Wednesday, 22 July 2015

How to Set Up a Drum Kit for the First Time

So you’ve bought your new drum kit, scoured the world of music shops to find the exact setup you need and are ready to become a drumming legend overnight. There’s just one more thing you need to do before you start rocking the neighborhood – set up your drum kit properly! In this article, we will explain how to set up a 5 piece drum kit – a beginners’ kit that the majority of people new to drumming will have in front of them.

5 piece drum set up
Firstly, what you need to do is to assemble the main components of your kit and lay them out in front of you. This will be easier to do if you have purchased an all in one kit that contains everything you need, but if you have bought separate parts, skins, cymbals and so forth, you may wish to keep the items separate.

Locate All of the Attachment Parts First

The majority of beginner kits come with a frame attachment for mounting the toms onto the bass drum, so let’s start with the biggest item of the kit. The bass drum is the main drum that brings together all of the other components to create a solid base for the drums. In beginner kits, the skins are usually already attached to the frame itself, so place the bass drum on the floor and find the stabilisers that attach to the bottom.

bass drum
The stabilisers stop the drum from rolling, so make sure that they are firmly attached and are spread out enough to stop the bass drum from rolling. You will find two slots on top of the bass drum that allow the attachment of the two toms on top. Find the attachment rods and use the included drum key in the kit to secure the two rods in a vertical position for now.

Use the Brackets to Secure the Toms

Tom Toms
On the two toms, you will find attachment holes on the sides so grab your first tom (the smaller one) and lower the hole onto the pole that is attached to the bass drum. The smaller tom should be positioned on the left side of the bass drum as you sit behind it. Use the drum key or thumb screw (whichever your kits supports) to tighten up the drum onto the bass drum. When it is secure, you can move onto the next tom and perform the same installation method.

foot pedal
The final attachment of your drum kit setup regarding the bass drum is the foot pedal. This pedal usually comes in two pieces – the foot pedal and the beater. These two pieces slot into each other and usually attach with a spinning nut to secure them together. Lift the bass drum up slightly and slide the bass drum foot pedal underneath it. Secure it to the bass drum with the nuts on the foot pedal to make sure that the pedal doesn’t move around at all.

Setting Up the Floor Tom

Floor Tom
Many beginner kits also include a floor tom that is a large standing tom slightly smaller in size to the bass drum itself. This drum is relatively easy to set up and usually comes already assembled. Simply find the three legs and slot them into the slots on the bottom of the floor tom and secure them with the thumb screws. Position this floor tom to the right of the kit as you sit at it.

snare drums
The snare drum has a few special features that separate it from the other drums that need to be treated carefully. First of all the snare has a tensioner system on the underside of the drum that gives this particular drum its distinct sound. Open up the special snare tripod that has a triple arm attachment at the top and place the snare on it. Then tighten the nuts underneath so that the snare is secure, and move to a comfortable height for your playing at the left hand side of the bass drum.

Now On To the Cymbals

The cymbals in your drum kit usually come in separate boxes for shipping purposes but are relatively simple to set up and get started. A beginner’s kit usually consists of a high-hat system, and two larger cymbals known as the ride and the crash. Each has a sturdy tripod stand, so let’s set those up firstly.

The two larger tripods are used for the ride and the crash cymbals, so fully extend both of the tripods and remove the thumb nut at the top of each tripod and place the cymbals over the top of the vertical rods. Ensure that the felt dampener is under the cymbal to get the best sound quality and resonance.

Tighten the thumb screws over the top of the cymbals and place the cymbal tripods behind the bass drum so that the ride cymbal comes in over the kit between the snare and the first tom, and that the crash cymbal reaches over the kit beside the second tom.

High-Hat and Foot Pedal Setup

The high-hat is a little trickier to set-up, but should only take a few minutes to do. Remove the vertical high hat rod from its tripod and set the tripod up to stand freely. Place the bottom high-hat cymbal in place over the rod and secure it to the bottom “tilter” section of the tripod facing upward.


Then insert the high-hat rod, making sure that the tilter washers are in place and secure the higher cymbal to the rod between the felt washers. Tighten down the thumb screw at the top and you are almost ready to go.

Ensure that the foot pedal for the high-hat is of correct length so that you have full freedom of movement in the pedal, whilst the high hats do not completely close when the pedal is not pushed. Alter the tension in the chain by moving the higher cymbal up and down the upper rod and securing it tightly to allow the cymbals to close shut together when the pedal is pressed.

drum tools

The last part of this tutorial in how to set up a drum kit for the first time is the drum stool itself. This is easily set up, usually by pulling the legs out and sliding down a fastening thumb screw underneath the seat. Secure the screw when you have found a comfortable seating height and there you have it, you are now ready to start rocking your new drum kit!