How to Set Up a Drum Set? – Helpful Tips for Drummers

If you are looking for how to set up a drum set, you may already have the music instrument right in your living room. No matter whether you bought it or someone gave you a generous gift; you still have to install the set to play it. While setting up a drum set is not the hardest thing to do, you still need professional guidance. Right now, all you have are stands, shells, pedals, cymbals, and drums in front of you. It is time to gather it in one instrument and play music. You will quickly learn how to do this following my recommendations.

Detailed Guide to Drum Kit


If you know the basics, a drum set will be easy to set up. Getting your first musical instrument is exciting; however, installing it may turn into several hours of work. Even if you ask someone to help you, you still need to adjust the setup to your needs by changing the height of the chair, the angle of a snare drum, and the cymbals’ distance. The best way to do it is by yourself. After you repeat the procedure several times, you will be able to gather parts of drum sets in a few quick moves.

Types of drum sets

There are different types of drum sets you may already know. Nevertheless, let’s refresh your memory so that you know which drum kit setup you have to perform. Different types of sets can be more beneficial for a specific type of music.

Rock and metal drum set

This drum set configuration has toms of 12, 13, or 16 inches, and a bass drum of 22 x 18 inches. The snare is 6 x 14 inches on average. This kit provides better volume and deep tone because of the large size. This is the traditional set of rock drums. It features:

  • 2 toms,
  • 1-floor tom,
  • 1 hi-hat cymbal,
  • 2 crash cymbals,
  • Ride.

The most important in this set are bass drums and a snare, mainly because of the rhythm that must be kept. Usually, drummers add crash cymbals into the melody. Since Ringo Starr’s fiery performances with The Beatles, rock drums continue to be on-demand.

Jazz drum set

The music performed with this drum layout is light and quick. The toms in the set are usually similar to the fusion toms but with more shallow depths. The bass drum is smaller than in a rock drum set. Its average size is 18×14 inches. Jazz drummers pay more attention to the snare drum, ride cymbals, and hi-hats. Jazz players usually prefer simple kits. You may have seen such drums in Buddy Rich’s performance.

jazz drum set

Fusion set

A fusion kit includes:

  • Toms of 10, 12, or 14 inches,
  • Bass of 22×18 inches;
  • Cymbals.

They are not as loud as rock drums but provide a fast response and are great for quick music. The most popular type of music is Latin, a mix of jazz and even progressive rock. Sometimes cymbals are switched to Latin percussion. The most popular drummer that performs Fusion is Mike Portnoy.

Country drum set

The main peculiarity of a country drum set is the tight sound of the drum. The best option is to use the mix of hi-hat and snare drum in melody. Modern drummers who perform country music usually buy rock sets. The size and the performance of the rock drumming kit match the demand of country music players. The most known country drummers are Robert Harsen and Duane Norman.

Electronic set

This set works well for electronic sounds in music. Sometimes drummers replace toms with specific electronic pads. The electronic set does not have one particular standard. Nowadays, drummers add sounds from apps and interactive software.

electronic drum set

Types of drums in a drum set

There are several types of drums in a drum set you have to learn in advance. Drums may only look like a simple instruments; however, once you start playing one, you understand how complex it is. A drummer can modify the set by adding or removing the parts of the kit up to their personal preferences:

  • Bass drum. This is the biggest and central element of the kit. I recommend you start drum set positioning by installing a bass drum. It is also called a kick drum. The sideways are on the floor, and one side faces the outward direction. You have to install a foot pedal to hit the inward side of this instrument so that you can receive a loud sound.
  • Snare drum. You will quickly recognize it by the number of metal springs around the bottom face. These springs are known as the snare, and they are made for better vibration and high-pitched sound. It is placed in front of the drummer, between the knees.
  • Toms. Toms are also located in front of the drummer, right behind the snare drum. There are numerous versions of toms, and you can find any size you want. They have 2 simple faces, one on top and one at the bottom. They provide thick and deep sounds. Most sets have one or two toms at the top of the bass drum.
  • Floor tom. This one looks like all classic toms. Yet, it is larger. It is placed on the floor, upwards. Many drum kits have only a one-floor tom, placed near the dominant hand of the drummer.
  • Hi-hat cymbal. This instrument looks like wide and big brass plates. It is made of two flat cymbals connected to each other. Drummers can control them with a foot pedal. The closed hi-hat sound is muffled, and the open is high and long.
  • Crash cymbal. You can have one or two crash cymbals in your kit. Usually, they have thinner edges that provide loud sounds like a crash. They are deeply loved by rock musicians who use them to make accents on important parts of music.
  • Ride cymbal. This one is located above the floor tom. It is bigger than the crash cymbal. It provides a shimmering sound.

How to set up a 5-piece drum set?

A five-piece drum kit is widely used in many music genres. It includes a bass drum, a snare drum, a floor tom, tom-toms, and cymbals. Follow this step-by-step guide to install the set properly.

