Drum Kit Setup: Is a Standard Layout Right For You?
In a previous blog post, we discussed what rules to follow when buying your first drum set, but when it comes to basic drum kit setup, there really are no concrete rules. How you choose to set up your drum kit is entirely up to you. Chances are your drum kit configuration will vary slightly from that of Travis Barker or Dave Grohl or even from the one used during your drum lessons in Scottsdale. Usually, the setup of a drum kit boils down to the drummer’s own comfort and personal preference. That being said, most drummers tend to arrange their drum kit in the same standard layout, a setup that’s been shown to be the easiest to work with and help drummers perform their very best.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what this typical drum kit setup actually entails, using a 5-piece drum kit as the basis. Then, it’ll be up to you to decide whether to follow this industry standard or, as they say, follow the beat of your own drum.
Whether you’re new to drumming or you’ve been taking drum lessons in Scottsdale or Phoenix for years, your drum kit setup should revolve around one important piece: the bass drum. Think of the bass drum as the center of your drum set. Every other piece in your drum kit should be built around it. For the best results, position the bass drum so that your upper leg runs parallel to it, which will allow you to focus the full force of your hip down into the bass drum pedal, giving you optimal results.
Next up is the snare drum. The location of the snare drum is critical because it will likely be played most frequently. Therefore, you’ll want to position it fairly close to you so that you can hit it easily. Typically, in a conventional drum kit setup, the snare drum is placed in front of the bass drum to the left. Also, be sure to place it at an angle and height that is most comfortable to you to ensure that you can play it without accidentally hitting your legs or smacking the hoop unintentionally.
Following the standard drum kit setup, the hi-hat would be positioned to the left of the snare drum. Ideally, the hit-hat pedal and bass drum pedal should form a sort of V-shape with the snare drum in the middle and the drummer at the crux. The standard height of the hi-hat varies greatly depending on a drummer’s particular style of playing. We suggest experimenting with various heights until you find the height that allows you to be the most versatile with your performance and techniques.
Whether you use strictly rack toms, which are mounted to the kick drum, or floor toms, which stand on their own, or most popular, a combination of both, the standard setup for toms remains the same. In a customary drum kit setup, toms are arranged from smallest to largest in a clockwise semi-circle style around the kit. As for height, each tom should be positioned so that you can move effortlessly from one to the other without having to reposition your arms unnecessarily.
The last pieces of a traditional drum kit setup are the crash and ride cymbals, which are typically mounted on their own floor stands. Generally, the ride cymbal is set up on the right side of the drum kit behind the bass drum and floor tom, hanging slightly overhead. A single crash cymbal, on the other hand, is normally placed to the left side of the drum kit and placed over the bass drum and hi-hat. In the case of two crash cymbals, they should be situated to the left and right of the rack toms and should flank the snare drum from above.
There’s no question about it…a properly arranged drum kit can help you avoid injuries and amplify your playing power. But just because the standard drum kit setup works for others doesn’t mean it will automatically work best for you. Every drummer is unique and, as a result, so are drum kit layouts. Our advice is to set up your drum kit in the way that feels most natural to you and your individual style of drumming.