High-Hat Positioning

Chrispb7

Member
Hi guys, I would like help with setting up my high-hat. Right now its positioned
further away than most set ups. Its not quite as high as the top of my rack toms.

I see in a lot of videos the high hat is positioned more towards the drummer,
but when i do that and my lead hand is crossed over the top of my left, when-
ever i hit the snare and bring up my stick it hits my leads hand stick.

How should i set this up exactly, height, position, everything. I dont under stand
how someone could play a moeller technique, thats why i usually have my lead
arm kinda around my snare so my arms arent crossing. Sorry if this is confusing
but help would be much appreciated.

Thanks.
 

drummydude

Senior Member
For me I play a single bass drum with a double pedal. My hi hat position ends up where it does because I keep the hi hat pedal close to my left bass drum pedal. This places the hi hat so it is slightly out in front of the kit, not to my side. Kind of forms a triangle between the snare, the first rack tom, and the hi hat. This enables me to do cross stick patterns between the hats and the snare or rack toms. The height of my cymbals are slightly lower than my rack toms. (about 1-2")

But I have to agree somewhat with the previous post. It's a personal thing. However executing certain technique can be enhanced or burdened depending on how your drums are setup. Keep playing around with your set up. You'll eventually find what works for you and I'm sure it'll evolve as your technique changes. Good luck.
 

Chrispb7

Member
Do it however is comfortable to you. Why care what other drummers do?
See thats why I do it because it's comfortable for me, but, i feel like it slighly burdens
my bass drum playing because i have to lean forward a little bit. Ive noticed when im
riding my ride cymbal and can lean back i can play the bass much more affectively, that's
the reason i ask.

So here's a question. For those of you who do cross your lead hand over your snare hand,
does your snare stick every go up to high and hit your lead hand stick, on a regular basis?
If it doesnt how do you position it?

Thanks guys, you are tons of help.
 

drummydude

Senior Member
For those of you who do cross your lead hand over your snare hand,
does your snare stick every go up to high and hit your lead hand stick, on a regular basis?
If it doesnt how do you position it?
No I don't have this issue. I play with my legs parallel to the floor. My snare drum is just slightly leaning forward with the height of the head about 5-6" above the top of my legs. Hi Hat is probably 8-10" higher than the snare batter head.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
FRom what you have said here I think your hi hat is too high. Mine is a few inches above my snare. If yours is up by your toms I would say it is too high.
 

nacdrummer3

Member
I position my double pedals right where i want them and then move in my hi hat right next to the slave pedal. It ends up being like 4 inchs away from my snare or something like that. I also position my hi hat very high. Higher then my toms, and i never get that problem probably because it is so high which is what i like. And i also positiong it so that if i bring my hand up it is pefectly beneaath my lead hand. it is comfortable to me. There is no such thing as to high unless you can reach it anymore lol. Never has my right stick hit my lead hand while playing. Im a lefty btw. try bringing it in so its right next to your slave pedal and you should be alot more comfortable plus raise it a litle bit higher. Good luck!
 

timmdrum

Silver Member
Ok, my technique seems a little unconventional at first (which is why I don't teach it to my students unless I'm asked), but if you think about it, it makes sense. It probably won't work if you play with the palms-in French grip, but I use the palms-down grip.

A little background: in the late 80's, before I owned my 1st kit, I dabbled on the one at school some but always had trouble with the arm-crossing thing. Then I saw the beginning of the video for "The One I Love" by R.E.M, an above-the-kit shot of Bill Berry playing the intro, and... he was still leading with his right hand on the hat, yet his arms aren't crossed...?!? It was the 1st time I'd seen that. So, soon as I got my kit, I never once played with my arms crossed. But, since he's the only guy I ever saw do that on MTV (it used to be good for something, I guess, haha), I thought I was really gonna have to do something freakishly weird to do it. I was wrong.

From the start, I had great hand & wrist technique from school band, and I already knew when I got my kit to make sure I sat in as natural a position as possible, so as to not make my body have to work to do anything but play. No arms chicken-winged out, no hunching over, no turning my feet at the ankle (keeping them in line with my thighs), etc. This means I knew from the beginning that, if you sat on the stool completely straight without twisting your torso the bass drum is NOT the center of your available, ummm... "realm of reach" (I just made that up), but it sits off to the right of it because that's where your leg is pointing- just like the right-side BD of a double bass setup. Too many single-bass drummers center everything around the BD, which is not the center of the available reach of your torso, so instead of making sure everything else is closer to their center, they twist the torso to the right. That's a big mistake.

