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Drummer Etiquette...

So you're playing a gig soon and you're not sure what the "rules" are when it comes to borrowing/lending a drum kit. Here are the unwritten (well, now they're written) rules that we use when playing a show. There's two sides of the story when you're playing a gig, either you're lending out a kit or you're borrowing the use of one. Most venues simply aren't big enough to store 3/4 kits on stage/back stage so you need to come to some agreement about who uses what on the night.

Scenario #1: You Are Lending Out Your Kit

This is always a little scary, there's going to be someone you don't know playing your kit and god knows what they're going to do to it. The fact is, most of the people out there who borrow kits aren't out to destroy your gear, but there's always a few ground rules your should lay down.

1) NOBODY USES YOUR CYMBALS.... EVER!!!!
This is a globally accepted rule and anyone who asks to borrow your cymbals had better have a damn good reason or be a blood relative that you trust 100%. I would never lend out my cymbals, period.

2) Hardware
This is usally 50/50, some people bring all their own hardware, others don't. It's generally considered the norm to borrow cymbal stands so make sure you can restore your stands to your preferred setup or alternatively, ask the drummers not to move the stands. If they have a problem with this, tell them they are free to use their own. I personally prefer to use my own stands but just remember, its your kit and you are doing them a favour letting them borrow anything.

Hi hat stand is usually lent out as not many drummers bring their own (for some reason), but it's usually worth asking people not to adjust the height if you've got it set exactly the way you like it. Same goes with a snare stand, we all know what difference a few centimetres adjustment can make. Make sure you get your clutch back at change over though, because these can be liable to go walkabout as some drummers "forget" to take them off.

Your bass pedal(s) are generally out of bounds but if someone asks REALLY nicely it's probably okay if you're comfortable with it. I would say that this is one of the things you SHOULD DEFINTELY tell people not to adjust. A small adjustment can throw your whole drumming rhythm out as the pedal head isn't where you expect it to be. You're under no obligation to provide these so don't feel bad if someone hasn't brought their own.

3) Snare - The same as cymbals!!
Your snare drum is treated the same as your cymbals, no one gets to use it without a good reason (not bringing their own doesn't cut it). If someone hasn't brought their snare, by all means feel free to lend out your own, but I wouldn't advise it. If you're going to lend it out, make sure you have a spare snare head or you could find that you don't get to play if you're going on after the person borrow your snare.

The golden rule is, if someone hasn't brought something ask them why. If you're not happy about something, tell them because 99% of drummers appreciate the fact that you've lugged your kit there.

I always ask people not to move my rack toms because they're in the right position and if they are too low, they scrape on the bass drum which is never good. Just lay out the ground rules so they know the score and you should be fine.

Scenario #2: You Are Borrowing A Kit

This one's easy. Take your snare(+ stands), cymbal stands, bass pedal, hi hat stand and stool. That way, all you need is are the shells and anything else can be thrashed out on the night with the lendee.

I always like to go and have a chat with the owner of the kit to assure them I know what I'm doing and won't trash their kit. Believe me, it's really great when someone does this because you know that the other drummer is thinking about your kit.

Talk to them about their kit and ask them whether they mind you changing tom positions etc. Most people are pretty flexible but just remember that they're probably not entirely happy about lending out their kit, so just roll with the punches. Drummers are in a unique position so we all have to get along.

Miscellaneous Questions

Q. What if I don't know what's going on with kit sharing?
A. If I don't know what's going on before a gig, I take everything I need to be self sufficient which means everything(kit, hardware etc). Don't take the chance that no one turns up with a kit, you'll all look very silly and you'll probably never get booked to play that venue again.

Q. What if someone breaks something?
A. I want to stress that this is VERY rare, however accidents do happen. It really depends what is broken and how bothered your are about it. I would ask the drummer in question for money on the spot to replace it, or get their telephone number so they can send you some money.

Ultimately, you'd have to be very unlucky to have a significant amount of damage (I've never seen it happen at all the gigs I've played) and if you're not happy with the way they're treating your kit, get up on stage and tell them, even if that means in the middle of their set.

Q. One of the drummers has turned up with nothing. What do I do?
A. Tell them to go jump. If someone turns up with nothing(cymbals, snare, stands etc) they are probably a lazy b*st!d and are unlikely to treat your kit with respect. I have no time for bands who haven't brought the necessary equipment to play a gig, especially when it's something like cymbals that are expensive to replace.

Q. I REALLY don't want to lend out my kit. Is there any way to avoid it?
A. Kinda. If you're not happy lending out a kit, it's probably best you book/organise your own shows and make sure any promotors know that you aren't lending out your kit. It's not the end of the world, but especially in the rock/metal scene kit shares are common place.

The one thing we would say is, don't get too worried about doing a kit share. Yes, it's scary, but the majority of drummers aren't out to trash your kit.

 
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