From DRUM! Magazine’s January 2018 Issue | By Rhett Hendrix
From the perfectly reflective fingerprint-free chrome and the buttery smooth bearing edges, to the flawless mirror-like finish, there’s something quite special about unpacking a brand-new set of drums. They even have that “new drum smell” — you know what I’m talking about. As much as you may want them to stay that way forever, over time the chrome will collect oily fingerprints, the finish will become grimy and dull, and the bearing edges will collect dust and debris. But there are a few things you can do to help your drums retain some of that new-kit vibe. Here are some tips.
Clean The Chrome
Most drum hoops, lugs, mounting brackets, and cymbal stands are made from chrome-plated steel. With normal use, chrome will begin to dull and can even start rusting over time. An easy trick to remove light rust and surface grit is to clean it with aluminum foil and Coca-Cola, of all things. It sounds weird, but it works really well. Simply apply a small amount of Coke to the chrome and use a piece of lightly crumpled aluminum foil just as if it were a polishing cloth. The foil is softer than the chrome, so it won’t scratch, yet is it abrasive enough to remove rust and debris. The Coke is acidic, so it helps cut through some of the gunk and rust. Follow with a dry soft cloth to remove the remaining residue, and the chrome will look as good as new!
Clean The Drum’s Finish
Two types of finishes are commonly applied to drums: lacquer and polyester. You can use furniture polish for both, although it builds up over time and leaves a gunky residue that doesn’t look good at all. The best way to clean both of these finishes is to wipe away dust and grime with a damp microfiber cloth, followed quickly by a dry clean cloth to dry off any remaining water residue. If the finish is particularly gunked up, you can use mild dish soap and warm water on the damp cloth. Just make sure that the cloth isn’t sopping wet — you should never flood the finish with water, especially lacquer. The condensation rings on our moms’ furniture can attest to the fact that it doesn’t take long for water to ruin a good lacquer finish! There are special polishes on the market made for drums and guitars. They can do a great job, but aren’t necessary.
Clean The Bearing Edge
Bearing edges start collecting dust and debris over time — nobody knows how it manages to get inside the shell, but by what can only be described as a miraculous act, it always does! You’d be surprised how much a small amount of debris on the bearing edge can affect the overall sound and performance of a drum. To fix this, simply remove the heads and wipe down the edges with a dry cloth. If you see any rough spots or stuck-on debris, extra fine steel wool is great for removing them without altering the edge’s profile or shape. Before putting the heads back on, apply a generous coat of paste wax to the edge and rub it in. After a few minutes, polish it off with a soft cloth and your edges will be as smooth as butter again. This will help ease tuning and aid in head seating.
Now if only we could figure out how to restore that “new drum smell!”
Rhett Hendrix is the owner of Hendrix Drums, a custom drum company in Dothan, Alabama, which specializes in solid stave snare drums and kits.