How to Set Up a Drum Set

drum setNew to the drums? Learning how to set up a drum set properly should be your first priority. Read on as Mundelein drum teacher Jonah D. shows you the way…






Before I even touch the drums I have to set up my drum throne.  I adjust the height so that I can lift my legs easily using my thighs.  I start with a height that puts a 90-degree angle at my knees.  I sit higher up, but you can raise or lower the seat to make it comfortable.  Sitting too high or too low will actually impede your ability to play.

Next, I need to find the most natural place for my feet.  To do this I tuck my feet under the throne so that my heels are touching the base.  Then I bounce my feet on my toes and allow my feet to naturally move forward and continue bouncing until they come to a resting position.  If I continue to bounce my feet they will not move forward.  This is their natural resting position.

From here, I set up my bass drum and hi-hat pedals.  Because my toes naturally angle 45-degrees out, I angle my bass drum and hi-hat pedals accordingly so that they are directly under each foot.  The bass drum head is also perpendicular to my foot.

Next I set up my snare drum, and in order to do that I have to determine the height and angle of the drum.  First, I let my arms hang naturally by my sides, then I bend my arms at the elbow as if I am sitting in a chair with arm rests.  Next, I bring my elbows out just a couple of inches from my body.  This changes the angle of my forearm, so I tilt my snare drum away so that my snare is parallel to my forearm.  This helps me maximize the energy of my rebound, regardless of whether I’m using my wrists or fingers.

Once I have my snare drum set I can pick what I want next.  For the high tom I lift my hands up and reach forward.  Because I lift my hands the angle changes and I tilt the tom toward me so that again my forearms are parallel to the tom.  If I rotate my body and move my hands to my floor tom I would repeat the process, and naturally tilt my tom away from me and to the right

For my cymbals I rotate my hands as if I am turning a doorknob (while holding sticks).  This changes my grip from German to French grip, but the arch of the sticks at French grip is where I place my ride cymbal and crash.  I can also use this same rotation for playing my floor tom with my right hand and the height of my high hat with the left hand. This is the basis for a 4-piece setup.  From here I can set up further pieces at my discretion.

Use your natural body motion, and as you continue to add instruments, you will need to fine tune the placement, but keep these principles in mind as you add instruments and remember that you want to conserve energy and motion as you expand your sound.  Good Luck!


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Mundelein drum lessons with Jonah D.Jonah D. teaches drum, music performance, music theory, percussion, songwriting and ukulele lessons to students of all ages in Mundelein, IL. Jonah joined the TakeLessons team in March 2008, with over 14 years of experience as a professional drummer. Learn more about Jonah, or search for a music teacher near you!


Photo by paparutzi

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