The performing Drummer's gig bag essentials

The performing Drummer's gig bag essentials checklist


Despite the almost never-ending ragging on the drummer [How do you know the stage is level? There is drool coming out of both sides of the drummer’s mouth] there is a WHOLE lot more for drummers to worry about during a gig, nailing that fill in the second last song, making sure the guitarist doesn’t get too smashed before the gig is even underway, All the while keeping the band locked into a Germanic train station style solid tempo… All of this is usually dropped squarely on the drummer’s shoulders. So, with all of that on your plate to begin with, you had better “Rock Up” with all your essentials in order…

So today I thought I would go through my tried and tested “Gig Bag” essentials to help you get the very most out of every gig you play if you want to avoid embarrassment, injury, or even an all-out disaster on the night. 

  • Torch/Cell Phone

We've all done it – Boom Chica Boom Chica… cymbal topper flies off and, thanks to the absolute lack of any light on stage, simply cannot be found. No problem, grab your trusty Cell Phone, engage the flashlight and Boom, you’ll have that cymbal topper back in action in no time. If you still live in the stone age, a normal “torch” will do the job in a pinch. Just remember we are already lugging around a huge kit, try keep it as minimalist as possible. 

  • Phone charger

These days it is not just a case of show up and show off… there is so much “admin” that needs to take place on socials, last-minute promoting on Facebook, sharing pre-gig pics on Instagram and of course finding the venue itself with your trusty navigator so with all of that done, you'll be out of juice long before you are able to capture those candid mid-gig clips for social media post performance and that just won’t do! So, always remember your charger.

  • Towel

A towel is vital for wiping the sweat from your brow and hands between songs. Additionally, bringing a towel to a gig is also a sign of courtesy as you can wipe the throne down, post-performance, during kit shares.

  • Tape

Good old gaffa tape, Ahh, the drummer's best friend. Handy for all sorts of things, including dampening heads/cymbals, and strapping cables to the ground. Keep at least two rolls in your gig bag. You will thank me later.

  • Practice Pad

Heading out on-stage without having warmed up sufficiently is a disaster waiting to happen. To remedy this, running through a few warmup exercises backstage on your trusty practice pad will ensure that you are more relaxed and ready to rock the masses. Basically, if you are warmed up and ready, the chances of you injuring yourself mid-performance dwindle substantially.

  • Lanyard

Whether it’s your first time getting a “Stage Pass” or you are a seasoned professional, up the ante by putting it (and a drum key or two) on a lanyard? This WILL come in very handy, just trust me on this one.

  • Sugary snacks

Ok so maybe the Red Bull you pounded just before going on has now worn off and left you with less energy than Eskom, no worries, open your gig bag and smash a few of those super sugar-heavy snacks you packed in to give you that much-needed boost to see you through the set.

  • Hearing protection

IF IT SOUNDS LIKE I AM SHOUTING, IT'S ONLY BECAUSE I HOPE YOU ALREADY HAVE THEM IN. The importance of this one just can’t be overstated enough! Avoid tinnitus by packing a pair of earplugs for every show.

  • Multi-tool

You are off to a great start, the band is on point, the crowd is loving every moment of it and the next thing you know, your bass pedal collapsing halfway into your first song… Sure, things could have been off to a better start but fortunately for you, you have your trusty Leatherman on hand and you are back up and rocking again before the bassist even noticed that you were actually physically kicking the bass drum to keep things on track while you worked your best MacGyver move to fix your broken kick drum pedal… Aren’t you glad you packed that Multi-Tool?

  • Spares

Cymbal felts and Hi-hat clutches, surely the most elusive items on the planet. They've disappeared more times than David Copperfield, so pack some spares. I mean seriously, do they go to the same place guitar picks and single socks go? Oh and extra drum heads or at least a spare snare head.

  • Plasters

So you are holding down a near perfect “Beat it” groove, yeah you are right in that pocket and all of a sudden that aggressive shot intended for your snare instead connects with your finger and now your brand new “Bright White” snare head is slowly turning into something that more closely resembles blood spatter on the wall of a fresh crime scene… No problem, you are a Boy/Girl Scout, you have come prepared. Just slap on a plaster from your gig bag and be sure keep that brand new snare head the colour it was meant to be.

  • Moon Gel

This may be a bugbear for some drummers, but when you're in a tight spot with a particularly unhelpful sound guy, a spot of Moon Gel could be just what the doctor ordered to sort out your snare sound.

  • Sharpie and Paper/Tablet and a Stand

Knowing what is up next and being in control of your gig is of massive importance so achieving this by squinting at your phone or trying to see another band members setlist on the floor far away from you is far from ideal, so make sure you pack a Sharpie and some Paper if you don’t already have a HERCULES Tablet Holder and Tablet to be sure you know exactly what is happening next. Remember, no surprises for you means nothing but enjoyment for the crowd.

  • Key

Any drummer worth their salt won't just have one of these for gigs, they'll have one (or more!) on them at all times, another in the stick bag, one in the cubbyhole, one under the kick drum pedal and of course the one you put on your lanyard.

  • Clean T-shirt

Ok so there is very little denying that being a drummer is incredibly cool but with that said, being a sweat-drenched post-gig “wet T-shirt” contestant looking, individual, is not always the best look. Pack a clean, dry spare and you can keep fresh as a daisy not to mention stay warm as your sweat turns to ice crystals while you break down your kit and start packing up.


Make sure you have these items in your Gig Bag and you will be able to focus on more important things like your actual performance. You will thank me later. For all of these and many more on-stage essentials, feel free to contact MiTech Direct for all your performance needs.   

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