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Old 05-24-2014, 10:24 AM
BFrench501 BFrench501 is offline
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Default Being a drum tech

I used to have a massive kit (2 bass drums, 8 toms, 30+ cymbals, bongos and percussion etc etc) that I would to take to gigs and set up and breakdown. I almost managed to get it in same place every time as I have a keen eye for detail.

Does anyone here do drum tech work or can tell me more about it? I'd love to be in there setting up kits for drummers I look up. I'm sure it isnt as easy as just setting up and changing over heads/cymbals etc though. Is there anything else I don't see that isn't so great?

Assuming I'm not put off by any answers given, how then would I proceed trying to get involved in doing some drum tech for people?

Thanks
Baz
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Old 05-24-2014, 07:53 PM
tamadrm tamadrm is offline
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Default Re: Being a drum tech

There are most likely less drum techs out there ,than pro drummers.Lots of guys set up their own stuff,or play back line kits,so that leaves little room or money, for a tech that you have to pay.There are also services out there like the Drum Doctors,that rent,tune and set up kits to players either live or in the studio.

Steve B
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Old 05-24-2014, 07:59 PM
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Bo Eder Bo Eder is offline
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Default Re: Being a drum tech

I remember reading something about Tony William's drum tech guy - and his big thing was Tony wanted everything perfect - heights, spacing, the whole bit, so all he had to do was sit down and play. All without marking up the stands. So this guy would actually measure everything and set it up the same way everytime. Sounded kinda' stressful. The tech for Billy Cobham was kind of like a guy with a little machine shop - he'd be able to do repairs on the spot and alter hardware if it was necessary. I imagine the guy who is in charge of Steve Howe's guitars is the same way. Stewart Copeland's tech is also a recording engineer too.
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Old 05-24-2014, 09:03 PM
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MileHighDrummer MileHighDrummer is offline
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Default Re: Being a drum tech

You are a roadie for the drummer and frequently other's too. Roadie work is not elegant or fun but it's probably available if you can get connected to a touring band that has it's own road crew. First in, last out, low pay and long hours. If it sounds appealing to you someone will let you do it.
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Old 05-24-2014, 10:40 PM
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bermuda bermuda is offline
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Default Re: Being a drum tech

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Originally Posted by MileHighDrummer View Post
You are a roadie for the drummer and frequently other's too. Roadie work is not elegant or fun... First in, last out, low pay and long hours.
Yep. There are relatively few dedicated drum techs. Either another crew member who handles backline also sets up the drums, or the drum tech ends up handling other duties. It's not fun... it's hard work. And unless you're on a small tour, you won't spend much time hanging with the 'talent', or relaxing in a hotel.

Plus, there's no telling what the temperament of the tour personnel might be. Crews and bands are like any family - often dysfunctional. You have to be pretty strong to hang with a bunch of people that you probably don't know, 24/7, for weeks or months without a real break. I've seen 'normal' people become very unhappy, and fast.

I'm glad that people do decide to work on tours, but it takes a lot of personal discipline. I don't think I could do it, even though it might mean almost year-round employment for a quality person.

Bermuda
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  #6  
Old 05-24-2014, 11:27 PM
The SunDog
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Default Re: Being a drum tech

Big names will often have a dedicated "tech". Someone that acts as a sort of personal assistant for all things drums. These guys even help with designing kits specific to a tour, ordering the drums, overseeing construction and quality control, even taking delivery of the drums. They then personally see to the daily set up/tear down, reheading, tuning, polishing, polishing cymbals, repair or replacement of broken or damaged gear. Neil Pearts tech even gives guided tours of Neils kit in every city prior to the show and discusses the drums and their care in detail. Of course these jobs can be kind of hard to get ;) and the people that get them tend to be extremely effective and organized types.
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  #7  
Old 05-25-2014, 01:44 AM
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FreDrummer FreDrummer is offline
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Default Re: Being a drum tech

Quote:
Originally Posted by MileHighDrummer View Post
You are a roadie for the drummer and frequently other's too. Roadie work is not elegant or fun but it's probably available if you can get connected to a touring band that has it's own road crew. First in, last out, low pay and long hours. If it sounds appealing to you someone will let you do it.
Yeah. And, given the thread the other day about how little touring drummers make (aside from the BIG acts), how much do you think a tech is going to make?

There's a guy over on the Pearl Drummers Forum that used to be the touring tech for Skynyrd. In a drum tuning thread over there, he talks about how, once or twice a week, he would change all the heads and tune them up in about 30 minutes. That's perfect, professional tuning for a major act. I think you'd have to be part machinist, part handyman, go-fer, and an excellent tuner...
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Old 05-25-2014, 02:21 AM
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bermuda bermuda is offline
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Default Re: Being a drum tech

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Originally Posted by FreDrummer View Post
I think you'd have to be part machinist, part handyman, go-fer, and an excellent tuner...
Correct, a good tech does much more than simply set-up drums, change heads, and occasionally polish cymbals.

There's a dimplomatic side when dealing with local crew, the endorsed drum companies, and the various egos in the band (fortunately, as I mentioned, you probably wouldn't see a lot of them.)

