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Drums make perfect companions. They’re always there when you need them. They don’t judge you. They know how to make you happy. They come in all shapes and sizes and no matter your preference, there’s something for everyone.

We need to care for the ones we love, right? And how better to do that than with some light polishing, dusting, and other forms of maintenance (that you should reserve for drums, not people)?

Aside from gifting your drums with good cases to keep them safe and sound, here are some basic tips to show them how much you care.

Regular maintenance

Unless you have extra time in your schedule and are extremely committed to your drums, you can keep your babies looking and sounding great with regular light maintenance. Cleaning your drums removes dirt and particle buildup which, if left to accumulate over time, can affect performance and longevity.

While metal and acrylic drums might require slightly different cleaning techniques, we’re going to stick with classic wood construction for the purpose of this article.

At the bare minimum, here’s how you can keep your drums happy:

  • Remove the hoops and heads from each drum
  • Wipe down the bearing edge and the inside of the shell with a damp cloth (microfiber if possible, but a soft cotton t-shirt works as a last resort)
  • Give the outside a shine with the same cloth
  • Make sure everything is dry, and replace heads if needed before reassembling everything
  • Lubricate the moving parts on your pedal(s) to keep them working smoothly (you can use special bearing oil or even sewing machine oil)

Deep cleaning

Don’t forget to treat that special someone every once in a while. Think of it like taking your drums to the spa. It might take a bit more time and effort, but it’ll be an experience that’ll benefit every drum set.

Take your drums apart. Remove the hoops and heads. Repeat the steps in the ‘regular maintenance’ section, taking care to not use paper towel or a material that could scratch the finish, but consider cleaning with mild soap and water. You should also add the following steps every now and then:

Polish and condition shells

You can use polish to restore shine to lacquer finishes and glossy wraps. Try to choose one that’s formulated for drums, since you can’t always guarantee other products don’t contain chemicals that could damage the finish. Some people swear by furniture or car polish, but always test a small, less visible area first before applying it to the whole drum – just in case.

If your bearing edge is a bit rough or uneven, detail-oriented drummers might want to use a bearing edge conditioner. Some swear it helps seat the head better. This isn’t a necessary step, but it’s something to consider if you’re the type to leave no stone unturned.

Clean hardware

Once you remove the hoops and tension rods, consider removing the lugs as well. You can use an all-purpose metal/chrome cleaner or polish on most hardware, although you should be careful and go for something with mild ingredients if yours has a colored finish or plate. You can use an old toothbrush to clean the inside of the lugs and tension rods, but use a cloth on the bigger pieces to avoid scratches. The same goes for cymbal stands and other hardware.

When it comes to metal maintenance, make sure you don’t leave your drums or hardware exposed to excess moisture where they could rust or corrode. If it’s too late and some rust has made an appearance, use wire wool to gently remove it.

Lubricate hardware

One you’ve serviced your pedal, you should also add a tiny bit of lubricating oil to your tension rods and the wingnuts on your stands to encourage movement and prevent the threads from stripping over time. One drop can go a long way – don’t overdo it or you’ll end up with a mess on your hands.

If you include these points in your maintenance routine, you’ll extend the life of your drums while keeping them looking and sounding awesome. And while your drums will always love you unconditionally, you’ll be able to sleep better knowing extra care can make all the difference.

Treat your drums right.


Samantha Landa

Samantha Landa is a Canadian metal drummer and writer. She currently plays with Dead Asylum and has spent the last few years as a touring session drummer with Nervosa and Introtyl. Sam has been featured by outlets such as Sick Drummer Magazine and DRUM! Magazine, and proudly endorses Mapex Drums, Sabian Cymbals and Los Cabos Drumsticks.

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