[The best way to set up your percussion by Waywood Music]

Percussion Set-Up & Posture


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 look around you at gigs and see how many masochistic percussionists there are!

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Drums & Cymbals
Bass Pedals


Drums & Cymbals

[Percussion set up]Ensure that all your drums and cymbals are within easy reach when you are sat down on your stool. Note that if you play standing-up you will have greater freedom to move around. However, if you stand mount drums such as congas and djembes you will lose some of the more subtle effects obtainable by tilting drums such as congas or djembes when they are played resting on the floor. You should NOT have to stretch to reach any item, 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 or hand.

Set up your equipment so that you DO NOT have to twist further than necessary to reach any item. This is less of a problem if you play standing-up because you are able to move around between different parts of the kit more freely.

Ensure that all drums are set-up with their playing surface in a position which is EASY to hit, either with your hands or with sticks. Angle the drum appropriately depending on technique. If using sticks, they should bounce off the head following a simple 'drop' and 'lift' of the wrist.

[Stuart Wood - Webmaster & owner Waywood Music]Set up your cymbals so that they are within easy reach. Be careful not to set them too close or you'll be catching them with your sticks or hands. Too far away and you'll miss them as often as you hit them!

If you sit on a drum stool and play pedals, your legs should be at or around 90° when your feet are flat on the pedals.

Ensure that you learn to play with a good sitting posture (straight back) and are relaxed. This will protect your health in the longer term.

Work with your percussion, don't fight against it. Allow your sticks or hands/fingers to bounce by playing 'off' the drum head. Think of it like picking the beats off the drum using your wrists rather than playing into the skin with tight wrists and no bounce. Your drums will sound a lot better and your skins will last longer.

Make sure that all stands are locked and secure

ALWAYS carry either 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

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

All cymbals should move freely 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 chinas. Do NOT over tighten cymbal felts.


[Photograph of cymbal stand assembly showing protective features]

Protective Feature of Cymbal Stand Assembly


Play 'off' the cymbal or with a slightly glancing blow using a relaxed wrist. NEVER play into a cymbal with a rigid stick or hand; it will not sound good and the results could be terminal for the cymbal (or your hand!). If YOU DO CRACK A CYMBAL, CAREFULLY drill a small hole at the end of the crack nearest the bell. Although this will extend the life of the cymbal, its days are numbered! The best advice is DON'T CRACK YOUR CYMBALS IN THE FIRST PLACE.


[Repairing a cracked cymbal image]

Repairing a Cracked Cymbal


Play from the wrists, NOT from the shoulder or waist.


Bass Pedals

[DW5000 single bass drum pedal]Foot techniques are a matter of personal preference. 'Heel down' or 'heel up' have their own fans. Use the one which suits your style. Power, speed and agility can be achieved using both techniques.

If your pedal has beater adjustment, don't set the beater too near the drum head when the pedal is in the resting 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.


REMEMBER that the difference between an amateur and a professional is ...

Amateurs practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they can't get it wrong.


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