How To Set Up Your First Drum Kit
You’ve finally saved enough to purchase your first drum kit, and now you’re ready to set it up and start banging away. The first reaction will be to set it up as quickly as possible and start playing. But let me give you some tips on setting it up properly to make your drumming experience a smooth one.
First off, the more comfortable you are in relation to where your drums and cymbals are positioned will result in less stress on your body and a more fluid drumming experience. In this article, we will start with the throne and work our way from there. This setup will be based on a basic 5-piece kit with 3 cymbals- hi-hats, a crash, and a ride. Your kit may be bigger, and the same rules will apply.
Firstly, get your throne set up in a comfortable position. This will normally be at a height where your legs are parallel to the floor. Experiment and find the most comfortable height position that allows easy leg movement without stress or cramping.
Next, grab your kick pedal and hi-hat stand. Sit on the throne and notice the position of your feet. Place your pedals at these spots. If you are using a double-kick setup, use both the kick pedals first. The hi-hat will be relative to the secondary kick pedal. Now grab the kick drum and slide it into position into the pedal clamp. I find it easiest to do this with the spurs not deployed. Get the drum in position, make sure the pedal is centered on the drum hoop, then release the spurs and lift the drum slightly as you drop them in place. Make sure the drum is in a comfortable position to your foot pedal leg and that the hi-hat pedal is still in place to your other foot. Now we’re ready for the other drums.
Start with the snare drum and snare stand. Place the snare in the stand and move it into position between the hats and kick. Make sure the drum doesn’t touch the kick drum hoop. This will damage the hoop and possibly cause it to crack after prolonged playing. Position the snare to where your sticks fall naturally in the center of the head, as well as having easy access to the rim for rim clicks and rim shots. Adjust your pedals slightly to accommodate the snare. Usually I just move the hi-hat stand as this is much lighter than moving the big kick drum around. Now for the toms.
Tom mounts come in many different styles and clamping systems. Some use tubes, L-arms, and posts, and the positioning variables are as different. Consult your mounting system guide (if your drums came with one) to understand the system and its components. Normally the two rack toms will be mounted atop the kick drum with a double-tom bracket. Again, position these in relation to where your sticks naturally fall, and make sure the bottom rim of the drums do not touch the top of the bass drum or lean against the rim of the snare. Everything feel comfortable so far? Good. Next, the floor tom.
Attach the legs on the drum and place it where it is easy to reach, again noticing where it sits in relation to the kick drum, that they don’t touch. Set the height of the drum so it isn’t too low or high and that your sticks don’t hit the rim while you play it. OK, drums are done. Time for some cymbals!
Place your hi-hats on the stand, making sure the top hat is properly secured in the clutch. Check your setup guide if you’re not sure how to do this. Set your ride cymbal stand in a comfortable position, usually near the floor tom and close to the outside tom. Position, height, and angle will be your preference, so be sure it is easy to reach and play without shoulder or wrist stress because you will use this cymbal a LOT! Placing crashes is the same. Just be sure they are comfortable to reach with minimal effort and that they don’t touch any other part of your kit.
OK, it’s all up and ready to go. Check once more for “kit-wide” ease of reach and minimal body movement. You want it to be as ergonomic as possible. This will enhance your playing, comfort level, and will allow you to play for longer periods of time. As you add drums or cymbals to your kit, use these same principles as a guide when placing them around your kit. Happy drumming!