Many beginner drummers do not realize the importance of properly setting up their drum throne and drums. Not only will it make it easier to play the drums and create a better sound, but it is also beneficial for your health and wellness while playing. Comfort is key when it comes to drumming, and that all starts with properly setting up the drum height.
The perfect height for a drum throne sees your hips just a bit above your knees. Once that is in place, you can set up your drums around your throne. A proper setup will protect your back from injury and improve your drumming over time. Read on to learn all the steps you need for setting up your drum and throne to achieve your correct height.
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Sitting on the drum throne properly is imperative to your physical health. Just like properly sitting in front of a computer, if you are slouching over the drums, leaning too far back from the equipment, or are sitting too high or low, you could strain your back or cause an injury to your body over time. Correct posture will help you relax your body.
Drummers often get lower back pain if sitting too low or leg exhaustion if sitting too high. In addition, sitting properly will help you become a better drummer. You will be able to drum faster and for longer periods of time when you are sitting on the drum throne properly. Rocking back and forth will be limited, so your play will be more consistent.
For example, if you are balanced on the throne, complicated patterns will be easier to accomplish. In addition, because you can play for longer periods of time and faster, having a proper poster will also help you vary your instrumentation, patterns, and beats. Practicing proper posture will protect your health while improving your drumming.
The key to accomplishing proper ergonomics depends on the height of the drum throne. After you determine this factor, then you can build the drum kit around the throne so that your back is protected and your play can improve. You need to set up the drum throne so that your back is supported and stable and your hands fall comfortably on the drums.
Like any exercise, drumming incorrectly can be bad for your back and cause lifelong injuries if you play improperly over time. When setting up your drum throne and drums, it all comes down to ergonomics. This term is a fancy way of defining how to arrange the drums so that you are playing efficiently and safely.
Proper ergonomics ensure the following:
- Your thighs are parallel to the ground
- Your back is straight
- You can reach all of the drums and cymbals easily
Setting up your drum throne and drums for ergonomic use incorporates many different components, from the height of the throne and drum placement to your posture and leg placement. As long as you set up your drum throne and drum kit with ergonomics in mind, you should be able to play in a relaxed and healthy manner for years to come.
The first thing to realize is there is no standard “one size fits all” way to set up a drum throne properly. Drumming ergonomically comes down to respecting your body’s own natural mechanics. A drummer who is six-feet tall will not feel comfortable playing drums on a throne set for someone whose height is five-five inches. This is personal.
You really need to adjust your drum throne so that it meets your own body’s needs and physiological makeup. However, there are some basic tips to help. First, stand next to your drum throne and adjust the height, so the top comes up to slightly above your kneecaps. This is a good start in determining the proper drum throne height for you.
Then, the main rule of thumb is that the drum throne should be set so that your hip bone and thighs are a bit above the top of your knee while sitting so that your leg can move at a natural (and physically healthy) angle. You will notice right away that your muscles are less strained, and you are able to play your drums much better for longer periods.
If your legs are slanting slightly downward when sitting on the throne, you will also be more comfortable. This posture will also help keep your wrists and arms loose so that they do not get fatigued or cramped while you play over longer periods of time. Once the drum throne is positioned properly, everything else will fall into place:
- Bass drum
- Snare drum
The bass and snare drums should be next on the list when it comes to setting up the drums. Your throne height will directly affect how you play the bass, depending on your playing preferences. If you have a drum rug, you can set up your throne towards the back edge of it. Then, you can start to position the drums properly around it.
Positioning the bass drum properly is important because it is the largest drum and should be in the middle of the drum set. The bass drum beater should be tweaked until you can hit the surface around one or two inches from the center of the drum. Remember that the height of the throne also affects the play of the bass drum.
If you use the heel-up technique, which means your heel is raised one to two inches off the pedalboard, your seat should be higher, so you have more control over the bass drum pedal. When playing heel-down, which is when you drop your heel to the base of the pedal plate and rest your foot on the surface of the bass pedal, sitting low is key.
The snare drums should be placed directly in front of the drum throne and at an equal distance between your feet. The snare should be high enough to play the rims of the drum comfortably and without mistakenly hitting your legs. Once you have the bass and snare properly set up based on the throne, you can put the rest into place.
There is a lot of optional equipment that comes with a drum kit, and it really depends on the drummer as to which ones work and do not work. There are various tom drums, cymbals, and pedals in which to choose, and they play a distinguishing role in a drummer’s overall performance. This section will just generalize the setup process.
Setting up the toms should come next. They are the simple drums used to play fills or substituted for cymbals. They do not require foot pedals or other mechanisms, and although many drum sets usually only have one snare and one bass, there could be numerous toms in which to set up. They should be the same height as the snare drum.
There are four types of toms:
- Floor toms
- Rack toms
- Roto toms
- Concert toms
If you have a low tom, it should be placed next to the outside of your right leg. The high tom can be positioned to the right of the snare so that there is space for the crash cymbal. Speaking of cymbals, setting those up really comes down to personal preference. As long as you can access the cymbals easily, put them where you like.
