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.

Photoshop Skillz

I love to use Photoshop. What a great tool that application has been for me over the years. I use it for band fliers, comics, advanced editing, and heck I even do some “Photoshopping” with it!

I recently had the opportunity to work on a project for a client who wanted a family portrait to include pictures of her deceased aunt and grandfather in a classy way. I was more than ready to help out and once the client provided me the basic shots I set to work preparing a nice photograph suitable for printing and framing.

I was sent three portraits at first. From those three I picked the one that had the best potential; specifically I was looking for the one that had the best lighting, most people smiling most people looking at the camera, the least amount of background noise, and the one that gave me the warm and fuzzies.

This is the original photo I chose:


To add in the photos of my client’s aunt and grandfather I first had to pull them out of other photos I was provided:









I spent the most time removing background objects from the large family portrait; this included all of the sky, a lamppost, a fence, and a couple other little blips in the original image. I then swapped in some grass in the foreground where the cement blocks had been.


Finally I imported a nice sky picture for the background to provide a deeper blue and some nice, fluffy clouds. (Seriously – this is the sky I used):

As a final touch I tweaked the colors and contrast along with the brightness and added a bit of a photo filter to get the whole picture working in harmony:

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.