Maybe it’s just me but I enjoy setting up and taking down my drums. There is a kind of bonding that can happen when we are hands on with our gear, but there are definitely times when we want to set up and take down as quickly as possible. For example, there is not always plenty of time to set up for a gig and catch our breath before we start playing. Also, at two in the morning after the show, getting your gear packed up and loaded quickly seems like a good idea. So here are five suggestions that can simplify your setup and tear down time.
Setting up your drums on a rug or carpet of some sort not only helps to keep the drums from sliding around, but it makes setup time much more efficient if you mark the location of the stands and pedals. It also allows you to set up the same way every time. It doesn’t have to be a thick rug and it doesn’t even have to cover your whole drum set (I once used the floor mats from my car). Thicker rugs tend to last longer but thinner rugs are easier to carry around.
Most stands come with memory locks so that you can disassemble them and put them back in the exact position you had them. If your stand doesn’t come with a memory lock, you can use a hose clamp. They are available at any hardware store and are not expensive.
You can also mark stands with tape or nail polish to note the height, angle, or any other adjustment. You can do the same with your bass drum claws. If you have multiple stands that you assemble and take apart, it can be helpful to color code the tops and bottoms with the same color tape or mark them with numbers. That makes it easier to match which tops go with which bottoms.
3. STAND CASE
The bigger the utility bag or case that you have to carry your stands, the less you have to disassemble them. I found a big suitcase from a thrift store that holds my cymbal stands without having to retract the boom arms. That saves a lot of time.
Speaking of cases in general, although it can save time to forgo using them to transport your drums, I highly recommend using drum cases if you want to keep your drums looking nice.
Try clamping cymbal arms to other stands. This saves floor space and time by having less to set up and adjust. I clamp my crash cymbal arms to my tom stand and my floor tom hangs from a stand that also holds my ride cymbal.
Some of the best time savers are quick release wing nuts for your cymbal stands. These secure your cymbal to the stand and come on and off in a matter of seconds, as opposed to the minutes it can take to remove traditional wing nuts. I use Tama’s version but there are many brands that you can try. Gibraltar also makes a quick release hi-hat clutch that I use.
These things have saved me a lot of set up and take down time. I have even been known to tear down quicker than the guitar player. Try them and see if they work for you.