Research Q: How many cubic feet is a packed drum kit for gig?

DrumQ

New Member
I'm not a drummer but I'm writing about one and would appreciate help with this question:

If you packed all your kit & accessories - everything required for a gig, no hardshell cases - into a hypothetical box along with a few blankets for padding, how big would the box be (smallest possible size)? I need to know the approximate cubic feet (or LxWxH dimensions, feet or meters) so that I can work out, for example, what percentage of a given trailer the drums would occupy for a band going on tour.

I attempted to do this myself by looking at drum dimensions plus some extra for all the stands & accessories etc. and my number seems too small - 12 cubic feet which is smaller than a Corolla trunk.

Bonus Q: How much extra if the drums were in hard shell cases?
 

C. Dave Run

Gold Member
It depends on drumkit size, amount of hardware/cymbals/accessories, size of trailer, how you stack/pack everything, and the tetris skill of the person doing it. There will not be one answer to this.
 

jda

Silver Member
4' x 3'
5' x 5'

I'm thinking the size of the carpet my set up drums sit on..
 

C. Dave Run

Gold Member
4' x 3'
5' x 5'

I'm thinking the size of the carpet my set up drums sit on..
X the depth of your tallest drum/case.

So if the tallest case us 2', the 4'x3' volume is 24 cubic feet.

No one packs a trailer like that though. We stack stuff and put it where it fits. It's not just like "drums go here, cabinets go here, guitars go here". That's the part the OP is not going to understand.

Say we put all the guitar stuff on the left of the trailer and all the drum stuff on the right. The weight of the trailer is now unbalanced to one side.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Diamond Member
we use a 6' wide x 8' long x 5' high trailer - 240 sq feet

5 piece drumkit in hardshell cases plus a cymbal vault and stand bag and it takes up about 60sq feet of that, if my math is right. It takes about 3'x5'x4' high the way I pack it (I don't put stuff all the way up to the ceiling)

the rest of the trailer is guitar cabs abd amps....imagine that!
 

calan

Silver Member
It depends on drumkit size, amount of hardware/cymbals/accessories, size of trailer, how you stack/pack everything, and the tetris skill of the person doing it. There will not be one answer to this.
This is the real answer. A cubic footage total is not the full information.

In my own case, I have a 5' by 8' enclosed trailer, with a 6' height. I built some shelving at the bullnose for me to place my drums. I can't recall the exact dimensions, but their depth is enough to allow a 22" bass drum in a case to sit hoop down. The measurements of anything else is practically irrelevant because this is the determining factor. The rest of the shells fit on the same shelf (up to 4 toms at 10, 12, 14, and 16 inch widths, standard depths). There's another shelf above with less height, a snare drum can go there if needed. It's also a good spot for amp heads and such.

Depending on hardware load out, I may use the floor below the shelf, unless I'm packing the sled, which pretty much ends up dead center on the floor of the trailer. Speakers and amps and such are all strapped to reinforced sidewalls.

Cymbals can almost fit anywhere, if in a proper case or bag.
 

Akincer5

New Member
I'm not a drummer but I'm writing about one and would appreciate help with this question:

If you packed all your kit & accessories - everything required for a gig, no hardshell cases - into a hypothetical box along with a few blankets for padding, how big would the box be (smallest possible size)? I need to know the approximate cubic feet (or LxWxH dimensions, feet or meters) so that I can work out, for example, what percentage of a given trailer the drums would occupy for a band going on tour.

I attempted to do this myself by looking at drum dimensions plus some extra for all the stands & accessories etc. and my number seems too small - 12 cubic feet which is smaller than a Corolla trunk.

Bonus Q: How much extra if the drums were in hard shell cases?
Depends on the kit. I'd say a typical five piece kit with hardware (cases or no cases) depends on how thick the cases are. My six piece fits in my Dodge Journey with the middle and back seats put down. If you stack the drums you could probably go with just the middle row of seats put down.
 

DrumQ

New Member
Thanks for your replies. I realize "it depends" but I just need an approximate answer both to visualize the space in my head and to allow the drummer to claim his space. The drums aren't going in a trunk or trailer, they're going in a box space at the back of a bus. So, the space is 1m x 2m x .9m which I believe is 65 cubic feet. Someone opens up the back and the drummer looks in and says "I'm gonna need half that space." Or a third, or whatever. He knows it's all going to be mixed up with the guitars etc, but he wants to claim a percentage of the space.

