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If you’re a touring or gigging drummer and you aren’t protecting your kit, you have a serious issue. Your drum set is the tool that allows your career to thrive. It’s also a major investment. Drum cases vary from affordable to very expensive.
I’ve used everything from soft cases to ATA cases with casters. Not only do I have experience with them all, I know which hold up best and things to avoid.
So, who makes the best drum cases overall?
The SKB’s are the winner in my book. If I had a choice, I’d pick ATA cases always, but it’s not realistic to always travel with gigantic road cases.
It’s important to purchase drum cases that are suited to your needs. In this article, we will be reviewing a bunch of drum cases available on the market. Some are much better than others.
Types of Drum Cases
There are three options when it comes to buying drum cases.
We have regular drum bags first. These are going to be the most affordable but will provide the least amount of protection. They’re also not heavy, making them much less annoying to deal with.
I use drum bags for quick gigs and storage at home.
Hard-plastic drum cases are the most popular option for gigging drummers.
These will provide a significant amount of protection without breaking the bank. I used hard cases for a while while touring. I find they do the trick and protect very well.
The main problem?
They make your kit a lot heavier and most hard-cases do not have wheels.
Road Cases with Casters
Finally, the absolute best option for protecting your drums is buying ATA road cases. This option will be the most expensive and will require the use of a trailer, however, this will protect your drums the best.
Most touring drummers either use hard cases or road cases for their drums. The downside with ATA cases, is that you may need to customize them to fit your drums. I did this myself, DIY.
1) Drum Bags
Gator's GP-100 set accommodates most standard drum sizes: 22"x18" kick, 12"x10" tom, 13"x11" tom, 16"x16" floor, 14"x5.5" snare.
Gator is a company known for well-made bags and cases for musical instruments. If you’re just beginning gigging, don’t have an expensive kit, and need a way to transport your drum set, the Gator Cases drum bags are a perfect solution.
Keep in mind that drum bags will not protect your drum kit as well as a hard case will. These cases are available individually and are also sold as a pack. Each case has easy carrying straps for loading and unloading.
If you don’t tour, I strongly recommend using these anyway.
If you have more than one drum kit, or need to put your kit away for storage, using these cases will keep them somewhat protected from heat changes, humidity, and anything else that can affect drums.
Transporting drum hardware
No matter which solution you choose, you’re going to have to bring your hardware in something, right?
The ultimate budget solution for bringing your hardware is wrapping it up in your drum rug and carrying it in the club with a friend or band mate.
If you are in need of a drum rug, here are some of my best picks. If you want to get a little more serious about it, here’s some hardware bags and cases I recommend.
2) Hard Plastic Cases
These cases provide excellent protection and stand up to the roughness of the road. They are fitted with straps and plastic buckles and are also designed to be stackable.
One unfortunate note about these cases: roadies, stagehands, and other musicians will tend to grab these cases by the straps and not the handles. This results in the straps and buckles weakening, eventually leading them to break.
Pro Tip — Do what I do and slap gaffers tape on the straps with the words “DO NOT CARRY FROM HERE.” It still doesn’t always work. They never follow directions anyways.
3) ATA Road Cases
OSP offers a top-quality case featuring a 45" rubber-lined truck perfect for your drums. You'll need to get a little creative with organization on the inside.
Buying road cases will be the best investment you will make as a drummer, whether it’s for your touring kit or for a brand new drum set that you want to keep safe.
Drum road cases are essentially for drummers who want an easy way to move their drums, stay more organized, and eventually hire crew to set up and tear down their drum sets.
Most durable cases for your kit
These type of cases are made from durable materials and can withstand touring easily. ATA road cases are fitted with locking casters, secure metal latches, and some even offer extra space for storage.
Finding a company that makes these cases is your best bet. You can have them pre-made, but I find that you are sometimes gambling with sizes and quality.
I picked up my bass drum/cymbals case from a company in Milwaukee, WI called King Kase Co. They had a B-stock case that ended up being a perfect size.
I was fortunate to find my other road cases used at my local Music Go Round store for dirt cheap.
If you purchase a pre-made drum road case, be prepared to get your hands dirty to do some modifications.
You can easily make a large cable trunk hold whichever drums you like with a little plywood, felt fabric, and spray glue.
On my road cases, I actually fitted a Pelican Lid Organizer to hold all my extra wing nuts, bolts, lugs, cables, and more. It didn’t take much time and only cost me around $40. You can get your own Pelican lid organizer here.
Find ATA cases used
I have been very fortunate many times now in finding used road cases at my local music pawn shop, as stated before. For a few years, the store had a bunch of used hard cases that they did not want to keep around.
These unwanted hard cases (after some slight modifications) became home to many of my drums and hardware, including my Roland SPD-SX and my malletKAT. These cases are big and take up a lot of retail space inside of a store. They were unbelievably cheap.
I was able to snag up a gigantic 8×10 bass amplifier case for less than $50. I eventually converted it into a hardware case.
Used online retailers like eBay probably won’t be a great option to find used cases, as the shipping on them most likely isn’t worth their effort to sell them.
Other Cases Drummers Use
When it came to all my extra stuff like kick pedals, drum microphones,
In my early days of touring, I remember using an old suitcase from Goodwill to transport my kick pedals (if you can believe that). I have since upgraded to a Pelican case. It’s virtually indestructible and has special foam you can create custom slots for your gear.
These are typically on the more expensive side, so be sure to check out some of these Pelican case alternatives if you are interested in something more affordable. And side note, don’t miss our guide on how to store you drum set properly, even if they’re already in cases.