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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.

Tensioning Hardware

Noisy Lugs

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 design.
Short-Term Repair:
Unfortunately, there is none.
Long-Term Repair:
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 the problem.
Short-Term Repair:
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.
Long-Term Repair:
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 the stand.
Short-Term Repair:
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 to play.
Long-Term Repair:
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 went wrong.
Short-Term Repair:

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.
Long-Term Repair.
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.
Short-Term Repair:
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.
Long-Term Repair:
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 footboard.
Short-Term Repair:
Duct tape the pedal's heel plate to the floor and continue playing.
Long-Term Repair:
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 expert.


Stripped Screws

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.
Short-Term Repair:
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 a gig.
Long-Term Repair:
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 expert.

Snare Hardware

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.
Short-Term Repair:

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.
Long-Term Repair:
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 you.