Friday, March 3, 2017

Be Kind to Your Support System

I had an interesting time playing a “back line” set.  It was a high quality set – very complete – but with a few weak points. The main issues were the hi-hat, snare and bass pedal. Wait a minute ... aren't those the most important tools for a drummer? With a part missing from the hi-hat, a jammed snare release and a bass pedal badly in need of some grease, I had to be vigilant just to 'TCB' which, of course, takes away from playing music and my mental health.
What helped drive home this message came the very next day when I spent a half hour working on a stool I'd loaned to a friend. Had he set up the stool correctly, it would not have been damaged and I wouldn't have had to get out the tools and fix it.

Remember when you were a kid and your parents kept telling you to take better care of your stuff? That was good advice. And with drums, as with most things, it's easier to keep things from falling apart prematurely than to fix them after the fact.

All drum hardware is well engineered. The designers continually look at what drummers need and then do their best to come up with a solid solution — one that could last for years and years. But in the end, it's up to us to understand and work with those solutions.

Here's another example. I bought a fancy, highly rated bass pedal, but I found it rather disappointing. So I went online and looked for hints and comments. What I found was a video by the pedal's designer explaining and demonstrating the pedal's design principles. It took no time at all to get the pedal to where I wanted it ... once I understood the ideas behind the technology. (Drum and hardware makers often have online videos and tutorials to help you understand their equipment.)

It may take a bit of time and perhaps some research to figure out how your hardware works. But it's well worth getting to know all the features that were put there for your benefit. And then you should use them properly. This means thinking about how the thing works, how it goes together, what can fail and why. It also means operating the item within its design range.

So choose hardware suited to the job, learn how it works, try not to abuse it, and see to repairs at the first sign of trouble. Aside from saving time, money and aggravation, it may very well save the day when an inadequate or poorly maintained part might have broken down at the worst possible time and place. I suggest you treat your drums at least as well as you treat your car.

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