As we all know, the nature of the drum kit as an instrument inevitably comes with the dreaded loading, lifting, carrying, setting up, tearing down and then the lifting, carrying and loading again.
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After years of playing, it’s always going to be a bit of a drag. I now carry my whole kit in one load on a trolley.
For reasons that I’ll discuss in more detail soon, I opt for a trunk trolley. This is the standard tall, two-wheel job. Why not a flat bed? The simplest answer is they’re not as manoeuvrable when you’re in a hurry. They can be more cumbersome going through doors or tight spaces and you can’t get up or down steps easily. The trolley has to be easy to handle and also needs to be collapsible for getting in the car after the gig. It also needs to be strong since we’re ultimately going to put the whole kit on there. The model I bought had been with me for over 10 years. It hasn’t got any rubber handles or lightweight materials. It’s got solid wheels and is made of steel. It’s also rated to carry 150kg. It’s just a standard trunk trolley by Aussie Trolleys.
When considering a kit to put on the trolley, I still wanted to use a decent set-up – so anything less than a four-piece wasn’t going to fly. My Yamaha is a larger kit so I could choose a configuration of toms – one up/one down. So I usually use 10” and 14” toms or 12” and 16” toms. Kick drum is 22” and I usually use a 14×5” or 14×6.5” snare drum. Obviously, the bigger sizes are harder to fit on the trolley but it can be done.
All drums are in soft bags, not hard cases. To get through doors, I use the smallest hardware bag possible – currently the AHEAD Ogio series. I break down all the stands and pack in such a way that everything is as small as possible, with the throne top and pedal the last things to go in the hardware bag.
The order on the trolley starts with the hardware bag lying at lengthwise. This eliminates getting stuck in a door from the sides and provides a longer base for the rest of the kit. Next, goes the rug/mat folded at into a square – it can’t be rolled. The bass drum sits skin side down with the cymbals, which nest on the top of the drum. Next, the snare drum sits on its side on the cymbals at the back of the trolley and the floor tom head side down in front of that. If you have a snare drum case with a strap, quite often you can extend this to get over the floor tom in the front – it kind of keeps them together. The rack tom can usually sit on top of the floor tom but on its side.
Most of the time these days, I secure the whole load and just sit the last tom on the top and hold it there in transit. When the trolley is tilted back, the drum is usually settled. Securing the load is important. You can use Ocky straps but they can be a little hazardous if they let go and can often not be strong enough to really hold the gear if things start to move. A better option is a pull tight belt. They’re the same as a ratchet style but you just pull tight yourself and they have a quick release. The tie really needs to be attached to the fold down base of the trolley at the front before you put your hardware on and can extend over the whole rig to attach again at the handle or lower down.
Whil you have your trolley in one hit now there are some inevitable downsides. You’ll be able to handle some stairs and going down isn’t terrible but going up is pretty tough. You also need to be mindful of extra loading time and using larger drums will alter the loading process. You might have to put your cymbals on your back to allow the full kit to be lower on the trolley. The hardware case needs to be small and that means breaking everything down – you may not want to do this all the time if you’re used to a longer hardware case. A fully loaded trolley can be heavy so you need to be mindful of the ground you’re rolling on. Cobblestones can be challenging!
This method won’t be for everyone but at least, should you need to, you have the ability to waltz on in one go.
This article was originally published August 20, 2016.
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