Drummer Tips & Techniques

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Chromatic Reaction

Having problems cleaning those chrome rims? Now I couldn’t believe this until I actually tried it. Tinfoil and water! I would recommend that the rim or other chrome object is removed from the shell but, take a little bowl of water and a piece of tinfoil, I folded a piece about four times into a 3 to 5″ square. Dip it in the water and rub it across the chrome surface. I am told that there is some type of chemical reaction involved that cleans the surface real nice. No need to scrub or rub like steel wool or cleaners.

I just finished a set of die cast hoops and I was shocked how shiny they are. I don’t recommend it on pressed aluminum rims as I have not tried it yet. Although, I don’t think there should be a problem as long is the chrome job is well done. After using the foil for a while, it will just start to fall apart. I did eight rims and four RIMS mounts with the same piece of foil! Pretty cheap price when you think about it.

Weight Augmentation & Tilting for Hardware

Sometimes you need to Augment your hardware setup to accommodate placement ! If you do here’s a tip ! Keep your large bottle tops or caps off of “vitamin jars”, “orange juice jugs”, “medicine bottles”……….etc. because alot of times these various size caps can come in quite handily, for example maybe your hi-hat needs to be tilted in more towards you, you can place a bottle cap or two under the front tripod leg farthest from you and tilt back the stand on an angle that can make it more accessible to you and comfortable to play, most of the time if you have various sizes of caps they will fit inside each other so that you can either raise or lower the amount of tilt or angle you need !

Also if you have a boom stand that you can’t seem to place quite where you want it due to say, a bass drum being right where you need that tripod leg to be, and you can’t do it without causing the cymbal not to have that support leg where you need it, go ahead and place the cymbal stand as close as you can with the room you have to work with, and then try and place the stand with a cap under the leg that will augment the weight of the stand back and allow you to still be able to hit the cymbal without fear of it falling in towards you or your kit causing damage to your drums or maybe yourself.

Also they make great tilers for hardware, placed under a certain leg for that “micrometer placement” that you may need, I know many times when playing out live, the stage isn’t always flat or level especially on older worn stages those caps come in quite well and keep things running smooth, also most of the caps I’m referring to have raised lettering on the top whether it be a “child proof cap”, or a “minute maid cap” or what have you, the raised lettering, on a drum rug has it’s own gripping action so that it does not compromise the purpose of the rubber feet. Try this if sometime if you need to tilt your stands, because it’s simple and it works, and doesn’t cost a dime ! HIT-HARD!

Silent Rack Systems

If you have a rack system ? You may have noticed that often times you’ll hear squeaks or pings associated with the setup, that’s unfortunately the nature of the beast, but you can subdue that problem with a few simple procedures, that can quell most of the “excess unwanted noise”, here’s how; #1.

Tear down the system so that you are concentrating on just the hollow pipes, including taking the end caps if any, off ! And get some “Touch n’ Foam”, you can it get at any hardware store, fill the pipes with the touch n’ foam, this will end any ringing the hollow pipes may cause, trim the excess and replace the end caps, when you go to set the rack up again, before you mount the toms, cymbals, accessories, etc……….!

Also by filling the pipes with the touch n’ foam that will insure that the pipes will never rust from the inside out. In addition the touch n’ foam doesn’t add any weight to the system. #2. Get a couple of bicycle inner tubes, measure the size of the clamps used, (width wise) on the system and cut the inner tube to fit the the clamp, wrapping it around the pipe, making the the rubber barely visible, it also holds the toms, cymbals, accessories, etc…. tight and makes them noise free.

Also you can do the same procedure for regular type cymbal stand accessories clamps, and the clamps won’t mar, nor dent the stand. You could use duct tape but that has a tendency to move and get gummy with the residue left by the adhesive of the tape, and makes it hard to remove that residue should you want to change the configuration of the set-up in any way. HIT-HARD!

