General Posts

Common Concert Snare Drum Maintenance

There are some common maintenance issues that will arise over time with relation to your concert snare drum. While most of these are fairly simple we have tried to highlight issues that can be taken care of by you with little knowledge of percussion repair.

Cleaning: Wipe down each drum with a soft cloth, including the hardware and the shell. If there is extreme dirt or grime, you can use denatured alcohol diluted in water. If you have anything that is extremely sticky use a small amount of valve oil. In both cases, put the product on the cloth instead of spraying directly on the drum.

Parts Inspection: Do a visual inspection for any missing or broken parts that may need replaced. Some common parts missing or broken include the following:

  • Bent Tension Rods
  • Damaged Tension Posts or Tubes
  • Bent Strainer from overtightening snare strands
  • Bent or out of Round Rims
  • Inspect the bearing edges when heads are off for any damage

Head Replacement: Changing the heads on a concert snare drum that is used regularly should happen about once a year. Over time the head will get stretched so far that it will not hold tuning for long even if tuned daily. If the head is dented, ripped, or severely scratched consider replacing the heads. While changing a drum head is a fairly easy task, when you have to do it quickly and on your own there are a few things to consider.

  • Use two drum keys in a cross pattern to quickly remove the head.
  • Keep the tension rods attached to the rim.
  • Quickly remove any debris from the rim.
  • Take your time to make sure the head is seated properly on the bearing edge.
  • Finger tighten in a cross pattern and then using a drum key in the cross pattern.
  • Placing a finger in the center of the head can help you determine when the head is ready to tune.

Snare Strand (Wires) Detach: A common issue on a snare drum is for the snare strand to become detached or become loose even with the strainer working properly.

  • Remove any old string or nylon strip and attach new ones.
  • Let some tension out of the strainer knob to allow for adjusting later on.
  • Attach the butt-side first being sure to center the strands from side to side.
  • Attach the throw-off side with it in the “ON” position. Make sure it is tight but leave some room for adjustment.

Damaged or Bent Shell: Inspect the shell for and damage. Metallic shells with dents can often be put back into round by a repair technician.

If you continue to find issue with the way your concert snare drum is performing or sounding after going through these common tips, feel free to give us a call and we talk help diagnose the problem.

Vibraphone Maintenance and Common Issues

The vibraphone is one of the most complex instruments in the percussion family due to its many moving parts to make it all work. Unfortunately, the pedal and damper mechanisms are not universal from brand to brand so you will need to give these instruments a more thorough inspection. A majority of the time issues on vibraphones are from the pedal or the damper. Beyond the basic keyboard cleaning tips mentioned you can check for the following issues:

  • Bar Cleaning: Since the vibes have metal bars cleaning them with a dry cloth first and then denatured alcohol or a multi surface cleaner such as Pledge will help remove the built up dirt and grime.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  • Broken or Worn String: If you notice some clanking of the bars when playing or some uneven dampening check the string to make sure it is in good condition.  It is best to change the string when you start to notice wear so it doesn’t break when you are in the middle of a performance.                                                                                                                                                                    
  • Pedal Issues: There are often three main concerns when it comes to the vibraphone pedals and they are as follows:
    • Pedal attachment loose from frame. Re-attach with new bolt and nut.
    • Upper Pull Rod gets stripped and won’t hold in place. Replace upper pull rod.
    • Bent upper pull rod that will often need to be replaced.
  • Damper Issues: The damper is the part that actually touches the keys and attaches to the pedal. In general you should look for the following issues on the damper system.
    • Missing or bent compression spring
    • Worn Damper Felt. Over time the keys will wear out the damper felt causing notes to ring when dampened.
    • Uneven dampening of bars. There could be many reasons for this such as uneven felt, uneven bar post that hold the string, or even tightness of the string.  You would likely need to have this looked at by a repair technician to fully diagnose the issue.  
  • Resonators: Take the time to clean out the resonators. Dust, dirt and other particles often collect at the bottom on these and can affect the overall sound of the keyboard.
    • First remove resonators from the keyboard and flip over and lightly tap.
    • Use a long dust brush to remove more dust.
    • On longer resonators you can carefully use a vacuum with hose attachment to help remove the lowest settled particles of dust or dirt.
  • Motor/Fan Issues:  Some common issues involved with the motor not working properly 
    • If you notice an uneven sound between the naturals and accidentals you need to check that the fans are on the same rotation.  (They should spin at the same speed and same angle throughout.  Easy to adjust)
    • Power Supply:  If you plug in and it is not working you likely will need to replace the power cord
    • Belt Issues:  Depending on the model of vibraphone there will be either one or two belts near the motor that attach to the resonators.  Over time these can wear out or snap and will need to be replaced.

