How do I save space as a drummer in my tiny NYC apartment

I’m a percussionist and have been performing in New York City since I moved here in 2019.

Insider’s reporter plays drums at Our Wicked Lady in Brooklyn.

Joey Haden / Inside

I’ve been playing drums for as long as possible, and I started playing drums in rock bands when I moved to New York City in 2019.

I’ve played with different bands in places from Manhattan to Brooklyn and Queens, and I’m currently in a band called Plunkett Approval that plays shows every two weeks. So I need to reach the drums pretty much every day either to rehearse or play the party.

Acoustic drum kits have a lot of parts, and usually take up about 20 square feet of space, according to a blog by a drummer called Drumming Basics.

Titled drum kit in the training area

A drum set in a practice space the author used to go to.

Joey Haden / Inside

According to Drumming Basics, a blog started by a musician to share what she’s learned about drums, a medium-sized acoustic drum kit takes up about 20 square feet of space.

Drum sets typically include a drum and pedal, a floor drum, one or two drums, a snare drum, three or four cymbals, stands on each cymbal, and a snare drum.

There are a lot of parts you have to worry about storing and dragging.

The number one way to save space as a drummer is to practice on a shared rental space that already has most of a drum kit and costs $125 a month.

The author plays the drums in the practice room

The author plays drums in a common practice space.

Joey Haden / Inside

My band is rehearsing at a place we rent with a few other bands. It has a common kick drum, drums, and stands, which make up the bulk of the drum kit, so you don’t have to worry about pulling it out to practice with.

I’ve rehearsed at six venues since moving to New York City, and all of them have included a common drum set where drummers only need to bring their own drums and gongs.

The current rent for my task force is $125 per month, which I think is a steal given the high rates of rents in NYC.

I don’t need to house the biggest acoustic drums in my apartment because every place I ran provided drum and drum.

Titled drum kit on stage

Drum author at Mercury Lounge.

Joey Haden / Inside

When it comes to performances, different venues have different background lines, or musical equipment to be provided.

I’ve played in about a dozen venues since moving to New York—from the rooftop Our Wicked Lady theater in Brooklyn to Mercury Lounge on the Lower East Side—and each one has provided a kick drum, tote, and snare stand.

So I don’t bother owning my own.

The only pieces of acoustic kit I need take up 10 square feet of space in my apartment, and I use a small electric kit to practice with at home.

The electric drum kit that the author has in her home

The author’s home audio collection.

Joey Haden / Inside

I use my electric kit to practice at home because it is quieter and takes up less space than an acoustic kit.

Keep the set in the guest room because it fits perfectly between the wall and the bed along with my electric guitar and amplifier.

The electric tool occupies nine square feet.

I don’t often need to amplify the sound, so I rarely plug in the kit. Keep the wires on the shelf under the set to make the space feel less cluttered.

Ropes and items under the drum assembly

The author stores the ropes on a low shelf.

Joey Haden / Inside

Since this isn’t my main practice time with the range, I don’t often feel the need to hook up my power kit. Working out my non-conductive toolkit helps me build muscle memory more than anything else.

Keeping wires hidden makes the space look more visible.

The acoustic drum parts — the drum, the cymbals, the kick pedal, the sticks — all fit in three storage bags under my bed.

Roller parts labeled on the bed

A brass cymbal, snare, kick pedal, and sticks all fit under the bed.

Joey Haden / Inside

I keep the acoustic drum kit parts I need to practice and play NYC venues under my bed. This way, they don’t take up any floor space in my apartment.

Ultimately, I want a full set of my own, but for now, my setup is a better fit for my tiny NYC apartment.

Side by side photos of the author playing on stage

The author plays drums in Our Wicked Lady (L) and Arlene’s Grocery (R).

Joey Haden / Inside

Having my own vocal collection would be a dream come true. It would give my teams the freedom to group shows outside the halls with backlines. Plus, I knew I had a reliable set that fit my style on each show, rather than having it work with a different set every night.

But for now, a compact storage system works well in this apartment.

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