In this guide, we’ll show you how to set up a drum set in a comfortable playing position. Read tips on the best way to adjust your drum kit with this simple step-by-step setup guide.
Experienced drummers know that the way you organize your drums has a direct effect on how you play and what you can do.
However, learning how to set up your drums can be as challenging as playing, especially for beginning drummers!
The day you receive your first instrument is one of the most exciting times that many musicians experience.
The drums are the most personal instrument of the musical pantheon. A keyboard player can sit on any piano and play it. Similarly, a guitarist can choose any six-string and play a chord. But a drum kit must literally be built around the person who plays it.
And if that construction is not a “perfect fit”, the result may be impaired playability, reduced comfort, and even physical injury. So let’s take a moment to assess the relationship of a drummer’s body to a drum kit, and examine a few points you may not have considered when creating your current setup. Also, you can check out our guide for the best drums for jazz music.
Table of Contents
How to Set Up a Drum Set
When setting up your battery, you’ll want to change the way you organize your batteries based on the number of parts you’re dealing with. Typically, most beginners start with a 4- or 5-piece drum setup, but many musicians add additional components to them as their skills improve.
1. Identify the 3 main parts of your drum kit
Most beginner drum kits have three main components: drums, hardware, and cymbals.
- Drums: Most drums typically include bass (or bass drum), snare, and timpani.
- Hardware: Common drum hardware includes the bass drum pedal, throne, and cymbal and hi-hat stands. If you loosen the wing nuts on a cymbal or drum mount, be sure to tighten them again. The last thing you want is a cymbal or box that moves down every time you hit it. Do not over-tighten the screws and wing nuts so that you cannot or need pliers to unscrew them again.
- Cymbals: Different types of cymbals include crash, ride, and hi-hat.
2. Set up your bass drum
Position your bass or bass drum so that it is in the center of your drums. Please note that your bass drum has adjustable legs. These are used to anchor your kick drum to the floor so it doesn’t move while you play.
For this reason, it is important to adjust the legs to be equal on both sides, as uneven legs will wobble the drum kit during playback. Check the tips of your kick drum legs to make sure they dig into the floor and prevent your drum from slipping.
You’ll need to anchor the bass drum in a central location, leaving enough room on each side to build the kit and enough space behind so you can move freely without banging your elbows against walls or guitar amps.
Note that the upper part of the leg should be parallel to the drum, with a straight line running from the hip flexor to the resonant head so that the hip energy is focused directly on the kick drum pedal.
Use the spurs on the legs of the bass drum to prevent the drum from slipping if it is on the mat, and adjust the height of the legs so that the front of the bass drum is lifted off the floor one hair to offset the lift, it will go up to the hoop the dough when you slide the pedal clamp under it and allow the kick drum to resonate freely.
3. Place your snare drum
As you organize your battery, you will need to adjust the height of your case. The height of the crate should be set a few inches above the leg and adjusted so that you can easily hit the drum with either hand without touching the edge of the drum.
Set up your drum so that the box chuck, the lever that hooks the box, is on the left side of your drum. Most drummers set their traps flat, although traditional players sometimes set their drums so that they tilt slightly down and away.
4. Adjust your bass drum pedal
When setting up your drum kit for the first time, pay special attention to the bass pedal. You can find the bass drum pedal connected to the rim of your bass drum. When depressing the pedal, the beater must hit the bass drum head in the middle of the drum and then bounce.
If stepping on the pedal is too hard or tires your legs, you will need to adjust the action or tension of the bass pedal so that it is less tight. If the pedal remains on the drum head and does not bounce, then the tension is too loose.
If the tension is too loose, you will need to adjust the tension to make it tighter so that the drum head jumps back. Most pedals have a knob or screw that can be turned to control tension, but this may be different depending on your model.
5. Set up your toms
Most drum kits have two types of toms: floor toms and mounted toms. Floor toms should be configured to be approximately the same height as the drum, while your mounted tom should be positioned at a slight angle to you.
The layout of your toms can be changed to make it easier to play. For drum rigs with more than one tom mounted, you can position your toms so that they are a few inches apart and sit at equal angles.
If you find it uncomfortable to hit the floor tom, try tilting it slightly towards you. You may find that tilting your toms will be more comfortable than laying them flat, though this may vary depending on the height of your drum throne.
