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How to Set Up a Drum Set

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Learning how to correctly set up a drum set is fairly straight forward. 

In this article we’ll go over the steps you need to take to properly put together a drum kit you can play with ease.

Once you’ve gotten everything setup, you may want to dig in to our beginner’s guide on how to play the drums.

Let’s start by identifying the main parts of your drum set.

The 3 Main Parts of a Drum Kit

If you’ve just purchase a beginner drum kit then you’re likely to have three main categories of stuff:

  1. Drums – shells/hoops and the drumheads for a kick, snare and toms
  2. Hardware – stands, pedals, drum throne
  3. Cymbals – most likely 2 hi-hat cymbals and a crash cymbal

Usually beginner sets don’t come with a ride cymbal, but maybe you lucked out and got one.

Installing Drumheads on Shells

The first thing you’ll want to do is setup all the actual drums in your drum set. Most of the time these won’t come already assembled and you’ll need to put them together.

You’ll need a drum key for this, which should have come with your kit.

Each drum will have two separate heads – a thin one and a thicker one. The thick drumhead is the one you’ll strike so it goes on TOP of the shell.

To install, lay the drumhead on the shell and then place the hoop over it, lining it up with the lugs. The flat side of the hoop should be touching the head.

The tension rods then go into the hoop’s holes and through to the lugs – finger tighten them first, and then you can tune each drum afterwards.

Do this for each drum.

The bass drum in particular is a bit different – the head with the logo on it is installed on the side closest to the legs on the shell. The tension rods for the bass drum have a claw hook that attach to the hoop.

Setting Up Drum Hardware

Now that the drums themselves are good to go, we’ll setup the included hardware.

Hi-Hat Stand

  • Loosen the nut at the bottom to spread out the legs of the stand. Re-tighten once it’s stable
  • On the pedal, insert the brackets into the two holes in the middle of the stand’s base
  • Insert the skinny threaded rod into the stand and put the tube over it
  • Put the felt onto it so the bottom cymbal can sit on it

Crash Stand

  • Loosen the bottom nut and spread the stands legs. Re-tighten once it’s stable
  • Use the middle nut to adjust the height as needed
  • Adjust the nut near the felt to angle it

Drum Throne

  • Loosen the bottom nut and spread the legs of the stand. Re-tighten when stable.
  • Place the cushioned seat on top of the stand and tighten it’s wing nut underneath

For the drum throne, a general rule of thumb is to have your thighs a little higher than paralell to the floor.

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Positioning Everything Correctly

Now that everything is setup, let’s bring it all together.

Start by placing the bass drum on the floor – logo facing away from you. You’ll may need to loosen the legs and place them correctly.

This is the center of your kit. Place the bass drum pedal in the center of the bottom part of the hoop and tighten.

Now take your two rack toms and slide them onto the bass drum bracket where appropriate. The smaller tom will be to the left. Tighten the main nut and angle the toms towards your playing position if necessary.

Tighten everything so it’s sturdy. 

Next, position the snare drum in the stand and place it slightly to the left of the kick drum pedal.

If your drum set also includes a floor tom, insert the legs into the brackets and tighten – they should face outward. Place the floor tom slightly to the right of the kick. 

Finally, place your drum throne in front of everything and take a seat.

Making Adjustments

Now that everything is positioned, you can take some time to adjust everything to your liking.

Make sure the angles of the drums allow you to move around the kit comfortably and smoothly.

Make sure the snare drum is at a good height relative to your throne and the hi-hat. Make sure the drums are positioned so that using the kick pedal and hi-hat pedal is comfortable.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this – just make it so that you’re most comfortable playing. Just make sure you are a stickler for good posture and technique, otherwise your drumming may lead to injury.

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Final Thoughts

Getting your first drum set can feel a bit intimidating when you think about all the different things that are included.

But as you can see from this article, it’s a pretty straight forward process. Follow the steps laid out above and you’ll be able to setup any drum set relatively easily.

The most important thing to consider when positioning everything is ease of use and comfort. Adjust things continually until you find your ideal playing setup.

If you really want to level up your drumming, I highly recommend you use a drum practice/training app like Melodics – you’ll improve your rhythm and groove whether you use electronic/acoustic drums or want to finger drum.

Thanks for reading this guide on how to set up a drum kit – I hope it was helpful.

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    Omar Zulfi

    Omar Zulfi is a music producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and digital entrepreneur. He is the founder and head writer at Deviant Noise. Learn more about what he's doing by clicking here.