Setting up a drum kit can be real easy...if you know what you're doing! At a first glance, with all the bits and pieces laid out in front of you it can seem like a daunting sight. There are lots of bits, but they do all fit together quite logically!
The best way to deal with this - is piece by piece. We'll cover:
-Skins/heads and seating
-The Kick drum
-The Floor tom
-The Snare drum
-Cymbal stands & Cymbals
Drum Heads & Seating
For each drum, you will need to apply the skins (or drum heads). This involves putting them on and then tuning them. When you apply the skins you apply the skin to the drums rim, the metal rim over the skin, then a tension rod over the rim which then screws into the tension rod holder on the drum. Tighten up all the tension rods for the drum to a nice tight pitch - then using the palm of your hand push onto the drum to 'seat' the skin and get rid of the cracking sound. When you do this you will hear a cracking sound, but this is just the skin getting used to the pressure and is necessary to do so before you fine tune. Do this to remove the cracking sound and then tighten up and then down and then back up to where you want the sound to be. This gets the skin used to pressure and is ready to fine tune.
The high hat
The hi-hat is the cymbal stand that holds the two cymbals that clap together. The high hat usually comes in one box. Take both parts out and one should be the base with the foot pedal folded in. The pedal has 2 metal prongs which need putting in the holes either side of the bottom of the stand. Extend the legs by undoing the nut where the legs meet the body of the stand and unfold them so they sit comfortably on the floor and then tightening the nut back up again. The long part of the stand should screw into the base part, feed it through until it stops and tighten. Adjust the nut further up the stand to get the height right for where the bottom cymbal will sit. Put the cymbal over the rod and onto the bottom seat. There is a clutch for the hi-hat which holds the top cymbal. The clutch has two felts and 2 bolts. One bolt goes at the top of the clutch followed by a felt. Put this through the hi-hat top cymbal. Turn the cymbal over so you can see where the clutch comes through. Put a felt over the clutch and then the other nut. Tighten the nut on the bottom so that it grips the one above - sandwiched between two felts. This then goes over the rod through the clutch and then tighten this to a suitable height so that when the pedal is pushed, the top cymbal comes down onto the bottom cymbal. Playing will show where you need to change this height to the drummers required level - but the norm is about 1".
The Kick Drum
The kick drum pedal comes separately in a box, and simply unfolds and has two prongs that require affixing to the base of the pedal, in the hole at either side. The spring tension should be adjusted to personal taste later and is done by pulling the nut down and then tightening it up at a suitable tension. The kick drum will come with no back skin on usually, maybe without either on. Tip the drum so that it is on its side as this maybe easier to work with. The skin goes on by putting the skin over the rim. Then put the metal rim over this and affix the large tension rod holders to this metal rim. They hook over the edge and the bottom part fits into the tension rod holder on the drum. The tension rod holders are dotted around the drum and has a part where the rods screw into. You need to line up your tension rods with these holders. The tension rods usually come in a separate bag. These then tighten up all around the rim to grasp the skin to the 2 rims. See the drum guide for more info. The legs for the kick drum (so that it sits on the floor and doesn't move!) usually come contracted in the leg holders at the bottom left / right side of the drum or in a separate box. They slip into the holders and there is a nut to tighten so that it grips it in place.
The kick drum pedal attaches to the rim of the kick drum at the bottom so it is flush against the floor and tightens via a T-bolt. There should be a straight bar under the pedal that goes into a hole at the front of the pedal under the T-bolt. Affix the pedal to the drum and then screw the T-bolt tight so it grips the connector between the drum and pedal.
The toms need the tom holder affixing to the top of the kick drum and to the tom itself. The generic tom holder has two parts - one for each tom - and these fit into the top of the kick drum. They fit into the holder and tighten up by the nut. Then adjust the holder to the correct height and tilt by the nuts on the holder. Ensure these are quite tight as they will hold the 'hanging toms' and the will rock a little after prolonged use. The toms themselves need the skins putting on just like the kick drum. Skin over drum, rim over skin, tension rod over rim, screw into tension rod holder. Easy, but a little time consuming. The tom itself will have a connecting part on the side to connect to the tom holder. They usually fit together and then there is a nut to tighten them up on the tom. Do this for both toms and then adjust the stand as necessary.
The Floor tom
Is a bigger version of the hanging toms and comes usually with 2 skins, although some do come with only 1, the batter head (the one which you hit). The skins will need putting on these in the normal way and then the legs will need attaching. Feed through the holders until you reach the desired height then tighten up. Do this for all the legs.
The Snare Drum
The snare drum is the drum which has snare wires running across the bottom. The snare requires both skins (or drum heads) attaching in the usual way and then the snare wires attaching over the bottom. When you are putting the metal rim on the bottom of the drum you have to ensure that the two 'snare beds' are lined up with the parts of the butt-end and the throw off strainer. The snare has what is called a 'snare throw-off' on it which is the part that holds the wires taught over the drum and can be 'thrown-off' to take the wires completely off the drum. The wires come with parts at each end which go through the 'butt end' at one end and into the 'strainer' through the 'throw-end' (see below for pics). The strainer is the part with the arm and the throw-end is the part which the ends of the snare wires go through into the strainer, the butt end being the similar part at the other end of the snare drum across the shell. Feed the ends through the butt-end and there should be two small screws to tighten to hold them in place. Put the other end of the wires through the throw-end and screw taught. Then pull up the arm on the strainer and lock in place using the arm!
The snare holder folds out by undoing the relevant nuts for the legs and for the top part. Gets the legs extended and secured. Then tighten the nut for the top part after you have folded it out so the holder arms are facing up. Unfold the arms and seat the snare in the plastic seats at the end of the arms. Some stands also have another adjuster for the grip on the arms so that you can accommodate bigger / smaller snares.
Cymbals & Stands
The cymbal stands are either straight stands or boom stands and are very easy to set up. Straight stands are just as they say and are vertical stands that the cymbal goes straight on top. Boom stands are just the same but have an arm that comes off at a tangent that holds the cymbal. These can be manipulated more to get a more defined position than a straight stand. Extend the legs at the bottom of the stands by undoing the nuts and then folding them out so they sit comfortably on the floor and tighten. Each telescopic part of the stand has a nut to loosen to adjust the height / angle and then tighten. The cymbal goes over the top, on top of a felt then the cymbal, then another felt and then the top of the stand is screws down to grip. The normal set up is one crash cymbal by the hi hat - next to the hi-tom and the ride cymbal over by the floor tom - next to the mid-tom. For a better set up check out the drum guide for help and pics!
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