Ten years of heavy gigging and touring has helped me put together a small arsenal of items that are always packed into my pedal bag and are accessible to me on stage. These items have helped me avoid disasters both big and small. Being prepared can especially come in handy when having to play a club’s house kit. Often, they’ve suffered years of abuse and lack proper maintenance resulting in hardware and mounts that are barely functional. Having parts and tools on hand to make things as stable as possible can make a huge difference. If you don’t have a stash of basic parts and tools with you for gigs, please read on. These items have helped me avoid many tragedies with just some quick attention during sound check or even in the middle of a set. I carry these items with me to all gigs, rehearsals and recordings.
Most kick drum pedals come in a carrying case that is roomy enough to pack a few additional items. Keeping items organized and easily accessible is most important (figs. 1 and 2). If it takes ten minutes of digging around in your bag for a washer, then it’s probably not worth having this stuff on stage with you.
The first item I’ll mention is a small Tupperware-style container that has a screw-on lid. (fig.3). Here, I store the following items (fig.4): various sized metal washers including a hi hat seat and cymbal cup washer(s), various hose clamps, cymbal tilter wing nuts, nylon cymbal sleeves, snare and tom tensions rods, kick pedal spring, hex keys for kick pedal repair, cymbal tilter spring, kick beater weight, various memory locks, various sized nuts, bolts, key screws and wing nuts, snare chord, three prong to two prong chord adaptor, and rubber bass drum hoop protectors.
In my pedal bag’s interior pocket, I keep the following items (fig.5): a quality multi-tool (equipped with pliers, scissors, screwdrivers, etc), a speed key for quick head changes, multiple standard drum keys, adhesive velcro strips, an adhesive bass drum patch, in-ear accessories, ear plugs, hi hat clutch, electrical tape, various cymbal felts including a hi hat seating felt, a clip-on style flash light, 9 volt battery, Sharpies (for set lists) and mechanical pencils (for quick notes/notations). I also carry a microphone that lets my Ipod function as a recorder to record rehearsals (fig.6)
Finally, I purchased these small zippered pouches from Home Depot that neatly clip together (fig.7). I use them for all of my click related items. In the large pouch I keep my metronome, in the medium pouch I keep a variety of spare cables, and in the smallest pouch I keep my in-ear monitors and their extension cable.
There may be items that you need to include for your particular set up or situation that I haven’t mentioned. Plan ahead before tours or gigs so you can be prepared to deal with wear and tear or faulty gear. Cheers and look out for “10 Quick and Easy Repairs to Get You Through the Gig” coming next.
Rachel Fuhrer is a highly active musician, educator, and writer. She has played drums for artists such as Ume, Peter Stopschinski, Corey Glover (Living Colour), Brad Houser (Edie Brickel), and Eric McFadden (P-Funk Allstars) among many others. Over the years, Rachel has shared the stage with hundreds of notable artists including Jane’s Addiction, Blondie, The Toadies, and Franz Ferdinand. Last year, Fuhrer was featured in the book Woman Drummers, A History by Angela Smith (Rowman & Littlefield).