How to Clean Pitted Chrome on Vintage Drums

Written by stephanie ellis
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How to Clean Pitted Chrome on Vintage Drums
No matter how careful you are, chrome surfaces on a drum will eventually become pitted. (little yellow drum image by Melking from

Pitting in chrome surfaces is almost inevitable. The chrome will develop pits when the thin protective surface is nicked or damaged. Those nicks and chips are difficult to prevent when you are dealing with a chrome surface on a drum set. Drums are meant to be used, and the more you use them, the more likely they are to suffer at least some slight damage. Pitted chrome surfaces on vintage drums can be sanded down and recoated. But that will destroy the remainder of the vintage chrome surface. A better solution is to shine and clean the chrome and minimise future damage.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Gloves
  • Medium-sized bucket
  • Soft rags or cloths
  • Chrome cleaner

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  1. 1

    Remove drum heads and other loose items such as straps or clamps from the drum. Use the sponge to thoroughly clean the chrome with warm, soapy water. Rinse with warm water and dry with one of the soft rags.

  2. 2

    Put on your gloves. Apply a liberal amount of the chrome cleaner to a clean rag. Slowly and firmly rub it into the chrome, using a circular motion. Pay special attention to the areas with pitting. While the cleaner can't repair the damage that has already occurred, it can slow down the rate of future pitting.

  3. 3

    Rub the chrome carefully with a dry, clean cloth. This will remove the excess chrome cleaner and make the chrome shine. Once pitting has begun on a chrome surface, it's important to repeat the entire cleaning process every few months to help prevent further damage.

Tips and warnings

  • Most chrome on drums has a thin protective coat sprayed on it during the manufacturing process. Vintage drums have often lost most or all of this protective coating. You can get the chrome recoated, but that would have to be done by a drum repair professional.
  • The best way to slow the pace of pitting in the chrome surfaces of the drum in the future is to prevent the chrome from getting chipped. Vintage drums with chrome surfaces should be transported in protective cases and handled with care during the set-up and takedown procedures.

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