The Drummer's Emergency Kit

by Eric Scot Porter

December 2001


Editor's Note: This is number two in a series of two columns focused on planning ahead for gigs and being prepared for the unplanned. In the previous column, Eric related some of his experience on gig planning. This month's column will help you develop a 'Drummer's Emergency Kit'...

The Drummers Emergency Kit

In this article, we will go over a few of the things that should be included in what we have called "The Drummerís Emergency Kit". In the last column we looked at some of the preparations you should make to try to prevent an emergency before it happens. There are two steps to preventing that emergency we all dread. One is to be as prepared ahead of time as you can, and the other is to have the means to face the emergency you are confronted with when it happens. The latter is the focus of this column.

Drums are a very physical instrument. If itís been a while since you took physics, you may have forgotten the 34th law of thermodynamics. It states, " Anything you hit with significant force will eventually break." All kidding aside, there are a few "weak" points in the drum set that you should be ready and able to repair on the fly if necessary.

First lets take a look at the snare drum. This being the most frequently struck instrument on your kit, it becomes one of the most important and one of the most likely to suffer mechanical failure. Snare strainers have come a long way since the olden days when they just used some sort of string that resembled dental floss. Those use to break all the time. Many of the materials used now are much stronger, but not indestructible. Take a good look at your strainer and what type of material it uses. You should always have some extra of this on hand. Secondly, look at what tools you might need to replace this material. Do you need a screwdriver? A drum key? Make sure you have the necessary tools with you.

Because of the time it takes to repair a snare drum, I like to take an extra one with me to most gigs. If you donít have this luxury, make sure you have extra snare strainer materials, tools, and an extra drumhead. This is a piece of equipment that needs to be insured in any gig.

Secondly, lets take a look at your bass drum pedal. The best medicine for a bass drum pedal is an ounce of prevention. Keep it lubed. Check all parts frequently. If it looks like itís about ready to give up the ghost, for heavens sake take your next gig check and buy a new one. You can then take your old one along to the gig with you and have it as a back up.

Pearl UGK-1 Upgrade Kit

Pearl UGK-1 Upgrade Kit

Designed to be a sound-enhancing upgrade for ELX/EX and FX, the UGK-1 Upgrade Kit includes 3 R-40 floor tom feet, a B-200QB QuadBeater, a NP-208 cymbal seat washer, and 2 NP-210 hi-hat clutch washers.


The same goes for hi-hat stands. They donít break very often, but make sure they are lubricated well and that no parts show any wear. Also, it doesnít hurt to keep a spare hi-hat clutch along with you, especially if you donít have a case that you carry your hardware in. Hi-hat clutches are known to have a will of their own. The wing nut type screw will often loosen and it will slide right off as you carry it to your car or to the stage, dropping somewhere along the way. It is very irritating to have to play hi-hats that you canít open or close and that swish around loosely every time you hit them.

Another useful device to keep with you is a small hose clamp. In the case that one of your pieces of hardware looses a wing nut, you can always throw on a hose clamp to keep the stand in the position you want as a temporary fix.

You should also carry with you extra cymbal felts, sleeves and wing nuts. These have a way of falling off and getting lost. There are several good emergency kits containing these on the market. See the links below to purchase some.

Zildjian Survival Kit

Zildjian Survival Kit

All the essentials to get you through the gig: Drumhead repair patch, snare strings, felts, cymbal stand sleeves, and washers.


Finally, be sure to have extra drumsticks. This is almost a no brainer and should seem obvious to all of us. If it doesnít seem obvious to you, find a new career or hobby. Some of us break sticks more often than others, but a drum set player without sticks is not much good to anyone. Besides, sticks donít just break; sometimes they just wear out and lose their tips. If you are using other types of mallets also, be sure these are in your stick bag before you leave.

There is no way to be prepared for every eventuality that may cause a hitch in your drumming experience. Unless you have a complete spare drum set there is always the possibility that something may break that you cannot repair on the spot. However, we can look at the most likely scenarios and prepare for them ahead of time. Here are some materials that may be needed to repair an essential piece of equipment on the fly:

I find that most of these items fit very nicely into a fishing tackle box. There are links next to some of these items that you can purchase online.

  1. Drum Key (Search Here)
  2. Pencil
  3. Small pencil sharpener
  4. Duct tape
  5. Snare strainer replacement material (Search Here)
  6. Extra cymbal felts and cymbal sleeves (Search Here)
  7. Extra Hihat clutch (Search Here)
  8. Drum set rug (Search Here)
  9. Screw Driver and socket to fit your size of lug bolts (Search Here)
  10. Extra snare drum head (Search Here)
  11. Small hose clamp.
  12. Extra Drum Sticks (Search Here)

Happy drumming, and try not to spontaneously combust at your next gig.

Eric Scot Porter is an accomplished drummer out of Oregon's own Bay Area. His recent solo project, Kingdom, is available on-line from Amazon or CDNOW . You can check out several MP3 audio clips of Kingdom at The Orchard. You may forward your comments and suggestions to him via esp@acousticdrums.com ...

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