kit lasts and sounds at its best for many years to come.