Drum Knowledge: 5 Essential Tools Every Drummer Needs in Their Gig Bag

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Sometimes it can be stressful getting ready for a gig. Not only do you need to be prepared musically, you also have to make sure your instrument is in top-notch condition. Whether you are going to be playing on your own drums or a (sometimes questionable) house kit you’ve never seen before, having the tools to be prepared for any situation can save headaches and help you perform at your best.

We’ve got you covered. Here are 5 essential items every drummer should keep ready in their gig bag for a successful show.

1. Drum Key

Whether for memory locks, last-minute tuning, or (hopefully not!) a last-minute head change, having a drum key on you at all times is essential. Dixon hardware features key bolt memory locks to save you time in getting your ideal setup, but if you’re playing on a house kit, you’ll want your drum key on hand for quick adjustments. For those rare times you need to change an entire head, it helps to have a couple keys with you for an even faster swap. It’s a good idea to keep several in different places—maybe one on your keychain, one in your gig bag, another in cymbal bag or hardware case—so that if you misplace, loan, or drop one on stage, you’ll always have backups and won’t have to delay your entire setup looking for one.

Bonus Tip: Have another member of your band or crew carry a drum key too.

2. Flashlight

No one wants to spend time on stage trying to find their way around in the dark—especially when you’re sharing a stage and have only fifteen minutes to set up or tear down between sets. A flashlight is a really useful tool for those times you happen to drop something during setup, and for emergency pedal fixes. Cellphone flashlights always work, but to keep both hands free you can also try a wristband flashlight like this one from eSmart.

3. Compact Tool Kit

You can streamline setup with the Dixon Brite Key Plus, a multifunctional drum key with bottle opener and LED flashlight, perfect for any performance setting. Find out more about the Brite Key in this quick video:

You’ll also want to have a small, compact tool kit available (wrench, screwdriver, scissors), or a Swiss army knife with those features built in.

4. Extra Cymbal Felts, Washers, and Hi-Hat Clutch

These are those small but crucial things that are so easy to lose. They’re also inexpensive and easy to stash away in gig bags or cymbal cases, so go ahead and stock up! Hi-hat clutches in particular tend to disappear or break on those backline kits, so you won’t regret having a spare. Dixon has a variety of clutches to choose from, including our popular Super Clutch.

For an even faster setup, check out the Dixon EZ Cymbal Set. These clamps take the place of the traditional wing nut, saving time and energy with a simple release button that lets you attach and detach quickly. Never drop a wing nut again.

Bonus Tip: Another critical back-up piece is a bass drum pedal spring. There are few if any emergency remedies for a broken spring. Keep this in your tool kit, and one day, you will thank us.

5. Non-Slip Cabinet Lining

The walking bass drum…every drummer’s nightmare. Most of the time there will be a drum rug available, but someday, somewhere, someone will forget (it may even be you—we won’t tell). It’s a lot of extra stress when your big solo is coming up, but your bass drum has run away from you and you can’t stop in the middle of the song to reposition it. Fix it with non-slip cabinet lining or a non-slip rug pad. It’s amazing what even a small piece will do to keep your bass in place. It’s also lightweight and easy to store.

When All Else Fails…

Duct Tape

Duct tape fixes just about anything. Broken cymbal stand? Flyaway set list? Rowdy bass player? (Just kidding!) Duct tape holds it all together. Gaffer tape also works in a pinch to help with any ringing you might experience, depending on the venue, and leaves no residue. And who says tape can’t be stylish? Duck Tape® has pretty much every design you could ever dream up, from NFL, to puppies, to bacon. Get some.


For signing autographs, last-minute set lists, and drum notation. It’s easy to read on stage, in virtually any lighting. Dixon endorser Gregg Bissonette has even been known to write drum notation and messages to his family right on the drumheads. Genius.

Bonus Points: Carry some guitar picks on you as well, because you never know when your guitarist will run out (hint: all the time). Be “That Drummer” who has it all. Your band will love you!

What tools do you keep in your drum survival kit?


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