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Your acoustic drum kit is a pretty straightforward instrument. It does, though, consist of hundreds of small items, each of which you need to keep an eye on and maintain properly functioning and squeak-free.
Some drummers like to keep their kit in sparkling condition at all times; others prefer the funkier approach, preferring to leave well alone, particularly their cymbals. And for most of us an occasional wipe-over with a clean cloth is all that’s needed for day-to-day maintenance.
Every now and then, though - maybe once a year - we feel our kit needs some serious TLC. Then we’ll drag our drums into the kitchen or the shed and give them a proper ‘MOT’.
This will certainly involve removing the heads and you may bravely go all the way, removing the lugs in order to get your shells and chromed parts as clean as new.
In this series from Rhythm Magazine we will be looking at how to maintain and clean your drums, your cymbals and your hardware. We are not concerned here with restoration of your drums - that will follow in a future series of articles in Rhythm.
In this first part, we’ll begin with the drums. If you remove the nut boxes (lugs) then you must take care not to lose any tiny parts. Best keep them in a labelled container, perhaps with a lid.
It’s easy these days to take photographs, so if you have any worries about the way something is put together, keep a pictorial record.
Rhythm visited the workshop of Yard Gavrilovic who, as well as being Steve Gadd’s long-serving tech, runs Vintage DrumYard in Clacton-On-Sea, Essex, where he restores, supplies and customises drum equipment.
We got the man himself to show us how he goes about thoroughly cleaning up a single drum, and since Yard’s stock is mostly vintage, the drum in question is a 1970s 13x9-inch Ludwig tom.
Being old, this drum required some pretty heavy-duty cleaning. But you can follow the same procedure with any age of drum - and a newer drum most likely won’t need the more abrasive treatments.