Tightening hardware, How tight is too tight?


Senior Member
Just a question for everyone.
I have a Gibraltar rack with mostly Pearl hardware. I find myself cranking down on the adjustment points to make sure nothing ever moves on me. BUT then when I do need to tear down everything is extremely tight.

So the question here is. When is tightening your hardware too tight?


Platinum Member
Hardware only needs to be tightened moderately.
Over tightening will only stress and dammage the fasteners and cause threads to wear and strip.
Hardware will loosen up from vibration caused by playing the kit so a quick check of every wing nut is needed about once a week on a kit that is played daily. I find that cymbal tilters and bass drum spurs tend to loosen more often than other hardware components.
Over tightening is the greatest cause of hardware failure.


"Uncle Larry"
Well the logical answer is if you strip threads, yea then it's too tight. A little trick I use for stuff that needs tightening/loosening is I use the back of my stick and whack the wing on the wingnut a few times in the direction I want it to go. I don't have to struggle with hand strength, I use velocity from the stick as a substitute for clenching my teeth and physically struggling with the wingnut.

My brother gave me the best advice I ever got, it applies to many things in life, including this.

If you're working too hard, you're doing something wrong.

(means use your brain instead of your muscle)


Platinum Member
Overtightening not only causes wingnuts to strip, it damages the vertical tubes by deforming them off round. Over time this leads to chrome flaking off, stands not able to telescope, or in some extreme cases CSF (Catastrophic Stand Failure... I'll let you imagine what that means).

Unfortunately, you mention one manufacturer -- Pearl -- whose hardware I've stopped buying, because when I look at their stands, the vertical adjustment points don't seem to secure the tubes, leading to movement. Without buying memory locks (which don't come included on many of their mid-priced stands) the only option is to crank 'em down till something breaks.

In my experience, the very best stands that do not move once you set them finger tight are Yamaha. I would buy any stand from Yamaha with total confidence. I can (and do) load up one single-braced stand with four cymbals and two toms. Never a problem.

I also concur with Bob. When I set up my kit, the last thing I do before sitting down to play is check every adjustment point for tightness; but I never go tighter than finger tight anymore. When the kit is set up at home, I check it every week or two. And for taking down the kit, if a wingnut doesn't want to loosen, I whip out my trusty vintage Ludwig t-tool and give it one good crank anticlockwise.



Platinum Member
I agree that if you own hardware that requires you to tighten it beyond a reasonable tension for it to hold fast then the hardware is worn and defective. Modern hardware isn't supposed to be tightened to super high torques.
I also am a big fan of memory locks. I use them on everything that I can on my kit. I check my memory locks from time to time.

Terrence R

Silver Member
I usually judge it as if I was tightening a cap on a bottle of water. Just slitightly tighter than that works best for me.

And Alparrott is right. Yamaha is the way to go for stands.

But on another note, I was playing an open mic a couple years ago. The drummer's kit was a modern Ludwig kit, which was very nice. I got up to play, and the nut that holds the top hi hat on fell off. Then a floor Tom leg slid up causing the floor Tom to crash into my knee while I was playing, and even one of the cymbal arms came loose on a boom stand, causing a nice HHX studio crash to smash on a Tom rim. So, u must also consider if your hardware is going to be tight enough to do the job. Like I say, slightly over water bottle cap tension works great for me.


The only piece of equipment that I've ever used where the tightening aspect was questionable was my DW bass drum banana mount. These drums are so heavy, the 12" x 8" rack tom had a tendency to want to slip in the mount. I ordered a new mount and it had the same issues. With these particular mounts, you can really put a lot of leverage on the adjustment handle, it even has a drum key type bolt, that I sheared off, that supposedly locks the mount in place. This was repaired by my local drum shop before they had to order a new piece. This mount also has memory locks just about everywhere that I have to use so the mount doesn't slip. I can imagine what a 13" x 9" drum would do to that mount.

You really have to know your own strength and be able to tighten the hardware just enough so it's stable. A lot of the tightening equipment has a lot of inherent torque due to it's size, this combined with gorilla strength can be devastating to the hardware.

A lot of people say that DW hardware is over engineered, this is one piece that was not.



Platinum Member
I am of the view that the primary cause of hardware and kit failure is hardware over-tightening.

Just today, I was in a studio using a house kit. I wanted to move the tom and change the tilt slightly. The wingnut was absolutely solid and it took both hands to move it and those of you that know me in person will know that I'm not exactly a small guy. The same was true of all the microphone stands and the cymbal stands. The hi hat stand was showing signs of wear that are typical of over-tightening - i.e. not tightening correctly.

I suspect every single wingnut on that kit had been torqued by somebody that didn't know what they were doing. I nearly left a note on the kit saying 'overtightening costs drums' but I doubt anybody would have understood.


I used to struggle with the clamps for my toms staying in place on my rack. I took the clamps off and sanded the powder coating off the inside. Once they were back in place they stayed. Also clean any effected areas with denatured alcohol to remove slick substances. Then moderate tight should hold em...