I worked out the cubic feet per drum and rounded up:
- bass drum 5 cu ft
- 2 tom-toms = 1 cu ft each = 2 cu ft
- 2 floor toms = 2.5 cu ft each = 5 cu ft
- snare = 1 cu ft
- cymbals = 2 cu ft
- hardware = 4 cu ft
Total 19 cu ft

Let's call it 25 cu ft with blankets etc. which is less than half the available space. Does this seem right?
 

1 hit wonder

Well-known Member
Our trailer is packed very precisely. Every piece has a place and is loaded by a script.
My kit is a rug, 22x18, 2 snare cases, 13" and 16" toms, cymbal bag, double pdl in case, acc hand carry bag, fan and rolling hardware bag.
It takes up the back seat and trunk of a 4 door compact car.
 
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calan

Silver Member
Thanks for your replies. I realize "it depends" but I just need an approximate answer both to visualize the space in my head and to allow the drummer to claim his space. The drums aren't going in a trunk or trailer, they're going in a box space at the back of a bus. So, the space is 1m x 2m x .9m which I believe is 65 cubic feet. Someone opens up the back and the drummer looks in and says "I'm gonna need half that space." Or a third, or whatever. He knows it's all going to be mixed up with the guitars etc, but he wants to claim a percentage of the space.

I worked out the cubic feet per drum and rounded up:
- bass drum 5 cu ft
- 2 tom-toms = 1 cu ft each = 2 cu ft
- 2 floor toms = 2.5 cu ft each = 5 cu ft
- snare = 1 cu ft
- cymbals = 2 cu ft
- hardware = 4 cu ft
Total 19 cu ft

Let's call it 25 cu ft with blankets etc. which is less than half the available space. Does this seem right?
Were you planning on boxing the kit inside of a road case? From your first description, I was basically just envisioning some drums and hardware in a cardboard box.


I'm not necessarily advocating buying, but looking at these things and comparing it against what you expect the drummer to bring might give you a better idea of the dimensional requirements. It's not super difficult to make a good box, if that was more along the lines of your intent.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Thanks for your replies. I realize "it depends" but I just need an approximate answer both to visualize the space in my head and to allow the drummer to claim his space. The drums aren't going in a trunk or trailer, they're going in a box space at the back of a bus. So, the space is 1m x 2m x .9m which I believe is 65 cubic feet. Someone opens up the back and the drummer looks in and says "I'm gonna need half that space." Or a third, or whatever. He knows it's all going to be mixed up with the guitars etc, but he wants to claim a percentage of the space.

I worked out the cubic feet per drum and rounded up:
- bass drum 5 cu ft
- 2 tom-toms = 1 cu ft each = 2 cu ft
- 2 floor toms = 2.5 cu ft each = 5 cu ft
- snare = 1 cu ft
- cymbals = 2 cu ft
- hardware = 4 cu ft
Total 19 cu ft

Let's call it 25 cu ft with blankets etc. which is less than half the available space. Does this seem right?

20-25 cubic feet is for a small to medium setup. A bop or cocktail kit would be maybe 16-20, in the sense you are talking. A kit with 4 big toms, rack, and other little extras might be 35 cubic feet.
 

DrumQ

New Member
Were you planning on boxing the kit inside of a road case? From your first description, I was basically just envisioning some drums and hardware in a cardboard box.


I'm not necessarily advocating buying, but looking at these things and comparing it against what you expect the drummer to bring might give you a better idea of the dimensional requirements. It's not super difficult to make a good box, if that was more along the lines of your intent.

The band van is a repurposed airport shuttle, so the back door opens into a space under a single bed - ie. 1 x 2 meters, and about 90cm high. I'm calling that space a "box" but it's basically a space of fixed size.

Thanks for the link - that's awesome. This one is housing a full kit, right? https://www.roadcases.com/2-sided-combo-drum-ata-case-w-adjustable-shelves-202046/
So outside dimensions without casters is 25 cu ft which matches my calc and has a fair bit of space for padding. (Again though, I'm more interested in total volume even if it's dispersed amid the band's other gear, rather than a neat box-shape.)
 

calan

Silver Member
The band van is a repurposed airport shuttle, so the back door opens into a space under a single bed - ie. 1 x 2 meters, and about 90cm high. I'm calling that space a "box" but it's basically a space of fixed size.

