Welcome back to our series on snare drum maintenance. In the last post we discussed how to properly remove worn drum heads. Today we’ll address how to replace them with new heads.
After you’ve removed worn heads and cleaned your drum, it’s time to install new heads. Begin by placing the new head on the shell, and the rim on the head. For aesthetics, most drummers align the logo on the head with the badge on the drum.
Before putting tension on the head you should consider lubricating the tension rods. Many products are available, but I recommend lithium grease. It’s inexpensive, effective, durable, and can be found at any auto parts store. To lubricate the tension rods, simply dip the threaded end into your lubricant.
With the tension rods lubricated, insert them into the lugs. Following the same cross pattern we used to remove the heads in our previous lesson, use your fingers to draw the tension rods tight to the rim. Done correctly, this will apply a consistent level of tension across the head and prepare you to tune the drum with a key.
With the top head installed, use the same technique on the new bottom head. Be sure to align the openings in the rim to the snare strainer and butt plate.
At this point I recommend using a permanent marker to write the date on the new heads. This will prevent you from having to remember how long the head has been on the drum. Remember, drum heads wear out.
With the new drum heads installed you’re ready to tune the drum and reapply the snare wires. Stay tuned, we’ll cover those steps in our next lessons!
Welcome back to our series on snare drum maintenance. In the previous posts we discussed how to identify and replace worn snare wires. Today we’ll address the first step in replacing drum heads: how to remove worn heads.
Believe it or not, all drum heads will eventually wear out. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to remove and replace them. Follow this procedure to replace the heads on your drums.
Before we begin you’ll need to know the name of your drum’s parts. Your drum heads are held in place by the rims, the circular metal or wood pieces. Tension is applied to the rim and heads by the tension rods, the bolts with a specialized square end. The tension rods are screwed into lugs, the metal pieces attached to the drum shell.
You will need a drum key to remove the heads. Keys are inexpensive, and readily available, but I recommend the larger keys designed for marching drums. They are more expensive, but the extra leverage makes changing heads much easier.
Begin by gradually releasing the tension from the rim. Using the pattern illustrated below, loosen all the tension rods a quarter or half turn.
Repeat this pattern several times until there is no tension left on the head. By removing tension gradually you prevent damage to the rim, which can be warped by uneven pressure.
At this point you can use your fingers to remove the tension rods from the lugs. There’s no need to remove the tension rods from the rim. Simply let gravity hold the tension rod in the rim.
To remove the bottom head, remove the snare wires and repeat this process. We’ll discuss setting and adjusting the snare wires in an upcoming lesson.
Once you’ve removed both heads consider taking the opportunity to clean your drum. Take a paper towel and remove any dust and pieces of drum sticks that might have collected between the head and bearing edges.
With the old heads removed, and the drum cleaned, you are now ready to put on the new heads. Stay tuned, we’ll cover that in our next lesson!
Chops Percussion made the trip to Dayton, OH this past weekend for the WGI World Championships. We’re very lucky to have the support of many schools and independent groups that made the trip as well. Without these groups, our success would not be possible. Congratulations to the following groups for making WGI Finals in their respective classes:
Scholastic A Decatur Central HS (7th Place)
Zionsville Community HS (10th Place)
Greenfield-Central HS (15th Place)
Independent A Ferndale Independent Percussion (Silver Medalist)
Scholastic Open Victor J Andrew HS (7th Place)
Franklin Central HS (10th Place)
Scholastic World Avon HS (4th Place)
Center Grove HS (6th Place)
Goshen HS (8th Place)
Clinton HS (10th Place)
Forsyth Central HS (13th Place)
Scholastic Concert World Goshen HS (Silver Medalist)
Congratulations to the following groups for their participation at the WGI World Championships:
Norwell HS (PSA); Minooka Community HS (PSA); Carroll HS (PSA); Tri-West HS (PSA); Pike HS (PSO); Plainfield HS (PSO); Lambert HS (PSW); Ben Davis HS (PSW); Legacy Indoor Percussion (PIW).
The WGI Percussion World Championships are this weekend and we have our top 5 reasons why you should go. But before we get to that, maybe you’ve never heard of WGI and are wondering what this is all about?
From their website: "WGI Sport of the Arts is the world’s premier organization producing indoor color guard, percussion, and wind ensemble competitions. As a non-profit youth organization, WGI serves as the leading governing body of the winter guard and indoor percussion activities. It is called the Sport of the Arts because it brings music to life through performance in a competitive format. Now entering its 38th year in 2015, the sport continues to evolve and grow. There were more than 36,000 participants at the regional level, and more than 12,000 participants at the Sport of the Arts World Championships this past April."
