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How To Set Up Your Drum Kit

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Gabriel walks through the parameters and principles of setting up your drum kit. Tune in to get some great tips on kit placement and drumming posture .

What's In This Session?
  • How NOT To Set Up Your Drum Set (0:00)

  • Know The Frequencies of Your Drum Set (0:36)

  • Deeper vs. Thinner Snare Drum (1:05)

  • How to Mix Your Cymbals (1:54)

  • How to Mix the Whole Kit (2:23)

  • Dynamics (3:40)

The Full Transcript
"Hey I'm Gabriel and welcome to Worship Solutions. This is how not to set up your drum set Okay for real this time. Let's talk about the right way to set up your drums. I'm just gonna walk through some parameters. every drummer has you their own individual tastes and placements that catered not only to their style, but also to the length of their arms, and how tall they are. So you can take some liberties in this, but I'm just gonna teach you a few principles that will help you, kind of as a great starting place to know whether your drums are set up in such a way that might be comfortable to you, but maybe you're setting yourself up for some bad habits, and if that's the case, you'll want to reverse those habits and start to transition your your kit in into the right direction. To give you a good drumming posture: I don't have the best drumming posture in the world. There are drummers that have way better posture than I do. Dave Whitworth has great posture, Joe Vogt, Jesse Proctor; a lot of the guys that play for the worship artists that you listen to and love, they’re great. For me, I do like to sit up straight with my shoulders not slouching. It’s kind of bad to play like that. So you want to have yourself up and just give yourself some room to lean into the groove when you get into it, but you don't want to be slouching your shoulders forward because it's gonna set you up to not have very fast wrist response as you're going around the drums. So drummers will usually set up straight and that's a good place to start. You’ll notice that the snare is in between my knees generally speaking. Most drummers you don't want to be up on your snare with your knees completely to the center of the snare drum unless you have really really long legs. I'm about 5’10” on a really confident, day so my legs aren't super long. For me, I want the snare drum so when I'm holding my stick, the center of the snare is when my hand is on my thigh. That’s how I've learned to place my snare. So you'll notice my elbow and my arms pretty straight. My arms not forward and it's not back, because that would put my snare here or that would put my snare here. But in order to have my snare kind of in the center of my posture, the center of my stick gravity that's where it is. So right here, this arms straight, I can get to the center of the snare this no problem. And so the same thing then, everything kind of stems from that. I've got my kick drum to, when I'm in proper snare posture, my kick pedal is right with my legs straight down. I don't have my foot way forward. I’m not sitting super far back to where it would look more like this from the aerial view. it's more that my knee is right where it needs to be in order for my stick to stay center of the snare. Same thing here with my hi-hat, my leg goes straight down. My hi-hat isn't way out here so that my foots way out. My hat is to where my legs are, straight down to the ground. I hope that makes sense, because I've seen some guys that, you know, the kick drums really far forward or sometimes they're actually almost the opposite way to where their knee touches the rim. But at the end of the day, that builds some bad drumming posture and we want to try to correct that. As you're going then out from your snare drum onto the kit, you've got your hi-hat. Now notice my hi-hat is roughly nine inches, maybe eight inches or ten inches, right in there off of my snare drum. How I like to measure that is actually pretty easy. The black mark on a ProMark stick. Super easy! That's the proper hi-hat, it's about halfway up your stick. So what that allows for, is my hands aren't gonna hit each other because my hi-hats not so low that as I'm playing a groove, I don't have any stick action with my left hand onto the snare, and my hi-hat isn't this high either. Because sometimes if it's this high up, as we illustrated earlier before and your snares too far low, it can be really, really awkward. Except you know maybe in some interesting like Vaudeville or Blue Man Group, sorts of like theatrical performances. But as a practice for drummers, it's best to have it about that far up, give or take a few inches at most. That allows for a reasonable amount of stick action, but you don't get carried away. I have my rack tom slightly inverted. Some guys will have flat rack toms and that's totally a preference. I know some guys even have forward rack Toms. I think Joe Vogt, first saw him play, I don't know if he still does it this way, but I was always amazed: he had his tom up at a snare forward because that was his technique. That's neither bad nor good. That's just a particular thing. My tom sits kind of facing me. If I'm laying my hand out, it’s kind of getting a deer to eat in the palm of your hand. So my snare is mostly flat, my rack tom is at about this angle right there. My floor tom is at the same height as my snare. It's not lower, it's not actually higher, it's roughly the same height. So that allows for later, when you're doing these builds like that, you're not way too low or way up high and then out from there at about the same height. Roughly the same height, then roughly the same angle is my ride cymbal. Now sometimes I'll move my ride over just a little bit more with a boom stand, but not all of us have the luxury of a boom stand, which is why we wanted to use a straight stand, because not every church has really high quality heavy-duty boom cymbal stands that can support the weight of a big cymbal like a ride cymbal. So when you have a straight stand, it's just good to put that. You'll notice the stand is roughly equal in distance that the base of the stand is about, where the kick drum rim is, and that's gonna put the bell of the cymbal about where the kick drum rim in, and you're just moving it so that the points at which when your arm is mostly straight. You’re hitting the center of the drums and you're hitting the cymbal. If my cymbal was way out here, then I'd be here for fills and my cymbals out here. So you can kind of see the rhyme and reason of drum postures. You don't necessarily want to be reaching too far for things unless that's just like, ‘Man, I'm rocking out and I'm like really into this moment,’ then it's kind of cool to have maybe a little bit more arm action. But you don't want that to be a necessity while you're playing, because of poor kit placement cymbal over here. It's pretty easy assembly here, this is just all a stick length. Crash cymbal here, you've got your floor tom, you can see from the overhead view. I've got a reasonable amount of real estate and there's good distance between the cymbals and the center of my floor tom. You want to make this so that you're not necessarily going, ‘Crud I just hit my ride cymbal.’ You don't want to do, that so you basically want to keep it, and make sure that your floor toms center is accessible and you can even do this while you're setting up your drums. Just with your hand like am I actually able to get a whole hand straight down onto it, because if so then I'm probably gonna be just fine as I'm playing around the drums. So that's a basic rundown and I hope that that helps you get great drum posture and even improves your chops, because you got a figure as things are placed with like a certain amount of intention and design, you can get faster with your runs, you play more effortlessly. It's easier to play with dynamics and you're well on your way to becoming a great drummer."