End of Year Maintenance: Marching Percussion

With many indoor percussion seasons now at an end, it is the perfect time to check over all your marching percussion gear and get it ready for both use during summer camps and into the fall. By taking the time to go through and do an inspection on all your drums you can likely avoid any emergency situation that might pop up at the worst time. Marching percussion equipment is exposed to the most environmental challenges throughout the course of the school year and is often times used year round. With these environmental demands, there comes a need for taking care of the instruments on a routine basis. One of the biggest pitfalls in maintaining marching percussion equipment is failing to regularly change your heads. With the materials and high tension nature of modern marching heads, failing to change them regularly can place unneeded pressure on the bearing edge and shell if heads continue to be over tightened. If you are a school that does both marching band and indoor percussion, try and line up a cleaning day when you are executing a head change. This allows you to thoroughly clean your equipment and get fresh new heads on the drums.

*Below you can find specific issues to check for on the different types of marching drums.*

Marching Snare Drums

  •  Do a visual inspection for any missing or broken parts that may need replaced. Some common parts missing or broken include the following:
    • Rim Guards or Feet
    • Bent Tension Rods
    • Bent Long Tension Posts or Tubes
    • Bent Strainer from overtightening snare guts
    • Inspect the bearing edges when heads are off for any damage
  • 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.
  • Check the snare guts, if they are extremely bent consider replacing or tightening with a screw of the side as they are too loose causing them to bend over the rim incorrectly.
  • When executing a head change, be sure to use lithium grease on the tension rods.
  • Ensure that any hardware for attached to the drum for the carrier is tight and in working order.
  • Place a clean drum cover on the drum and then place the drum in a hard or soft case.
  • Each drum should be stored in a secure and cool environment.
  • If storing for the winter season, the tension on both the top head and bottom head should be reduced by half to keep the tension rods in place and pressure of the drum and heads.

Marching Tenor Drums

  • 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
    • Cracked Lug Casings
    • Screws missing to hold lug casing on drum (found inside drum)
    • Bent or missing spacers between the drums
    • Bent rims causing the heads to not sit correctly and causing tuning issues
    • Missing or loose tenor trim
    • Inspect the bearing edges when heads are off for any signs of damage
  • 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.
  • When executing a head change, be sure to use lithium grease on the tension rods.
  • Ensure that any hardware for attached to the drum for the carrier is tight and in working order.
  • Place a clean drum cover on the drum and then place the drum in a hard or soft case.
  • Each drum should be stored in a secure and cool environment.
  • If storing for the winter season, the tension on both the top head and bottom head should be reduced by half to keep the tension rods in place and pressure of the drum and heads.

Marching Bass Drums

  • 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
    • Cracked Lug Casings
    • Screws missing to hold lug casing on drum (found inside drum)
    • Cracked or Broken Hoops
    • If foamed inside drum; loose or missing foam
    • Overly bent claw hooks that don’t attached properly
    • Inspect the bearing edge when heads are off for signs of damage
  • 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.
  • When executing a head change, be sure to use lithium grease on the tension rods.
  • Ensure that any hardware for attached to the drum for the carrier is tight and in working order.
  • Place a clean drum cover on the drum and then place the drum in a hard or soft case.
  • Each drum should be stored in a secure and cool environment.
  • If storing for the winter season, the tension on both the top head and bottom head should be reduced by half to keep the tension rods in place and pressure of the drum and heads.

Marching Cymbals

  • Do a visual inspection for any missing or broken parts that may need replaced. Some common parts missing or broken include the following:
    • Check for Cracks or Dents
    • Worn or Ripped Cymbal Straps
  • Wipe down each cymbal with a soft cloth.
  • 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 cymbals.
  • Each cymbal should be stored in a secure and cool environment.
  • If storing for the winter season, place in cymbal bags rather than leaving them exposed to the air.
  • Cymbal Polish: Using cymbal polish is optional and should only be used for additional cleaning. Keep in mind the type of cymbals you have will affect the amount of “shine”. If it started with a non-brilliant finish it will remain non-brilliant.

If you can take the time now to go through and do all these steps you will set yourself and your students up for success in the future by being prepared and having your marching gear in it’s best possible condition to start the season.

Troubleshooting Timpani Issues

 

Common Timpani Issues

 

With contest season in full swing, you may start to notice some issues with your timpani. 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.

