Can Drums Be Stored in the Cold?
A little while ago, I wrote an article about whether or not to store the drums in the heat. Now, after having to transport my kit at some lower temperatures in my car, it’s an equally important question if this is a good or bad idea overall.
Moisture is the biggest enemy for wooden drums. But unless there’s also high humidity or abnormal or fast temperature changes, I wouldn’t worry about cold temperatures. Try to keep the garage dry. Cold & dampness can damage the drum wrap and make your heads go out of tune quicker.
Let’s go ahead and check out some further details and measures that can be taken to prevent any damages.
The Effects of Cold on Your Drum Kit
Most people don’t have the space to store their drums in their house, or don’t have a separate room for it. The most popular space for storing the drums would be the garage. Because it doesn’t seal as well against the outside weather conditions, it will become very cold in the winter or very hot in the summer. However, I will focus on the cold conditions in this article, as already mentioned.
The important thing is the moisture of the air there. The drier it is, the less it will be a problem.
Apart from the moisture thing, it wouldn’t be a problem to keep the temperature low consistently. In the end, you would have to sit and play in that environment, so I guess most people would prefer to have the temperature set to a comfortable level. And if
keeping it consistently cold and dry would be ok, but bad for you obviously. The drums don’t mind the cold if its a gradual change, but if you are heating it up in there every day or few days the shells are going to get a bit irritated
A buddy of mine left his old Premier kit setup in a damp garage. Unfortunately, it destroyed the chrome on it and started to make the inside of the shells look pretty bad as well.
Depending on the quality of the drums, the effects of storing your drum heads in the cold can vary. While it’s still ideal to store your drums at room temperature if your drum heads are higher quality, then you shouldn’t have too much of an issue storing them in the cold, provided the space is dry.
As for lower quality drumsets, you could experience some warping or cracking if you store them at extremely cold temperatures for a long period of time.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you store your drumheads in a cold space for an extended period of time, it can cause them to go out of tune more quickly. Not the biggest deal, but definitely worth mentioning.
Like others said as long as the humidity is low it shouldn’t be a problem. I would say if it drops below freezing you may want to relocate to somewhere warmer…you’d hate to split your grain because of moisture in the wood expanding when it freezes.
I stored a kit (in soft cases) in a garage for about 18 months and although the shells remained in round, the bass drum hoops got really warped. I’d avoid it if at all possible.
Wrap! I think a wrap would fare worse actually. It could separate. Lacquer might check, but it hasn’t happened to my kit. I think the checking happens when the temp changes too quickly
Also, don’t only consider your drums…what about your cymbals. If you are a hard hitter, playing in the cold is a big no-no. My brother has shattered a cymbal in the cold before! ouch!
Make sure that you’re cymbals aren’t ice cold when you start playing. I’d say put your heater on for at least a few minutes before you start playing. If you hit a freezing cold cymbal for any amount of time it’s probably going to crack.
Yeah same with cymbals. I think the temperature doesn’t matter but if they’re really cold you gotta let them acclimatize to room temperature before playing them or they crack easily. Guess the same applies to a wooden snare
Why Is Moisture so Bad?
I’ve explained what cold is doing. But WHY? What’s the explanation behind those outcomes?
Storing your drum set in a moist area for an extended period of time can cause significant warping and cracking.
This is especially the case if your drums are stored in an environment that constantly fluctuates between dry and moist.
How to Make Your Garage a Safer Place
Tipps what you can do to make the garage a better AND SAFER place
- insulate garage door to keep all the heat from escaping and have some sort of heater inside. and pay attention to have dry air
- the only way I can be sure if my drum-shed is truly dry is by regulating the temperature with a small heater so that I know any moisture is evaporated.
- keeping any draughts out
- You can buy small heaters with timers that will operate every half hour or so… if electricity costs aren’t too much of an issue and your garage isn’t too big.
- Personally I’d be uneasy letting a set of high-quality drums sit in a cold garage. I did it with my export, not with my DW’s, and I certainly won’t be doing it with my Ref’s.
- I would make sure that the drums are kept with waterproof sheeting around them at all times (a tarpaulin would do it). Although it is not humid, a dehumidifier would be a good idea to absorb some of the water. Keeping a close eye on things is probably the best bet, and some sort of gentle heating would help.
- you could buy a gas powered unit heater to heat the garage. you can set it up w/ a thermostat to keep a certain temp so it does not run all day
- (it’s more efficient to heat the place all the time than to heat it up and let it cool, etc)– don’t know if you’re a renter or a homeowner, but this is something maybe the average joe does not know about
Tips for the Future
ideal Storage Temperature – Drum manufacturer DW stated the following in their drum F.A.Q.:
“A general consensus among drum manufacturers has been that drums are safe and comfortable when they are stored in an environment in which you are comfortable in.”
In a closed car, after 1 hour at 85°F / 29°C heat, the temperature will likely exceed 130°F / 54°C. That’s pretty uncomfortable.
Here is my advice when you don’t have a well-temperated room available to store your drums.
- Storing in the car: Put sun shades in the front and rear windows and park the car in a secure parking garage or in the shade with the windows or sunroof cracked.
- Put the drums in bags or cases.
- Cover the drums with dense fabric like blankets.
- Playing in the sun: Try to keep your kit in the shade and cover it when not playing.
- Use a dehumidifier to keep your practice space (not climate-controlled) to around 50-55% humidity.
- If you live in dry conditions (central heating or desert), add some humidity to the air.
- Rent a kit for a distant gig before risking heat exposure.
- Look for a trusted friend or family member that will let you store your kit at their place.
- The drums could be placed around the house and used as furniture (e.g., a lampstand, a basket to store the blankets for the couch, decoration on a bookshelf (for smaller toms)). Do whatever you need to do in order to prevent them from the weather and still get them out of the way!
Note: Drums in good cases will do better as the casing slows down the pace of change & provides good protection against significant humidity changes. But also watch out with drum cases as they are not a guaranteed protection against heat. After some time, they too reach their limits.
After getting your drums out of the hot place, don’t re-tune until after they cooled down! The wood needs to slowly re-adjust to the new temperature again.
Let them acclimatize to the room before you play them whenever possible.
While not perfect, storing drums in the cold will probably affect you way before it affects your drum set. Just remember to keep some of these in mind before storing for long periods of time and you should be set.
Drum Kit Looks Damaged – What to Do?
I Left My Kit in the Heat – HELP!
Hold on for a second before you think it’s over. Take a breath and evaluate the situation:
What’s the value of the drums, and do you love those drums? If they’re valuable and you want to play them again, with as minimal changes as possible, put them in a well-climatized room and let them re-adjust to the temperature. Observe how the shells, glue, and drumheads are doing. Is there anything that is coming off, are the shells looking good and with the drumheads sounding fine?
Examine how bad it is. If only the drumheads sound a little deeper, you can tighten the lugs and adjust the pitch. In extreme cases, the drumheads are so warped that even tightening the lugs will not make the sound any better. You will have to buy a new set of heads.
If it’s really worse, it depends how valuable the set is to you. You can take it to a well-trusted drum shop and let them see what can be repaired. Otherwise, I’d sell it and maybe wait until you have the room and time and buy again in the future.