what-drum-equipment-needs-to-be-replaced-at-my-church

What Drum Equipment Needs to be Replaced at My Church?

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Drums are supposed to be the life, dynamics, and foundation of any worship song. But usually… church drum sets sound BAD. If you’re reading this article, you probably are experiencing it firsthand. Obviously, as with anything sound-related, getting a good drum sound is a multi-facetted topic with endless factors including equipment, room, acoustic treatment, mics, mixing, the drummer who’s actually playing, etc.

Everything else aside, sometimes the issue actually is the gear. You either have rusty, squeaky, old hardware that needs to be replaced, you’re drum kit is missing parts, or the church drums just sound really bad no matter what you do. If that’s the boat you’re in, read on.

Church Drum Equipment: What Needs to Be Replaced?

This article isn’t meant to detail all the best types of drum gear for worship music, or to be an “ultimate buyer’s guide” on drum equipment. Sometimes, gear on your drum kit needs to be replaced and you simply don’t know where to start. That being said, here is a guide on how to find what needs to be replaced in your church drum kit:

Identifying Drum Kit Components That Need to Be Replaced

If you’re doing this on behalf of a drummer, and you yourself are not a drummer, we’d highly recommend you bring one in! If you have a volunteer drummer who plays at your church, schedule a time to do a run-down of the kit. Here’s what you want to look for:

Broken Hardware:

Drum hardware often breaks or malfunctions if it’s cheaply made or not treated properly. This would include: kick pedals, floor tom legs, lugs and tension rods, rack tom mounts, cymbal stands, and hi-hat stands. Is the kick pedal working properly, or are there any malfunctions with the spring or chain? Does the hi-hat pedal and clutch work properly? Is anything extremely squeaky, rusty, or warped?

Another very important piece to inspect is the drum throne. If your drum throne is warped to the point it’s no longer adjustable, or can’t maintain the adjusted height for more than 30 minutes of playing, you need to replace it. Drummers need to sit at a comfortable height to play confidently, and a stool that’s too low will throw you off balance while trying to play.

Obviously, replacing hardware won’t make a kit “sound” all that different (unless a faulty bass or hi-hat pedal are preventing drummers from playing properly), but it certainly will affect your drummers. To play confident, you need a kit they can feel confident on. It needs to be comfortable, playable, and adjustable.

Drum Heads:

A LOT of worship pastors complain about the sound of the drum kit and think it’s because they aren’t good quality drums. As someone who’s played countless drumkits in dozens of rooms, I can assure you that you can get nearly any kit of any quality to sound good. It usually has to do with the heads.

How long have the heads been on your kit? If you can’t remember, replace them. Heads shouldn’t be on a drum kit for longer than 6 months (at max). I’d recommend you replace them every 3 months if it’s in your budget to do so. If they look worn down (coated heads have see-through dots forming from use, super dirty looking, dimpled in spots, warped, etc.), you need to replace them. In fact, a drumhead stops sounding good FAR before any visual cues indicate it. So, 6 months really is the longest you should go without replacing the heads on your church drumkit. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for churches to have drums where the heads haven’t been replaced in years.

So what drumheads should you buy? Here’s what I recommend:

(Side Note: “Batter” refers to the head that is struck with the stick/kick beater, and “Reso” – short for “resonant” – refers to the bottom/back head)

Toms:
Batter Heads: Remo Coated Emperor (Coated Vintage are also great)
Reso Heads: Remo Clear Ambassador

Snare:
Batter Head: Remo Coated Ambassador (Or Remo Coated Control Sound if you have really heavy hitting drummers)
Reso Head: Remo Ambassador Hazy Snare Side (MAKE SURE that it’s specifically a “Snare Side” head)

Kick:
Batter Head: Remo Powerstroke 3 Coated
Reso Head: Remo Fiberskyn Ambassador

Make sure to cut the port hole in the bass drum head. If your bass drum is ringing too much, put a blanket, towel, or pillow in to muffle it. If your toms (especially the floor tom) are ringing to much, try putting some gaff tape on the heads or adding cotton balls to the inside of the drums.

Cymbals

Cymbals are a very important piece of the drum kit, and unfortunately, they are all-too-often neglected on church drum sets. Take a look to see if any cymbals are suffering cracks (on the outside or inside hole) or keyholing (when the center hole in the cymbal is worn down on one side from the stand, producing the appearance of a “keyhole”).

First things first – make sure you have plastic/rubber sleeves and felts on all cymbal stands to avoid destroying your cymbals. If you have any cracked cymbals, there are ways professionals can “repair” them by cutting small, rounded notches that keep the crack from spreading, but honestly, I’d just recommend replacing the cymbal entirely.

If your problem with the cymbals is that they sound “bad” in general, you should look into getting better cymbals. Make sure your cymbals are not made with the B8 metal alloy, as this is used on cheap beginner cymbals and has a staple “pingy”, “bright”, and often “harsh” sound.

Look into replacing your existing set with “darker” sounding cymbals such as those made by Bosphorus (Turk, Masters Vintage, Black Pearl, New Orleans, Traditional), Istanbul (Agop OM, 30th Anniversary, Agop Signature), and Meinl (Byzance Dark). Dream Cymbals are another brand that sound great, though sometimes the durability is questionable – do your research before pulling the trigger on those. Hi-hat and ride are the most important to be replaced first.

Learning to Properly Tune Your Drums

As mentioned prior, I’ve managed to get dozens of drum kits to all sound how I want them to, and it’s almost always a matter of good drum head selection (detailed above), and proper drum tuning practices.

There are many videos out on how to tune snare drums, toms, and kick for worship music. Each kit responds differently to tuning (some kits sound better with the batter head tighter than the reso head, and others vice versa). The main thing is – watch, learn, and experiment. Use gaff tape when necessary to reduce overall ring and revisit tuning the kit every few weeks.

Chris Fleming, Author

About the Author

Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as TAYA, Big Daddy Weave, and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the worship music scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally. Chris is the Motion Designer at Motion Worship, helping to create motion background collections and countdowns for our subscribers.

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