Emergency kit for drums: 13 things every drummer should carry along
Sometimes the gig hangs by a thread: yesterday everything was working perfectly - and now, during the soundcheck, an essential part has fried, shattered, gone missing, or somehow quit on you. Luckily, you ALWAYS have a toolbox with you! It not only contains the utensils for regular use but also the things that can save your ass in case of doubt.
Because the true value of your tools is not measured in money! If, for example, your outrageously expensive luxury D.I. box decides not to cooperate today, you can leave it out if necessary, and probably no one will even notice. No problem. Much worse would be a defective hi-hat clutch, which costs only a few euros but offers virtually no room for improvised repairs. That delicate hi-hat playing is over. Quite annoying. So make sure you always have your toolbox with you, containing the most important tools and parts. By the way, the difference between professionals who are constantly on the road and hobby musicians with only a few gigs a year lies solely in the frequency of breakdowns: Sooner or later, it happens to everyone!
Table of Contents
So as you go through the following points, check what (doesn't) apply to you and get everything that is relevant to your situation. You will need:
You can, if necessary, do without all the drums (if you're playing Rockabilly, you might not even have a bass drum) - but without a snare, the gig will be very tough for you and your bandmates! So always have a suitable drumhead with you because if your drumhead tears, you can't repair it. A luxury solution would be to have a second snare drum. It can be quickly swapped out. It's similar with the bass drum. If your bass drum has a closed resonant head or one with a small microphone hole (no more than about 10 cm in diameter), you could put it on as a batter head in an emergency and save the gig. Otherwise, always have a bass drum batter head with you! By the way, in most cases, there's plenty of room in your snare or bass drum case for a spare drumhead!
It seems like a trivial matter: you always have your drumsticks with you, right? However, the stick bag can actually go missing. A classic scenario is overlooking or leaving behind the stick bag in the chaos of a festival, where everything is happening quickly or even hectically, and the usual routines are not followed. We're talking about the items and tools that can save your gig. Without drumsticks, you're stranded! So, include a new pair of drumsticks in your toolbox! (This also applies to brushes or mallets if they are an essential part for you.)
3. Drum Key
Many drummers keep a drum key in their stick bag. If the stick bag goes missing, the drum key is gone too. It's great to have a replacement for the recently torn snare head with you, but it's a shame that you can't put it on without a drum key...
4. Hi-Hat Clutch
either the clutch itself or the corresponding wing screw, which you use to tighten the clutch on the hi-hat rod, wears out and the screw suddenly spins freely. As a result, you can no longer open the hi-hat, which significantly limits its usability. Squeezing, clamping, and gaffer tape won't help in this situation. You need a replacement clutch.
5. Screws and Nuts
If your drum set is "uniform," meaning that the hardware is entirely from the same series or manufacturer, you can assume that only one or a few different sizes of screw threads are used. Since threads, like the ones on the hi-hat clutch, can wear out, always have at least one screw (wing screw or wing nut) in the appropriate size ready. Check your tom mounts, cymbal stands (including the top attachment), snare stand, hi-hat, etc., to determine the required sizes.
6. Cymbal Mounts
If you happen to lose a wing nut on a cymbal stand, the rest of the cymbal holder may also slide off the stand. The entire construction typically consists of several essential small parts that work together to securely hold and allow your cymbal to swing freely.
Therefore, you should have each individual component at least once in your toolbox:
- A pair of cymbal felts (to protect your cymbal from direct metal contact with the cymbal seat on the stand).
- A matching wing nut to prevent the felts or cymbal from falling off the stand.
- Thread cover (plastic or rubber) for the cymbal holder's threading. This protects the hole in the cymbal from direct contact with the metal of the stand (and also prevents any unwanted sound interference from the cymbal). TIP: In practice, a creative solution has proven to be effective! You can get a piece of fuel line hose from an automotive supply store that matches the diameter of your cymbal holder's threading. A "good" fuel line hose for our purposes is relatively thick-walled and can be easily cut to the perfect length with a knife. It provides long-lasting protection and a perfect fit!
