Marking your gear

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
There have been some threads recently about gear thefts and it got me thinking about the need to mark gear. My drums are very rare and well documented so if they got stolen, they would surface eventually. A lot of my hand drums are also distinct. But as for my cymbals, they are very sellable.

What do you all think about marking your drums, cymbals and other items? What's the best way to permanently mark drums and cymbals and does that affect resale value? Who all does it? Does it help to take lots of photos and keep those for ID purposes instead?
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Yup.

I took a sharpy and put my name on the bottom of all my cymbals, and inside my shells.

It's not the least bit noticeable on stage, but gives me the confidence I can identify my own gear.

I've had drums stolen from be before, so I know the pain.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I urinate on my stuff.
Nobody thinks about identifying by smell, so I fool the crooks.
JK of course. I don't mark my stuff because it would be too easy to remove. I mean I could engrave my cymbals and drums, but that could be abraded off. Perhaps a laser etching under the badge or some other non conspicuous place. I do agree that it's a good idea to identify them somehow. I have an exotic veneered DW kit, and the unique grain pattern alone would serve to identify. Cymbals....perhaps drilling a few tiny holes as identifiers, then photographing them would be a way to mark your territory.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Unfortunately, I don't think that marking drums and cymbals will do much good.
Drums don't have to be registered like a car after they are bought used.

You would have to find the ad where your stolen drums are being sold, Identify them from the ad pics, and alert and enlist enforcement to assist you in recovery.

If I was a drum thief, all that I would have to do is remove the ID marks and it would be hard to prove that they were stolen at all.
Many thief's simply sell the equipment without placing an ad at all.

One of the biggest mistakes that I hear musicians make is talking in a club with other musicians about their latest gear and such so that others in the club can hear.
Say I'm just a guy in a club. I just heard you talk to your friend about your $4000 drums and $400 pedals. I didn't even know that this stuff was so valuable until now!
You just tempted me to steal!

I always leave my cymbals in the bag until the kit is on stage and Im about to play. I always bag the cymbals on stage when I finish. I carry them to a safe location first.
I never talk about any of the gear that is on stage where others can hear.
 
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madidus

Senior Member
If you have expensive cymbals, remove the logos and replace them with logos from a cymbal brand/line that nobody would ever even think about stealing (I am not going to start a debate about what these might be ;)
 

beastdrummagirl

Senior Member
i have my bass drum with a band logo on it and band name and initials of the members.. i should probably mark mine somehow... hmmm...
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
I don't mark my gear, but I do keep an eye on it, and on my cases, at all times when I'm at a gig. I've had some guitar gear stolen a long time ago, and THAT was a bummer. Even though it was marked, and I filed a police report, I never saw it again.

I don't usually play gigs where there are 20 bands on the bill 5-minute changeovers (except at festivals), so there's usually no chaos that could distract me long enough to lose my gear. I could see how marking your gear would be smart then. That, and having some OBVIOUS markings on your cases (spray paint your name, band's name, or whatever). Even then, though, how is the person standing by the door going to know that the guy walking out of the front door of the club with your drum cases is stealing them--he might think that they're his, or that this person is helping you load out...
 

ChipJohns

Senior Member
I don't mark my gear, but I do keep an eye on it, and on my cases, at all times when I'm at a gig. I've had some guitar gear stolen a long time ago, and THAT was a bummer. Even though it was marked, and I filed a police report, I never saw it again.

I don't usually play gigs where there are 20 bands on the bill 5-minute changeovers (except at festivals), so there's usually no chaos that could distract me long enough to lose my gear. I could see how marking your gear would be smart then. That, and having some OBVIOUS markings on your cases (spray paint your name, band's name, or whatever). Even then, though, how is the person standing by the door going to know that the guy walking out of the front door of the club with your drum cases is stealing them--he might think that they're his, or that this person is helping you load out...
Agreed. The best Risk Management for keeping your gear from getting ripped off is to keep it close. The gear taken the most is the gear most easily taken. Take precautions so your gear cannot be easily snatched. I have never, ever had this problem, but If I did, I think I would make sure that my cymbals would always have the top thumb nut on them. It would be hard for someone to snatch the stand and all and head out the door, where a 10 inch cymbal would hide easily under a coat. So, make it hard to get just the cymbal without taking a little more time. No loose things laying around. I would keep a road case near by that had the loose things in it.. etc., etc.

Don't make it easy to take..

And, depending on where you live, always unload your vehicle when you get home at the end of the night.

And, always let the guitarist set his guitar right in front of your drums so its a much easier target..! @:)
 

Neil

Senior Member
Hey guys,

I have used a UV pen in the past, the idea is that it only shows up under a UV light. The flaw in the plan, is the item has to show up at a police station for it to get back to me. I try and keep all my stuff close by, being based in London where parking near to the venue is fairly unlikely, means my gear will get left while I fetch the car or am karting stuff out to it. I'm reliant on my band mates who keep watch on it.

