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Instrument FAQ

Here are some "frequently asked questions" and answers about instruments. If anything isn't here, ask, and we'll add the reply.

Although the system is designed to be easy to use, a help page gives some further advice.

Can I browse a full list of your instruments?
Our View Instruments page has pictures and pricing details of all our instruments. Remember to check our Rules Page for details of any discounts you may be entitled to claim.

Can I hire a Side Drum?
Yes. A Side Drum is another name for a Snare Drum.

Can I book a singular tubular bell?
Yes. We have a set of bass bells which are now listed individually. These have an excellent sound, perfectly suited to "solo bell" parts.

Which cymbals should I hire?
For orchestral use there are two main types of cymbal: clash cymbals, which come in a pair and sounded by striking them together, and suspended cymbals which are mounted on a stand and struck with beaters. Clash cymbals are older, in orchestral terms, (indeed, suspended cymbals were originally made by suspending a clash cymbal from a hook) and so are often denoted in scores simply as 'cymbals' whilst suspended cymbals are usually given their full name or are denoted by the word 'cymbal' (in the singular).
Other types of cymbal available from CUMS include crash cymbals which are large suspended cymbals usually used as part of a drum kit and many special effect cymbals such as splash, sizzle and antique. If required, these cymbals are usually denoted by their full names in scores.

Can I hire a Tom Tom?
Yes. You can either hire it as part of the drum kit or hire our set of Concert Toms.

Can I move the Celesta?
Please be warned - this is the size and weight of an upright piano, and it requires 4 men to lift it. Please make sure you have adequate transport!

Can I move the instruments in my car?
Yes, if they will fit. In many cases, they will not fit in even a larger car, or estate.
In particular, Timpani are large and unwieldy. Most cars will only be able to take one or two small (i.e. 22.5" and 25") Timpani. In most cases, hiring a small van will be the easiest way of transporting Timpani over long distances. You might also try Panther Taxis (01223 715715), who will allow you to book a 8 seater VW. This can take a 25" and a 28" timp loaded through the side doors. If booked in advance, they can take the seats out and load through the back door - it may be possible to load larger timps that way, but they need advance notice and more money. If space is a problem, then the two tap-tune Timpani are significantly smaller than the pedal-tuned ones and both can be sucessfully fitted into cars as small as a Nissan Micra.
Many of our other instruments can be disassembled to reduce their transportation size. Please contact the Instrument Management Team for further information.

I have lost the email with the invoice - what should I do?

You can see all bookings made by a specific email address and can then resend the invoices. If you cannot remember the email address you used to book, you can also search by date and instrument.

We have a booking collision - what should we do?
This usually happens during May Week. Often, different societies may wish to hire the same instrument within the same 24 hour period. Provided that you can arrange this with each other, and let the instrument manager know what is going on, this is fine. For example, society X might have a concert on Saturday night, and Society Y may agree to collect the instruments from X's performance venue in order that Y may rehearse with them on Sunday morning.

I only need instrument X for a small part - can I have a discount?
Sorry, no. This isn't sensible, nor economically viable. It also would lead to chaos: please consider "We only have to strike the Tam-Tam once..."

I need the instrument from 9:00am to 5:00pm on one day. Can I just pay for a single day's hire?
Unfortunately, the hire period is defined from noon-noon. This is the best arrangement we can make, to suit the largest possible group of people. However, it means that if you want to guarantee the instrument will be available to you by 9:00, you need to book it out for the previous day. However, with our cost-multiplier discounts, it will only cost 25% more than one day's hire. Sometimes it is also possible to make alternative arrangements. However, you will need to contact the instrument manager well in advance in order to explore the options.

Why are these instruments so expensive to hire?
We do realise that percussion instruments are costly for Orchestras to hire, and we do everything we can to mitigate this, by giving discounts to student societies and charities. Furthermore, we have not raised our prices since 1999 (i.e. they have gone down in real terms), and hire from CUMS is less expensive than from anywhere else we know of, especially for multiple-day hirings. Nevertheless, the instruments are unfortunately very expensive to purchase, and the cost of care and feeding (i.e. spares and repairs) is enormous. As an engineer, I initially thought to myself: "Tubular Bells? They look easy - I could make some in a day with some steel pipe, a measuring tape, and some aluminium bar. So why are they so valuable?" But actually, they are far more precise pieces of musical engineering than they appear (and far, far more expensive!). It is the same with all the other instruments. Also, these are owned (and financed) by CUMS, not by the Faculty of Music as some people think.

Who is entitled to obtain the 50% discount?
As CUMS frequently makes a loss on bookings where the 50% discount is claimed (i.e. the cost of repairing the instruments after their return is greater than the cost of the booking), CUMS is effectively subsidising these groups and their performances. CUMS is happy to do this as long as the society is acting for the good of the University and City and conforms to basic standards of finacial and administrative integrity. The only practical way of ensuring this is to require that every group claiming the discount is registered either with the Junior Proctor or the Charities Commission and therefore only registered University societies or charities are entitled to the discount and all groups are encouraged to register with one or other of these organisations.

I would prefer to book by speaking to a 'real person'.
If you have a problem using TIMPANI, or a question that is not addressed on the site, please do contact the instrument manager, who will do his best to assist. However, we won't process bookings other than via TIMPANI, because all a 'real person' can do is to use the TIMPANI system on your behalf. This process of re-typing information adds delays, probable errors due to misunderstandings, and takes far longer. If you use the online system yourself, you get 24-hour service, instant confirmation, and error checking. However, if there is any way that we can improve the site to make it clearer and easier to use, please let us know how.

Why do I have to join CUMS in order to hire instruments?
For insurance reasons, CUMS is only allowed to hire instruments to its members which is why it is necessary to join the society before making your first booking. Joining CUMS does also offer other rights, in particular a right to have a say in how the instrument hire service is managed, the right to borrow music from our hire library and discounted entry to many concerts.

In order to pay, I need a paper copy of the invoice, or I need to add some extra payment details.
If necessary, please just print it out! If you need to append information or modify the invoice to get it paid by your end, please do.

In what format are your dates?
Dates are given by the system in the unambigous format of Year-Month-Day (i.e. 2004-02-03 means 3rd February 2004).

I have a question which is not addressed here.
Please tell us and we'll add it. If there is any way we can improve TIMPANI, we'd love to know.