Our drums are sacred to us. Believe me, I get that. I despise the idea of someone playing on my kit or cymbals. However, there will come a point in your drumming career, whether professional or hobby, that you will need to share your drum kit, or someone else’s, at a show.
Sharing drum kits is very common
Here are some common reasons why:
- The venue’s stage is tiny
- FOH (front of house) engineer doesn’t want to add more microphones
- FOH is out of microphone inputs
- There’s a backline kit available
- Headliner insists on faster changeovers
Now, this may not be a popular opinion among drummers who have never toured or played out very much, but I promise that this is extremely common in small clubs and venues. Why?
Space on stage is limited most of the time.
The ability to set up three drum sets and a whole slew of amps is literally impossible. Nine times out of time the sound engineer running the show will thank you (in the event they don’t force you to share) for sharing kits.
Why should I have to share? I’m the headliner!
Even if this is the case, you still may have to share your drum set with the opening bands. If you refuse, you may be striking your kit after soundcheck and will be forced to set it up before you go on. While I have done this, it’s not fun and often is very stressful. If you feel like doing that, by all means, feel free.
Why should I share the headliner’s kit? I brought my own!
In certain situations when you are opening up for a national act, it’s going to be common that you share his or her kit. Regardless of your feelings or how big your set it, you’ll need to do what that band says.
You’re lucky to be on the gig in the first place. If you manage to still be stubborn, you’ll be setting up on the floor in front of the stage in the crowd.
How come my other bandmates don’t have to share their gear?
Sometimes they actually do. Bass amps are very common to share. Keyboards and MIDI controllers are often easy to move off the stage and for the most part, keyboard players have crazy setups that don’t translate easily when switching players between bands.
Don’t bring your studio kit on the road
If you have a very fancy, expensive drum kit, don’t bring it on tour. Why? Well, many stagehands who will help move your gear aren’t very careful with it.
There’s been a small handful of deviants to the norm, but for the most part, your gear is going to get ruined.
Take a trip down to your local music store and pick up a cheap drum kit you can tour with. You should be okay with it getting beat up and you won’t have to worry about other drummers playing on your set.
What to do when asked to share
Be kind to whoever you are sharing from. If you need to move a piece of hardware to more accommodate your playing style, always ask the drummer whose kit you’re playing. There’s nothing more infuriating than getting up to your kit and it is all messed up.
Make sure you relax and don’t get angry that you have to share. Remember that this is extremely common and the band will appreciate you working with them to make things go smoothly.
You never know, you might get another show with them in the future and maybe even a tour.
Unless your band manages to blow up and immediately start doing arena tours, I promise you’re going to have to share drums, whether it be on a long tour or just one show.
There are occasions when you should refuse
If you’re touring with a band and are noticing that they are pounding the life out of your drums and become uncomfortable with it, it’s perfectly normal to kick them off and make them use their own kit.
Even if they have to set up in front of your set, it’s better than your kit getting destroyed every night. Nothing like using detuned heads after two other drummers have pounded on your drums.
If you use an electronic drum kit or some kind of hybrid setup, you may not be able to share your drums with another band.
Communication is always key
Prior to touring with a band, get yourself familiar with each other and start a line of communication. It’s always best to be open and honest in relationships up front so problems do not arise later. Here are some things to ask:
If sharing another drummer’s kit
- “Hey, are you comfortable sharing kits on the tour (or show)?
- “Can I bring some drum heads for you? What kind do you like?”
- “What should I bring? Bass drum pedal, snare drum, and cymbals? Throne?”
- “Do you mind if I adjust your setup a bit?”
If sharing your kit with another drummer
- “Hi, do you mind sharing the kit we’ll provide on the road?
- “Are you pretty particular with your setup? You’re welcome to make adjustments to the hardware as long as it’s back near it was before.”
- “I’ll be striking my cymbals and snare; do you want to bring a kick pedal or use mine?
Obviously, you can expand on this, but you get the idea. Open communication makes these things much easier and it will make the first night of tour go off without a hitch if you do so.
Have you shared your drums before? How’s the experience been – good or bad? We would love to hear from you down below in the comments. Thanks for reading!
Featured image credited to Dennis van Zuijlekom via Flickr.com