You have to be attentive and at-the-ready during the show, whether you're looking for a snapped pedal, broken head, of someone who climbed onstage and is heading for the lead singer.

It helps to have some background in electronics, soldering a loose connection is a given.

And the more you can do, the more valuable you are in terms of pay, continued work, and referrals for other tours. Changing strings and tuning guitars/basses is a plus, as is having experience with monitors and FOH.

But again, this is not a career (or even a summer job) for somone who isn't ready to work his butt off, or will have a problem being essentially isolated from normal life for weeks or months. Oh yeah, you'd better not be claustrophobic either, since you'll be spending most nights in a snug bunk maybe 2' tall. Then again, you'll be so tired, sleep shouldn't be an issue. :)

Bermuda
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  #9  
Old 05-28-2014, 11:58 AM
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Diet Kirk Diet Kirk is offline
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Default Re: Being a drum tech

I think its often just a part of your money making arsenal too rather than a full time job for the majority of drum techs.

I have a friend who plays in a number of bands, records, teaches and drum techs for a couple of different drummers all to make a reasonable living.
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  #10  
Old 05-28-2014, 10:37 PM
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Souljacker Souljacker is offline
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Default Re: Being a drum tech

Quote:
Originally Posted by MileHighDrummer View Post
You are a roadie for the drummer and frequently other's too. Roadie work is not elegant or fun but it's probably available if you can get connected to a touring band that has it's own road crew. First in, last out, low pay and long hours. If it sounds appealing to you someone will let you do it.
Different story roadying for Zepellin though, you just got to sit around and smoke spliffs all day!
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  #11  
Old 05-29-2014, 05:45 PM
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mcbike mcbike is offline
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Default Re: Being a drum tech

I personally know a few drum techs and none of them JUST tech.

One of them is also a photographer and videographer, so he sets up drums, tunes them, then shoots photos and video and is a master of social media so he helps the drummers that way with their twitter/instagram/facebook/etc. He techs for multiple bands to stay busy.

Another tech works for backline company so he basically stays local and runs around to multiple venues/festivals setting up drums and delivering backline.

another one owns a Custom drum company

There used to be a guy in town that would just set up drums and tune them for recordings and he also worked as a record producer but honestly I haven't heard his name in a while I think that kind of work dried up around town. Too many home studios now, and alot of recordings are just replacing the live drums with samples/triggering.

I think being able to set up drums, tune them and maintain them is the bare minimum part of the job requirement. More important than that is to be a good hang, easy to get along with, fun, self motivated and happy. Thats the same stuff that gets you gigs too.
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  #12  
Old 05-29-2014, 07:21 PM
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eclipseownzu eclipseownzu is offline
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Default Re: Being a drum tech

I have worked with countless bands as a promoter and one of the perks was getting to meet the bands often times. I also had to work with hundreds of techs making sure we could meet the rider requirements. One quality I found was they were all nice guys who were very professional. I think that being a tech, like most things in life, comes down to being a people person. We mostly worked with smaller bands on smaller stages who would have 1 or 2 dedicated crew members who did everything. The local hands did most of the hard work with the tech doing the final touches if you will. But often 1 guy was the drum, guitar, bass and vocal tech. That guy usually knew the ins and outs of the entire stage, the sound board and the rigging. He could aim lights, set monitor levels and tune the snare at the same time. If that sounds like fun to you, goods luck!
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  #13  
Old 05-29-2014, 08:05 PM
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Bull Bull is offline
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Default Re: Being a drum tech

I have friends that work as techs. It is no different that working any contracting business. You are always looking for the next job. They often fly from the last date of one tour to the first date of the next. The hard part is getting the first few jobs. If you do a good job, the tour managers will remember you and keep you on their list. If the band is big enough ,you might get put on retainer for a year or complete touring cycle. It's all networking.
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  #14  
Old 05-29-2014, 08:36 PM
KamaK KamaK is offline
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Default Re: Being a drum tech

My industry info may be extremely dated, but:

In my day, Drum techs were usually attached to a tour/label. They were part roadie, and were involved in the loading, unloading, setup, breakdown, and maintenance of the kits. When I say "kits", I mean that they did this for all 3 drummers on the tour. They also knew how to play almost every song, so that they could stand-in if a drummer was unable to perform and there were contractual obligations to be met.

In between tech gigs, most of them did what any professional musician does. Teach, work in a music shop, do commercial/session recording, play cafe-gigs, etc.

I have to say that I have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone that makes their living playing an instrument, as it's a constant hustle and requires so many diverse technical, artistic, and social disciplines.
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  #15  
Old 05-29-2014, 08:49 PM
Mike_In_KC
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Default Re: Being a drum tech

Being a drum tech sounds like a super hard job - but for someone stuck in a 9-5, "Office Space" type of life with associated home drama, it is really attractive. I know the grass is always greener and that a lot of folks in the music business would love the salary associated with the 9-5 "gigs" and the steady hours that come with them but I for one am extremely jealous of guys and gals who get to make their living as drummers and/or techs etc. Going on the road, sitting in for a guy who is sick, setting up gear for pros that stuff sounds so much for fun than debugging a SQL script or getting out the latest f'ing PTS reports...

MM
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