Back To Basics: How To Set Up Your Drums


Next you want to place the snare drum in a comfortable position. The height and angle will vary for everyone, but this may be the most crucial adjustment parameter on the whole kit since it’s the drum you’re going to be playing most often. Set it too high and you’ll be smacking the hoop all the time unintentionally; too low and your thighs will get in the way of your down strokes. Start with something around belt-buckle height and adjust from there until you can hit rimshots and ghost notes comfortably and consistently at every dynamic. Traditional-grip players sometimes angle the snare away from the body, drum corps–style (i.e., Steve Smith). If you’re playing matched grip, though, tilting the snare just a little toward you follows the natural angle of your sticks while playing, and is the default for most drummers. (Fig. 3)


Fig. 3

Bass Drum Pedal

Next you’ll want to attach the bass drum pedal to the bass drum batter side. Most companies will include a hoop protector pad with a sticky backing that you can lay down on the hoop where the clamp grips on. You want to attach the pedal clamp right in the center of the hoop (Fig. 4) so the bass drum sits fully stable like a tripod between the legs and kick pedal.


Fig. 4

The beater height setting is an important and often overlooked consideration. On any bass drum under 24", the beater will tend to hit the head above center — as you can see on this 22" kick (Fig. 5) — and nearly dead center on a 24". You’ll want to set the beater shaft in the clutch at its balance point. Just like when you pick up a pair of sticks and feel for the fulcrum, you’ll want to think in the same vein with the bass drum beater. Clamping it at the fulcrum will give it a more responsive throw and rebound off the head. At the same time, make sure the bottom of the beater shaft doesn’t make contact with the head on the backswing or you’ll wear a hole into your head before you know it, not to mention retarding the movement of the beater on each stroke.


Fig. 5

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