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Being a drummer is great! Except for when I have to find a place to store my drums. Oh, and hauling them to shows, setting them up, and tearing them down.
Jokes aside, there is a good chance that, as a drummer, there will come a time when you will need to store your kit.
Whether it is for a few days, a few months, or a few years, ensuring that your drums are well taken care of when they are stored brings peace of mind. Not to mention potentially saving yourself hundreds of dollars in damaged equipment due to improper storage practices.
There are many concerns regarding storing your drums, but a big one is the weather, particularly cold weather. So, this brings us to the question:
Can you store drums in the cold?
It should be okay to store your drums in temperatures down to the freezing point for short periods of time. However, storing drums below freezing temperatures should be avoided, especially for extended periods. If there is no other storage option in this situation, you should work to insulate the drums as much as possible.
Below I’ll explain when storing drums in the cold is ok, when it might not be a good idea, and how to make the storage process as safe as possible for your drums.
Can You Store Drums In The Cold?
The short answer to this question is yes. However, there are a few factors that we need to consider before simply saying it is ok to store drums in the cold and leave it at that.
Keeping instruments from degrading due to weather has been a plight of musicians since the creation of instruments. Thankfully, dealing with the cold is typically less of an issue than other weather considerations such as moisture and humidity. However, many storage locations that risk exposing drums to the cold also have the risk of moisture and humidity exposure.
With that being said, we still need to be mindful of the cold, especially if we are going to be storing our drums for extended periods of time in cold conditions.
We also need to define what we mean by “cold temperatures.” Storing drums for extended periods of time in temperatures above the freezing point (32 degrees Fahrenheit/ 0 degrees Celsius) typically won’t cause many issues. However, long-term storage in these conditions might not be the best for the drums. Although, as Sweetwater states, transporting instruments in the cold and rapid changes in temperature are the biggest concern.
Temperatures below the freezing point are a different matter, as those extremely low temperatures can potentially cause more damage, especially to the shells of the drums. A 2015 study by Liyuan Zhao and colleagues found that extremely low temperatures had an effect on many properties of various woods.
What Will Happen If You Store Your Drums In The Cold?
Suppose you need to store drums for an extended period of time in very cold temperatures. In that case, it is not a bad idea to insulate them the best you can by wrapping them in blankets or some other material and/or storing them in drum cases if possible, although cases by themselves might not have a major impact on protecting them from the cold.
Further, suppose we will be storing our drums in places with very poor temperature and climate regulation, such as a garage, attic, basement, or storage facility. In that case, we need to be mindful of the potential long-term implications of extreme temperature and humidity fluctuations.
Drums, especially those in the mid-to-high price ranges and quality, are resilient instruments. Drums (unless you have an electronic kit) have fewer things that can go wrong when storing for extended periods, as electric or acoustic/electric guitars might.
However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t potentially be damaged from exposure to cold temperatures or extreme temperature fluctuations.
Many (but not all) drum shells are constructed out of wood. Wood expands and contracts when exposed to changes in temperature, which is one of the factors that contribute to guitars going out of tune even when you aren’t playing them. A 2019 by A.A. Chiniforush and colleagues, although conducted on woods used for construction, found changes in the wood due to moisture and temperature changes.
In extreme cases of temperature change, either with dramatic fluctuations or very cold temperatures such as temperatures below freezing or even into the negatives, warping and cracking of the shells can occur.
The likelihood of this happening can increase the longer drums are stored in these harsh temperatures. Although, in most cases, the metal hardware can help prevent extreme warping of the drums.
I’ve heard of the hoops on bass drums becoming warped in these situations and I have also heard of drumheads becoming damaged after being stored in the cold for extended periods, but I have not personally had any issues with this.
Another main effect of cold weather on drums is that the drum heads will go out of tune as the shells contract and expand as the temperature changes. This is usually a quick fix, and you can retune your drums heads to the desired pitch within a few minutes.
How Can You Protect Your Drums From The Cold During Storage?
I have had an old set of CB drums sitting in a storage unit for almost ten years now, so I am interested to see what type of condition they are in when I am finally able to go pick them up. That storage facility is in a fairly dry and mild climate, so I am not anticipating too much damage to them.
Since this is an old, cheaper kit from high school, I am not too worried about their condition, but I wouldn’t store any of my current drums like this.
When I store drums for extended periods, like those drums, I will remove the heads. One reason is that I can place the smaller drums within the larger shells to reduce the amount of space they take up, and the other is to help protect the heads if some warping of the shells were to take place during that time.
Before I store my drums I always make sure to wipe them clean and if I know I’ll be storing them in a room where the temperatures will drop I make sure they are wrapped in blankets and placed in their cases.
I do avoid storing my drums in the cold and instead, I try to make sure that they are kept in a controlled environment where the temperatures and humidity don’t fluctuate.
Can You Store Cymbals In The Cold?
Storing your cymbals in the cold typically won’t cause any issues. In fact, they will likely hold up even better than your drums will. However, it is not a bad idea to purchase a cymbal bad if you are storing them for a long time.
The next best option would be to wrap them in old pillowcases, sheets, or blankets to help keep them protected for long durations.
If it is possible to store your drums in a climate-controlled location, do so. Storing drums in a climate-controlled location is the best option. Basements, attics, or attached garages are decent options as well if you have the room to do so.
If it is not possible to store your drums in these locations and you have to store them in garages, sheds, or storage facilities that do not have temperature regulation, try your best to insulate them the best you can and avoid long-term exposure to extremely cold temperatures or large fluctuations in temperature.
I hope this article has given insight into some considerations for storing your drums in the cold.
Thanks for reading!
Hi everyone! I have been involved with music most of my life, beginning in grade school with the trumpet. I am a largely self-taught multi-instrumentalist (drums, guitar, bass, and starting the piano and violin). I currently play drums in two bands and write and produce many genres of music in my home recording studio. I am also an avid guitar and drum collector.