There are many things required to keep a drummer gigging and here are some of the essentials that will keep you on the road…
Good cases are a must for any drummer. A drum kit is a bulky collection of gear and cases will keep it all not only protected but recogniseable. I use Hardcase which I have found to be excellent, handling smaller gigs and the world tour with equal ease. The company is, again, easy to deal with and will supply whatever few spares I occasionally need.
The other thing to remember is that it’s a good idea to mark your cases, as thousands of people use identical ones and you really don’t need to lose drums or cymbals along the way. Needless to say I stick all kinds of shit over mine. It has also been handy to number the cases so that the right number of cases can be quickly counted during load outs at the end of a show.
The trusty stick bag.
Useful for a ton of other things as well as holding your sticks. Heavy duty nylon, the bag can be hung on the floor tom using two straps. Once there, spare sticks are easy to grab while playing. I also carry other emergency things:
Grip wax (don’t generally need it with Wincent sticks, but good if it’s an extra hot night).
A spare hi-hat clutch.
Tone-gel (small self-adhesive damper pads manufactured by Wincent, especially useful to eliminate any ‘ringing’ of the snare – usually caused by my crap tuning!)
Spare felts for cymbals and hi-hat.
Extra wing nuts for cymbal stands.
Spare small lengths of rubber tuning for cymbal protection.
Tuning keys (about five of them!).
Strips of Gaffa Tape (if it can’t be fixed with Gaffa then you haven’t used enough).
A pen/marker (for setlists and the like).
(I actually don’t use drumming gloves except on special occasions. On tour in Brazil a thumb blister got so bad that the thumb was getting worn away and bleeding profusely. Bandages wouldn’t stay on and there was no break in touring to allow it to heal. Buying a pair of Zildjian drumming gloves actually eased the pain, allowed me to grip the sticks properly again and the thumb healed. Since them I carry them always…just in case.)
So you see that a stick bag is kind of like an emergency tool box for immediate problems that you can deal with without really leaving the drum stool. And…you can even stick a can of beer/bottle of water in there too.
The tuning key.
As ridiculous as it may sound, I have been to many gigs where drummers sharing the stage have managed to not have a tuning key on them. Can never understand that. Not only are they used on my pedals, to assemble and dissemble them, but they are the tool that allows drums to be tuned (hence the cunning name). Frequently during shows a skin may start to go slack and requires tweaking. That is why a tuning key in your stick bag or pocket orattached to the kit by a chain are all extremely useful. I have dozens of them everywhere….but the photo above is my favourite. Made by New Zealand’s ‘Dreadmeister’ they are tough…and a work of art. Get one today!
This is the mobile workshop for the working drummer and carried such an array of accumulated crap that it frequently needs clearing out when I’m on the road. You need to be able to deal with any problems that arise, and once again I’m amazed at the number of musicians (of all instruments…including vocals!) that don’t even carry a screwdriver.
Toolboxes are very personal things and what you carry in them depends on the individual, but here is the bulk of what is in mine:
A Drum Dial (tuning tool that is pretty accurate and very handy in assisting with the black art of drum tuning).
Assortment of screwdrivers, pliers and allen keys (hexagonal wrench) in both imperial and metric.
Sharp knife (for cutting tubing etc).
Rubber tubing (for cymbal protection. Aquarium shops will sell it in good lengths – they use it for oxygenating fish tanks).
Spare tuning rods.
Dozens (!) of drum keys.
Spare cymbal nuts of various sizes.
Spare snare fittings.
Spare springs and moving parts for my pedals.
Pens and Markers.
Setlist paper (which I usually run out of).
And…most importantly…a bottle opener, corkscrew and fork. It is VERY frustrating ending up with a plate of hot food at the last minute on tour that you can’t eat because you need a bloody fork! Not to mention a wine bottle you can’t open.
I even carry a spare tooth brush in the back of the tool box…