Repair 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!

What’s Old is New – Getting Rid of Rust

A majority of percussion equipment contains some type of metal that is prone to developing rust after years of wear and tear.  This could be an old snare drum with rusted out lugs, rusty rims and rust on the shell, or an old set of bells that has lost its shine. Don’t let the rust stand in the way of an instrument being used properly and sounding great.  With a little bit of time and some elbow grease you can make those OLD instruments look and sound NEW again.

You can quickly and effectively remove rust on your percussion equipment by following a few steps:

Step 1: Remove parts from the instrument so that all areas can be exposed to cleaning.  Do not try to clean or remove rust with parts still attached the instrument.  For instance, remove all lugs from the drum so they can be cleaned individually and all the way around.

Troubleshooting Common Timpani Issues

 

Common Timpani Issues

 

With the school year well underway, you may start to notice some issues with your timpani after they sat around all summer not being used. Timpani are one of the more misunderstood percussion instruments with regards to function and reparability, but knowing some common issues that occur can give you a better understanding of what to check.

 

            Issue #1 – The Pedals Slip (Won’t stay in position)

 

When the pedal on timpani is not holding either in the high or low position it is more often than not related to the range of the drums.  Over time, the heads continue to stretch and can cause the drums to become out of range and thus not allowing spring and head to be balanced with tension.  This is the first thing to check if you have pedal issues.  You should check that the lowest note on each drum is correct as seen below:

 

 

If the pedal slips forward from the lowest position, it likely means that the drum is too low and needs to be brought up to the correct low note.  Holding the pedal in the heel down (low position) make small adjustments to each tension rod until you have the lowest note.

 

If the pedal is moving back from the upper position, it likely means you need to add a little bit of tension to the spring.  However, it is important to check the low note and make sure you have this first.  If the low note is correct, adjust the spring.

 

 

Issue #2 – The Pedal is Hard to Move or is Stuck

 

This can be caused by many things, but the first thing to check is that nothing appears to be broken or snapped as this can cause things to stop working completely.  More than likely, the balance between the head and spring are not correct so checking these first is a good idea.  Other things to check would be the braking systems being to tight and thus not allowing the pedals to move freely.  On Ludwig drums this can be found under the pedal while on Yamaha drums this is often found near the center under the bowl.

 

            Issue #3 – The Drums Won’t Stay in Tune

 

If you are having issues with the drums constantly going low after tuning them up it likely means you are in need of a head change.  Timpani heads should be changed every one to two years depending on your daily usage.

 

If you just changed the heads recently and they just don’t sound great or don’t seem to hold a pitch well they likely need to be cleared and tuned up by a professional.  Since the process of clearing and getting timpani in tune with themselves can be tricky it is best to have someone familiar with the process check out the drums.

 

If you notice something that is not listed here, it is likely something that will need to be inspected and serviced by a professional repair technician. You may find yourself understanding what the cause of the issue may be but not confident in fixing the issue.  Give us a call at 317-813-2070 and we can make a visit to your school to ensure your timpani are in top working condition.

 

Brian Travelsted

Percussion Repair Technician

brian@chopspercussion.com