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Maintenance & Repair
No matter how prepared you might be, you can't avoid Murphy's Law. Sooner or later some stand or pedal is going to break without warning, and you'll have to do some pretty fancy footwork to salvage your gig. Although a quick wit and sense of spontaneity will probably best serve you while under such duress, here are a few common on-stage disasters that you can prepare for - and undoubtedly will one day face - with short-term solutions for emergency repairs, and long-term solutions for a more permanent fix.
There was a time when almost all drum lugs contained a metal spring
insert that was the scourge of most drum-set players. Drummers who
weren't aware of this could literally go nuts trying to discover the
source of the weird boinging sound that the springs mad when the drum
was struck. Fortunately, most modern drum companies have replaced
the spring with a plastic or vinyl tube insert, eliminating the problem
altogether. Still, there are plenty of older drum sets out there,
as will as new, cheap, entry-level kits that employ the older lug
Unfortunately, there is none.
You will have to disassemble each boinging
drum, so be careful to keep track of all the loose screws, tension
rods and washers. Remove the tension rods, hoops and heads from the
drum. Unscrew each lug from the inside of the shell. Stuff the inner
cavity of the lug with cotton or cloth so that it surrounds the spring
insert, and reattach the lug to the shell. Replace the heads, hoops,
and tension rods once every lug has been stuffed.
Stripped Tension Rods & Lug Receptor
You will know wither your tension rod or the lug's rod receptor is
stripped when you are unable to make the rod grip the corresponding
lug's receptor. Be prepared to do a little investigative work to determine
Remove the tension rod and inspect it to
see if its teeth are stripped. If you have a spare rod, replace the
stripped rod and retune the drum. If the rod appears to be intact,
the problem resides inside the lug. In that case, tune the drum the
best you can, and try to avoid hitting it altogether.
Replace the rod if it is stripped. Replace
the lug if its rod receptor is stripped.
Squeaky Hi-Hat Pedal
If your hi-hat is squeaking, you can probably
just follow the same procedure you would take with a squeaky bass
pedal by lubricating its moving parts. However, the squeak can also
result from a bent pull rod that is scraping against the inside of
Remove both cymbals, the upper tier of the
hi-hat stand and the upper pull rod. If the pull rod appears to be
bent, try to bend it back into shape. Reassemble the stand and continue
Replace the upper pull rod with a new one.
Weak Bass Pedal Response
It can be especially embarrassing on-stage when your bass beater suddenly
doesn't spring back quickly enough, or not at all.
Short-Term Repair: There a couple of potential culprits for
a non-responsive pedal. First check to see if the nut which holds
the spring to the pedal has either loosened considerably or has come
off entirely. If this is the case, replace and/or tighten the nut
and continue playing. On the other hand, if the spring seems to have
lost its suppleness or has broken, you must replace the spring. If
you don't have a replacement with you, you simply will have to suffer
through the gig.
Long-Term Repair: Regularly check your bass pedal springs and
replace them when necessary.
Weak Hi-Hat Pedal Response
This can especially be a problem for drummers who play hard and loud.
Fortunately, you can usually make it to the end of a song, or even
the end of a set if necessary, without the audience knowing that something
Most likely, the upper pull rod of your hi-hat
has unscrewed from the bottom pull rod. Remove both hi-hat cymbals,
and the upper tier of your hi-hat stand. Reinstall the upper pull
rod, replace the stand's upper tier and both cymbals, and continue
playing. If your upper pull rod is fine when you inspect it, chances
are that you actually broke the metal strip or chain which connects
the footboard to the lower pull rod. The best short-term repair is
to try to make it through the gig.
If you've broken a metal part, take the stand
to your local drum shop and have an expert repair it.
Stripped Hi-Hat Clutch
Your clutch has one screw which holds the clutch to the pull rod and
another which holds your top cymbal to the clutch. If either becomes
stripped, the net result is that your top cymbal can't be attached
to the stand.
If you don't have a spare clutch, you will
have to jerry-rig the cymbal onto the upper pull rod. Tear off a long
piece of duct tape, and then tear that piece of tape down the middle,
so that you have two skinny, long strips of tape. Circle the pull
rod with one of the strips of tape until it forms a lip that is wide
enough to hold the top cymbal in place. Put the cymbal on top of the
lip and circle the area directly above the cymbal with the other strip
of tape, attempting to hold the cymbal as firmly as possible.
Replace the clutch.
Excessive Footboard Movement
If your bass or hi-hat pedal footboard suddenly begins moving from
side-to-side while you're playing, you should first check to see if
the Y-shaped radius rod which is attached to the bottom of the pedal's
heel plate has disconnected itself from the pedal's frame. If so,
simply reconnect it and continue to play. If not, you've got a bigger
problem on your hands - the radius rod has probably broken off the
Duct tape the pedal's heel plate to the
floor and continue playing.
Either the radius rod needs to be re-welded
to the heel-plate, or an entirely new footboard needs to be installed.
Take the pedal to your local drum shop and have it repaired by an
As screws are repeatedly used, dirt and grime build up in their
threads, which eventually can cause the screw to become increasingly
difficult to turn. In this condition, it can be easy to strip a screw,
and two diametrically opposite problems will occur: either the stand
will be frozen into a set-up position, or you will be unable to screw
a bolt in far enough to set the stand upright.
If your hardware is frozen in the correct
position, simply transport the stand in a set-up position, and do
not attempt to force the screw. On the other hand, if you are having
difficultly getting a wingbolt to hold your stand upright, grab a
roll of duct tape and tape the stand together until you can have it
fixed properly. It won't look very pretty, but it will get you through
If the screw is jammed inside the stand,
it probably needs to be broken-up and removed. Then a new threaded
receptor hole needs to be bored into the stand and a new screw installed.
If you can take the screw out, first try to replace it with a new
one, and see if it will securely hold the stand. If that doesn't work
take the stand to your local drum shop and have it repaired by an
Worn Out Snare Strands
If you've cranked your snare tensioning knob to its limit and still
can't get a sufficient buzz from it, you've got some potentially serious
problems. Obviously, you should set-up your spare snare drum if you've
got one, and keep playing.
If you don't chance a spare snare, check the
snare tape or cord that connects the saner strands to the throw-off
and butt-plate on either side of your snare drum shell. If one of
these is broken, you have two choices: play the snare without the
buzz or stop and replace the cord or tape. If you don't have spare
cord or tape, you can usually cut a strip from a spare drum head,
or use wire, string or any type of cord to reconnect he snare stands
to the throw-off and butt plate.
However, if the cord or tape seems to be intact, the problem is probably
in your throw-off, since it is the piece of snare hardware that usually
has the most moving parts. If the snare tension-adjustment knob doesn't
seem to sufficiently tighten the snare strands, apply additional tension
by placing a drum stick in-between the hoop and the bottom of the
snare throw off and/or butt plate, underneath the snare tape or cord.
If that doesn't work, you can actually tape the snares to the bottom
head as a last result. It will sound terrible, but at least you can
keep playing. Then you should change the snares on you drum as soon
as you can.
If you still have difficulty making the snares
buzz after you've changed the strands, you have a much bigger problem
on your hands - most probably your bottom bearing edge (the beveled
edge of the shell that contacts the head) has somehow been damaged.
Don't try to correct this yourself. Take the rum to your local drum
shop and have them at least check, and hopefully fix the edge for