Vintage Bass Drums

If you should happen to own a vintage bass drum, the kind that has hoop mounted spurs, here’s something I did to increase the resonance and it works great ! First off this is’nt a plug for either “Pearl”, “Danmar” nor “Tama”, They just so happen to each make a product that works hand in hand, with hoop mounted spurs, that you can also get as a retro product from “Danmar”. I bought the “Danmar” hoop mounted spurs, and the “air suspension” floor tom feet from “Pearl” along with a “Tama” bass drum anchor, When I got the desired products collected, I took the feet off the “Danmar” spurs, and inside noticed that there was a small nut at the bottom inside of the rubber feet, I took the nut out, and put it in the bottom of the “Pearl” feet, you can do this procedure easily/carefully, with the use of needle nose pliers. the reason for the nut inside will become clear if you should so choose to do this, but it’s to keep the sharp pointed tip of the “Danmar” spur from punching a hole in the rubber foot !

The “Pearl” feet fit the “Danmar” spur perfectly, and help all the way around. I took some leather I had cut from an old purse my girlfriend had given me, to protect the bass hoop from any scratches or mars from tightening the the spurs or even the anchor to the hoop, also giving said attachments a tight and secure torque/mount.

Where you mount the spurs decides the height you set the spurs on the anchor, also the pedal when attached will lift the batter side of the bass drum, working with these four factors simultaneously you’ll be able to get an even height for the bass drum, lifting it up off the floor, I have set mine to about one inch up, giving it a nice clearance so that once you have the spurs, the anchor and pedal set, the bass drum is free’r to resonate without the floor or drum rug absorbing wanted tone. And basically allowing the drum to have the breathing room nessasary to get a truer sound, and with the use of good heads, tune the drum as desired, which will make the the sound more live. the whole process takes about one half hour, And there you go ! “Hit Hard”……………………

Tweaking, “Roto – Toms”

“Roto – Toms”, are great as an accessory or an inexpensive way to buy toms, if you just had a bass drum and floor tom /toms ! you can work with them, tune them, what a great invention ! If you didn’t get the brand name “roto’s”, you can still get a nice looking set out of the generics, if you have the generics, take them apart piece by piece and prep them for whatever color you choose to make them, first you’ll need metal primer paint, which comes in a spray can, along with whatever color you want, and depending on however many tension rods, depends on the size your roto’s are, you’ll need an extra set of those also, it just makes it easier, and a better job “all way round” (note) for the extra ones just use the cheap ones, as they’ll get paint on them, and after your done you can trash them or keep them for future use !

Again you’ll need to make a trip to your local hardware store, for the primer paint and or paint the color you choose, also here’s something I tried, and found out it works well, I took the carriage bolt that comes with the roto-tom to the hardware store with me to get [small black “O” rings] that fit the carriage bolt perfectly, in addition I got several “wing-nuts” that fit the bolt also, more on these items later !

After you’ve assembled all the materials for this, you’ll need a place to paint & prep the toms, with plenty of “ventilation”, like outside, you may want to use a tray table & a cardboard palate like that comes with, soda, water, juices ! To start use the cheap tension rods and thread them into the bottom section of the roto-tom, just enough to be “flush with the hole” so that it can stand on it’s own with the tension rods in place, and using the primer paint spray the bottom section of the tom, make sure you use light strokes when painting as not to over paint it, just cover every part good once, you don’t want “primer build up”, then reverse the rods and repeat, do this to all the toms you have or want to apply this to. When all parts have dried, set them aside, the top parts of the roto toms don’t have any holes, so you find a small pill bottle to hold the upper part of the roto to paint it, and follow the same procedure, less the holes.

Again after all parts have dried, I’d say give it over night, repeat the same process with the colored paint you choose, “KRYLON”, I believe makes the best spray paint for metal objects, primer too ! After all is painted allow to dry, then start to reassemble, having put aside the good tension rods, place a drop of oil on each, and wipe it in and put them aside, The cartridge bolt is the next thing to deal with, before you start to assemble it, thread the wing nut on the cartridge bolt upside-down then place the rubber “O” ring on top of the upside down wingnut, complete the assembly process tweak down the tension lever on the cartridge bolt,

Once you’ve got the tom where you want it, and at the tension you want it at, you can tighten the wing nut on the carriage bolt with the “O” ring in between the tom and wing nut, this will allow the tom to be tuned at whatever sound tension you like and be able to lock that sound in place, it’s great for recording and wan’t that specific sound, because as you might know, as you beat the roto-tom often the tom will go out of the tuning range you set it at, this prevents that from happening!

