I’m currently at the end of a month long US tour and I wanted to share with you the things that have made my life easier when setting up and playing. It’s little things like these that make touring more pleasurable. Something as simple as a quick-lock hi-hat clutch saves a couple of minutes a day with packing up and down. Considering I can be loaded in and set up in 20 minutes that’s quite a long time!
So, here are my favourite things of the moment. Some of these are cheap. Others are very expensive. Every one of them is worth it…
1. Quicklock Hihat Clutch
This small and simple thing puts a smile on my face every time I use it. Why did nobody think of this years ago? I mean, we have bayonet and screw fit light bulbs, why not a bayonet hi-hat clutch? It’s about 400% faster than a regular hi-hat clutch and it doesn’t come unscrewed in the middle of your set. No more one-handed drumming while trying to reattach your top cymbal with your left hand.
On some tours we have the luxury of back line crew to do all the loading and setting up. In America we do it all ourselves. That means I’m loading in full drums, amps, merch, etc. every night for a month. In the winter your hands get cold and calloused. Any time of year they get pretty dirty. Something as simple as a decent pair of gloves makes you feel invincible. My hands are in the same condition now as when I started a month ago thanks to these!
3. In Ear Monitors
These Sensaphonics Active Ambient IEMs are the best I’ve ever had. I’ve tried all sorts over the years and they’ve all had problems. These things solve all of the problems. I’ve been using them for a couple of years now and they’ve made pretty much every gig at least 50% more enjoyable. I basically have a pretty much perfect sound every night. Check out the full review here. More at www.sensaphonics.com
4. Tiny mixer
The thing about in ear monitors is you need to plug them into something. I carry this tiny thing around in my kick pedal case. I get a monitor feed from the house engineer on an XLR and it goes in the single XLR input. I then plug my iPhone into the line input and use PolyNome to count off the songs in the set. (Note: one of the new features of PolyNome is the ability to save presets and create set lists for counting off songs. Hopefully it’ll be available to you soon!)
5. The Bottom End
One of the problems I used to have when playing live was my bass drum disappearing. You don’t always have the luxury of a massive drum fill, and even when you do they don’t always sound great.
The Porter and Davies Gigster has made drumming fun again. I’d sooner spend the money on this than a new cymbal or snare drum. I use it everywhere – I bought a second one to stay in the US. Trust me, if you try it, you’ll have to buy it. More at www.porteranddavies.com
6. Staying in tune
Another simple invention here – lug locks that work. The one on the top is just so you can see what they look like. If you look closely you’ll see there’s one on the actual tension rod.
I used to find myself tuning my snare drum every couple of songs in the set as my rim shots gradually detuned the drum. I put 5 of these on the tension rods nearest me at the beginning of the Spring US tour. Since then I’ve done 2 months of touring and I haven’t had to retune once. I’m serious. I love these things. More at www.tunerfishluglocks.com
7. Kelly Shu
Another really clever invention. With the in ear monitors it’s really nice to have a consistent sound from night to night. I achieve this by carrying my own kick mic (a Shure Beta 52) and tom mics (see number 8). The Kelly Shu is, by far, the best way I’ve seen to mount an internal kick mic. No drilling necessary. The bungee cords isolate from any vibrations. AND no more kick mic stand sticking out and getting knocked over by the singer. Check out my original review here. More at www.kellyshu.com
8. Tom mics
I LOVE these mics. Every sound engineer at every gig I’ve played loves them too. They’re the quickest things to clip to a drum, the XLR plugs right into the bottom, there’s nothing sticking up and getting in the way of cymbals (or blocking the shots of those keen photographers in the audience).
9. Vic Firth Sticks
Ok, so these ones have my name on them so I’m a little biased.
I use 5A sticks and I love them. Here’s the tip – go to a drum store and tap the sticks with your nail while leaving them as free to resonate as possible. You’ll notice that some sticks are high pitched and others are lower pitched. Buy the high pitched ones. They sound better on cymbals and I find they last longer. More at www.vicfirth.com
This is what I’m using to count off songs, create set lists, and practice too. The new features are on their way. I’ve been working on it constantly for the last 2 months and road testing it as I go. The pro version is going to be amazing! Watch this space…. www.polynome.net