Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hardware Maintenance 101

I have always been proud of how I take care of my gear. I have some hardware that is more than a decade old and is still in good working order. In fact, I have a handful of Yamaha cymbal boom stands that I purchased in 1999, and I'm always looking to see if anybody else has stands that old that are still working. Mine are a little dinged up and have some scratches from living in my hardware bag, but all the moving parts, screws, etc. are all just fine.

Last week I mentioned that I played in the percussion section for AFCO's Christmas Concerts. There was also a drum set player, an amazing player by the name of Bobby James.  As I usually do, I took a look at his drums, hardware and cymbals. I was amazed (shocked, actually) to see him pull out Yamaha cymbal stands that were the model before the ones that I'm so proud of. These stands are easily 15+ years old, and they look and function like new.

It's my view that somewhere along the way, one learns to appreciate the equipment almost as much as the music. It's like a racer with cars or a jockey with horses, or a million other examples. If you want to do it well, your equipment must function at its best.

So, let's get down to it. There's probably one issue above all the rest when it comes to taking care of percussion gear: stripped out bolts, nuts, screws and ball joints (as in tom mounts). To fix this one issue is so easy!! Just follow these two simple rules:

  1. ALWAYS loosen it before you move it. The place I see this abused the most is with tom-toms and cymbals. Students, if they don't like the angle or position of something, will just force it to go where they want it. This weakens the bolts, nuts, etc. that hold it in place, so they have to be screwed even tighter next time to hold the instrument in place. Over time, this forcing and over-tightening will ruin the equipment so that it has to be repaired or replaced. Not fun, and usually not cheap. 
  2. NEVER over-tighten it. For most things - cymbal stands, tom mounts, etc. - the difference between loose and tight is somewhere around a quarter of a turn. Try this one at home: Take a cymbal stand, snare stand or another piece of hardware (make sure it doesn't have anything on it like a cymbal or a drum), and loosen one of the joints just barely enough to move it freely. Then, slowly tighten it just barely to the point that it won't move easily. You want it just tight enough to do the job and no tighter. Especially if your gear is fairly new, you'll notice that there's not much room to turn the screw from "loose enough to move" to "tight enough to hold."
Really and truly, that's about it. Follow those two rules, and your gear will last a long time and serve you well.

Happy drumming!


  1. Very wise words and great advice, thanks. I still have stands that I bought back in the late 80's, they don't get used on my gigging kit, but on my practice setup, so not entirely being loosened and tightened regularly but still sturdy as the day I bought them.

    1. Nice! I plan on having 40 year old gear that still works well. Thanks for stopping by!


Why musicians should watch the big game (Seriously!)

Photo by  Ameer Basheer  on  Unsplash Here we are, about to watch another televised wrestling match over who puts a football on one en...