There are a few different types of toms, but the most common are mounted and freestanding racks.
The separate toms will sit on a snare drum stand and be placed next to the kick drum, but higher and angled towards you to a more pronounced degree. The mounted toms will be placed on a tom stand and will rest on the kick drum.
The tom holder will now have spokes for the toms to rest on or holes for a separate tom mount to insert. Whatever you have, it is very easy to configure:
Slide the tom into the tom holder, then the holder into the holder that rests on the kick drum. Tighten everything and see if it’s comfortable. Naturally, the timpani should be taller than the snare, to begin with, but tilt them to make sure you can’t catch the tires.
All that’s in the tom holder and holder is to hold something else in place, so play around with the wingnuts and sliders to see what each does; This is the best way to learn. Finally, make sure your Tom case doesn’t touch the edge of the case, so place the drums accordingly.
Your floor tom can also be of two types; mounted or with legs. A mounted floor tom will have a tom mount that sits on a clamp that also attaches to a cymbal stand.
A legged floor tom has three legs, which are inserted into three-legged brackets at the bottom of the case. The feet of the legs should point down from here, so most of the shell is above the legs. To adjust the height, simply loosen the legs and lift the floor through them and make sure they are all level.
The floor tom should be the same height as your trap. Then, to tilt the tom off the floor, drop one leg until it is toward you or away from you, whichever you prefer. You can of course lay it flat, which for the sake of tone is usually better.
6. Place your drum throne
The drum throne is where you will sit while you play. For added gameplay, place your battery throne in a place where you can reach all of your battery components. This will allow you to play with the least effort and will help prevent injury.
This is your center of power, so make sure you feel focused and balanced at all times. A good place to start is with your thighs almost parallel to the ground, with your knees just below the top of your legs. You’ll find slight adjustments, either up or down, that will bring you to the sweet spot for your particular comfort zone while allowing you to stay well balanced as you move through the kit.
7. Set Up Your HI-HAT
When sitting on your drums, the position of your hi-hat should be just to the left of your case. Attach hi-hat cymbals to your support bar with a clutch that secures the top cymbal to the bar. This allows you to open and close the hi-hat. Make sure your hi-hat pedal is in a position where your foot can comfortably reach you.
It is important that your hi-hat cymbals feel higher than your trap. Setting your hi-hat to the same height as your trap, or lower could make it harder to hit.
The hi-hat pedal should sit comfortably under the other foot (the foot is not on the kick). Try tilting the pedal so it is slightly out and away from you.
Position the upper hi-hat so that the convex part of the hi-hat (called the bell) points toward the hi-hat wing nut, and then replace the felt and nut in that order. The hi-hat should be placed between the two felts and held in place with the two nuts.
Now slide the hi-hat clutch over the radius (the long thin stick that comes out of the top of the hi-hat stand), and before adjusting the clutch make sure the height is right for you.
Adjust the height of the hi-hat to be approximately 8 inches taller than the snare. This is a good starting position to make sure you have enough room to maneuver. Once you have a good height, retighten the wing nut on the bracket.
Now press your foot a little on the pedal to release the radio. Tighten the clutch wing nut and release the foot. This is how to open hi-hat is configured. Adjust so that the hi-hat remains open about 1-2 centimeters or the tip of a finger.
8. Arrange Your Crash and Ride Cymbals
Generally, most drummers use one or two crash cymbals and one ride cymbal. Your ride cymbal should be installed on your right, usually just above the ground.
If you are using a crash cymbal, set it to the left of your kit somewhere between your box and your mounted tom.
If you are using a second shock cymbal, you must place it between your mounted tom and your floor tom. Make sure both crash cymbals sit a few inches above the mounted toms, but not too high. You will want to keep them within your reach.
Remember that each brand of the drum is different; some use different tom mounting systems, while others have different drum depths.
While some manufacturers make batteries and hardware that are more ergonomic and flexible than others, it should be possible to configure your battery in such a way that it is comfortable for you to touch.
Finding your optimal settings will inevitably require some degree of trial and error, but I hope this guide gives you a valuable advantage.
I hope that the suggestions presented in this article lead you to think about the critical relationship that exists between your body and your instrument, and the work that you both do together and that ultimately turns out to be “drumming”. Knowledge of battery ergonomics should help you maintain that harmonious relationship for many years.