At this point we’re going to discuss the gigging drummer. We will talk about what to expect, what to be ready for, and some things that I’ve done that you should and definitely SHOULD NOT do.
Get out there and make it happen!
OK, so you’ve got the gear, you’ve practiced countless hours, and you’re bored. The next thing to do is get out there and JAM! The best place to start is you’re local music store or online craigslist. Drummer wanted ads are usually free. Of course we’ve all heard the horrors of craigslist so be careful. Now that has been said, cover bands.
I know, I know playing somebody else’s tunes can suck and hardly anyone can agree on what to play but in hindsight it’s a great place to start plus with the right group your playing stuff you already know. Get you’re face, name, and talent out there. At least you’re gigging and making money (sometimes). Ever been to Nashville? That’s all those guys do, covers. All day, every day. Hoping that an established or up and comer sees them and takes them on tour with them. Happens everyday there.
……but what about my gear?
Speaking of Nashville drummers; usually those guys play 5-7 gigs a day, every day. How do they do that you say? How do they set up and transfer their gear that much? Well, they don’t. On music row the various clubs keep a set of drums there with a typical 4-5 piece set of drums and the drummer can simply bring their personal items like, sticks (of course), a snare drum, a seat, or cymbals.
Now the typical weekend warrior (me) will take his own equipment, show up about an hour early from showtime, set up and sound check. In case you don’t know there are little tricks to a quick set up. One trick some manufacturers give you from the start are place holders or mount locks. These are very handy when setting up or tearing down hardware.
Another nice trick is not to re-tighten clamps, tom mounts or floor tom leg mounts after you’ve broken them down. If you’ve got cases (which I highly suggest) they’re just going in there so why re-tighten? When you take them off for packing or remounting you’ll be surprised how much time you’ll save when you don’t have to loosen and re-tighten EVERYTIME. Another trick is by using colored markers for cymbal arms if you have more than one also to use as place holders. You can mark where you’re boom arm mounts and color code which one goes on which arm to save set up time, also you can use electric tape as cymbal arm place holders, the only draw back of tape is if you ever need to move the arm beyond the taped point you’ll have to remove the tape.
Cases, Cases, Cases!
If you’re planning on doing any traveling or gigging on the road I cannot stress enough the importance of cases. You’ve put so much time and effort into you’re rig, not to mention money, why not protect that investment. If you think that the vehicle you’re traveling in can protect you’re gear, you’re dead wrong.
Drum cases will protect you’re investment as much as the money you put into them. The cheaper the case, the less protection you’ll receive. Drum bags are a good way to go for something to cover them but they will not protect them if a guitar amp falls on one. Some drummers try to find the same brand of cases to match their drums like gretsch drum cases for instance. The manufacturers put so much into the production of their drums that unfortunately (if they do make them at all) they will not protect them.
SKB, Protector, and any brand of Flight cases are really the best to cover you’re instruments.
Other cases, parts…..etc.
Other cases to consider are hard shell cymbal cases, a trap case for hardware (trust me, you’ll want wheels!) and a separate case for you’re snare. Sometimes a separate snare case will have room for extra heads too. When you’re out and about you’ll really be up the creek without the proverbial paddle without having an entire snare drum backup or at the very least back up parts.
I can’t stress this (also) hard enough..no matter how expensive and pretty or old and cheap you’re snare drum is IT IS GOING TO FAIL! It is the 1st or 2nd drum that takes the most pounding. Take the precautions when you’re out to cover ass-cets. If you do not have an extra snare drum as I mentioned b4 take at least an extra snare head, batter head, snare strands, and snare straps or cords. A few extra cymbal felts wouldn’t hurt either. Those little bastards always seem to run away.
One more thing that you wouldn’t realize that has a huge amount of failure rate is the bass drum. Like the snare, the bass drum is the 1st or 2nd most pounded drum in you’re arsenal. Protect it. The one thing that will suspend the life of you’re bass head is remo’s beautiful invention: the falam slam patch. They come in single or double versions and not only will it increase you’re attack sound but will make the life span of you’re bass head triple! It is a piece of Mylar over Kevlar (the same stuff made in bullet proof vests) so it’ll take some beatings.
So in the end…
Have fun, enjoy you’re shows. A couple things to keep in mind are don’t get too messed up when you play. I know a few of us may “smoke” and drink but keep that to a minimum and save it for the post show party. Even though you’re the drummer, I know it sucks but you are replaceable. The more shows you’re playing messed up the more likely you are to lose you’re gig. Remember Steven Tyler’s words of (on the road) wisdom: Wear a rubber and don’t do drugs.
Get some miles under you’re feet and keep jammin!
Hope I could help
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