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Using House Gear: common scenarios, your drum breakables, and proper etiquette

   For this week’s blog I decided to focus on a scenario most performing drummers have to often deal with in their career; Not being able to use your own gear. Sharing equipment, or using back line gear, can occur often for drummers who play multiple band bills, or who play at venues (and sometimes recording studios) with stationary house kits. Limited touring budgets and traveling by airplane can also play a factor in whether you can bring all your equipment. There could definitely be other scenarios but the above I’ve experienced on numerous occasions.


1950's Ludwig @ Broadcast Lane Studios


    Recently, I've had multiple situations where I needed to use house equipment. In the past i’ve had a mixed bag of using well maintained and not so well maintained gear. Thankfully, all of these recent experiences have been good! No matter what I always have my “breakables” on hand. Drum breakables is a term drummers use to describe the following equipment that is usually brought to a gig where you can’t use your whole set. It’s a list of gear most drummers don’t feel comfortable letting other drummers use. Most importantly, it’s the gear that defines the biggest portion of a drummers sound and touch.


The top 4 drum breakables; 





You may not need all of these, or you may like the gear you’re allowed to use better. Regardless, you know you can count on at least capturing some of your sound and feel with the above items. Some drummers include stands, especially hi hat & snare, in their breakable list.

Tama Starclassic maple house kit @ Mountaineer Casino.

    I always contact the owner of the equipment I’m using to discuss specifics beforehand. This is especially crucial if you’re normally used to using a unique set up, or if you’re left handed. Any pre-planning will make the pre-show set up much smoother.     

   Lastly, it’s not always the best idea to ask a drummer if you can re-tune a piece of their set in a live situation. Usually just best to deal with whatever it sounds like and focus on getting your snare to sound as you like it, or adjust your snare to blend with the toms and bass. I’ve asked to adjust the overall tuning a few times if the sound of the drums greatly contrast what I feel is appropriate for the band / artist i'm performing with.      

   No matter what, I always put everything back the way I found it. That is the biggest lesson of this week’s blog! I’ve gotten so many compliments and respect from drummers, soundmen, club owners, etc. And after the great feedback I usually hear horror stories of the drummers that don’t do that!!  


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