Last week I read an interesting article posted over on moderndrummer.com’s blog. MD’s Educational Team weighed in on the Ergonomics of Drumming. Each member broke down their own preferences and why they chose them. This is a subject that I have often wondered about as my setup is a bit unorthodox. All of my drums and cymbals are set low and flat and I don’t even use a rack tom or ride cymbals.
I’ve had some serious back problems over the years resulting in four back surgeries so ergonomics are a subject that I take seriously. For me personally having my drums setup low and close together promotes less bending and simplified arm motions. I have a drum-line background so stick height is also an important part of my style. My signature Rich Sticks promote healthy hands. Some may say it is economy of movement that results in Ergonomics.
My base kit is a Ludwig Breakbeats that features a rototom and tambourine mounted in place of rack toms. My single crash and china cymbal sit just beyond that. The snare drum sits at belt height. My floor tom is lined up parallel and stands as close as I can get it without touching my leg. This enables me to play the kit without having to bend or reach. The only drawbacks are when I’m moving around the kit at a fast pace and accidentally hit more than one surface at a time. As I use ddrum triggers on all of my drums the sensitivity settings can be a curse at times.
Here are some suggestions from the MD Educational Team:
My suggestion is to first get your instrument set up in such a way that you feel it as an extension of your limbs. It is important to get the drums set up so that you can reach any single instrument without having the need to overstretch. – Florian Alexandru-Zorn
My recommendation is to start with the drums and cymbals placed so you don’t have to do any unnecessary reaching, be it upward or outward. A good idea is to base your setup on a four-piece kit, even if you play larger sets. You should be able to comfortably strip your kit down and develop it from there. – Jeremy Hummel
The goal is always clear: to achieve a place of comfort and balance from which we can go in any direction without feeling impeded in any way. The more aware we are of our mechanics, the easier it should be to figure out how high or low we should sit, as well as the the heights, distances and angles of the elements of our beloved instrument. – Marko Djordevic
I tell all my beginner students at their first lesson the most important part of the drumset is the throne. If it’s not set to a comfortable height and position, playing the drums effectively will be much more challenging and uncomfortable. – Jeff Salem
I think it’s very important for a player to experiment often with his/her setup to find what works best. What a player likes often changes and evolves over time. – David Stanoch
Ask a hundred drummers how to set up a drumkit, and you’ll get a hundred different answers. We are human beings, and as such, are in a constant state of flux. What works today on this gig may not work tomorrow on another. But that’s part of the journey of playing the drums. – Mike Sorrentino