Gong Racks

Gong Rack Set Up

I’ve had a lot of people ask about my Gong racks, how I set them up, how they are put together, etc., so this will attempt to answer a lot of those questions with both photos and a description. My racks are made out of Gibraltar 1.5” drum racking. I must own at least 7 individual drum rack sets that I have used to construct the Gong and accessory racks from. When I play a full concert I have 5 separate racks: the main Gongs, the tuned Gongplay, the Kulintang (shown below with attached cymbals & Gongs), the Sound Plates, and the table Gongs. 

The nice thing about the Gibraltar stuff is that it’s very adaptable and flexible. As my Gong collection has grown, I’ve been able to expand the racks to accommodate more Gongs. I am also able to adjust the main rack for different playing situations. The top photo shows the rack resized to fit 5 main Gongs for an outdoor performance. All I had to do was leave the sides off and readjust a few hooks to fit this particular combination of Gongs. The next day I set up the full rack with very little fuss. 

Above is the full rack with side extensions. You can see the main rack in the middle. Since this photo, I’ve updated the rack by extending the left side out, so the 4 left Gongs are now on one rack section like the main part. The Gibraltar stuff is really stable and dependable. I’ve never had anything fall or move while playing. It’s also very portable, as the entire rack above fits into one case. [This has even changed since the photo was taken. The side on the right of the photo has been extended out with 2 more Gongs, whlie the left side has been redesigned with the 4 Gongs in one section. Thus the rack is now 3 sections of 4/5/4 Gongs.]

One thing I do to make set up easier is to mark each tube, both with a color code and with a label for each individual Gong. In the photo below you can see that each connecting tube has a green tape label. So each upright and the corresponding crossbar ends are color coded to one of four colors: yellow, red, green, blue. Thus all the blues connect to the blue leg, etc.. Even as much as I’ve set this up, it makes it that much easier to set up, especially when I’m pressed for time.

I also have a Dymo labeler that I use to label what Gong goes on each crossbar as shown below. Again, it just makes it easier to set up as all the rack tubes look so much alike. Sometimes the day is so busy and I have too much on my mind to remember how to set it up! 

Below is the Gongplay rack showing the labels. I also number each small Gong with a Sharpie so I can tell them apart visually. You can also see the color coding for this rack. Since it only has 2 legs, the 4 crossbars each have their own color.

You may notice the black cord behind the Gongs above, this is my very low tech solution to keep the Gongs from swinging while playing. The problem with small Gongs like these is that they are so light, one hit, and they swing back & forth. This can be a pain when trying to play a fast melodic pattern. I tried a few rather involved ideas using a sort of damper bar behind the Gongs that just was too complicated. Then I tried using the black cord, sort of woven through the hooks and pulled tight. This works perfectly, keeping the Gongs in one place (and it cost a only few dollars).

Also the clips & clothespins are used to dampen the small Gongs to get a more focused pitch from them, without all the ring & overtones. Another low tech solution.

~ MB

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