Thanks for the link - that's awesome. This one is housing a full kit, right? https://www.roadcases.com/2-sided-combo-drum-ata-case-w-adjustable-shelves-202046/
So outside dimensions without casters is 25 cu ft which matches my calc and has a fair bit of space for padding. (Again though, I'm more interested in total volume even if it's dispersed amid the band's other gear, rather than a neat box-shape.)
It’s probably not housing a full kit, at least not at common dimensions. It could likely only accommodate up to an 18” bass drum, and that might not work with some drums. If that’s a tight 20”, cymbals might be an issue as well. Probably not very viable for most hardware either.

I was mostly offering a visual aid. Your prior reply had me again imagining the wrong scenario, this time in a full size tour bus with underbelly storage. There are other road case manufacturers if you want to tickle your eyeballs with other examples of how to stack gear.

But now, finally, I see that you’re in a large sprinter-esque van, with a converted sleeping loft in the cargo area. (I really hope you have at least two feet of height in the coffin). I wouldn’t recommend large road cases for that scenario; better to be closer to ground or with a ramp. That single item weight and volume is going to get old quick.

For your purposes, soft cases should be fine. I’m catching hints that your budget is tight (“wrapped in blankets”), but even something like appropriately sized cardboard boxes with some kind of padding *should* be fine, and will be a lot easier to slide in and out of the bed of your cargo area. This is also assuming you take measures to keep your cargo from shifting while in transit, and how much your drummer cares about their shells. Plywood tubes reinforced with rigid hoops are rather resilient, though.

If your dimensional and monetary budget allow, add a hand truck of some kind.

Your rough estimates of volume look good, and your rounding up should provide you plenty margin for error.

I’d recommend you spend some time with graphing paper or a digital grid, hell, you could 3D model if you’re that savvy, and slide some shapes around after getting some specific information from your (bandmates?) on what they’re planning on bringing. It’s also good to take a day to make sure the arrangement works in practice. Sucks to have to cut things for space when it’s crunch time, better to know in advance.

Regarding case dimensions, hard cases are generally going to add 4 inches in both directions. As a quick example, an SKB Roto-X 14” and 22” case for snare and bass drum come in just under 18” for the former, and 27” for the latter. Soft cases are somewhat variable depending on the material and quality of padding, but still allow for some compression.

My condolences regarding you drawing the logistics straw.
 
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DrumQ

New Member
It’s probably not housing a full kit, at least not at common dimensions. It could likely only accommodate up to an 18” bass drum, and that might not work with some drums. If that’s a tight 20”, cymbals might be an issue as well. Probably not very viable for most hardware either.

I was mostly offering a visual aid. Your prior reply had me again imagining the wrong scenario, this time in a full size tour bus with underbelly storage. There are other road case manufacturers if you want to tickle your eyeballs with other examples of how to stack gear.

But now, finally, I see that you’re in a large sprinter-esque van, with a converted sleeping loft in the cargo area. (I really hope you have at least two feet of height in the coffin). I wouldn’t recommend large road cases for that scenario; better to be closer to ground or with a ramp. That single item weight and volume is going to get old quick.

For your purposes, soft cases should be fine. I’m catching hints that your budget is tight (“wrapped in blankets”), but even something like appropriately sized cardboard boxes with some kind of padding *should* be fine, and will be a lot easier to slide in and out of the bed of your cargo area. This is also assuming you take measures to keep your cargo from shifting while in transit, and how much your drummer cares about their shells. Plywood tubes reinforced with rigid hoops are rather resilient, though.

If your dimensional and monetary budget allow, add a hand truck of some kind.

Your rough estimates of volume look good, and your rounding up should provide you plenty margin for error.

I’d recommend you spend some time with graphing paper or a digital grid, hell, you could 3D model if you’re that savvy, and slide some shapes around after getting some specific information from your (bandmates?) on what they’re planning on bringing. It’s also good to take a day to make sure the arrangement works in practice. Sucks to have to cut things for space when it’s crunch time, better to know in advance.

Regarding case dimensions, hard cases are generally going to add 4 inches in both directions. As a quick example, an SKB Roto-X 14” and 22” case for snare and bass drum come in just under 18” for the former, and 27” for the latter. Soft cases are somewhat variable depending on the material and quality of padding, but still allow for some compression.

