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Drumshack’s Gig jargon busters for Drummers

Many of our customers (and indeed, our expert staff members) are professional musicians that play gigs on the London circuit – all days of the week. We decided to compile a list of useful information that all drummers and musicians should know when starting out and also some information on how to conduct your business professionally!

It is also concerning that so many musicians (even professionals!) that are unaware of performance royalty collections. It is so important, if you are serious about making a living out of performance, to be aware of all the income streams available to you.

Click here for more information about claiming performance royalties under the Gigs, Clubs and small venues scheme (PRS for Music):


“Load in / Load out”

This is the most annoying part of gigging from the drummer’s point of view, I think! Make sure that when you book a gig, you check out where to park and find out what the loading bay situation is. The last thing that you want happening is to turn up, only to find that there are no parking spaces near your venue and you end up parking half a mile away. Or realising that the station or bus stop was much further away on foot than you thought. That’s half a mile you have to then carry all your gear to the venue! If you are a larger act, with a booking agent, the venue should sort out your parking / travel / accommodation for you.


“Sound check”

Most venues will aim to finish sound checking at LEAST an hour before the doors open to the public. This means that if the first set is at 7pm, sound check will have finished by at least 6pm. If there are four acts on the bill, usually there will be 15-20 mins for each band to quickly check that their sound levels are ok. If the venue is running behind on their schedule, you might not have time for a full sound check and they will do a simple line check to see if the signal is coming through to the mixing desk. Headline acts, though, should always get a full sound check.


“FOH Engineers”

Front of house engineers are the people that control the sound desk. Be very nice to them – but be firm as well! Learn how to deal with someone that can completely ruin your sound or make your band sound amazing. Engineers have to deal with amateur bands every day, get on their good side by being professional and reliable. If something sounds wrong, let them know politely.


Gibraltar SC-DTK Drummer’s Tech Kit – Essential for gigging drummers!


The term “breakables” usually refers to the parts of the drum kit that are expensive or replaceable. This includes things like your precious, vintage snare drums, cymbals and certain hardware pieces such as the kick drum pedal (sometimes even the stool!). You won’t be expected to share this with other bands, normally, in a gig situation.



The “backline” equipment that is available at the venue will vary massively depending on where you choose to play. Normally, the term is used to describe all the extra equipment that is required to put on the show, excluding the actual instruments (guitars, drums…etc). The backline will normally consist of an in-house PA system, microphones, stands, lighting rig, they might also provide guitar and bass amplifiers and perhaps a house kit. It is always good practice to call ahead and check before turning up.


“House kit”

The “house kit” is the drum kit that the venue owns as part of their backline. Usually, if the venue does have a house kit that is available to use, they will be reluctant to move the kit off stage, if you were planning on bringing your own. However, they could be more flexible if you are the headline act and agree to share the shells with the rest of the supporting acts. If you do end up using the house kit, you should be aware of the following:
* bring your own cymbal felts – these are often missing
* bring your own hi-hat clutches
* It is also wise to have 8mm cymbal wing nuts in your bag, just in case
* stools are often uncomfortable and non-adjustable – this affects your performance greatly if you are sitting at the wrong height
* skins on house kits tend to be quite tired and are usually overly thick to reduce damage from heavy-hitters
* Always have tuning keys in your bag – House kits ALWAYS need tuning / tweaking
* Arm yourself with gaffa tape or moon gel – ask permission from the venue before using this on the house kit
* Make sure the bass drum spurs dig firmly into the floor / carpet to prevent any bass drum creep during the gig
* Commonly there will be a towel / pillows / blankets that are in the bass drum itself – make sure these are adjusted in a way that does not overly deaden or muffle the sound
* Always call the venue ahead to confirm the kit situation (you may need to share)


Bass drum holz come in different colours and sizes!

“Bass drum hole”

Most engineers prefer a fairly deadened bass drum sound for live performances. They like to be able to work with dry sounds and they will try and avoid having to gate an over-exuberant bass drum. The bass drum hole can aid in not only providing useful microphone access for technicians, but can also dry the sound out preventing unwanted resonance. If this is a jazz gig, then this may not apply as much as it would to pop or rock genres.


“Cymbal felts”

Cymbal felts are there to protect your cymbals from resting directly on the metal washers. These can damage your expensive cymbals so always make sure you have a few on you, if you are performing. Cymbal sleeves or Cymbal “top-hats” are also a crucial addition to your drum survival pack as it prevents key-holing (wear) to your cymbals.


“Hi-hat clutch”

The Hi-hat clutch is used to clamp the top half of the cymbal set to the moveable rod on the hi-hat stand. This usually relates to the lighter of the two cymbals. There are standard sizes for hi-hat clutches but be aware that some may be too small to fit over the moveable rods of certain brands.


The use of Moongel pads are a popular damping technique


Commonly misspelt: “Dampening”. This is the process that reduces or restricts the length of the tone or note on a drum. Common damping techniques include: The wallet trick, gaffa tape, moon gel, felt strip, internal dampers, pillows, blankets, O-rings, EQ pads placed inside the bass drum. Damping is usually more common with contemporary genres (rock, pop…etc) and can be used for various reasons:
* To eliminate unwanted overtones so that the live house engineer can EQ your toms easily without the use of noise gates (which warp the sound!)
* It can give a fatter, chunkier sound to your toms if used correctly


“Set list”

The set list is the list of tracks that you intend to play on stage. Many professional musicians still don’t understand how performance royalty is paid and calculated. If you are registered with the UK music collection societies, every time you (or someone else) plays your songs (or set) on stage, technically, you should be getting paid. Venues are normally registered with these collection societies and they already pay expensive licenses to have “YOUR” original songs performed live at their events. So, why aren’t you claiming this money?

Find out more about claiming performing royalties here:


– Avoid agreeing to play shows that require you (the band) to sell tickets on their behalf. This is the promoter’s job – not yours! Avoid, at all costs, gigs / promoters that require you (the band) to pay to play.

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