Setting up Your Drums to Make Playing Easier

How to set up your Drums

We think of the drums as probably the most personalized instrument out there. You can choose what size of drum set, what instruments to have in your kit and, the topic of this article, how and where to put your drums and cymbals! As well we are different heights and proportions. I have long legs, some have long torsos. Some are 6’5 some are 5’6.

Two concepts I like to impart in setting up your drums are :

  1. Maximizing easy of play
  2. Avoiding extremes in set up

In reality the are one in the same. If you set up your drums, cymbals and assorted percussion goodies while avoiding extremes in height (too high or low) and extremes in angle (to flat or too angled) then you are probably setting up your drums in an ergonomically positive way.

If you are setting up your drums to make getting to each instrument easier, you are probably avoiding extremes.

One catch is that you may have set up your drums haphazardly when you first learned and now wrong feels right. This happens with any instrument. A student playing with flat fingers consistently on guitar or piano will never progress but will always ‘feel’ that flat fingers are better because they have gotten ‘used to it’.

Strong fundamentals like this are things we reinforce at our Music School in River Heights Winnipeg Manitoba Canada

We start with the where and how we sit. On a drum throne. A 3 legged stool designed specially for playing drums. We need the stool high enough to have our legs come from our hips and for our knees to be a t 90° angle. It can be a little bit more but we are trying to avoid extremes. Place the snare drum directly in front of you with the top of the snare relatively flat-slightly sloping up and away from you. You hi-hat and bass drum pedals should be equidistant both from you and on each side of the snare drum. Your first tom should be slightly higher, similarly slanted and right in front of the snare. The Floor tom goes to the right at about the same height as the snare. You hi-hat should be 6″-8″  higher than the top of the snare. You ride cymbal should be low and near the floor tom. If you use a 2nd tom (which is highly likely) you need to compensate the ride a little farther right. Don’t worry if you cymbals overlap the drums a bit. You’ll still have tonnes of room to hit drums.

If you are a left  handed Drummer

If you are a left  handed drummer, I recommend setting your drum set in the normal fashion.

The main reasons being:

  1. The drums is an ambidextrous instrument
  2. At some point in your life you will have to share drum sets on a double or triple bill or even a talent show or jam session. It is enough trouble to get a right handed set playable in a jiffy more so if you have to swap everything.
  3. Most videos and instructional material is right handed
  4. If you get to the point of teaching, most of your students are going to be right handed.

I hope, between the text above and the video below, I have made things clear. As usual, if you have any questions, feel free to write me at