As drummers, the idea of leaving home for a gig with just a few small items can be stressful. For most of us, the choices we make regarding gear are well-thought-out decisions based on research, experimentation, and experience. The idea of leaving it all behind and jumping into unfamiliar territory can be unsettling, to say the least. Fly dates, fill-ins, sitting in, and even auditions will at some point force every drummer to step outside the comfort zone they’ve created for themselves. Here are a few things I’ve learned that help me feel much more at home on a gig.

For me, my sticks and bass drum pedal are must-haves. These are my connections to the kit. I’ve been playing Vater 5Bs for a very long time, and they always feel familiar and comfortable. The Pearl Eliminator double bass drum pedal has been my pedal of choice since I can remember, and I’ve got mine dialed in just the way I like it. Sometimes adjustments need to be made to my playing to adapt to a particular drumkit, and being comfortable with the tools that connect me to the kit makes those adjustments much easier.

On my main gig, fly dates are very common. Unfortunately we don’t always have the luxury of bringing items such as snare drums or cymbals. Those luggage costs can add up quickly. But I’ve found that traveling with an LP Rock cowbell has become a necessity for me. Some of our songs feature prominent cowbell parts, and these parts just don’t work if that cowbell isn’t rockin’!

One last item I can’t leave home without is a small toolkit with various items to get through most situations that cause problems on the gig. Included are a reliable hi-hat clutch, cymbal felts, dampening devices, and gaffer’s tape. Aquarian’s duraDOTs are great for turning an old, beat-up house snare drum into a set of backbeats you can count on.

In any situation, it’s always a balance of being prepared and being flexible in the moment. Be positive and open-minded, and you might just find your next piece of must-have gear.