Last Updated on November 7, 2021 by Danny
So you spent a load of money buying your snare, floor toms, and bass drum, is your job done now?
Nope, in addition to the cymbals and drum hardware, there is one other important purchase you have to make.
Good quality drum cases and bags are extremely important to protect your drums from cracks and scratches. Everything from your expensive snare drum to your booming bass drum need to be safeguarded from things known and unknown. They are especially important if you are a traveling musician. (Cases and bags also make carrying your equipment around so much easier)
Enough of an intro, let’s dive into the world of drum bags and cases.
Why should you get a drum case?
Here are just a few of the many woes your shells will face outside your practice space.
Have you ever left your drums out in the sun for too long? Have you ever had your drums becoming soaked in the rain before you could find a sheet to cover them? If you have ever had these happen to you, you know that weather is not always friendly. Having a case makes sure that your drums are cocooned during transit and are not adversely impacted by the prevailing weather.
The stage is not a safe place as any gigging drummer would know. It is easy for catastrophe to strike when you are setting things up and taking things down. You will constantly be moving here and there on the stage with your drums, so you or anyone else could slip or trip and drop your drums. If your drums crack just before a gig, it is a double whammy. You just lost an expensive drum and a gig. A drum case ensures that this doesn’t happen.
You never know what might happen during transportation. You might break suddenly or swerve dramatically. If this happens, your drums will move around and they might hit each other or hit other things. This pretty much means your drums are going to be covered in scratches over time.
It is not just about car travel, these things can happen during air travel and even road haulage. Using a case is the best way to protect your expensive drums. These cases will ensure that nothing happens to your drums no matter how rash the road is.
Concerts and gigs are places where alcohol and other liquids are in abundance. If you just leave your drums out in the open, you might never know what could happen. Someone might beer on your drums! If this happens you will have to spend a significant amount of time cleaning the stain up.
The more scary part is that if you do not clean the stain immediately it could become a permanent feature in your drum’s shell. Keeping your drums inside a case makes sure that these things do not happen.
Best Drum Cases – A Quick Glance
1. Gator Cases Protechtor Series – The best drum bags, great for weekend gigs
The Gator Protechtor series is a great option for anyone looking to buy affordable drum bags. These drum bags are made of 600-denier nylon material and have 10mm padding to protect your equipment. This standard set comes with five bags and should be perfect for standard drum kits.
The bags can be easily carried thanks to their shoulder carrying straps and you can fold them down to save space when you are not using them. While they do not offer as much protection as a hard case, this affordable set of drum bags with padded interiors is good enough for storage and your local quick gigs. All this make this a great budget pick.
2. SKB Hard Drum Cases – Perfect for touring drummers
Are you a professional drummer who owns an expensive kit and is on the road a lot? If so, then this is one of the most perfect drum cases for you.
These hard drum cases are a premium option that offer maximum protection to your drums. You can dropkick and even do a 720 spin kick, your drums will not feel anything. The body is made of roto-molded plastic and have an padded interior. There are also several other features like heavy-duty web strap(not a carrying strap but rather a secure strap), sturdy high tension slide release buckle, and pedestal feet that you will be able to appreciate.
If you need the best possible protection, this is the case to get. It is not cheap but it keeps your expensive drums safe like nothing else. It is available in multiple configurations, so you can find one that suits your kit easily. It is quite hard for a touring drummer to get a better set of touring cases to protect your drums properly than this.
3. ATA Road Cases For Drums – The best protection for your drums
For someone who is a professional drummer or thinks that they are gonna make it as a professional drummer, a road case is among the best investments they can make. They are simply the best protection money can buy for your drums and make it much easier to haul and organize your kit. If you see a future where you hire men to set up your expensive drum set, you cannot go wrong with this.
This particular model comes ⅜” thick plywood, reinforced corner, industrial-grade rivets latches, and handles. You also have a rubber lining on the inside to protect your equipment and heavy-duty casters that allow you to move heavy stuff smoothly.
