When it comes to playing the drums, you must know how to set up a drum set even if you are just starting. The kit does not exactly come to your house assembled already. You have to do it on your own.
That is why this article is here to help you out. I am going to walk you through setting it up piece by piece, so you can start drumming as soon as possible.
Go ahead and get your drum key or your drum multitool, put down your drum rug, and let us get started.
Step 1: Drum Throne
To figure out the best place to put your bass, snare, toms, hi-hat, and cymbals, you need to set up your drum throne first. You should set your throne parallel to the floor. However, a fantastic way of figuring out the perfect place for it is to play with the pedals of your drum set a little bit.
If your drum throne is too close to your kick drum, your knees will begin to ache especially during an extended play or practice session. If it is too far from your set, you are going to have a hard time reaching every part of your drum kit setup.
Step 2: Bass Drum
Let us start with the centerpiece of every drum set up: the bass drum or kick drum. Depending on your dominant hand, your bass drum will be angled differently as the bass drum is operated with your dominant foot.
While the drum itself cannot really be adjusted, its distance from where you sit will be extremely important. You can position your bass drum either directly in front of you or slightly away from you.
Before you attach the pedal of your bass drum, make sure that there is some protection on your bass drum hoop. You can buy drum hoop protectors either online or your local music stores for really cheap and it will save your bass drum from getting damaged by the pedal’s clamp.
Step 3: Bass Drum Pedal
When you attach your pedal, make sure that it is attached firmly and securely to your bass drum’s hoop, or, if more appropriate, its riser.
Fiddle with the pedal a little bit and test and adjust it until you feel it has the right tension. To do this, you will have to adjust the spring located on the right-hand side of the pedal. If you find the pedal too stiff or too hard to press, you can loosen the spring. On the other hand, if it feels far too easy to step on or if it is too soft, you would want to tighten it a little bit.
As I have mentioned in my step-by-step drum tutorial, every drum is different just like every drummer is. Therefore, adjusting the stiffness of your pedal depends entirely on your preferences.
Step 4: Toms
Both high and mid tom drums are often found set up on a rack right above the bass drum. Some kick drums have their very own tom mount drilled into them. However, most sets do not. While it seems like a good idea to drill your bass drums and install your DIY tom mount on it, doing this is risky and can damage your set.
The easiest alternative is to get a tom drum stand.
Once you have one, you can start by mounting your tom drums on the bracket of the stand. Secure and tighten the wingnuts after mounting your tom drums. The wingnuts can be found in between the tom drums.
After securing the drums, make sure that they are the right height. You can easily do this on a tom drum stand by loosening the wingnut on the side of the stand and adjusting the height. After finding the right height, all you need to do is tighten it once more.
Now that you have mounted your tom drums, tilt the drums towards you so that you can easily hit the drum head and the rim.
Step 5: Floor Tom
As the name suggests, the floor tom is another tom drum that is set on the ground below the middle tom drum. It stands on its three legs and is the second-lowest drum in a set.
One common mistake people do when assembling the floor tom is attaching the legs upside down. If you put it the wrong way, the height limit of the floor tom can be very restricted.
Luckily, it is easy to spot if you are putting the legs on the wrong side. Just make sure to look at your drum and check which side has the brackets. The side with the brackets is where you should put the floor tom’s legs into.
A properly set-up floor tom allows you to move the height of each leg. You can use this to tilt the drum towards you or, if you prefer it, keep it flat.
Step 6: Snare
Next, we have the snare drum. The first thing you need to consider when setting up a snare drum is its height and angle.
The ideal location for your snare drum is between your legs. The head must be tilted in a way where you can easily hit the middle and hit the rim of the drum when needed. Being the most versatile piece in your set, you must be able to hit the snare in different places.
When it comes to setting up the angle, there is no right or wrong way of doing it. Iron Maiden’s Nico McBrain likes his snare drum tilted towards him while Buddy Rich prefers the snare to be tilted away from him. In the end, it is all about personal preferences.
However, if you are shorter than average, then tilting the snare towards you might be a better idea. It will certainly help decrease the distance between your snare drum and the high tom.
Step 7: Hi-Hat Cymbal
Now, let us move on to your hi-hat cymbals.
At the top of your hi-hat cymbal, you will find the clutch. This is what holds the top part of your hi-hat cymbal in place. The clutch must be set so that the top hi-hat is in an appropriate distance to the bottom hi-hat.