Now if you have the “Remo” roto-toms, you can do the same procedure with the “O” ring and wing nut. Also if you are inclined to want to take things a step further, you can purchase “Black Chrome” counter hoops / rims, for a real cosmetic effect, say painting your roto’s brass with black chrome hoops looks very stunning w/ clear heads, it would look custom ! Hit Hard !

Beater Weights

Did you know you can make your own beater weights very simply by taking one of your beaters to the hardware store, and going to where they keep their assorted nuts & bolts, and finding the right size nut that has weight and that fits the beater shaft, not to tight but snug, then by either finding small hose clamps or the use of electrical tape, secure the nut in place. by wrapping the tape around the shaft.

If you get or use small hose clamps and there is any excess metal that overlaps the clamp, you can use a good set of snips or sharp wire cutters to cut off the excess metal. If you use tape that’s the easiest! I would suggest you use both, tape and hose clamps in conjunction, tape the shaft where you want the weight, then slip the hose clamps over the tape for an extra secure hold,

Try experimenting with the placement of the weight before you make your final cut of the excess metal left over, Also file down any sharp points or jagged edges, that cutting the clamp metal may cause. It saves money also because you do it yourself and the cost of a couple of nuts and hose clamps cost about (00.15) cents apiece, as opposed to $5.00 or more plus the added cost of shipping. And there you go ! Hit Hard !

Silica Gel Packs

The little “Silica Gel” Packs, that you get in stereo boxes or vitamin bottles, or in any number of shipping boxes, can help you out, when you pack-up your gear, because by the very nature of what they are designed for, also works well in your hardware case ! it keeps the moisture from building up on your hardware, which helps keep your hardware from pitting, Especially if you live in a damp climate or near water, like salt water.

So when you open something that contains these little “Hardware Helpers” keep them, instead of throwing them out, and just put them in your trap case, or your drum bags / case’s, after all your equipment cost’s enough, might as well take care of it, and that’s one of the little things that helps you along the way ! Best of all they are usually free, and as the saying goes, “the best things in life are free” !!! Hit Hard !

“Fibercase Alchemy”

This article only applies to those of you who may own “Fiber” type drum cases. You can reinforce your fiber cases to make them almost like metal. What you do is get some Polyurethane in “can” or “spray” form, I prefer the can type because you can better gauge the amount of polyurethane you use.

Always use a good clean brush to apply it! Clean your cases inside and out as best you can without getting them wet. Vacuum the insides if you have to, to make sure there is no debris (i.e.) dust, lint, dirt, grit……. or what have you, in the bottom of the case. Also clean the outside of the case. If you use a wet type cleaner to clean the case, make sure you let it dry overnight so as to not seal in any moisture when you seal the case with the polyurethane.

To start with, it would be wise to pick a nice clear day in which to do this project “outdoors”, as to avoid strong fumes and to avoid spills on the inside, as that could prove to be quite a mess to clean up, and to avoid the “noxious fumes” some types or brands give off! You’ll want good ventilation! Apply any, stencils / drum stickers / logos, you may want on your cases before you apply the poly, as that will also seal the drum stickers / logos to the case. Put down some type of “drop cloth / tarp” to catch any spillage that may occur!

DO NOT SMOKE WHILE APPLYING THE POLYURETHANE. Once you’ve done these steps, you can start to apply the poly to your cases. Using a three inch brush, start on the inside of the case and apply the poly not to thick but thick enough to cover the area your sealing., I would suggest three good thin coats, do the entire surface once and let dry thoroughly before administering the second, and third, final coats or steps. Make sure not to get the poly on the straps that hold the case together. A good preventative measure for that would be to use masking tape wrapped around the strap about two inches out from the case where the strap is attached to the case.

