How do you set up your kit? Toms mounted on the kick drum? Toms over kick drum but mounted on stands? Toms to the side? Four piece? Five piece? Large kit? Double bass? There are loads of variations out there. Which one do you use? Or are you like me and change it around from time to time?
I have played the basic four piece setup, which I really enjoy for it’s simplicity, all the way up to a large double bass kit. A good deal of the decision making process in the size of your kit is made by the style of music you play. A prog rock drummer is likely going to play a much larger kit than a traditional jazz drummer, although there are exceptions to this rule.
I currently play a five piece kit consisting of one kick drum, one snare drum, one floor tom, and two suspended toms. It offers me enough voices, or tones, for variety in fills while still being compact on stage and easy to haul. I do use a double pedal on the bass drum and occasionally use a side snare. The one problem I have with this setup is how to set it up. I keep going back and forth between having the toms in the traditional position, over the kick drum, and in an offset position to the left of the kick drum, like I had them back in my double bass days.
An advantage to having the two toms offset next to the kick drum is that the ride cymbal can be moved in, overlapping the right side of the kick drum like it would be with a four piece kit, which is really comfortable when you spend much time on that cymbal. The down side is that the hi-hat gets moved further away from the snare to make room for having two toms in the position that a single tom would be in a four piece setup.
Keeping the toms above the kick drum has several advantages; hi-hat can be very close to the snare while still leaving room for a cymbal between the hi-hat and first tom and the entire kit is compact and “close knit”, making it wasy to play with minimal wasted energy, and easy to reach everything. The disadvantage is that the ride cymbal has to be moved, either further away to the other side of the floor tom, or higher, above the second tom.
Aesthetically I prefer the traditional, toms over kick, position. Ergonomically I’m torn. I have just switched back to traditional from offset, although I do have the toms on cymbal stands, which allows me to have them shifted slightly to the left instead of evenly centered. A mild compromise.
So, how do you set up your kit? Please feel free to leave a comment and even link to a photo of your kit.