The easiest way to set up your hi-hat cymbals is by stepping on the pedal as you do so. Stepping on the pedal will close your hi-hat cymbals. When your hi-hat cymbals are supposed to be in a “closed” position, there should not be any space between the two. Otherwise, you will not be able to make the quick and crisp closed hi-hat sound.
Removing your foot and releasing the pedal will cause the hi-hat cymbals to “open”. If your cymbals are far too close to each other when they are supposed to be in an “open” position, you will not be able to properly create a longer open hi-hat sound. Keep fiddling with it until you find the right balance.
Step 8: Crash and Ride Cymbals
Setting up a crash and ride cymbal is very similar, so I will be compiling both of them in this section.
Often, the ride cymbal is placed hanging over the floor tom or mid tom. On the other hand, a crash cymbal is closer to the high tom. The most important thing to consider when setting up your crash and ride cymbals is how often you will be using them.
Ride cymbals are often played like hi-hats while crash cymbals are used to accentuate a beat. Ride cymbals are often hit on the top using the tip of your drumstick while crash cymbals are hit on the edge with the neck of the drumstick. For these reasons, the ride cymbal should be set a little bit lower, facing towards you while the crash cymbal is slightly higher and flatter for easier access to the rim.
Another thing to consider when setting up your cymbals is the placement. Many beginners have a hard time reaching for everything in their set without stretching too much. Do not worry about setting them close to each other. As long as they do not get in the way when you hit another drum or cymbal with your drumstick, then you are good to go.
Step 9: Setting up Other Accessories
There are many accessories that you can add to your drum kit layout. From loudspeakers, cowbells, sizzlers, and rattlers to tambourines and bar chimes, you can choose from a variety of musical products out there. There are many ways for you to modify the sound you create on your drum set.
Some people prefer to mount these directly onto their drums. There are also easier, safer ways for you to do this without posing a risk to your set. You can purchase accessory racks online and in local music stores.
This is also ideal if you plan on going on gigs or are a very versatile drummer. It is much easier to add and subtract accessories that you will not be using for a specific set. It is also much easier to travel with them if you can pack them into smaller bags, as they will not take a lot of space.
Step 10: Full Set Test
Now that you have your drum kit fully set up, it is time to give it a test run. Go ahead and play with it for a little bit, step on the pedals, hit the drums, and see if there is anything off. If you feel even a little bit uncomfortable with playing a particular drum, you need to adjust it until you are happy with it.
As you play, take note of the things that seem to be wrong. For example, if your drumsticks keep catching on the rims of drums it shouldn’t be catching on, you might want to tilt them towards you a little bit. If one of the drums in your set moves too much, consider tightening the nuts that keep them steady.
Step 11: Making Your Set Sound Great
Even if you have the perfect drum kit setup, it does not guarantee that your drum kit is going to have the perfect sound. But it does not mean that you have to give up on it completely!
As a drummer, you have the skills and tools to tune your drums and keep it sounding its best! It is very easy that even a beginner can do it.
The first thing you need to do is get a drum key or a multitool. They are not expensive at all and you can easily find them in music stores or even online.
With a multitool or drum key, you can loosen every tension rod until it is all a bit wobbly. Tighten it back up but not too much. Adjust it to the right level, so that it is firm and finger tight. Here’s where the tension rods are located and what they look like:
Using the drum key, position the tension rods. Position the flat part of your drum key against the rim of your drum. After turning one of the tension rods, move to the one opposite side, and adjust. Once you are done with it, move counter-clockwise to the next and then the next. Keep going in a star-shaped pattern until you have tuned all of the tension rods.
Go back to the first tension rod you tuned. Following the same pattern, turn each tension rod to a 90-degree angle until you get the tone that you want. A useful tip for doing this is to stick three small pieces of bunched up duct tape on the skin of the drum. This will reduce the ringing and give you a pure tone.
If you are worried about damaging the skin of your drum, you can also purchase gel damper pads. They do the same job but they are easily moveable and easy to clean with only water and soap!
With all the tips above, you can now start playing your drums to some tunes you’ve always wanted to play. Know that there are so many health benefits you can get from music (1), so you might want to take advantage of it while you can. If you want to learn more, check the best online drum lessons review and pick the lesson that’s best for you.
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