4. TAMA POWERPAD DSS52K Drum Set Bag
TAMA is one of the biggest names in the drumming industry, so it is no wonder that they make excellent drum bags. This particular set features 5 bags and is quite similar to the prior mentioned Gator set. These too come with shoulder straps!
Its exterior is made of 600-denier durable Nylon material and has a 10-mm interior padding, just like the Gator. The strap is quite comfortable and makes carrying these quite convenient. So it is no wonder that this is one of the most popular TAMA drum bag sets. If you are a traveling musician with a limited budget, this should be among your top options as it is one of the best drum bags.
Types of Drum Cases
Hard drum cases feature a hard outer shell that protects your equipment. This hardshell gives the case its rigidity and makes sure that your drums do not wrap or crack because someone decided to sit on it.
Hard Cases can be made of plastic or fiber, with hard plastic cases made of polyethylene being the preferred material. These cases are offered with and without foam lining. Barring ATA cases (these are meant for trailer/truck transportation), these cases are the best way to protect your drums. hard shell drum cases are the most popular options among professionals for a reason.
Benefits of Hard Cases
The benefits of hard cases are many. Hard plastic cases can withstand impacts, so should your drum case fall or bang against something, these cases make sure that your drums do not get cracked. These cases also tend to be able to deal with any adverse weather conditions (weatherproof if i may), so your drums are protected from the scorching sun and soaking rain(completely waterproof in most cases). Finally, they look professional! While they cost more they tend to be most cost effective than other options.
As you would have deduced, soft bags are made of soft non-rigid materials. These are like clothes for your drums and tightly fit around them. They are also extremely light and usually have a shoulder strap, so you can carry them without being annoyed.
Benefits of Drum bags (Soft drum Cases)
The thing is that they offer very little protection to your drum set. Bear in mind that even the best soft drum cases will not save your drum shells from micro-scratches if you drop it. However they are good for accidental bumps and other small physical impacts. They are ideal only if you gig occasionally and locally. They are also a good option for home storage.
Drum bags AKA soft cases do have some advantages over hard cases. For starters, they are considerably cheaper than hard cases. They also tend to add very little extra bulk to your equipment, so it is much easier to transport them in your car and carry them by hand. Many bags also come with hook and loop fasteners in addition to the padding to make sure your drums do not move around inside the soft bag and scratch themselves. Some even come with an large exterior pocket that you use to store anything from sticks to hardware nuts.
Drum hardware like drum legs and arms are heavy, so transporting them can be a bit of an issue. You will need tougher materials and sturdier embroidery than other bags to be able to handle the weight over long periods. You will even need reinforced wheels!
The good thing is that these are common. You can easily find hard-bottom bagged or hardware cases that are perfect for this job.
A trap case is a multi-compartment case that can hold your snare, cymbals, drum heads, accessories, and mounting hardware by itself.(Most trap cases cannot fit floor toms and bass drum cause those drums are simply too big) This greatly reduces the number of bags/cases you have to carry. They use padded dividers to make sure your gear do not scratch each other. However, this does make this case extremely heavy and it can be near impossible to handle it by yourself.
ATA Cases and Drum Trunks
ATA cases are called so because they meet the Air Transportation Association’s guidelines for the survivability of reusable cases. This makes them incredibly tough( and heavy and expensive!). These are used for a variety of musical instruments, not just drums. You will find them in every festival and tour(they are not out of place in a rehearsal room too) as they are the best way to safely transport expensive musical instruments safe.
Drum trunks are made based on the design principles of ATA and are meant to fit an entire drum kit in just a few big cases. These are custom-built to your drum sizes, so they can be incredibly expensive. However, the cost is worth it for people who tour a lot.
If you still aren’t sure what these ATA model cases are, these are the extra tough cases made of extra tough materials. They without question offer the best protection you can get. They have aluminum edges, locking latches, and vinyl-over-wood constructions. They will look unbreakable because they are pretty much unbreakable.
