I love drumming, but hate transporting my whole set around, so I designed a drum kit using a suitcase as the bass drum. The whole set fits inside the suitcase! My suitcase drum set sounds surprisingly good. Audiences love it.
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I built my first suitcase set 6 years ago. It was a big hit, and I ended up playing 500+ gigs on it, mostly around the Midwest. Since that first set, I have constantly been figuring out ways to improve it. For example, I've learned how to fix the problems that plague the use of a suitcase as a bass drum. And I'm going to share that knowledge here.

Gig after gig, people asked me how to make their own. This instructable is a culmination of years of development. If you build one, I would love to see a picture or video of your own suitcase, and am glad to answer any questions you have along the way.

This video -- made almost four years ago by Poodus --- jokingly explains my case for the suitcase drum set.

Notice the Cadillac logo on the front. The first one I built was a BMW -- so named after I found a BMW hubcap on the sidewalk while biking the suitcase home from a gig. The logo pulled off the hubcap and had enough stickiness left to hold it on the front of the suitcase.

That started a crazy trend of fans attaching things to the suitcase. People would show up to the gig with stickers, car logos, name tags, women's undergarments, service bells, and many other things. I wish I had a picture of that kit, after a couple years it was chock full of character.

To my surprise, I broke through the suitcase at a gig. I turned it around and beat on the other side for a few more years before it broke, too. The durability of the old Samsonite cases is something to behold. I played 3-4 long gigs every week for almost four years before the suitcase gave up, and I am a hard hitter. The suitcase in the video is the one I built after the BMW went to the junk yard, the pale yellow made me think of an old Cadillac. I told a fan and he brought in a logo, so it became the Caddy. I can't remember who gave it to me, but I thank them. ENOUGH REMINISCING! ON WITH THE INSTRUCTABLE.

Step 1: Parts, tools, and how to find them.

Bare-bones suitcase drum set parts
  1. Old plastic suitcase, preferably a Samsonite Heritage or Silhouette model. How to find the perfect suitcase is illustrated in the next step.
  2. Hi-hats and lightweight hi-hat stand. (all stands should be lightweight so they can fit in the suitcase)
  3. Snare drum and snare stand
  4. Bass drum pedal, preferably with a pedal board.
  5. Bass drum beater with removable beater (has a locknut holding beater on shaft)
  6. Super Pinky high bounce rubber ball, available online for $2. this serves as the new beater.
  7. Small piece of rubber, 2"x4" is plenty
  8. A 1/4" aluminum plate, 3-4"x4"
  9. 6-8 Small machine screws, washers and lock nut
  10. 3 Medium size machine screws, washers, and lock nuts
  11. Gorilla Glue
Parts list for accessories
  1. Splash cymbal
  2. Ride Cymbal
  3. Floor tom leg mounts
  4. 3/8" rod cymbal holders
  5. cowbell
  6. Anything you else you would want to attach to suitcase. I used to have a BMW logo on the front .
Acquisition of parts
-Selecting the suitcase is perhaps the most crucial step in building a suitcase drumset. I'm working on a video for this, but for now: Thrift stores are the best place to find these old Samsonite plastic suitcases. I have never paid more than $5 for one.

-Suitcase that work the best are full size Samsonite Heritage and Silhouette models.

-The Super Pinky ball has proved to be hard to find at sporting good stores, but is available on Amazon stores for about $2. Click here to buy a Super Pinky.

-Cymbals, snare drum, stands, throne, and bass pedal can be found in many places. Lightweight hardware is undesirable by most drummers and it should be easy to find cheap and used items. Ebay is a good place for cheap cymbals, and a local music store should have some used drums and stands. If you had a friend like me; a drummer, they would most likely have some parts laying around you could easily schmooze. Junk works too, consider using saw-blades or tin pans for cymbals. They don't sound like quality cymbals, but add serious character.

-Floor tom leg mounts for cymbal attachment can be found new, but most drum/music stores have a stash of used drum parts. Usually they are in a dusty corner in a backroom, so make sure to ask. I like to use rusty used mounts so they match the 'decor' of the suitcase.

- Metal plate can be found at any hardware store or metal shop, a scrap that might be considered useless could fit the bill for the suitcase needs perfectly.

-Drill bits
-Craftsman Handi-Cut or razor blade
-Crescent wrench

About This Instructable


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Bio: Drummer who builds hot rods and teaches music for a living.
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