Sit in request on the gig


Gold Member
I was playing at a Private Event last night when one of the attendees came up to our singer and asked if he could sit in on the drums . My singer of course deferred to me . I said No , politely but firmly for a couple of reasons .
1) He should have asked me first . Asking the singer is a roundabout way to get peer pressure from the band to let them sit in . It is a very uncool way to go about asking to sit in.

2) I have no idea who this person is and what his skill level is or what he plays like .

3) I was using an expensive kit and snare drum ( Sonor kit with Ludwig Black Beauty Snare ) with Fiberskyn Diplomat ( i.e. thin heads) and was worried that he would have pitted the heads . This was a gig where we were required to keep the volume down .

I never understand the whole idea of asking to sit in . I would never ask a band to sit in . In fact I rarely sit in with other bands , even when asked . It is a complete catch 22 . If I go up and don’t understand the arrangements it makes both me and the band look bad . If I go up and play better than the regular drummer it makes him look bad.
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Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Yeah, I'm OK with what you did.
If you knew the drummer that would be different. Or if one of your band mates knew the person that would also be different. One time I let a drummer that I did not know sit in on my drum set because the lead singer knew him very well. And I trusted the lead singer. She told me good things about the sit in drummer. And I was using my 63' Slingerland kit. Ouch! But the sit in drummer and I had been talking about Slingerland drums before he sat in and played. He also had a vintage Slingerland kit.

It's funny that lots of strangers will ask to play your drums but they would never ask to play the guitarist's guitar and use their amp. But they do ask to sing. And I guess that is OK especially at a private party.



Platinum Member
Make them pass the 'rub your belly and pat your head while spinning in a circle' test. If they can't, then they can't. If they can, they still can't, but it is good for a laugh at their expense.

No one does this to any other profession. I have yet to hear a story about the guy who got the police officer to let them take over the traffic stop, the surgeon who let him operate, or the lawyer who let him give closing arguments.


Silver Member
Hi Rick P. All three of your reasons are valid. If I don't know the drummer then no go. They crack a cymbal, or brake the pedal now what are you going to do and who pays for it?

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
They only get to sit in if they are Stone cold sober and can play fast clean paradiddles on their leg with either sticks or hands. Lol


Platinum Member
It depends on the gig and the people involved. At a high-profile gig, it's an automatic no. If it's casual enough and I know the people, then I'll say yes.

I feel like asking to sit in is kind of rude. It's putting someone on the spot in a way that I'm not comfortable with. If it's my gig, I put in the hours of practice, I drove to the rehearsals, I lugged my gear in and now somebody wants to just jump up and take time away from me playing? Even when I agree to let someone do it, I'm not crazy about it.

I can understand new drummers or people who don't play out often getting excited about it, and I'll try to accommodate that. But when a seasoned player expects it, it annoys me. I can say no, but I feel like I shouldn't even be put in a position to have to. I never ask to sit in and I play out enough that I don't even want to; it's nice to sit back and let someone else do the work for a change.

No Way Jose

Silver Member
For me, it depends on the gig. We decide on a case by case basis. If you are going to let someone play then do it on the last one or two songs before you take a break. If the player is bad, they only screw up one or two songs.


Well-known member
I've never asked to sit in on anyone's gig except at jam sessions.

I have however, been asked if I would like to sit in and have done so when I thought I wouldn't bring down the band.

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I think it’s rude for people to assume they can ask to, and get to, sit in. Most people should know that the band has been hired to do a performance that the client has booked and agreed to pay. Every time I hear about people asking to sit in, I think, “do you ask the cashier at the supermarket if you could sit in on her job?” You wouldn’t. But apparently it’s ok in music.


Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I don't recall anyone asking to sit-in on a local gig, but I would say no for many of the reasons mentioned. Most importantly, it's just uncool. There is no good reason that someone needs to sit-in with the band, and suddenly becomes my obligation to facilitate them. With some of my bands and their original material, it's just not possible for a stranger to step in and play. There have been a few occasions where someone was expressly invited to sit-in, with my approval, and previously agreed to by the whole band (as in a guest drummer who would make the band look cool for having them come up, or perhaps a drummer who's also played with the group and it's fun to include them.)

I have never asked to sit-in, although I have been asked. Whether I do or not depends on factors such who the band is, what they play, am I local or on the road somewhere after a show, who will see me there and how much they egg me on, how I will sound if I've had a few glasses of wine, etc. But I never go somewhere assuming that I'll be asked, that's not why I visit bars or clubs.

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Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I've always said being left-handed is a blessing and a curse. In situations like this being backwards is a blessing LOL
I do remember in my younger days guys would expect me to flip the kit though. Using a rack helps that though.


"Uncle Larry"
I read a snappy comeback here a while ago intended to be said to the daft individual who puts a drummer on the spot like that. It was something to do with a temporary swap with the requesters girl friend.
Lately, I have been actually taking a lot of enjoyment out of completely stonewalling people like that. I yelled at some pretty young drunk chick last week who came up on the bandstand after we were done for the night and started hitting my rack toms with her hands while I was breaking things down. My voice can get really loud really quick and that’s what happened. I said YO KNOCK IT OFF really loud and it startled her.
She looked at me and said “one of your ears are bigger than the other” and stormed off. Lol.

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
But for real, what would be a very short list of questions and technique demonstrations that would weed out idiots/bashers? I’m voting for fast clean paradiddles on the leg lol


Gold Member
Had a bad experience once. Learned my lesson. A polite “no” is my response, unless Simon Phillips, Todd Sucherman, or Gavin Harrison is asking.


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
While in the Army in Berlin Germany in 1970, a great band was playing at the NCO club, mostly American 60's music. I asked to sit in, played one song, and at the break, the bands leader asked me to come back next saturday and I could play a whole set. Everyone was cool, and I was nothing but polite and very grateful when it was over. Maybe he felt sorry for a GI overseas. You have to pick you battles. Had they said no, I would have kept on dancing and enjoying the German beer. Rick I would have had no issue with your response.