7. Beater and Springs
Your pedal is also one of those parts that can put you in serious trouble if it malfunctions. The shaft of the beater is generally quite thin, so it can happen that your beater eventually breaks. Therefore, always have a spare beater with you. Even more often, the spring that brings the beater and pedal back after each kick succumbs to constant stress. It's a small, lightweight part that you should always have as a backup. Luxury solution: a second bass drum pedal! As long as you're not using a highly specialized pedal (such as the one needed for speed blast techniques in the metal genre), your backup pedal can be of simple construction - its primary purpose is to be quickly mounted in case of an emergency and save your gig.
8. Power Supplies and Power Cables
As an e-drummer, you should always have a spare power supply for your sound module in your toolbox! But don't forget about devices like your headphone amplifier or any other electronics you bring along as an acoustic and electronic drummer. It might be sufficient to have a universal power supply with enough power and a small collection of suitable plug adapters to power any device. A cold device cable is also one of those things that can be forgotten or lost. (You might not need it yourself, but it's one of those little gimmicks that can save the gig and make you a hero if, for example, the keyboardist didn't properly stock their toolbox.) Additionally, you will probably find yourself using a power plug with a USB port and a charging cable for your mobile devices more often than you might think. The pro option is to bring a charging plug with two USB ports.
9. Signale Cables
It is frequently used and often breaks: the Y-cable that connects your mobile device to your mixer, monitor amplifier, mix-in on the sound module, etc. The combination of a mini stereo jack (3.5mm) to 2x RCA (cinch) has proven to be effective, along with suitable adapters from RCA to jack or XLR, and from mini stereo to stereo jack (6.3mm). With this equipment, you can handle practically all connections. As an electronic drummer, you should also have 1-2 sufficiently long stereo jack cables as reserves, which serve as trigger cables. If your sound module has a cable harness with a multipin connector, be sure to get a spare harness - and do it before you need it.
Whether you're using headphones for monitoring or want to go through the songs alone before the gig, make sure to have a spare pair of headphones readily available in your toolbox! It doesn't have to be an expensive piece; instead, focus on good isolation, as that will allow you to use the headphones for any relevant purpose if needed. The cable is also important, so it's better to have it slightly longer than too short. It's best to get a suitable extension cable so that you can be flexible with the length. And don't forget the plug adapters (3.5mm stereo and 6.3mm stereo) for every size on every device!
11. Backups, USB-Stick, SD-Card
Are you an E-drummer? Do you play back the samples from a sampler? Do you manage the videos for the show or the setlists? Then always have a current backup on the corresponding storage device with you! This will almost always be a USB stick or an SD card. Each application should have its own dedicated storage device. Don't rely on the internet. It won't be of any use to you if you're playing in a remote field in Hintertupfingen where there is no reception. With a backup, you can restore your frozen sound module, feed the backup sampler with your content, and if necessary, have the setlist PDFs printed at the hotel reception. Pro tip: Create two backups and give one to a bandmate. This increases the security even further.
12. Duct Tape
Duct tape holds the life of a musician together. Use good quality gaffa tape because it lasts longer without the adhesive smearing. Silver gaffa tape is less noticeable than white and is easier to label compared to black tape.
There are countless occasions where you might need a knife, a file, a screwdriver, or a pair of pliers. With a reliable multitool like the Leatherman, you'll be prepared for the majority of situations.
a) Pencial case & notebook
Even in the age of electronic gadgets, it often helps to be able to quickly jot down a set of setlists, write down your phone number behind the windshield, or leave a message for a colleague. A college notebook is perfect for this. It keeps the pages together, but you can easily tear them out when needed.
The corresponding pencil case includes: a pencil with eraser and sharpener, a black and blue pen, a black marker and 1-2 colored markers, transparent tape, glue stick, and a small craft scissors.
b) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
It consists of at least safety shoes and gloves. A reflective vest and helmet complete the PPE if necessary. If you belong to the group that has to load and unload all the band equipment themselves due to the lack of roadies, then treat yourself to PPE! It will be unnecessary 19 times, but on the 20th time, when a case falls on your foot, it will prevent a bone fracture. Have a great gig!