My condolences regarding you drawing the logistics straw.

Funny you should mention a 3D model because I was about to get out the Lego...

And note this is not for real, it's for a novel. The drummer is an engineer and a math wiz, so I assume he figured out the logistics beforehand, but he didn't tell me, unfortunately, so I need to do it myself although not in as much detail as he did, of course. Thanks for the 4" rule for hard cases. It's amazing how many online stores do not give total dimensions.

This is an international tour - opening act for arena band, so they are getting a flat fee and renting a converted shuttle bus hoping to cut costs where they can. But because it's international, they flew their gear in hard cases. (I was playing with the idea of dumping the hard cases, driving around the country without them, then picking them up again for the flight home but I think they'll have enough room to lug the lot.)

I agree about that single big case being hard to handle but at least it does give me an idea of the volume needed. (Btw I think because of the way it swings on hinges, you can put a bigger bass drum in there, overlapping the edge, then fitting into the other half when it closes?) They have extra room in the bus itself of course, but his bandmates would rather keep drums out of their living/sleeping space. Guitars are another matter...
 

calan

Silver Member
Well, then I gave you more information of yet more dubious worth, but this turn is even more interesting.

Regarding the hinged box, I don’t think so. I had the same thought initially, but if the drum would be large enough to overhang, it would also be too wide to fit in the enclosure. I’ll caveat that maybe if you have a drum where the hardware is slightly bulky, it might push over the shelf a little, but it still has to fit between the walls.
 

DrumQ

New Member
Any and all info is useful - gives me new ideas. Speaking of which, my drummer has adjusted his expectations and reluctantly tells me he's going to take only his snare, cymbals, and pedals (plus bits and pieces) in three heavy duty flight cases, and rent the bass & toms & stands when he gets there, so everything still has to fit in the back of the bus but only regular cases for most of it.

He's crunched the numbers: the flightcases are 5.6 cu ft, and the 5 rented drums-in-cases (bass, 2 toms combo case, 2 floor toms) plus trolley and a hardware case brings the total to 26 cu ft with less hassle at the international airport.

Five guitar flightcases & 2 pedal board flightcases + accessory case adds another 17 cu ft. With a 10% cushion (although he does call himself the Tetris King) that leaves about 17 cu ft in the 65 cu ft space - almost enough room for 2 rented amps if necessary (2 cabs + 2 heads with no cases = 19 cu ft). One or two things may have to travel in the bus itself.

Thanks for all your help.
 
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Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Any and all info is useful - gives me new ideas. Speaking of which, my drummer has adjusted his expectations and reluctantly tells me he's going to take only his snare, cymbals, and pedals (plus bits and pieces) in three heavy duty flight cases, and rent the bass & toms & stands when he gets there, so everything still has to fit in the back of the bus but only regular cases for most of it.

He's crunched the numbers: the flightcases are 5.6 cu ft, and the 5 rented drums-in-cases (bass, 2 toms combo case, 2 floor toms) plus trolley and a hardware case brings the total to 26 cu ft with less hassle at the international airport.

Five guitar flightcases & 2 pedal board flightcases + accessory case adds another 17 cu ft. With a 10% cushion (although he does call himself the Tetris King) that leaves about 17 cu ft in the 65 cu ft space - almost enough room for 2 rented amps if necessary (2 cabs + 2 heads with no cases = 19 cu ft). One or two things may have to travel in the bus itself.

Thanks for all your help.

Aaaaand I remember the part where touring is inconvenient. Wow.
 

Yamaha Rider

Gold Member
I'm not a drummer but I'm writing about one and would appreciate help with this question:

If you packed all your kit & accessories - everything required for a gig, no hardshell cases - into a hypothetical box along with a few blankets for padding, how big would the box be (smallest possible size)? I need to know the approximate cubic feet (or LxWxH dimensions, feet or meters) so that I can work out, for example, what percentage of a given trailer the drums would occupy for a band going on tour.

I attempted to do this myself by looking at drum dimensions plus some extra for all the stands & accessories etc. and my number seems too small - 12 cubic feet which is smaller than a Corolla trunk.

Bonus Q: How much extra if the drums were in hard shell cases?
The original C130 Hercules spec was that it should be able to accommodate a 22" kit including rug and one of them big comfy thrones.
It did, just - but they had to uprate the engines before it would take off.
 
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