Do this procedure to all of your cases in the three steps as indicated, again letting each step “thoroughly dry” before re-applying the poly and you will have a nice set of cases that will be waterproof, strong, and longer lasting, and after they dry (“they will almost feel and wear like metal”) also, much more durable than when you got them and more able to stand the rigors of the road and abuse that cases take from being jostled around, stacked, dropped and rained on and any other misuse that may occur !!! I know this is a bit of a job, but well worth the effort and benefits you will derive from doing so, plus it’s not very expensive, other than the time it takes to do this project ! HIT HARD!

Cleaning Cymbals

I have found a great way to clean your cymbals, its a product called twinkle copper cleaner its in the dish soap section at the grocery store. You use hot water and rinse all tarnish down the drain! Then just wipe dry. It doesn’t cost very much either!

More Great Uses For Purse Leather

Again there are almost infinite uses for purse leather when it comes to “drums & drum kit” use. For instance; “Bass drum hoops”. You can cut a piece of leather approximately the width of your bass drum pedal, where it clamps down on your bass hoop, and double deep as the hoops depth so that you have enough leather to cover the top & bottom of the hoop, so it will look like a sideways “U”.

Put the leather over & under the hoop so that the hoop is protected from the metal being “torqued / clamped” onto the hoop, thus protecting the hoop from mar’s & scratches the pedal clamp creates from teardown & setup! If you have a cymbal or cowbell “hoop mount” type of stand the same purpose applies, it really “protects” the wood hoop, and you can torque down on the T-knob / wingnut, or what have you, so that the mounting is secure and won’t budge, without any damage to the hoop. It also works great with bass drum anchors, and hoop mount spurs. I would recommend you use the coarse side down, and the side you clamp should be the tanned / smooth. Hit Hard !

“Gone Fishin'”

I have found that a fishing tackle box works great to keep drum tools in. I have all the necessary parts and tools right there with me when I go on a gig. Happy fishin’, I mean giggin’.

“WORKING THE CURVE” (Inner tubes as stick-savers)

You can make your own “stick-savers”! With a little work, manipulation & patience, you can make a stick-saver that will last a good while, what you need is a bicycle tire inner-tube, “used or new” doesn’t really matter as long as the rubber isn’t dry-rotted. Again you can go to bike shop and ask for any used / trashed inner tubes or buy your own, I personally prefer new, the new ones are cleaner, anyway either one will work well.

To start you get your inner tube, a pair of shears or scissors that have “cutting power”, and a “hole punch” to cut the holes for the tuning pegs, cut an area out of the inner tube the size you feel you’ll need, I start at the center of the inside of the tube, the part that would usually be “covered by the rim or wheel” of the tire, make my cut “working with the curve” of the tube, I usually make it the size to accommodate three tuning pegs, then I loosen “the lugs/tuning pegs” and set the tube where I’ll want it, make a mark as to where the lugs will be going through the rubber, get your hole punch, make the holes with the punch, remembering that “rubber stretch’s” so make the cut count, then mount the piece of inner tube over “the rim/hoop” and you’ll have to work with the rubber a little bit to get it to comply with the circumference of the “rim/hoop”, it might take a little positioning and elbow grease to get it exact but with a “little patience” you will get it, you also may have to trim any excess, and there you go, just “torque” the lugs in place and you’ve got a “stick-saver”! For about the price you’d pay for one “commercially”, you can get about (10) from an inner tube! You may experience a “bit of rebound” off the rubber, but in some applications this is a good thing !!! HIT HARD !

Cymbal Protectors

Bicycle inner tubes, make great “cymbal protectors”!!! If you don’t have a hard case for your cymbals, and you carry them around in a bag, you can get used inner tubes from a bike shop, or buy them new, which-ever comes first, and depending on the “size” of your cymbals, is what dictates the size inner tube or tubes, you would need. What I would do is, get an extra hi-hat clutch to keep the cymbals together when moving them with the inner tube around them.

