As a drummer, it is important to know how to set up your drum kit the correct way. This ensures that you are able to play and sound your best. In this post, we will go over how to set up a drum kit the correct way. And when all is said and done. Your sound is the only important factor. The quality of your sound is only as good as the setup of your drum kit.
A proper setup will not only help you sound your best. It will also make playing drums more comfortable and enjoyable.
By the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of how to set up your drum kit. And make sure your drum kit is always sounding its best.
Step 1: How To Set Up a Drum Kit – Choosing The Right Location
Setting up a drum kit begins with location, location, location. When choosing a location for your drum kit, it is important to consider a few things:
- The acoustics of the room
- The amount of space that you have available
- How far are you from other properties
- How far are you away from other members of your family
- What is positioned between you and the rest of the family (walls, curtains floors, and so on)
The acoustics of the room will affect how your drums sound. If you practice in a small room with hard surfaces, your drums will likely sound very loud. On the other hand, if you are practicing in a large room with soft surfaces. Surfaces such as curtains, carpet, and cushions. Your drums will likely sound deeper and more muted.
As for the amount of space that you have, you will need enough space to comfortably play your drums. Without hitting anything else in the room with your elbows or another part of your body.
If you have neighbors, is important to let them know what you are doing and ask them to inform you if the noise is too much. You can then take appropriate action to eliminate the sound issues.
You also need to consider other members of your home. You may need to buy yourself a practice kit or a practice pad to get around noise pollution. Within your own immediate environment as well as your wider environment. Having a practice pad and a full practice kit should be one of the main items o your shopping list. Either for future consideration or for immediate use.
Once you have considered these things, you can choose a location for your drum kit. And go ahead and set your drums up with these factors in mind.
Step 2: Setting Up Your Drum Kit
Now that you have chosen a location for your drum kit, it is time to set it up. There are a few things that you need to do to set up your drum kit the right way. First, consider setting the drum kit up on a carpeted floor covering. If you are setting your drums up in a carpeted room. Consider adding a piece of square carpet on top of the current carpet and set your drums up on the square. So you have two layers of dampening. Or rather a vibration reduction. But take note not to make this too thick or cymbal stands and snare drum will begin to wobble as you play.
Setting Up Your Drum Throne
Begin your setup by placing your drum throne on the piece of carpet in a suitable position. Then sit on the throne.
Everything you do on the drums will come from this initial location and seating posture. So you need to work on your posture over the long term. I will add here that you should consider learning the Alexander Technique. And buying a few books on the subject to get the most from your posture. As I said, this is one of the most important factors you will learn as a drummer. And so you need to consider this tip carefully before rejecting it.
Set up the stool height so your legs are parallel with the ground. As you sit on the stool with your heels lifted around 2-3 inches from the ground (on your toes, so to speak).
Setting Up Your Snare Drum
You can now start to set up the drums around you. Start with the snare drum. With your legs slightly open, position the snare drum in front of you. Between your legs. The snare drum should be at a height that allows you to play it without having to raise or lower your arms too much.
Usually, when you’re sitting on your throne, bend your elbows to form a 90-degree angle with your upper arms. You then hold the sticks so the tip of the stick is positioned at the center of the snare drum. Angle and position the snare drum inward so you don’t hit your knuckles on the rim of the drum as you play the snare. Set the distance so your hands are not over the top of the snare drum, or rims.
Bass Drum & Foot Positions
Next, lift your heels on both feet (2-3inches at the back of your foot). Place the bass drum in front of the snare drum in such a way that when you sit on your stool. The bass drum pedal is easily reachable. The bass drum should be moved towards you until you can reach the pedal easily. Your lower leg should be at a slight angle forward to allow your whole leg to lift. Whilst keeping your toes on the pedal and pressing back down to play the bass drum pedal.
Setting Up your Hi-hat & Pedal
Next, position the hi-hat pedal with the two cymbals attached in the same way. So you can reach the pedal you’re your left foot, heel up. And with a slight angle forward with your lower leg. Place the cymbals at a height so you can play them without lifting your arms too much. Make sure you are comfortable with how the hi-hats are positioned. As well as the other drums.
Check distances and angles to make sure you are happy and comfortable. With the distances of the drums and pedals. And then the position of the hi-hat cymbals. Then consider the snare drum height and angle. Make sure the snare drum is tilted towards you and you can play it without too much movement.
Floor Tom-Tom Position
Next, position the floor tom. The floor tom should be placed to the right of your seated position. So that with a slight twist of the torso you are facing it (almost facing it). Make sure it is within easy reach. And again, angles in towards you. Again, set the height so it is easily reached.
Mounted Tom-Tom Positions
Now set up the rack toms, in front of you. These are the two tom-toms that are attached to your bass drum. Again, position them in such a way that they are angled in towards you and at a height that is easily reached.
Ride Cymbal Position
Next, place the ride cymbal to the right in a position that you can easily reach it. And again, at an angle towards you.
Crash Cymbals Position
If you have two crash cymbals, then place one on the right and one on the left. But position them so that they are as near to the front as possible. Not to the right and left so much. And again, angle them in towards you. So that they are in easy reach and you can strike the edge of the cymbals with little effort.
Double Check your Drum Kit Setup
Lastly, double-check everything we have covered so far. Make sure everything is within easy reach. And at angles and distances that make striking the drum or cymbal easy and effortless. In short, make playing everything as effortless as possible.
And before you as much as possible so you don’t have to turn too much to either side.
Let’s double-check everything is set up right.
- Set up your throne to a height that makes your legs parallel to the ground. When you lift your heels off the pedal 2-3 inches.
- Make sure your pedals are within easy reach and your feet are placed comfortably on them both.
- Make sure you can press both pedals with little effort.
- Place your snare drum in between your slightly open legs. At the correct height and angle so you can play it easily and effortlessly.
- Check your toms are set up within easy reach, at the right height, and angled in towards you.
- Place your ride cymbal off to the right (as much before you as possible) within easy reach and at the right angle.
- Place your crash cymbals to the right and left, within easy reach and angles in toward you.
You should now be able to play everything with minimum effort.
Now that everything is in place, you’re ready to rock! But before you start playing, there are a few final things to keep in mind:
- First, each piece of hardware (cymbal stands, tom mounts, etc). Should have its own felt washer or rubber pad beneath it to protect both your drums and floors from damage. Unless you are using a carpet.
- Second, when tightening any screws or bolts, always alternate between opposite sides. (left/right/top/bottom). So that everything stays nice and even.
- Don’t tighten cymbal screws too tight. Let the cymbal move up and down freely without becoming stiff due to tight central cymbal screws.
- Lastly, make sure everything is double-checked and secure before you start playing. So that nothing gets knocked loose during use.
Step 3: Tuning Your Drums
Once you know how to set up your drum kit and your drum kit is set up, it is important to tune your drums. In fact, tuning your drums is an integral part of setting up a drum kit. This ensures that they sound good. But also that they are tuned in such a way as to soften the sound a little. Of course, the drums should be tuned before you set them up to avoid scratching drums as you tune them.
We are not going to cover drum tuning in this past as that technique really requires a video tutorial. For now, I recommend Dave Weckl’s Back To Basics video to learn the basic technique for tuning your drums.
Setting up your drum kit correctly is important if you want to play well and sound good while doing so. By following the steps outlined in this article, you should be able to set up your drum kit. And start playing great music in no time!
If you have any additional insights please leave a comment. To share your thoughts with other drummers who are just starting out.
And as always, thanks for listening.