With the basic information above you can at least diagnose what the issue might be and even potentially fix it yourself. If you have found the problem but are unsure how to fix it give us a call and we can either talk you through it over the phone or send our service technician out to your school to repair it for you. We can be reached at 317-813-2070 or chops@chopspercussion.com.

Yearly Maintenance Tips: A Comprehensive Guide

As the new year approaches, your program is likely going into the busiest time of year with concert band, solo and ensemble, jazz band and indoor percussion all happening at the same time.  Often times you may not think about taking a little extra time to do a thorough inspection of your gear, but it will go a long way in getting the most out of your investment.

Now is a great time to do some general equipment maintenance and cleaning that can ensure you are ready for the busy months ahead.  Having your students actively participate in this process will help them take pride over equipment that will be used long after they leave your program and can help the process move along faster and seem less overwhelming.

Below are some quick and easy tips for making sure your gear is in top shape to start the new year:

  • Take an inventory of all your equipment at the end of each semester.
  • Clean all equipment using a soft cloth to remove any dirt or grime that has built up over time.  A small amount of diluted rubbing alcohol can help remove major build-up.
  • Inspect your instruments for any missing parts.
  • Check for broken or damaged areas on your equipment that may require repair or replacement.
  • Ensure that all frame bolts, nuts, carrier parts, etc. are at the correct tightness.
  • Cover all instruments daily and keep small instruments stored properly.  Don’t leave equipment on the truck for long periods of time.

For a more exhaustive list of maintenance and specific things to look for you can download the pdf file here:

Chops Percussion Comprehensive Percussion Maintenance Guide

If you are in need of parts or more tips call us today and we can help you get everything you need to make sure you are ready to go for 2021!

The Positive Impact Drumming Has On Mental Health

* This is a blog from January of 2020. I figured since this year has kicked everyone in the shins, we could use a reminder!

Research conducted by the Royal College of Music in London shows that drumming can have a drastic impact on one’s mental health. A 10 week group drumming program reduced depression in the participants by 38% and anxiety by 20%! The 10 week study also shows social resilience improving by 23% and overall mental well-being by 16%. These numbers are astounding to me, but when I think about how I feel when I’m playing drums with my band, I am not at all surprised.

Full disclosure: I suffer from depression. Some times are worse than others and the winter can be the most brutal for me. Getting behind my drum set and playing is a huge lift for my mood and my self-esteem. It’s the one thing I have in my life that I can constantly count on to give me joy. I’m so glad to know that drumming can be therapeutic for so many others.

If you have never played but have always wanted to learn, or you would just like to find a new outlet to release some of that negative energy, maybe now is the time for you! If you’re in the Indianapolis area, Bongo Boy Music School offers group drumming, as well as private instruction. Bongo Boy offers many wellness sessions for people of all ages and ability levels. Learn more about the wellness program here.

Click here to check out the article on the Royal College of Music study.

I wish you all the very best mental and physical health this year and every year after. Cheers!

Chops Percussion Closed Until April 7th

In compliance with the recent executive order issued by Governor Holcomb, Paige’s Music and our specialty shops Chops Percussion, Encore Orchestral Strings & Indy Flute Shop will be temporarily closed until Tuesday, April 7th. During this time we will not have access to our facility. So, there will be no in-store or curbside pick-up and no outbound shipments or deliveries. We will be monitoring e-mails remotely and will respond within 24 hours to your e-mail inquiries.

To insure that your inquiry is directed to the best person to help you, please use the appropriate e-mail address below:

To reach our specialty shops:

We will be ready to serve you as soon as this closure order is lifted.