IPA 2022 State Finals Recap

Chops Percussion was proud to once again be the presenting sponsor of the Indiana Percussion Association.  It was an exciting day of performances at the Hulman Center of Indiana State University. We’d like to congratulate the IPA board, ISU volunteers, and everyone involved in the daily logistics who did such a great job of making it a fantastic day and great experience for everyone.  We would also like to congratulate all the students, staff and parents on another exciting year of great performances.  It’s amazing what these young musicians are able to achieve, and the talent level seems to increase every year.  Congratulations to everyone involved with performing and constructing these shows, along with all the support staff who made it possible for the students and staff to do what they do! Below is a list of medalist in each class.

State Championships Results

Concert Classes

Scholastic Concert A (PSCA)

  • East Central High School
  • Warsaw Winter Percussion Ensemble
  • Elkhart Percussion Ensemble

Scholastic Concert Open (PSCO)

  • Lawrence Central Percussion Ensemble
  • Ben Davis High School
  • Pendleton Heights Indoor Percussion Ensemble

Scholastic Concert World (PSCW)

  • Fishers Concert World
  • Castle Indoor Percussion

Marching Classes

Scholastic A (PSA)

  • Edgewood High School
  • Westfield Indoor Percussion
  • Noblesville Indoor Percussion Ensemble

Independent A (PIA)

  • IGNITE Winter Percussion
  • 1 Indoor Percussion
  • Decatur County Greensburg Indoor

Scholastic Open (PSO)

  • Decatur Central Winter Percussion Ensemble
  • Brownsburg Percussion
  • Zionsville Indoor Percussion

Scholastic World (PSW)

  • Avon High School
  • Fishers High School
  • Franklin Central Percussion Symphony

For a complete list of results and recaps, please visit www.indianapercussion.org

If you’d like to see some of the shows for the ensembles attending the WGI World Championships, there is a “Preview to Dayton” Saturday, April 9th at Avon High School.  You can find details on the IPA website.

Tips for Indoor Drumline – Warming Up Outside

Since it has been a few years since IPA State Finals has taken place at the Hulman Center in Terre Haute, we thought we would re-post this past article originally written by Jeff Huffman.

This weekend is the Finals for the IPA (Indiana Percussion Association) circuit will require an outside warm-up. Those groups who have performed in Dayton for WGI Championships or participate in circuits in warmer regions of the country know this is a normal process. The outside extended warm-up can be very beneficial to preparing for the large arena environment. But for those who have not gone through that process before, here are some tips to make sure the experience is smooth and beneficial for everyone.

  • KEEP A VERY CLOSE EYE ON THE WEATHER. Be prepared for cold, rain, wind and heat.
  • Take jackets and coats to warm-up. Have a parent push around a large plastic trash can for the kids to ditch their jackets as they enter the arena. They might not need them, but it’s better to be prepared. Standing in a parking lot freezing before your final performance isn’t going to help you have a relaxed, confident performance.
  • Be prepared to change on the bus. If you aren’t showing up in uniform, don’t plan to go inside to change. This may be a possibility, but it is usually much easier and quicker to take turns changing on the bus.
  • Have plenty of plastic tarps. We all hope for perfect weather conditions on contest days, especially when the warm-up is outside, but that isn’t always the case and it’s best to prepare for inclement weather. Don’t just bring a couple huge tarps to park the equipment under. Bring smaller tarps that can stay over the electronics carts while rolling from warm-up to the arena.
  • Have plenty of bungee cords. You’ll need those tarps strapped down if it’s windy!
  • If it looks to be sunny and warm, make sure to bring water. An hour in the sun, on asphalt, can wear the students down quickly.
  • If having your electronics on during warm-up is important to you, TAKE A GENERATOR. There might be power available in the warm-up lot, but don’t plan for it.
  • Keep electronics dry at all costs!
  • Be aware of the Inclement Weather/Tent Schedule and use your time in the tent if you have any concerns about the weather. This includes very cold and/or windy conditions.
  • Finally, directors and staff – Since this is only the time for everyone at this venue, get there early and take the time to walk the flow in and out of the arena so you’re familiar with it. Also, allow enough time for your student performers to go in and watch a couple groups so they can get the feel for the arena, along with the on-and-off-the-floor flow.

Good luck to everyone performing in the IPA State Championships this weekend!

Concert Snare Drum Maintenance: Common Issues

With concert season in full swing, we thought this would be a quick reminder on things you can check out on your snare drum if you are having issues. 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.