Playing your drums is not enough. If you really want to express your love of the craft you should also devote some time to take care of them.
A proper cleaning session for your drums is kind of a life insurance combined with a multivitamin therapy: the result will be a safer, longer lifespan and instant improvement in the quality and character of the set’s tone.
Also, a clean drum set represents an exigent attitude towards your drum set, something that your colleagues and your public will both value.
When set up, a drum set would be quite cumbersome to clean. For that reason, my recommendation for you would be to make a decision when you are going to clean your drum set, set aside an hour and start by disassembling.
Put the hardware parts, the shells, the heads and the cymbals into four different groups, as these different parts need different cleaning. We probably should not talk too much about cleaning the hardware – clean it just as you would clean any other metal surface.
You should clean your drum shells almost like any other wooden or laminated surface – be sure not to use abrasive solutions, however. Your drum heads need cleaning more than you would think and the cleaning process is simpler than you would probably think. Applying a bit of sanitary alcohol using cotton buds will do wonders to the heads – removing all the grease and other kinds of dirt will reveal the true potential of any drumhead.
There are two main types of cymbals: cast and stamped cymbals. Cast cymbals are manufactured in a way so that their shine comes from the metal itself. On the other hand, stamped cymbals get their shine from the lacquer layer atop the metal.
There are dedicated cleaning solutions to both cast and stamped cymbals. Be sure to choose the right type, otherwise you might hurt the metal of your cast cymbal or destroy the lacquer layer on your stamped cymbal.
After all the work you have gone through, there is only a rather philosophical idea to mention: no matter how useful it is, cleaning a drum set is not the most satisfying way one can spend their time. So, assuming that you do not want to spend an hour cleaning your drum set every weekend, you should rather try to preserve the cleanness.
a.) Keep your hands clean. Admit it or not, your hands are the biggest source of dirt on your drum set. You touch different parts of the set every second, including choking the cymbals. It seems obvious that washing and drying your hands before sitting down to play might save your precious time later.
b.) Keep your drum sticks clean. Almost every drummer has a few old drum sticks lying around here or there. If you keep your sticks under the table near the bin, you should not be surprised when you see that your drum heads are getting dirtier and dirtier every day. A drum stick holder bag is really not expensive, so you should buy one. Or ask your mother/girlfriend/wife to make one for you.
c.) Cover the drum set when you are not playing. There is more dirt and dust in the seemingly clean air of your rehearsal room than you would ever believe. So, find a sheet and whenever you are leaving your drum set, cover it with that sheet so it will not become dirty.
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