That being said, there are still personal ergonomics to think about with cymbal placement. You want your arms to be relaxed when hitting the cymbals – do not reach or strain to strike them. The angle of the cymbals can affect the sound, so play around with different angles to see what sounds best for your type of play.
To angle or not to angle is a common question when it comes to setting up cymbals. Some drummers like to angle their cymbals in the same direction as their snare drums. Other drummers only have them slightly angled, if at all. It is all about preference and the ease of reaching them since angling the cymbals does affect the overall sound.
Finally, the pedals are a very important aspect of setting up your drums. You should be seated on your stool, sit up straight, and mark where your feet fall on either side of your snare drum. Make sure your feet are natural and not twisted or rotated. Then, you can place the pedals on the marks so that they are accurate for your style of play.
Proper posture is all about having your feet grounded, but this is difficult when you are using the pedals since your foot comes off the ground. If your drum throne does not have back support (most of them do not), you can use your abdomen to help keep your back supported while your feet are off the ground playing the pedals.
Using correct posture may not be the first thing on your mind when you are ready to rock out, but it is quite important for a drummer. Did you immediately sit up straight when reading that sentence? That is normal and should be implemented when drumming. Yet, protecting your health is not just about the height of the drum throne.
Now that your drum throne is at the proper height and your drums are set up make sure you are relaxed and sitting comfortably on the stool. However, you still need to constantly focus on your posture to make sure you have the correct height for your seat. Some other common questions and answers include:
- Do I need a backrest for ergonomics? No, you will not sit back to play.
- Do I want a seat that rotates or not? That is based on your preference.
- What if my seat starts to wobble? Try to tighten it. If it does not tighten, buy a new drum throne.
- How close should my drum throne be to the drum set? Not too close, as you need adequate space for comfort.
- How should my legs be when I am seated? They should angle around ninety degrees or more so that your ankles are ahead of your knees.
Do not sit towards the front of the throne because it will cause unneeded tension on your joints. It may sound strange, but sit down while sticking out your butt just a bit and rotate your pelvis forward. The practice also makes perfect, and using proper posture will help you become a better drummer and guard your back against unwanted injury.
Have you noticed that you are establishing a curvature in your spine? Concentrating on your butt first is healthy for proper play and will help straighten your spine over time. You also want to be properly grounded when playing the drums. Try balancing on one foot – that is how the foot should feel when playing. Your hips should also be aligned.
Take Care to Adjust Your Drum Throne
Most drum thrones can be adjusted anywhere from sixteen inches low to 24 inches high. Young drummers usually adjust the throne so that it is closer to the 16-inch height, while taller players usually feel comfortable in the 21- through the 24-inch range.
However, each drummer should adjust their throne height to what suits them. No two drummers will be exactly the same, so it is essential that each drummer find the sweet spot that works for them.
Most drum thrones have an adjustment screw, but some have a sliding tube and spindle or a nut and bolt lock. The latter is more limited in the height options and is more susceptible to becoming wobbly over time ( this means you may need to replace your drum throne). Some seats are even hydraulic, similar to an office chair.
No matter what type of drum throne you have, you probably do not want to keep adjusting the height. It can be cumbersome and annoying to adjust it over and over again. Therefore, the following steps will help avoid constant adjusting:
- Set up the drum set around the drum throne.
- Sit on the throne with the back of your heels in line with the front of your knee.
- Put your feet on the pedals and get your thighs to be parallel with the ground.
- This is when you should now adjust your throne height!
- Once you are where you need to be, you can lock your throne in place.
One of the most important things to remember is that you should be sitting on your drum throne when adjusting the height, and the throne should be behind the drum kit. That way, your feet will already be on the pedals, and that extra height difference into consideration compared to the drum kit.
The best way to make sure your drum throne and drums are set up correctly is to experiment with them and play. Every drummer is different, and what may work for one drummer ergonomically may not work for another. The best way to find out what works for you is to simply have fun and play, adjust where needed, and play some more.
Many new drummers are afraid to make changes after they set everything up, but you should never play uncomfortably. This will hurt you physically and affect your drumming overall. Give yourself some time to adjust to the height of the drum throne and the placement of the drum kit. If you still feel uncomfortable, adjustments may be needed.
Playing the drums comfortably is all about balance. You will more than likely feel a bit awkward when you first sit behind your drums and start to play. You may lose your balance when playing the bass drum pedal or moving from snare to cymbal. But, things should get more comfortable pretty quickly. Just remember that posture is everything.
If you lose your posture and start slouching forward, you can end up with back issues over time. This is why the basic set-up of the drum throne and drums is so important. You need to concentrate on your height and posture from the beginning to help ground yourself on your drum throne and sustain your balance while playing the drum kit.
So, your drum throne and drums are set up for ergonomic use, your posture looks great, and your feet are grounded. You can now take a deep breath, grab your sticks, and start a long life of playing the drums in a physically healthy way. Lean back, lift your feet off the ground and see if you are balanced. Then lean forward and get ready to play!