Learning how to assemble a drum set might seem challenging at first, but once you have learned the process it is a fairly straightforward task!
There are lots of different drum kit components, and unless you’re an experienced drummer, you won’t know where to begin when trying to figure out how to set up a drum set.
Setting up a drum kit is a process that will grow to feel natural after you have performed it enough times, and after you have been playing the drums for a little while you will develop your own preferences.
In this step-by-step guide, I will show you how to put together a drum set so you can play comfortably, fluidly and at your best!
Unbox all the Drums, Hardware & Cymbals
First things first, before you learn how to set up a 5 piece drum set, you have to have all of the drum set components. To set up a drum set, you need to have the following:
- Drums – commonly known as drum shells.
- Hardware – Includes a drum throne, bass drum pedal, hi hat stand, two cymbal stands, two tom arms and mounts.
- Cymbals – A typical drum set consists of: hi hat cymbals, a crash cymbal and a ride cymbal.
If you are setting up a brand new drum set, you’ll need to unbox the components carefully and remove all of the packaging before neatly organising all of the parts of the drum kit in their separate categories. Be careful not to discard anything that might be of importance!
Ideally the drums will arrive complete with their drumheads on, but they may require you to construct the drums by attaching the drumheads to the drum shells by screwing the tuning rods into the lugs with a drum key.
Lay Down a Drum Rug
Never set up a drum set directly on top of a hard floor surface such as wood, vinyl, concrete, granite etc. The rubber feet of the stands might mark the floor with black, and the bass drum spurs will scratch the flooring.
You will also find that the bass drum will creep away from you as you play and you will struggle to play well.
Invest in a quality drum rug if you plan on setting up a drum set on a hard floor to make sure the drums stay firmly in your desired position and additionally so you do not damage the floor.
Position the Bass Drum
Set up the bass drum in your desired position by using the two bass drum spurs that are attached on either side of the drum. Bass drum spurs will typically be operated with a simple gear-tilter mechanism.
Bass drum spurs are designed to keep the front of the bass drum raised off the floor and to add stability, by keeping it anchored in place and to prevent the kick drum from rolling or creeping forwards.
Assemble the Drum Throne & Attach Bass Drum Pedal
Attach your bass drum pedal to the designated part on the hoop of the kick drum by using the clamp on the bass drum pedal. It will be operated with a simple screw that is finger operated.
Position your drum throne so it feels comfortable to play the bass drum pedal with your foot, and that you are not sitting too low down. Aim to sit high enough so that your legs slope slightly downwards from your thighs to your knees.
In this photo you can see where the clamp of the bass drum pedal attaches to the hoop of the bass drum. You are also able to adjust your desired spring tension of the bass drum pedal so that it’s a good level of tension, and it’s not too soft or weak to play.
Construct the Drum Hardware
When learning how to set up a drum set, you will need your drum hardware: a drum throne, bass drum pedal, hi hat stand, two cymbal stands, two tom arms and mounts. All the stands will operate in a very similar way, with double-braced tripod bases and adjustable tube joints to set your desired height.
First things first, you will need to open up the tripod bases wide enough so the the stands are sturdy and that they will remain firmly in place.
When adjusting the height settings for each stand, make sure that everything is within reach and comfortable to play. It will likely take some experimenting later on to figure out works best for you. When adjusting and setting up drum hardware tighten all the gear levers in order to prevent anything from coming loose whilst playing.
Position the hi hat stand so that your feet feel comfortable when playing both the bass drum pedal and hi hat stand. You will want to aim for a 45 degree angle between your legs and have your knees positioned roughly over your heels.
On my drum set, I am able to mount my two rack toms using tom arms that attach to my cymbal stands with clamps. This is a common feature on modern drum sets, and the bass drum is known as either an undrilled or a virgin bass drum.
Beginner drum sets often utilize a drilled bass drum. This means that the two rack toms are mounted from the bass drum with two tom arms into a bracket, instead of mounting them from cymbal stands.
Setting up rack toms with a drilled bass drum is pretty simple. As you can see, the two tom arms are locked firmly in place into the designated mounting bracket. The arms will be positioned slightly away from each other and the toms are attached onto them.
Mount the Snare Drum on the Snare Stand
Open up the snare basket using the swivel mechanism to open it wide enough so it can accommodate the snare drum. Ensure there is no metal to metal contact by having the hoop rest against the rubber gaskets of the snare drum basket correctly.
The snare drum will sit directly in between your legs, and you will want to have the snare drum sitting just above waist height, so that whilst you play your drum sticks avoid hitting your thighs.
Attach the Floor Tom Legs to the Floor Tom
Floor toms feature 3 legs that will need to be inserted through the brackets so that the feet are underneath the resonant drum skin.
Adjust the height of the legs as necessary but aim to have the angle of the floor tom relatively flat so that its not at an extreme slant.
Mount the Rack Toms
Now the drum set is looking like it’s nearly built! Learning how to set up a drum set requires some patience and also it needs to be learned through repetition. Through building a routine by doing it enough times so that you will really be able to familiarize yourself with the process.
When mounting your rack toms, floor tom and snare drum; aim to have the drums angled relatively flat so that your drum sticks will strike the drumhead at the correct angle to achieve an optimal sound and rebound.
Be careful when setting up the rack toms so that they don’t touch each other or rest against the bass drum. If your rack toms are touching the bass drum, then you will need to raise the height of them or angle them to be more flat.
Attach the Cymbals to the Cymbal Stands
There we have it! Once the cymbals are attached to the cymbal stands, you know how to put together a drum set!
The most important thing to remember when mounting cymbals is that there must not be any metal to metal contact! Each cymbal must be on a stand, resting in between cymbal felts either side and also a nylon sleeve to protect the cymbal from the thread of the cymbal stand.
You’ll need to attach the ‘top’ part of the hi hat to a clutch that affixes in place on the rod of the hi hat stand, so that when you press and release the hi hat stand foot pedal, the top hi hat raises and lowers in height. Again, as mentioned, make sure the top hi hat is protected in between two cymbal felts.
It really is essential to tighten every gear-lock tilter and cymbal wingnut to prevent anything from disassembling when you least expect. I have seen cymbal locks loosen in performances and cymbals fall off their stands, so make sure this doesn’t happen to you!
When Not in Use, Keep Equipment Stored in Cases!
Drum cases are essential for protecting your expensive equipment whilst in transit or in storage. They’re a necessary investment for looking after your valuable gear.
They’re also very useful for organising everything you need all together for rehearsals and shows. So unless you want to ruin your precious drums, grab yourself some drum cases!
Learning how to set up a drum set takes some practice, but by following these instructions you will be able to familiarize yourself with the process in no time!
Each drummer will like to have his or her drums set up slightly differently, so this is a guide to how to set up a 5 piece drum set that most drummers will be familiar with.
Drummers will all play slightly differently, and have favoured heights for each part of the drum set. But what’s most important is what feels comfortable for you!
Each drum and cymbal should feel comfortably within reach, so that you are able to play smoothly and flow around the drum kit with ease.
When you set up the drum throne, you will want to be sat at the correct height behind the drum set so that you can maintain a good drumming posture and reduce the risk of injury. Being sat higher up will allow you to reach parts of the drum set easier, and it’ll promote better form for your spine.
It will take some trial and error to adjust positions of the drums and cymbals to your ideal preferences, and also it will take some time for you to decide what is the perfect drum set up for you.
So now you now how to set up a drum kit with ease, you’ll be able to play with confidence and take the next steps on your drumming journey!