Setting up a drum set.

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Just like setting up the drivers seat of your car; a drummer should properly set up their kit to avoid any unnecessary accidents. Each drummer has a specific way they prefer their set to be arranged.  From the height of the seat to the arrangement of toms and cymbals the set-up should allow for maximum efficiency, technique of playing and comfort.

From my experience over the last twenty five years I’ve encountered two types of drummers: those that play their sets and those that fight their sets.

If you’re a fighter these are the things that could be happening; you’re dropping sticks, hitting rims instead of toms or snare, hitting cymbals when trying to do a roll, and missing your cymbals due to placement or height.

Nobody wants to fight a drum set and look like a noob while on stage with their band.

Here are some basic tips to help you set up your kit the right way.

Get your butt in the right seat.

Your throne needs to be set up to allow for balance and comfort at all times. Thighs should be nearly parallel to the ground, with your knees just below the tops of your legs. Depending on comfort and your height you can adjust the level up and down until you find the sweet spot. There are many different styles and thickness of seats to choose from like; motorcycle seats, round seats and seats with the back supports. Find what’s most comfortable for your idea playing posture.

Place the bass drum first.

Some drummers prefer their bass drum in the center of their kit especially if they use a single bass pedal. I prefer mine slightly angled to the right. I use a double bass pedal and this arrangement allows for more foot room for the other pedal and hi-hat. Leave yourself plenty of room to move around freely without knocking into stuff behind you. The upper leg should be parallel with the drum running straight from your hip all the way through to the head so that energy from your hip is focused straight down into your bass drum pedal. If you’re not in a carpeted room, you should get a carpet for your kit to set up on. The bass drum spurs will mess up any linoleum, wood or tile flooring and the whole kit will slide around without one.  Utilize the spurs on the front legs to stabilize the bass drum. Adjust the height of the legs so that the front of the bass drum is raised up off the floor at least a finger’s height from the ground to allow for the lift of the batter hoop when you slide your pedal clamp under it.

Setting up the snare.

The snare drum is the most played drum of the whole kit. It should be angled so when you strike it the stick hits almost horizontally. The variables for placement of the snare are determined by comfort, technique and your personal height. If you set it too high you could be hitting the rims too often and too low could cause your hits to leave bruises on your legs or dents in your snare head. Start with a snare height right around the belly button then adjust for your comfort and consistency from there.

The Toms.

Rack Toms 1 and 2 should be adjusted also to where the sticks are hitting almost horizontally. If the tips of your sticks are leaving dents in the heads you’ll need to position them at more of an angle to allow for the body of the stick to strike the heads. Set the toms so you can hit them at the correct angle and height without raising or lowering your arm, shoulder, or wrist in an unnatural way. They should be separated by only one or two inches to allow for ease of rolls and transitions.

Floor Tom.

The floor tom height is a variable for comfort as well. Most drummers prefer to match the height of the snare drum. I prefer to drop it about an inch or two which makes it about six or seven inches lower than the second rack tom. This makes for more fluid rolls, triplets and quads.


The hi-hat should sit about an inch or two from your first rack tom nested right in front the snare. The height should be two to three inches lower than that first rack tom. Imagine making a half-circle out of the set up for a nice flow.


For me cymbals are the first thing to come off and the last thing to put on. Cymbal placement is usually just like the toms: left to right, high to low. How many cymbals you have and what you’re most comfortable with are the main dynamics of their set-up. Take into account the placement of mics when you set your height. The higher up the cymbal, the less cymbal bleed you’ll get in your tom mikes. However, you’ll probably need to adjust for different heights and angles until again you find the sweet spot that allows for freedom of movement and balance on your throne.  Remember you want your stick to strike almost horizontally as to not destroy sticks and crack the cymbals.
These are just some basic tips and techniques I’ve learned over the years. Like I mentioned before every drummer has their idea set up just like every driver has their preferred drivers seat.
 I hope this helps you not fight your set and instead play it like it’s meant to be played.
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