Roadie Needed!

Roadie Needed!

Greetings potential roadies! If you want a career that guarantees a 6-figure income with lots of room for growth you should NOT be reading this ad!!

If, however, you are hardworking, have a strong back, can follow extremely simple instructions, and suffer from an irrepressible work ethic, I have the right job for you!

This Could Be You!

In short, you will be helping out a drummer that has some aches and pains. I have a bad back, bad knees, shoulder problems, arthritis, and a few other conditions.

I need help moving and setting up my drums. I can play them just fine (not really; it hurts) but I really can’t do the set up portion any longer.

I will pay cash and if I get free drinks at a gig I will be more than happy to give them to you.

I have a walk-in trailer that I transport my gear in. My entire kit fits on two carts. Everything is super organized and stands don’t even need to be broken down for transport! How easy is that?!?!? If my body didn’t hurt all over it would be easy!

What will make you a great roadie for me are the following skills/traits:

You can handle your drugs and alcohol (preferably you are sober);
You know a little something about music;
You have some basic knowledge of drums;
You are dedicated;
You are reliable;
You are not in a co-dependent relationship!

I only need you a few nights a month – mostly Friday or Saturday nights. Most gigs would be from 8pm till 2am (standard gig times at bars).

Really, you only have a about 30 minutes of work total: 15 minutes setting up and 15 minutes tearing down. What you do in between set up and tear down, I don’t care! Go home! Eat dinner! Watch a movie! Go out on a date! Take a nap! Or hang out and watch the band. It’s up to you.

Now at this point you’re asking yourself, “Why don’t the dudes in your band help you set up?”. I don’t have an answer.

So Easy A Guitarist Could Do It

I recently hired a roadie. This is new for me. I have always handled setting up the drums myself however I have reached a point where it can be more painful to do a gig that it is fun. Enter Gabe, my friend and roadie. With his help I am enjoying gigs and I will retain my ability to perform for years to come.

I have a bad back. I know that this is not extraordinary in itself as many people suffer from back pain however in my circumstance it isn’t muscular in nature but rather degenerative disk disease. So it hurts to sit and play and it really hurts to move gear around and set it up. I have always prided myself on doing my own work and while it seems a luxury I do feel like a bit of shmuck needing help.

To help Gabe be the best roadie he can be, I put together some notes based on my vast experirience I have of roadie-ing for myself. It seems like a pretty simple thing really: set up the drums on the stage. However, like most musicians, I like to have my instruments set up within a comfort zone; meaning that tolerances between say, two cymbals, needs to be 4-6 inches, but if it is not within that 2 inch zone I feel like I am playing a foreign drumkit. Multiply that by 5 cymbals and 5 drums and you can see how little variances can add up to real annoyances.

In the past I have written about the virtues of being adaptable and I am still a huge proponent of that philosophy; regrettably, I get very little opportunity to practice what I preach and beat the fucking daylights out of someone else’s drums. I am talking about a cover gig that lasts around 4 hours and I need things to be within their normal range so that I can play in an efficient and ergonomic way (for me).

With the below diagrams and lists just about anyone can set up and tear down the drums.  I have all stands either marked with tape, paint, memory clamps, or permanent pen so that there is no guesswork involved in getting the correct heights for stands and such.

General Order For Set Up:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cymbal Stands
  • Rack Tom
  • Cowbell
  • Lights
  • Cymbals

General Order For Tear Down:

  • Cymbals
  • Lights (Bottom Up List: Controller+power supply; foam; rolled and secured cables; foam)
  • Drumstick Case
  • Throne *(fold legs only; seat stays attached)
  • Cowbell
  • Hi Hat Stand *(disassemble; clutch stays with rod)
  • Floor Toms *(make sure that mallets are cinched in place)
  • Snare Drum *(place in case with throw-off towards seam and strainer side down)
  • Rack Tom
  • Cymbal Stands
  • Bass Drum


I’ve already streamlined this as much as possible; any further shortcuts actually make more work for us.

A Lucky Roll

Playing good rolls is part natural talent and part practice. I am quite lucky in that I found from an early age, my brain just seemed to “get” how to do a roll.

Some tips that help me include staying calm, staying loose, using plenty of pressure between thumb and pointer finger (where I am grasping the stick), and I also use fairly high tension on my drum heads. In fact sometimes the heads are so tight that are like playing on concrete! I picked that up from the marching band days back in high school when we had the drum heads tuned extremely tight.