Setting up your drum set in a way that is comfortable is one of the most important first steps you take before you start playing. Each drummer has a setup that works better for them, but these general guidelines will give you something to go off of, especially if you are setting up drums for the first time.

  1. FIND A SPACE – Find any area where you will have enough room to setup your drums. Try to give yourself at least 6 feet x 4 feet space for a 4 or 5 piece kit.
  2. PLACE BASS DRUM IN THE MIDDLE – Your bass drum takes up the most room and will be the centerpiece of your kit so place that in the middle of the designated area first.
  3. SNARE DRUM AT BELLY BUTTON HEIGHT – The snare drum is the next drum you should set up. That will go to the left of the bass drum (assuming you are right handed), but keep it below the bass drum towards you. Make sure you can still reach your bass drum pedal comfortably with your leg without hitting the snare. The snare drum should be about level with your belly button.
  4. HI HAT STAND TO LEFT OF SNARE – You want to create a V type angle with your hi hat and bass drum pedal if you are looking at it from a birdseye view. Put your feet on each pedal (hi hat and bass drum pedals), and make sure that you can hit the snare in the middle and move your feet comfortably. Move around and adjust as needed.
    1. The height of the Hi Hat varies per drummer. Some like it below their shoulder level, and others prefer it right above the snare. Play around and find what works for you.
  5. FLOOR TOM – Goes to the right of the bass drum, directly on the other side of your snare drum. The floor tom is typically placed half an inch lower in height than the snare drum. This allows for easy transitioning during playing.
  6. RACK TOMS – If you have one rack tom, mount it to the left of the bass drum and behind your snare drum. Depending on the mounting system you have, you may need to move your rack tom more to the left and not directly behind the snare drum to prevent it from hitting the top of the bass drum. You usually find this with virgin bass drums. If your bass drum is not virgin and has a mount attached to it, then your job is easy and you just hook it up to the mount on your bass drum
    1. If you have a second drum, you want to mount them in a way so that both rack toms are side by side. This may require you to move them up higher if you have a virgin bass drum.
    2. If your bass drum has a mounting system on it, then simply mount the second rack tom to the right mount.
    3. Some people prefer the bigger tom on the left, but most drummers use the smaller tom on the left and the bigger tom to the right.
    4. As far as angle goes, some players like the toms to be completely flat like your snare drum, but most players like to give the toms an angle by pushing the bottom of the toms down so that the drum head is pointed more towards you than the ceiling.
  7. RIDE CYMBAL – Should go next. If you have one rack tom, try placing the ride cymbal where the right tom would go. If your bass drum has mounts, you may even be able to hook up your ride to that. If you have two toms, move the ride so that it’s to the right of the kit slightly hovering over the floor tom.
  8. CRASH CYMBALS NO HIGHER THAN YOUR NECK – Finally, the crashes. Make sure that you can easily reach your crash cymbals from where you are sitting. They can be put at any height you want, but general rule of thumb: keep them below your neck level, otherwise you will find yourself reaching too much.
    1. A typical setup will have one crash cymbal to the left side, one to the right.
    2. The crash of the left will go somewhere to the left of your left rack tom and behind your hi hat. The right cymbal will go to the right of your rack tom/ride cymbal and hover a little above it.
  9. KEEP A TIDY SETUP – You don’t want your cymbals to hover too close to any other drum or cymbal because you don’t want to accidently hit it, but at the same time you want to have things as close to each other as possible to allow yourself to have a better reach and to transition easier between the different parts of the drum set.

Here is a picture of a drum kit setup to give you a reference:

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 8.05.14 PM

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