Back To Basics: How To Set Up Your Drums

How To Set Up Your Drums


This one’s juuuust right ... Jimmy DeGrasso finds his setup sweet spot.

If you want to avoid injury, sound your best, and get the maximum efficiency and enjoyment out of your playing, you owe it to yourself to start with a properly arranged drum set. Keeping in mind there are almost as many strongly held opinions on this subject as there are drummers in the world, if you understand some basic principles, finding a setup that works with you rather than against you will be much, much easier. For this little ergonomics primer we’re using a basic 5-piece kit with a crash, ride, and hi-hat. Once you get that core setup where you want it, the sky’s the limit for the ambitious percussive architect.


Fig. 1


Fig. 2


The first thing you’ll want to do is get your throne adjusted to a comfortable height. This is your center of power, so make sure you feel centered and balanced at all times. A good place to start is with your thighs nearly parallel to the ground, with your knees just below the tops of your legs. You’ll find slight adjustments either up or down will land you in the sweet spot for your particular comfort zone, while still allowing you to stay well balanced as you move around the kit.

Bass Drum

Next you’ll want to anchor the bass drum in a central spot, leaving plenty of room on either side to build out the kit, and enough space behind it for you to move around freely without knocking your elbows into walls or guitar amps. Keep in mind that your upper leg should be parallel with the drum, with a straight line running from your hip flexor all the way through to the resonant head so that energy from your hip is focused straight down into your bass drum pedal. (Fig. 1) Use the spurs on the bass drum legs to keep the drum from sliding around if you’re on carpet, and adjust the height of the legs so that the front of the bass drum is raised up off the floor a hair to compensate for the lift you’re going to get on the batter hoop when you slide your pedal clamp under it, and to allow the bass drum to resonate freely. (Fig. 2)

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