You may want, or need to cut the inner tube just once, placing the cut at the top of the inner tube inside the cymbal bag, when moving your cymbals, so that the inner tube covers all of the cymbals inside the cymbal bag, and that way they protect the “all important edges” of the cymbals. And I personally would try and get a “heavy-duty mountain bike inner tube”, as the rubber is thicker than normal type tubes and adds further protection. Hit-Hard!

Cymbal Sleeves

Did you know you can make your own “cymbal sleeves”, for a fraction of what you’d pay a retailer, for something you can do yourself! First, go to your local hardware store, and ask where they keep their vinyl tubing, then find the size that would best fit your threaded cymbal post, or take a sample of what you use currently for a cymbal sleeve.

I get, {(7/16″ 00 x 5/16″) ID VINYL [] #048643-025622} you can buy it buy the foot, yard, or how ever much you need, but a yard would do all of your cymbals, plus, and the cost is very low you can get a yard of this stuff for about two dollars, and just cut to size, and it lasts and lasts, it’s very economical and tough. HIT HARD!

Cookie Tins

Cookie tins are a “fantastic” item because there are a lot of uses you can put them to, especially in the category of music! They’re great for coiling up patch cords, extension cords, trigger wires, etc., etc……. But, I like them for holding small splash cymbals. That is of course depending on the size & depth cookie tin you’re using. A 10″-12″ tin is perfect for storing splash cymbals, and depending on how many you have, use small bubble “bubble wrap” and sandwich it between the cymbals.

Use small “bungie cords” to keep the lid on and there you go, a perfect case for your small & splash cymbals. And, it alleviates them getting in your way and taking up valuable space in a cymbal case! And you can easily stash them in your trap case, perfect!!!

Cutting Circular Holes

If you want to make a “neat” circular hole in your bassdrum head: Take an opened metal can (like a coffee can) and heat the open edge over a stove or some other source of heat. When it’s hot enough to melt the plastic, use the hot edge like a cookie cutter to cut out a neat circular hole. Don’t forget to use a pot holder!

Cleaning Drum Shells

When cleaning your shells, (i.e.) polishing, waxing, general maintenance, a good rule of thumb is DON’T use “anything abrasive” that could scratch or mar your shells. Cleaning a “natural wood” finish, either lacquer or matt finish, use a “pledge type” wax or, even better, a wax that contains “no water” in the contents, Gibson Guitars makes just such a product called “Gibson Guitar Polish”. It’s a spray type wax that contains no water! I find that polish to be the best, just for the fact that it won’t promote “pitting” on the lug casings, as water and humidity are the main causes of that problem. If you have matt type finish shells, then you want to use a good “Tung oil” that preserves the wood and coats it, from humidity, smoke, sweat, beer….. etc. If you have wrapped shells?

They’re the easiest! Use a spray cleaner like “windex”. Avoid spraying the cleaner directly on to the shell surface. Use a clean, 100% cotton cloth to apply the cleaner to the cortex of the shell. Be careful not to saturate the cloth, so that when you apply pressure to the cloth the cleaning solution doesn’t run and possibly flow down behind your lugs, causing yet another problem.

Of course, if you want to get really technical, remove all lugs and hardware, and do a real good job! But that to is another story! But if you should do a really thorough job and remove all of your lugs and hardware, remember before you put the heads back on, to take a piece of “sealing wax” or “clear candle” and go around the bearing edges of your shell. This does two things: (1) It helps seal the raw wood of the bearing edge. (2) After you put the heads back on, it makes tuning a lot easier, as the head and the bearing edge work in sync and much smoother!