Step 1. Height of stool

I know that the stool was not originally in the kit. Still, you have to start with adjusting its height so that you can easily reach all the instruments and pedals. It must be comfortable to sit in and easy to rise from. Your quadriceps must be nearly parallel with the floor. It must not be too high; otherwise, you will miss the pedals. Your legs must not ache.

There is another preparation I recommend doing before you start unpacking the kit. Place a special rug on the floor so that it is not damaged by the drums or stands. The rug is simple to get. It can be an old carpet from your parent’s house or a special drumming rug ordered online. It will grant a tight grip, and you will not worry about the slippery surface.

Step 2. Set up the snare drum

The angle and the snare drum height are equally important and thus should be carefully considered. The instrument is usually placed between the legs and must allow you to reach the drum head in the center easily. If you are limited by only one spot on the drum you can reach, you have to change the situation. Think about the best angle for your snare drum to adjust it.

Step 3. Take care of the bass drum

Place the bass drum close to you. It is operated by the pedal, and you have to put it close to your dominant foot. If the drum is not adjustable, you have to change the distance and height of your sit. Don’t sit too close, or your shins will ache. Don’t sit too far, or you will have to crane. The bass pedal must be securely clamped.

Step 4. Adjust the bass pedal

The bass drum pedal must create the proper tension. You have to adjust its tightness. If the pedal is springy, you need to loosen it.

Step 5. Make sure your cymbals stand properly

You can play any type of music with a snare, bass, and hi-hat. A hi-hat is usually installed close to the left side of the snare drum if you are a right-handed person or to the right if you are left-handed. If you use the foot pedal to play, you need to make sure it stands at an appropriate distance.

Step 6. Take care of tom-toms

Both hi and mid-tom-toms are mounted above the bass drum with the help of the tom arm. You have to check the distance between both tools. A tom mounting unit must be securely installed. The bass drum must be drilled. You have to install it into the mounting bracket on top of the bass drum and tighten it. The smaller tom-toms, which is the hi tom, must be placed above the snare drum. Adjust them to the appropriate height.

If you have undrilled bass drums, you can find another way to mount the tom-toms. Place them on the cymbal stand and use the clamp to make sure that everything is secured. Another option is to use the snare drum stand. Yet, it works if you have only one tom that must be mounted.

Step 7. Place the floor tom

This drum stands freely on the floor. Its place is close to the mid-tom. Usually, this drum is mounted with a 3-leg stand. You have to make sure that the legs of the drumming kit match the leg brackets perfectly. They are located at the bottom of the drum, not on top. If you put it the wrong way, you will not be able to mount the floor tom. You also can adjust the height of each leg of your floor tom. This will give you an angle you may need in your performance. Yet, you can always leave the instrument flat.

Common Questions About Drumming Kit Installation

If you still have some questions left, perhaps you will find the answers here. It is crucial to make sure that you don’t miss anything important before you install the drumming kit. That is why I have gathered the most frequently asked questions on the Internet in this section. If you have more information to add, feel free to do it in the comments below.

How to set up a drum kit?

I have made detailed step-by-step instructions for setting up a 5-piece drum kit above. The 5-piece set is the most popular. It is widely used in rock, jazz, pop, hip hop, R&B, fusion, and other music genres. If you are looking for a wider specter of drumming instruments, you may find the instructions attached to the package. Besides, you can find numerous video instructions on the Internet. A 4-piece kit is smaller; it has only one rack-mounted tom. You don’t have to limit yourself. Once you feel you need more instruments to express your music better, you can buy them and add them to the set.

What are the names of drums in a drum set?

If you are worried that you may get lost in the names of drums, they all sound different. A standard kit includes tom-toms (hi and mid-toms), a snare drum, a bass drum, and a floor tom. The bass drum can also be called a kick drum, but it is actually one instrument. The floor tom is a tom-tom with a stand or legs. It is placed on the floor. The bass drum can’t be mistaken for anything else. It is big, provides low sounds, and is usually played by kicking it with the pedal. Now, you can understand the names.

Which drum set is better for beginners, 4 or 5-piece?

Many musicians say that the best way to start your learning is by playing on 4-piece drums. They are lighter, simple to install, and do not require so much energy and knowledge as a 5-piece kit. The 4-piece set is considered to be basic, while the 5-piece one is the more extended version. At the same time, if you are going to learn to play a 5-piece drumming kit, I recommend you buy it from the very beginning and master your skills.

The Perfect Setup

I hope my tips and guidance were helpful to you. After learning how to place the drumming kit, you may already have found that the whole procedure is unique for everyone. It is based on the number of drums you want to include in the set, the music you want to play, your height, and even whether the bass drum is drilled or not.

If you already have the drumming kit installed, you can share your thoughts about it in the comments below. Which kit do you have? Do you have any specific preferences on the distance between you and the drums? Do you adjust the set often after you install it at first?

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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