Practical Matters: Regular Maintenance
It's been a busy summer here (hence the lack of posting) and I've found myself thinking of various things while gigging. Here's a list of quick maintenance tips:
- Whenever you set up your Gongs, check the Gong cord for fraying and make sure the knot is still tight. There's nothing worse than having a Gong fall off your rack! I always have some spare cord in one of my cases in case I need to make a quick replacement.
- Also check your Gongs/Bowls/Bells for wear. Nothing is indestructible. It's possible to crack or dent/bend your instruments, especially during travel. Regularly check each instrument out to make sure it's fine. Cracks can ruin a good instrument, but if caught early, they can often be drilled & filed to keep them from spreading, keeping your Gong usable for months/years to come. Note: never pack your Gongs and stands together! You are just asking for trouble. Always keep Gongs and stands in separate bags and/or cases.
- Check your mallets. It's the same thing here. Make sure the mallet head is on tight, and also check for fraying and damage to the handles. Next to having a Gong fall, having a mallet head fly off and land who knows where is never a good situation. If you have yarn/cord wrapped mallets, check for fraying and repair/replace. The same with fur padded mallets. The fur can become matted, worn, or just old. Vic Firth has various recovering kits available, which I've used before; or you can cut and sew your own covers if you are handy.
- Check, and double check, your stands after setting them up to make sure the fittings are tight. This will help keep the stand from rattling, and keep it from falling or coming apart while you play. Before adding the instruments, I always go around hitting the stands with the back of my fist, listening for squeaks and rattles.
- Also check your stands for burrs, sharp edges, or chrome pieces flaking off. I once got a nasty cut on my index finger before a gig when I reached into my stand case and grabbed the end of a stand tube. A flaking piece of chrome sliced right into my finger (Ouch!). Not fun.
- Don't forget to check your bags and cases for wear. I've had handles come off of cases and need repair/replacing before. You would hate to be carrying a case and have the handle break or come off. The same thing with bags. Make sure the handles are still sewn on completely and that the seems are sewn tight. I've taken a needle and thread to a few cases that had splitting seams. Make sure to check the bottoms of your Gong bags, as these can get worn over time. The edges of Gongs/cymbals can cut through various bags. Many bags have extra padding on the bottom to both cushion, and to help keep the case from wearing through. You can add more padding with high density foam, or even heavy cardboard cut to fit.
It's important to think of all your instruments, mallets, stands, and cases as investments. Taken care of, they can last a lifetime!
Chop Wood / Carry Water / Play Gongs™