[How best to set up your drum kit by Waywood Music]

Kit Set-Up & Posture for Drummers


The following basic rules will help you to conserve energy and allow you to concentrate on your playing. They may seem like common sense, but next time you are at a gig take a closer look and see how many masochistic drummers there are!

Drum Kit Set-Up

[Playing position & drum kit set-up]Ensure that all your drums and cymbals are within easy reach when you are sat at the kit. You should NOT have to stretch to reach any item on the kit, and your arms should not need to extend much beyond 90° at the elbow to reach the centre of your drums or bow of the cymbal with the tip of your stick.

Set up so that you DO NOT have to twist further than necessary to reach any item.

Ensure that the angle of the drum's playing surface is neither too horizontal ('flat') or too vertical ('angled'). The sticks should bounce off the head following a simple 'drop' and 'lift' of the wrist.

Set up your cymbals so that they are within easy reach of the drums. Too close and you'll be catching them with your sticks, and too far away and you'll miss them as often as you hit them!

When sitting on your drum stool your legs should be at (or around) 90° at the knee when your feet are flat on the pedals.

Ensure that you learn to play with a good sitting posture (straight back) and are relaxed. It will save you a lot of problems later!

If you add items of percussion to your kit set-up, TAKE TIME to find their best positions. If you follow rules 1 to 6 above for these and you won't go far wrong.

Make sure that ALL stands are locked and secure.

ALWAYS carry a rubber mat OR a foam-backed carpet/mat with you to all gigs to put your kit on. This helps you to avoid 'skating' on shiny floors. If you need a 'quick fix' for such occasions, try securing your drum stool to your bass drum with a piece of rope. At least if you then travel, you travel together!

'Memory lock' all of your settings either with the real thing, or with pieces of insulation/gaffa tape. Alternatively you can mark all settings on your stands with a waterproof marker pen. Be sure to mark both height and angle settings.

Cymbals should MOVE FREE on their stands. Use protective sleeves between the cymbals and the stand, and support above and below with cymbal felts (see thumbnail below). Try using a thick felt under the cymbal and then, either a thin top felt for crash/splash cymbals, or a thicker top felt for ride cymbals/chinas. Do NOT over tighten cymbal felts, ESPECIALLY for the TOP HI-HAT.


[Photograph of cymbal stand assembly showing protective features]

Protective Feature of Cymbal Stand Assembly
(click on image to enlarge)


Bass Pedals

[DW9000 single bass drum pedal]Foot techniques are a matter of personal preference. 'Heel down' and 'heel up' have their own fans. Use the one which suits your style. Power, speed and agility can be achieved using both techniques with practice.

If your pedal has beater adjustment, don't set the beater too near the drum head when the pedal is in the resting position. For best feel and response, set your bass pedal beater so that it strikes your bass drum head as it reaches the vertical position.

Also, remember to set the spring tension to the appropriate level for your style of playing. If it is too loose or too tight you will experience problems with faster patterns.

As for the other equipment, experiment and find out what suits you best.


REMEMBER that to improve your playing take a lot of TIME and EFFORT. But take heart, even the top professionals often take many years to perfect their best breaks.


'The difference between an amateur and a professional is this:
Amateurs practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they can't get it wrong.'


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