If you would attend this weekend, you would see the percussion section or "drumlines" of a marching band performing indoors. These show aren’t just thrown together. Hundreds, if not thousands of hours are spent designing, building, rehearsing and competing over several months.
Indiana is one of the premier states when it comes to competitive percussion ensembles. The Indiana Percussion Association just recently held their State Prelims and State Finals competitions where over 100 groups competed in both the concert and movement categories! You can view those results on the IPA website.
As you might have guessed, Indiana will be well represented this weekend in Dayton, Ohio at the WGI Percussion World Championships with several groups competing in various classes.
With that said, here are our top 5 reasons on why you should attend.
1. The Performances Are Incredible
The massive amounts of time, care, preparation, rehearsals and talent all lead to performances that will simply blow you away. Even if you don’t know a lot about the activity, the entertainment value alone is well worth the ticket price. I remember saying out loud the first time I attended IPA or WGI – "These are high school kids?!"
Avon High School Indoor Percussion at the 2014 WGI World Championships.
2. It’s Not Far
WGI Percussion World Championships are held in Dayton, Ohio. Which is only a couple of hours from Indianapolis. You could head over, watch performances and drive back all in one day. We feel the best day to go to get the most bang for your time is Friday.
3. Don’t Miss The United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps Percussion Section
The United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps have partnered with WGI for the 2015 season.“The Commandant’s Own” percussion section will appear in exhibition during the Saturday night World Cass Finals event on April 11th.
4. The Expo
The WGI Expo will have vendors of all kinds showcasing the latest in percussion trends. You’ll be able to see up close some of the equipment and gear that the ensembles use during their performances. There are also t-shirts, DVDs, sticks, mallets and more available for purchase.
5. You’ll Be Supporting The Arts
WGI is known as the Sport of the Arts. Their high-energy events use competition as a means to encourage the highest standard of excellence. Participants learn the process of working at something for an extended period of time and see their efforts pay off on a national stage. And since they’re a non-profit youth organization, the money you spend with WGI gets put back in the student community. Over the years WGI has awarded over $500,000 in academic scholarships to students from competing units.
To learn more about schedules, venues, ticket sales and more, visit the WGI Percussion page on their website.
At the Indiana Percussion Association State Finals several weeks ago I held a simple trivia contest. Brave volunteers that visited the Allman Drums booth were asked to draw the name of a band or musician from a drum. If they could name a drummer for the group they received a piece of candy. It was for fun, but I hoped it would encourage young percussionists to know history.
A crucial part of the development of young percussionists and drummers is a knowledge and respect for history. The music you play today is built upon decades and centuries of previous musicians. For instance, Neal Peart, legendary drummer for Rush, was influenced by Keith Moon of The Who. Keith Moon’s flamboyant style was inspired by the showmanship of big band drummers Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. Krupa and Rich were both innovators in the relatively new style of jazz, and drew upon the early work of Warren ‘Baby’ Dodds and Zutty Singleton. Considering this context, it’s easy to see the roots of Peart’s creativity, technical mastery, and showmanship.
Steve Houghton, Professor of Music (Percussion and Jazz) at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, has a quote on the door to his office that demonstrates the importance of history. Tony Williams, legendary jazz drummer once said:
“When I was a kid, for about two years I played like Max Roach. Max is my favorite drummer. Art Blakey was my first drum idol, but Max was the biggest. So I would buy every record I could with Max on it and then I would play exactly what was on the record, solos and everything. I also did that with Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Roy Haynes, and all of the drummers I admired. I would even tune my drums just like they were on the record.
People try to get into drums today, and after a year, they’re working on their own style. You must first spend a long time doing everything that the great drummers do. Then you can understand what it means. Not only do you learn how to play something, but you also learn why it was played. That’s the value of playing like someone. You can’t just learn a lick; you’ve got to learn where it came from, what caused the drummer to play that way, and a number of things. Drumming is like an evolutionary pattern.”
Mr. Williams was correct: great musicians respect, understand, and study the history of music. Take time to listen to music, both live and recorded, and be sure to read about it!
About the Author Glen Allman works part-time at Chops Percussion, mostly on Saturdays. He also builds and restores drums. You can learn more about Allman Drums at www.allmandrums.com.