Bass Drum Impact Pads

You can “save money” on your bass drum heads, by making your own bass drum “impact pads”. It’s real easy- First, get your Mom’s or your girlfriends, “old (leather) purse’s” before they pitch them, then cut out of the purse the largest amount of leather from the center portion of the purse, once you’ve done this, try to get at least a 2″x 3″ rectangle of leather from your cut & depending on the size of the rectangle, cut it in half, take a piece of duct tape & wrap it around itself to make a double sided piece of tape, sandwich the duct tape between the two pieces of leather to make a nice pad, then mount it in the center of the bass drum head, or where the beater strikes the head in the natural position, to attach the pad, get your duct tape & tape, the top & sides of the pad, so that you have a little more than half the piece of tape connecting to the head surface, so it looks like a leather pad surrounded by duct tape, tune accordingly to personal taste. This will do (3) things, (1.) It will act as a muffler. (2.) It will save your bass drum head from wearing out as quickly. (3.) It’s recycling the leather. Plus it only cost’s the price of the duct tape, and your time to cut the leather.

If you don’t have access to your Mom’s or your girlfriends purse, you can get a large piece of leather from a hobby shop, or hardware store. That won’t cost to much, maybe -($8 – $10.00), that still saves money when you consider a single “Impact pad”, cost’s around $10.75. “Plus they are reusable”, I know for a fact that the two I made for myself have lasted 20 years and are still going strong!!! Happy drumming- Hit hard !

FEEDING YOUR HARDWARE

Taking care of your hardware, is like taking care of a pet, with “a lot” less work! With all the money good hardware cost’s, it only makes “sense” to take care of it, which is easily done, and “cost’s very little”. First clean your hardware, and that means anything that can, “pit or rust” after cleaning, get a jar of “vaseline”, and a couple of (clean) rags, apply a good but, thin coat of “vaseline” to the entire surface of the, stand (cymbal, tom, chrome or plated, lugs), let it sit for a day or two, so that the “vaseline” gets down into all the “microscopic” dents, dings, cuts, & valley’s, that you can’t see with the naked eye, because that’s where the “pitting / rusting” starts.

Then just buff it off, and it will look “showroom clean”. If you “feed” that problem, it doesn’t have a chance to take hold and ruin the finish of the plating. “Do this two to three times a year”, and your hardware’s finish should last as long as you have or need it. And you don’t have to take it out for a walk, nor stop it from humping your girlfriends leg.

Muffling Toms

If you’re trying to get that great sound you want out of your toms, but can’t quite achieve it try this. Take a piece of weather stripping and line it around the head about an 1″ from the rim. Do this until it’s a complete circle. This will give your toms a nice muffled sound instead of ringing until the end of the song.

PROTECTING YOUR HARDWARE

Using either hand towels or bath towels (depending on the length of the stand or tube), sew them on one end and one side. You now have a sleeve that protects your chrome from the sharp edges of your stands when they move in your trap case or bag.

PACKING LUGS TO ELIMINATE RATTLES OR SQUEAKS
I find that pipe insulation or cotton balls to be the best! Both inexpensive & readily available. Some might find this to be a pain in the keester, but well worth the effort. As far as your drum sound is concerned, it will improve not only the sound, but take away any rattles or squeaks the inner part of the lug may create, thus helping you in the studio, or miked live. To do this requires your time and patience, and a couple of tools: a screwdriver, a drumkey, the filler of your choice, an exacto-knife, and a pair of scissors.

To begin, take off your heads, then take off your lugs. Study the inside of the lug. If you are using pipe insulation, you’ll need to cut it to the size of the inner lug. To fill in all the air space, make a proto-type & start making copies for as many as you will need, making sure to trim off any excess, so as to fit the lugs back in place.

Cotton balls are the easiest. Just fill the lugs air space, trim the excess, and there you go! I feel that pipe insulation is best because it doesn’t mat down as cotton will, should it become wet with oil when you lube your lugs, the foam rubber of the insulation will keep it’s shape. You will notice a big difference.

If you have access to a tape recorder, record your drums before you pack your lugs, and after you’ve done this procedure. You’ll hear a noticeable sound difference.

KEEPING CYMBALS CLEAN AND TARNISH FREE

Use Armour-All every week or so to remove stick marks and to protect cymbals from finger prints that can cause discoloration. I have cymbals over 10 years old that look new because of this method.