Is there a polite way to decline help setting up your drums?


Platinum Member
I had a gig last night in which both my piano and bassist asked to help me with my kit set up/tear down. Yeah, I know, First World Problem right?

I always say something along the lines of "No thanks, I sort of have a system..." Something is almost always misplaced or throws of my routine when someone tries to jump in thinking they are helping me.

It could have been disastrous after the gig... I loaded up everything: drums on the cart plus my hardware case. After taking my hardware case to the car, pulling up to the door and walking around the car to get my cart, I'm greeted by it careening right at the side of my car. Luckily I stopped it just in time.

Our bass player had thoughtfully brought the cart out to me. He thoughtlessly didn't place the brake on the cart nor did he take into consideration the slant of the building entrance.

Sorry for the little ramble...I just needed to vent too.

All this to say, when you all are faced with some well-meaing individual that wants to help you with your kit, how do you politefully decline while still getting your point across? Apparently I'm not being direct enough. I don't want to be rude. But I also want people to leave my stuff alone.



Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
You've got it: 'thanks, I have a system' should always be sufficient.

If they persist, you can say "No, really, I have a system."

Then "A system.. I have a system.. get it??"

And eventually... "Security!!"

But people are just trying to be nice, I'm not sure they really want to help anyway. A simple "thanks, I've got it" should let them and you off the hook.

Exceptions might be when bands are changing, and the next drummer offers to help move your gear off, in which case you'd help move his gear on. As a drummer, he's probably not going to screw anything up!



Platinum Member
"No thanks, I sort of have a system..."
Sounds perfectly acceptable to me.

I would often just say something like:
I appreciate your offer, but there's more to it than first appears and I've got it to the point where I'm just quicker if I do it myself......Of course if you insist on helping, then you could always get me a beer. :)


Senior Member
Tearing down and setting up act as a sort of meditation-time for me. I realize that I'm sorta nutty, but I enjoy taking my time and personally handling all of my gear...and being left alone to do it, lol. Well, maybe I'm not too nutty, but it's enjoyable and important to me...and I guess a lot of us are like that.

I just admit that I'm really picky about where my drums and hardware are placed, and in what order; then I give a little smile, and tell 'em "thanks anyway, though". Hasn't failed me yet.


Platinum Member
Adding to that that, maybe 0.01% of non-drummer musicians actually know anything about setting up drums or tearing them down. One time, when I was pressed for time, I asked someone to help me tear down my set. Shoulda been more specific. Every tube of every stand was separated, every wingnut and wingbolt was removed and in a pile... what a mess.


Platinum Member
'I have a system' is exactly the phrase I use. If somebody wants to help me get the drums out of the car, I'm more than happy to let them though!

I do have a system - even if to an outsider it looks like an unwieldy mess.

Derek Roddy

Too funny,

This is brought up in my newest DVD by one of the "Panel Members". He's said exactly what I was thinking...I have a system.
And, he's right...most of the time these people are in the way (Although, It's nice to have someone carry in and out the "finished" pack! Haha.)



Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Now that I reflect, I don't think I've ever had to tell anyone more than once.

Conversely, on tour, I'm not allowed to help with my gear! :)



Senior Member
I'm always in the same situation. I tried the whole "no thanks, I have a certain way of doing it." But so many people just go ahead and grab my stuff and it causes me to run around trying to find my stuff. The only other person that knows my system is my girlfriend whom I have trained and has memorized my system, even down to the angle of the toms. (Slightly parallel to the floor) I'm just so glad I don't feel alone in this. I dont want to come off as rude but no matter how many times I repeat myself no one listens. Maybe next time I'll try plugging in my guitarist pedals to his guitars, press all the buttons on the P.A system, that will get my point across.


Senior Member
I say the same thing, ' I have a system". I do love the offer, but other people often screw it up worse. I remember one time, in a super tight place, my other band mates wanted to help bring my stuff in ( I was running late and the last one to show up). I said 'ok", and let them carry in my drums and rack and other stufff while I unloaded my truck. i walk into the stage area, which is tight, and all my stuff is stacked up where i am supposed to set my drums up!!! Like, hello- these are all in the way now. how did thewy expect me to set up? I had to move everything out and begin setup.....UGH!

Not to steal yoru thunder, but another time my band mates were bringing stuff out to my car, but I wasn'tready for these things yet. Like, the bass drum was brought to me, but that goes in AFTER the rack and 2 smaller toms.....ya, if your bandmates wanna help, tell them to just make sure they stay out of the way....


Platinum Member
"Once I pack everything up, you can help me carry it." Whenever possible, which is almost always, I arrive first and set up the drums before the others get there. Peace and goodwill.
Other band member(s): "Do you need help?"

Me: "Yes, can you help me lift all this gear into my truck after I pack it all up?"

Like everyone else, I have a system also but the most pain in the ass part is getting all the drums and especially this into my truck, my bandmates call it "The Coffin"



Platinum Member
Thanks for all the replies guys (and girls?). I really enjoyed the responses. It's good to know I'm not alone in this issue.

Hopefully it won't be an issue now that I can always jokingly recall to the bass player what almost happened the last time he tried to help. I still can't get the image of that runaway cart out of my mind.

The worst one was at a rock gig I did a few years back where I insisted I play my own kit. Well, as soon as we finished our set, the next band and probably their friends/roadies descended upon the stage and each took a piece of my separate parts of the club. I had to look like one of those mothers that lose their babies at the mall; frantically running all over the place looking for all of my kit. So I think I automatically recall that when someone offers to help with my gear.

Even my wife, who is very understanding of my load-in/load-out routine asked to help last night since I was so rushed (got home, loaded up, changed and out the door in about 10 minutes). I asked if she could fill up a water bottle for me. She laughed a little bit since she knew where I was coming from. She was at that gig from hell I mentioned above.

@ Bermuda...I think I'm almost at the point at yelling " Security!!" for would-be helpers. How much do they run an hour? :)


Senior Member
I hear hear ya, guys! How many times has someone "insisted" on helping me unasked, got all offended by me "saying thanks but no" and then helped anyways and did it all wrong. People are trying to be nice we all understand, but they have no clue how you do it and don't even ask.
I've had band members from other bands just yank my stuff off stage in a rush and heave it on the floor backstage. I'm not slow, but it seems if drum safety is second to "clear the stage at all cost as fast as possible even if you have to throw the other guy's gear off it!" Lucky for me nothing was damaged but it still sucked.

My system is fast efficient and I know where everything goes. My open mic buddies all know this, so they let do my thing, but I still occasionally get someone who just has to help. I always say "sure, could you hold the door for me?"