Setting up a Drum Kit

Acoustic drum kits

It is relatively straightforward to set up a regular acoustic drum kit. Make sure the bass drum legs are extended to create a steady base for your rack toms and to ensure the bass drum doesn’t slide forwards when you strike it.

Tuning a drum kit is a slightly more complex process where you may require someone to help you the first few times you try it. Some lessons with a professional teacher are advisable.

Electronic drum kits

Electronic drum kits are also relatively simple to set up. The detailed process of the menu options for effects or creating your own samples will vary depending on the manufacturer and exact model of your kit. More complex electronic kits have more complicated sub-menus and systems for manipulating the sounds that your pads trigger. Spending a good few hours with the manual and a cup of tea will seriously enhance your enjoyment of the features of your electronic kit.

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The step-by-step setup guide

1. Start with the feet
Sit on your drum stool. Position your feet flat on the floor, shoulder’s width apart, and an equal distance away from your body. This sitting posture should be solid and comfortable.

Now put the pedals where your feet are. If you’re setting up a right-handed/right-footed drum kit the bass drum pedal will be under your right foot and the hi hat pedal will be under your left foot. If you use a double bass drum pedal the additional pedal can be positioned after the rest of the kit has been put in place. Remember, at this point there should only be two pedals set in position – no drums, no cymbals – just you and a bass drum pedal and a hi hat stand!

Position for the drum pedals

2. Assemble the rest of your drum kit
Attach the bass drum to the bass drum pedal by carefully moving it into position behind the pedal. Set up the snare stand and position in between the two pedals. Mount the toms, set up the cymbal stands and add the cymbals.

Drum kit positioning

3. Adjust the height of the hardware
Essential – check the height of the drum stool (also known as ‘drum throne’). Sitting is what you’ll be doing most, so double-check you’re going to be sitting comfortably!

When you sit on the stool your knees should be bent at an (almost) 90 degree angle. Hips should be slightly higher then knees. Don’t have the stool set too low. If your knees are higher than your hips it can lead to unnecessary strain on the hips and upper legs.

Adjust the snare stand to the correct height. Some drummers tilt their snare drums whilst other drummers prefer the surface of the snare drum to be parallel to the floor- this is something to experiment with. In terms of snare height, keep the rim of the drum about the width of your fist higher than your thighs. This means when you hit rim shots on the snare you will not hit your legs too! If the snare drum is too high it can cause your elbows to be raised uncomfortably, leading to tension, which in turn leads to poor drumming technique.

4. Set the position of the toms and cymbals
The floor tom should be about the same height as the snare – so adjust the floor tom legs to make the surface of the floor tom the same height as the snare skin. You might want to angle the floor tom so it slopes towards you slightly.

The rack toms are adjusted either by the tom mounts that attach to the bass drum or they have their own clamps which are fixed to cymbal stands or a drum rack. Whichever type of tom mounting system you use, you should be able to find a suitable angle and position for the toms. These should be in easy reach without having to stretch or lean forwards.

Cymbals should be above the kit so that to play them you move your arms upwards, not forwards. Just like the idea you applied to the position of the toms, you shouldn’t need to lean or lose your balance on the drum stool when you play the cymbals.

Further advice

If you need some further advice, please send us an email and we’ll be happy to help. Contact Us.

About Elephant Drums

Elephant Drums provides drum lessons and drumming courses at professional drum studios in London. We can also visit students in their own homes if he/she has a drum kit at home. We also offer a set-up service for people that have just bought a drum kit and need help assembling it.

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