I think most gear will be sold quickly and quietly, pawn shops/pubs/clubs etc, with any markings being removed or covered up. Unfortuantly, these buyers may well have an inkling that the item is ripped off but push the thought to the back of their mind. The thief thinks 'Hey, that was quick and easy.'
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
How about this scenario:
Someone gets their gear ripped.
The thief sells it to person A, let's call him Thaard
You happen to catch Thaard's show, and recognize your gear.
What then?
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
How about this scenario:
Someone gets their gear ripped.
The thief sells it to person A, let's call him Thaard
You happen to catch Thaard's show, and recognize your gear.
What then?
I would ask Thaard for a receipt so that I could write off my charity contribution to drummers with disabilities :)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I would ask Thaard for a receipt so that I could write off my charity contribution to drummers with disabilities :)
Oh man that was friggin great!
Thaard, you gonna let him get away with that?
I like picking on Thaard. I don't know why, all I know is I'm never letting up!
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
How about this scenario:
Someone gets their gear ripped.
The thief sells it to person A, let's call him Thaard
You happen to catch Thaard's show, and recognize your gear.
What then?
Seriously, if someone's gear is stolen, they may someday run across someone else playing it. I'd take photos and compare them to photos of the stolen drums. Wood grain and is like fingerprints, no two are alike.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
Gear is too easy to steal if it's not watched over or locked up.

A month or so ago, a band left their tow-behind van in the parking lot of the venue they were playing at over the weekend. After the gig, they loaded up all of their gear and left the van parked in the lot, thinking they were safe. Guess what? This being Texas just about everybody with a SUV or truck has a trailer hitch on the back bumper. Yep, you guessed it. Some enterprising theif simply hooked up the trailer and took off with all the band's gear. You can just bet that stuff was pawned in Oklahoma or somewhere in another city far away.

What made it sad, was the owners of the gear bitched and moaned on Craigslist and confessed they make their living with that gear.

How can people be so dumb and trusting? What made it worse was the venue was right on the highway. The crooks hooked it up and minutes later they were far away down the highway.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
Seriously, if someone's gear is stolen, they may someday run across someone else playing it. I'd take photos and compare them to photos of the stolen drums. Wood grain and is like fingerprints, no two are alike.
...and what then? "Um, excuse me sir...those drums that you bought fair and square from a pawn shop were stolen from me. Could I have them back?"

What if the drums are wrapped--finishes are usually pretty similar! You don't mean the INSIDE of the shells, do you? "Um, excuse me sir...I suspect that those drums you're playing on were stolen from me. Could I take off your drumheads and compare the inner grain to a photo I carry around?"

Basically, if you don't want your gear gone for good, then make it hard to steal by keeping your eyes on it or lock it up or something. DMC has the right idea by getting his Ironwood kit: As soon as thieves try to lift his bass drum, they think twice...
 

sqadan

Senior Member
If at all possible - once the set is over - I take everything out to my car. If this is not possible - I watch it like a hawk for the rest of the night.

Marking your gear is probably pointless... if it's stolen - you probably won't see it again.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
...and what then? "Um, excuse me sir...those drums that you bought fair and square from a pawn shop were stolen from me. Could I have them back?"

What if the drums are wrapped--finishes are usually pretty similar! You don't mean the INSIDE of the shells, do you? "Um, excuse me sir...I suspect that those drums you're playing on were stolen from me. Could I take off your drumheads and compare the inner grain to a photo I carry around?"

Basically, if you don't want your gear gone for good, then make it hard to steal by keeping your eyes on it or lock it up or something. DMC has the right idea by getting his Ironwood kit: As soon as thieves try to lift his bass drum, they think twice...
HA! yeah, they'd probably sue me for getting a back injury.

You're right about wraps; they all look the same. Assuming you filed a police report when the drums were stolen and kept photos, you could take photos of the set, compare them and notify the police. Again, not a huge chance of that happening. You're more likely to see the drums on Craigslist or eBay. It's not a cure-all and it's better to take reasonable precautions to keep stuff from getting stolen in the first place, but documentation is good idea anyway.
 

Skulmoski

Gold Member
Prevention (of theft, breakdown, abuse, etc.) is the key to a long and happy relationship with your gear. I don't have any data to support my belief that most "marked" gear that is stolen will never return to its rightful owner. Therefore, prevention is more fruitful. However, if you need to mark gear, then:

1) Mark it with a unique alpha-numerical identifier (so that you can re-sell it if you need to, for example "HiHo 2010"). Marking equipment with your name can reduce its resale value.

2) Take digital photos of your gear showing its unique identifier. Include yourself in some of the photos. Take photos of the receipts of high value items. Store the photos online so that they are easily accessible.

3) Consider getting insurance for some of your gear. Provide your insurance representative a copy of the receipts and photos.

GJS
 

Moldy

Silver Member
Don't own expensive stuff?

In all seriousness, though, were I to begin gigging and such, I would not be taking my current drumset with me. A snare that cost $300 and the drums which cost $1200? No thanks. I'll buy set that's half that and use it for the more seedy/less profitable shows. I'd still use the same cymbals simply because they're as easy for me to keep an eye on and stash away in my car as they are to steal... plus, they're big, bright and shiny.
 
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