o·rig·i·nal·i·ty; noun; the ability to think independently and creatively

No history lesson today. This post is a personal one. I want to talk about drum setups. This topic was instigated by an individual who emailed me about my unique kit and shared that he had been scoffed at by some other musicians for quote: “setting his drums up wrong.” This statement is so ludicrous I had to respond publicly…

I am constantly rearranging my drums and most of my setups are very unorthodox to say the least. My kit usually revolves around a three or four piece configuration with a minimal amount of cymbals. In fact I rarely use a ride. As you can see in the video below I use a PDP kit with an 18” bass drum, 14” floor tom (in place of a rack tom), two 14” snares (one in place of the floor tom), two hi-hats (14” and 16”), an 18” Sabian crash, a Meinl 18” trash stack, an auxiliary tambourine, and a sample pad with triggers. Sometimes I will use three hi-hats, a 10” popcorn snare and a single roto tom in place of rack toms. Unlike most drummers I intentionally use unmatched heads (Evans and Remo) and I sit very high over the drums. Ergonomically this looks like a nightmare but it really works well for me. This setup may change again at any time depending on my mood. The only consistency is that I never use a traditional arrangement. As a pocket-player, I rely on my snares and hi-hats more than any other part of the kit hence why I tend to use dual setups.

If you think this is strange, check out my friend Garrett Goodwin’s drums or Daru Jones’ setup. Both have minimal kits slanted away from them and practically sitting on the floor – its genius and madness all at once. Unique may be an understatement when describing Garrett’s gear. According to him, “People may think I had some brilliant concept for this rig, but to be completely honest, I simply didn’t know any better. I never had anyone show me how to set up a drum set, so I just did what felt right. Someone else may think I’m nuts, but this is what works for me.” The number of slanted pieces is the only thing small about Garrett’s kit. He plays a massive DW Collectors Series with a 26” bass drum, 14” and 18” floor toms, and a 14” snare. Most notably are the monstrous Sabian cymbals that he employs. These include 22” and 24” crashes, a 24” ride and 18” hi-hats.

Jones’ severely slanted kit takes it one step further with his DW Classic Series drums featuring a 26” bass drum, 12” rack, 18” floor, and a 16” VLT snare with chrome finish. He also employs 13″ Dark Crisp hi-hats, 18″ Mellow Crash, 21″ Dark Dry Ride. According to him, “I’m always experimenting with my sound and the look of my set-up. I started playing the snare drum tilted first and then decided to tilt the floor tom because I wanted it to line-up symmetrically with the snare. I like to dominate the drums so I sit really high and come down hard.”

Both of these heavy hitters personify the fact is there is no “right” or “wrong” way to set up a drum set. N-o-n-e. Each and every drummer has their own preferences that support their style of play. The key is to not get caught up in speculating about what other people think. I know a drummer who would setup his kit so that it “looked good” regardless if the placement was uncomfortable. He would literally walk around his drums from afar, then make adjustments solely based on the aesthetics. His priority was misguided and it negatively affected his performance. My configuration fits how I want to play, not how I want to look. My recommendation is simply this: don’t give a damn about what other people think. Setup your drums YOUR way and remember that it matters more what you sound like than what you look like. Everyone has their own style, don’t compromise yours for anything. Just look how weird I am…



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Filed under Drums and Drumming

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