Here are a few guidelines that might make sharing a drum kit a more pleasant experience for all concerned:
1. Don't leave home without it.
It's always a good idea to bring the essentials to any gig that has a shared drum kit. These normally include your own cymbals, snare drum, bass drum pedal, and your sticks. These are the most common items the owner of the drum set will ask to be swapped out, and using your own snare drum and cymbals will help you feel more at home on a different kit.
2. Be polite.
A positive attitude will get you far. Remember, you're borrowing someone else's instrument. Treat it with respect, even if the kit is not up to your standards. It's also wise to get to know the owner on a personal level, away from the drum kit. Finally, be sure to thank him or her at the end of your show for the use of the kit.
3. Don't move anything without asking.
Most of the time, it's not a big problem to change a few items, but always get permission first. Always put things back the way you found it. And never, ever change memory locks.
4. Ask before tuning.
It's a good idea to refrain from retuning drums without first checking with the owner. Some drummers won't care, but remember, drum sounds are as personal as playing styles. What sounds bad to you might sound great to the owner of the kit. This is yet another reason to use your own snare drum, so you can have the basis of your sound when you play on another kit.
5. Take it for a test drive.
Try to set aside some time before sound check to play on the kit and get accustomed to the positions of the drums and cymbals. They may not be ideal, but you can usually adjust your playing with relative ease. I've played shows on every type and condition of drum kit from a four piece to a ten piece.
6. Don't play too hard.
If you naturally play hard, try to back off a little. You don't want to trash the owner's heads right before his or her show. Remember, he or she has to play on the very same kit, in whatever condition you have left it. Put yourself in his or her shoes. Would you want someone to come up and trash your heads right before your show?
This can save a lot of haggling after the gig if something is mysteriously broken. Always bring any flaws in the equipment to the owner's attention before the show. This way, you won't get blamed for something you didn't do. If you do break something, be up-front and offer to pay for the damage. If you hide it and leave without reconciling, it could damage your reputation. Keep in mind, word does get around.
8. Set everything back before leaving.
The placement doesn't have to be exact, but making the effort shows consideration for the other drummer. Before you change anything, make notes on the original heights and angles of drums and cymbals. If you forget to do that and can't remember where things go, it's best to tell the owner that you would have put everything back where it was, but you simply didn't want to reposition things incorrectly. As long as you're polite and respectful, you should never have a problem sharing a drum kit for a show.