Road Cases with Casters
These are nothing but ATA cases with integrated wheels(some even have locking casters). They are just great at protecting your drums, but it does come at a significant cost. There is a reason why touring drummers tend to use road cases for their drums. There only downside other than the cost is that you will mostly need a trailer of some sort to transport these cases.
If you can deal with the cost and the transportation hassle, these cases are the ones to get! They are truly road worthy cases!
Most prominent Manufacturer of drums and percussion cases
There are so many manufacturers of drums and percussion cases. While you might be tempted to buy a case from an unknown manufacturer just because they are giving a killer deal, we highly recommend that you do not. While you might be saving money, you will be compromising on the quality of the cases. It is better to spend a little more money now than cry about your case developing cracks in a few short weeks.
To help you out, we have compiled a list of the most prominent manufacturers of drums and percussion cases who you can trust to make good quality cases.
Ahead offers a range of different drum protection tools. Their Armour line features semi-soft drum, cymbal, and hardware cases while its Ogio line has tough hard plastic cases with wheels meant for carrying hardware.
Beato has been around for ages and has an entire suite of bags for everything drum-related. Their most popular lines are the Curdura, Pro I, and Pro II.
Humes & Berg
This company began as a one-man brass-instrument mute maker in 1935 but has now become a big name in bags. Their Enduro line has great foam padding and smooth nylon covering while the Enduro Pro line has are hard plastic drum cases that gives great protection. Their Tuxedo and Galaxy line has been around for ages and has incredible build quality. These bags should last very long.
The Impact is best known for its lightweight hard shell cases that have unique styling. They also have soft bags for drums, cymbals, drum sticks, and hardware!
Established in 2000, Gator has since grown to become one of the more prominent names in the bag industry. They have great polyethylene drum cases and bags! Their polyethylene plastic outer shell is extremely sturdy and one of the most durable types of plastic out there. They are one of the most popular brands, you can find them in nearly every music store. Their products are also competitively priced.
Kaces has many great combo offers that are at an affordable price-point, allowing people with even limited budget to transport their gear safely.
Mono entered the bag market just a few years ago and has been dishing out innovative designs ever since. Their bags are light and thoroughly designed, making them a great option. As of now they only make drums, cymbals, and stick bags. They have no hardware bags yet.
As the name suggests, Nomad has bags that are designed to be carried around. Their durable cases are lightweight and their trap cases come with casters. These universal-depth fiber cases are some of the best in the market.
ProTec makes products for a variety of prices. They have affordable models meant for students and some awesome wheeled multi-drum bags. They also make great heavy-duty nylon bags that are meant to carry your whole drum.
Protection racket (It is a British company for those interested) drum cases began their life by making bags for surfboards, but right now they make some of the sickest semi-soft bags out there. The bags all have cool interesting designs that feel original and innovative. You should check out their Nutcase and AAA rigid case lineups!
If you care about a warranty, this is the company to get your case from. SKB offers a lifetime warranty on its hard cases! Try to think of other companies that do that for their products, you probably will come up with just a handful if any!
They are some of the best cases in the industry and each case has been extensively designed. Their Roto-X line features hard cases with a durable nylon-lined foam interior wall. They also have an ATA Freedom series that has some of the toughest cases in the market. Their hardware cases can be loaded and unloaded from an upright position, which is actually a unique proposition. They also have soft bags that are exceptional.
Stagg is a Belgian company that’s quite new! They make unique and interesting models at competitive prices. Their Professional and Beat Box series has unique interlocking designs and extremely heavy-duty handles and carrying straps. Their bag lines are similarly no slouch and can take a beating.
Where to Find ATA cases used
The best place to find used ATA cases would be either your local pawn shop or your local music shop (maybe even your local music pawn shop?). These cases tend to be heavy and take a lot of real estate in the store (always bear in mind that these occupy way more space than any other type of case), so shops are quite eager to get rid of them, so you can get them for quite a bargain. With just a little repair and modification you will get a perfectly able ATA case for a fraction of the cost of a new one.
