Drum risers are an integral part of a stage system because it allows a hard-to-miss instrument (the drums) to accentuate a normally flat plane. Drum kits are bulky and obstructive. By installing its own riser, the drums and the drummer get to have a good show. The crowd gets to see the most interesting and motion filled instrument, and the band get to see their musical time keeper clearly on stage. But sometimes a poorly designed and constructed riser causes more trouble than good for the band. That is the last thing you want in the middle of a live show. Read on and be sure to follow these key pointers.
Buying vs. making your own
Buying ready-made drum risers gives you quality, tested and proven design and construction. These commercial risers are made from better materials and consider logistical concerns (portability and easy assembly) carefully. This logistical concern can become an issue the longer the band is on the road. Custom made risers also employ breakthrough technology as far as platform construction is concerned making it lighter, more stable, and with higher weight capacity. The main issue of buying ready-made risers is its cost. A 36 square foot riser can fetch a $600 - $1000 price tag. And this is often just a foot high. Making your own riser allows you to customize to your heart's content, and do that with minimal expense. But making your own riser forces you to compromise quality sometimes and this can backfire later on.
Size matters - a lot!
What could be the difference between a 4 sq. m. and a 96 sq. m. drum riser? A whole lot! The main consideration for size is the size of the kit. A 4-piece kit can consume a little space considering the kits footprint. A 10-piece kit is a different story. Naturally more shells would consequently mean more cymbals, more hardware, and bigger space requirements. If the riser is too small you would not be able to give the drummer the space that he needs to play comfortably. If it is too big, it can be a logistical concern later on, or simply be a scale problem in the entire set up of the main stage. Drum risers cover space for the kit, the drummer, and monitor speakers. So be sure to know your needs first before shopping around or planning to construct it from scratch.
Drum risers do not only carry the weight of the drum set and the drummer. It also needs to handle the stress from prolonged vigorous movement. Stability becomes very important when the drummer is rocking hard. Drums are acoustic instruments and this makes it prone to heavy playing. Cymbal stands and shells suspended on stands can sway and move too much, even get toppled down when the riser is not structurally optimized. This can ruin the show, damage equipment, and can even pose a risk to the drummer.
If your riser needs differ a lot (multiple drum kit set up), you may want to consider flexible risers. There are drum risers that can have different configurations and can be installed through modular parts. Modular risers are a practical choice because you can never go wrong when it comes to size.