Drum & Accessories
Instrument Care & Tips
Drum Kits: Care & Maintenance
While playing the drum kit is a far more exciting prospect than performing regular cleaning and maintenance, the appeal of playing will soon wear off when the tone and pitch is wrong, and the overall sound is flat because of a thick layer of grime and residue. Therefore, players who want to preserve their drum kits and continue to produce good quality percussion sounds should use this guide to learn about cleaning maintenance and preservation.
Drum care providers should avoid using harsh chemicals where possible, and avoid spilling or spraying liquid onto the drum heads. The guide also explores the importance of proper storage and discusses the benefits and disadvantages of cases and bags. Buyers can find everything they need to play, store, and care for their drum kit at music stores, department stores, and automotive stores; alternatively, they can find everything they need, including satisfying savings, from 7TH Chord Musicals.
It is vitally important to store your drums. Bags are the least expensive storage option; however, bags do not provide protection from falls or damage. Hard cases are the best option, although they are more expensive. Hard cases offer protection against dropping, damage during transit, general wear and tear, and they provide protection from the elements. Drum heads are particularly vulnerable to being ruptured or split, but if stored in a hard case, they are far less prone to these types of accidents. Soft cases, or bags, offer some protection against minor scratches. Top-end bags also provide protection against weather and climate issues, although many lower quality ones do not.
When selecting a drum case, users must ensure that the case fits their drum snugly. A snug fitting case provides extra security, ensuring that the drum cannot roll around and knock against the sides while in transit. The case should not be so tight that it scratches the drums on entry or exit from the case.
Cleaning the Drums
Keeping drum kits clean is essential to maintaining their proper sound. Drum kits covered in grime do not have the same sound and tone as clean, well-maintained drum kits. Dirty, grime caked kits usually produce a much poorer sound, and leaving dirt and corrosion on the kit can drastically reduce the life of the kit. Ideally, routine cleaning should be performed on a weekly, fortnightly, or monthly basis depending on the amount of use and storage conditions. Cleaning the kit does not take a great deal of time and is a critical part of correctly maintaining a drum kit, increasing its lifespan.
Cleaning the Shell
Cleaning the shell of the drum is largely an aesthetic issue; it is still important as it prevents dirt build up inside the hardware such as the lugs. Cleaning the shell of a drum involves removing any large dust or debris particles first with a soft cotton cloth. Using the same type of soft cloth, you can properly dust the surface. For fingerprints, dirt, and other grime, a soft cloth dampened with a little warm water and mild detergent can be used to wipe down the shell. Rub the shell gently but firmly, using a circular motion to remove any remaining dirt, marks, or smears. With a dry cotton cloth, dry the shell completely. It is possible to use a wax or polish to make shell shine. Anything other than softest cotton may scratch the surface of the shell, leaving unsightly marks behind. It is also possible to use an ammonia free window cleaner, to clean drum shells.
Cleaning the Drum Head
A dirty drum head creates a sound that lacks depth and clarity; instead of perfect percussion, users end up just producing uncomfortable noise. A drum head can be kept clean by regularly wiping it with a dry cotton cloth or a feather duster to remove dust. If the drum head is coated, so that is has a white appearance, it can be cleaned with a soft cloth very lightly dampened with water. If the drum head is clear plastic, it can be cleaned with a cloth lightly dampened with an ammonia free cleaner. It should be noted that water or cleaner of any kind should never be poured or sprayed directly onto the drum head, regardless of the head type. This can cause severe damage to the head and ruin the sound.
Cleaning the Cymbals
Often, the cymbals are overlooked when it comes to cleaning. However, dirt and grime quickly cling to the grooves in the metal cymbal. This greatly impacts the sound that is produced. As well as altering the pitch and tone of the cymbals, a buildup of dirt and grime around the bell and in the grooves has a huge impact on the resonance, reducing the effect considerably.
To remove light dirt and dust, cymbals can simply be wiped over with a cloth dampened with water or an ammonia free detergent. As with all elements of a drum kit, it is best to avoid using cleaners which contain very harsh chemicals, because they can damage the drum kit or cause corrosion over time. Cymbals can be cleaned using a cleaner, such as Brasso, although this is a somewhat messy process. If using products such as these, the caregivers should wear gloves and avoid touching any other part of the drum kit until the gloves have been removed and the hands have been washed. After cleaning, to avoid any white residue being left behind or building up in the grooves, the user should thoroughly buff away any remaining cleaner and follow any additional instructions on the packaging.
The hardware and stands of most drum kits are chrome. To help them to maintain their shine and prevent dirt and dust building up, the stands, lugs, and any other chrome hardware should be cleaned at the same time as the rest of the kit. Chrome polish of the same type used on cars, can be used on really tough stains and discolored areas. For lighter areas a standard furniture polish can be effective. Like all other portions of the drum kit, a very soft cotton cloth should be used to clean chrome areas to avoid scratches.
Replacing the Drum Heads
Although many drummers prefer the tone and aesthetic style of having a worn look, there comes a point when the sound quality becomes so bad that the heads must be replaced. Drummers should be able to hear when perfect playing delivers inferior sound; this is the point at which the drumheads must be replaced. While some drummers prefer to replace their own heads, many others opt to take their drum kit to a professional. If a user chooses to change their own drum heads, they should take the opportunity to check for signs of pitting, corrosion, and dirt and grime buildup beneath the head and around the rims. If any dirt is present, it should be thoroughly cleaned and dried before the head is replaced. If there is any sign of pitting or corrosion, this should be carefully removed with very fine wire wool. Any dust that is created during the process should be removed before replacing the drumhead.
Many people find playing the drums intensely satisfying. However, many fail to recognize the importance of proper care and the impact it has on the quality of sound and the life of the drum kit. Caring for a drum kit should be a regular routine, in which case it takes only a small amount of time. However, if the kit is left unattended for long periods with no care and cleaning, the job becomes a time consuming task. Storing the drums in hard cases when not in use is one way to care for them so they do not get damaged.
This guide explores how to safely clean all the different elements of the drum kit, complete with recommended materials. It also provides readers with the importance of proper storage, and the options available, giving readers all the information they need to purchase the correct materials and safely care for their drum kit. Drummers will find that with the proper ongoing care, their set will continue to perform for them the way it did when it was new.