Online marketplaces like eBay might seem like a viable option but the cost of having these heavy cases shipped makes it a much less attractive option. You are better off just visiting your local stores.
Other Cases Drummers Use
Drummers do not just carry drums, they typically tend to have a lot of accessories they need to carry around. This can induce kick pedals and drum microphones among other things. Having a separate case for these makes it easier to transport them and makes sure that you do not lose them.
You could use any old suitcase to carry drum sets but we suggest that you use something tough like Pelican cases. These cases tend to come with special foams that help you create custom housing for your gear. This ensures that your equipment doesn’t move around and end up scratching/damaging each other.
Related: Top Drum seat with back support
How do I know what size cases I need for my drums?
You should measure your drums to know the size of the case you will need for them. Be sure to take precise measurements of the diameter and depth of the drum. The diameter measurement should only include the shell while the depth measurement can also take the hardware into account.
It is ok if your bags seem to be a little loose as the bags are designed to snugly fit drums without cramping them. You should not have a tough time finding the best drum bag for you because sizes are standardized. It will take a lot of oversight to end up buying drum cases or bags of the wrong size.
Can I take my drums in soft cases on a plane?
Can you? Yes. Should you? No!
Soft cases are incapable of resisting any sort of pressure or impact, so if the bags are even bumped a little during the flight or baggage handling, you risk damaging your expensive drums. It is always recommended that you use tough impact-resistant cases when you are taking your drums on a plane.
Do drum cases and bags protect my drums from the elements?
Yes, most drum cases protect your drums from the elements. They are designed to be weatherproof and can therefore make sure your drums aren’t harmed by sunlight or rainfall.
On the other hand, drum bags are not capable of protecting your drums from the elements. While they might offer some temporary respite, they are pretty useless for the most part.
How much do drum cases cost?
A complete five-piece drum bag set can cost between $150 and $200. Hard cases on the other hand can cost around $500 for a three-piece set and $700 for a five-piece set. ATA drum cases will be much more expensive, even as high as $800 for just a single drum case! Cases for a bass drum are especially expensive. Even affordable drum cases options tend to be more expensive than the best drum bags out there.
Side note, please do not overspend on your drum case/drum bag. While it is important to protect your drums we cannot possibly advice you spending $500 on your drum bag if your entire drum set itself was only a $1000. While these are essential gear, it is easy to overspend. We would rather have you spend a couple hundred dollars on getting a better sounding drum kit than say a fancy shining drum case which has an ultra-smooth caster that you really do not need. You should not buy the best drum case there is just cause you can!
How are drum cases measured?
You should not be concerned with the actual size of the drum case, only the size of the drum it can fit. Drum cases always have the size of the drum mentioned, not their actual size. Usually, the bag will be a couple of inches bigger in diameter to allow some extra space.
Make sure that you are not confused between the actual size of the bag and the size of the drum it can fit before you make a purchase.
What are drum cases made of?
Drum cases can be made of a variety of materials. Hard cases are made of either plastic or hardened fiberboard, with many manufacturers preferring to use polyethylene. The insides of a drum case are reinforced and they typically have padding on the inside. Plastic is also great cause you can easily clean them with soap and air dry them later.
Soft bags are typically made of strong nylon, but these offer very little protection for your drums.
Well, hopefully, this long (it is actually quite longer than we intended) article has helped you understand why drum bags and cases are important and helped you decide on what is best for your drum sets. A drum set is a mighty investment and these are crucial accessorizes that protect the said investment.
To conclude shortly, if you have a small budget and only gig locally, soft bags are the way to go. Both TAMA and Gator are great options. If you are someone who travels long distances and tours extensively and want to fully protect your drums, hard shell cases and ATA drum cases are the way to go. If you still are not sure, get a hard case, you simply cannot go wrong with it.