So, with the BD positioned so the pedal sits just under where my right foot fell when straddling the snare drum, I did the same with the hi-hat stand. If you looked at the pedals from the driver's seat, they were perfectly symmetrical and equidistant from the center of my snare stand. That wasn't the result of OC tendencies, but of simple logic of placing things where I didn't have to reach unnaturally. With the hi-hat in this position, I didn't have to cross my arms. Starting with my hands at my sides, then bringing them up from the elbow into the textbook "starting position" (tips of drumsticks in the center of the snare head without having to move my upper arm at all, in any direction), my forearms were not pointing toward the same point as the sticks because of my grip- remember, with palms down, the stick doesn't extend straight from your arm, but rather comes out at a roughly 45 degree angle. So my forearms were parallel to each other, while the sticks formed the shape of the top half of a "square diamond" (like a box tipped corner-up) and the tips were at the center of the drum head. I then simply moved my right forearm up so that I'd raised my wrist by about 3 inches, forward about 4 inches, and then to the left about 3, and my stick was at the hi-hat cymbals at about the 4:00 or 4:30 spot. My left stick could raise to completely vertical and back to the snare head with no impedence from my right arm or stick, clearing my hand & wrist by a few inches- not even close enough to fear whacking my arm.

So, I've never had to deal with any arm-crossing problem and my arms are in a very natural position to play everything on the kit with either hand, all thanks to Bill Berry.
 

drummydude

Senior Member
FRom what you have said here I think your hi hat is too high. Mine is a few inches above my snare. If yours is up by your toms I would say it is too high.
A few inches above your snare? Now "for me", that's too low. Nothing wrong with that at all. I think this is more of the personal side of things that I mentioned in my first post.

Actually I somtimes want to change the height depending on what I'm playing. For example, if I'm playing a triplet feel shuffle groove I want the hats low, but if I'm slammin quarters along to my favorite Foo Fighters tune then I want them high. Mine are really kind of in the middle of the overall height adjustment. About 6-8" of the rod is still above the clutch. This is the most comfortable to me and allows me to play a variety of styles. I've tried taking advice from other drummers several times on the topic of setup. Some things stuck with me,others didn't. Do what works best for you and allows you to move freely around your kit without hurting yourself.
 
A few inches above your snare? Now "for me", that's too low. Nothing wrong with that at all. I think this is more of the personal side of things that I mentioned in my first post.

Actually I somtimes want to change the height depending on what I'm playing. For example, if I'm playing a triplet feel shuffle groove I want the hats low, but if I'm slammin quarters along to my favorite Foo Fighters tune then I want them high. Mine are really kind of in the middle of the overall height adjustment. About 6-8" of the rod is still above the clutch. This is the most comfortable to me and allows me to play a variety of styles. I've tried taking advice from other drummers several times on the topic of setup. Some things stuck with me,others didn't. Do what works best for you and allows you to move freely around your kit without hurting yourself.
Yeah, for me personally that is way too low. I used to play with it down that low and did the reach-around thing instead of crossing over, but I had a tendency to hit my right arm or hand on the downstroke which really really hurts. So eventually I raised it. Right now it sits probably 6-9" above my snare (which ends up actually being higher than my rack tom, but my set-up is sort of weird).

I guess my suggestion would be to keep migrating the upwards over time as you get used to it and you won't be hitting yourself anymore. I've never felt like reaching around rather than crossing over was very comfortable or efficient. Even when I played like that I hated it.
 

Anne Beeche

Senior Member
However works for you and your style is fine. Just experiment and figure it out.

Don't just move around your hats, move different parts of the entire kit. Maybe your snare's too high for you. Maybe your bass needs to be in a different position. Who knows? Go find out.
 

veggo32

Silver Member
The problem to me sounds like a technique issue and not a hihat positioning issue.
When you cross your hands and play the hihats practice isolating your arms and only using your wrists to strike the hihat (keep your arm level not angled.) Some drummers have a tendency to drop their elbow low when they are perpetuating the strike with their arms. So, the cure is keep your elbow level with your hand and practice using wrist on the hats. When you get used to this position then you can use a bit of arm for more power, but keeping in mind that your arm angle stays fairly straight and your elbow doesn't drop down. You will get used to it. Watch some videos on the site from some pros and you will see what I mean.
Hope this helps.
 

Mikecore

Silver Member
I started using a remote hat about 11 years ago, and I position it dead center over my rack toms. Mind you, this is on a twin bass setup, so think of it like this: if you are seated forward with your kick(s) in a comfortable position, and the snare is in a comfortable spot right in front of you, then you have established an imaginary line from your center through the center of the snare and right in between the pedals. With that done you can go one of two ways. The first is what I'm doing (and Danny Carey tried this too for a time, but wasn't happy with the action of the remote hat he tried), where the toms are set in front of the snare and then the hats go above that. The other option is to place the hats right in front of the snare and then start the rack toms down from there. In either setting you have the hats right in front of you and you never have to cross over, not to mention the side benefit of having equal right/left hand access.



The main drawback to this is that it's not cheap. A good remote pedal like the DW 9503LB I'm using has a street price around 350 bucks, and it's still essential to test the actual pedal you are buying to ensure that it will not "bog down" in the position you need to set it up in (my first remote was a DW 5502LB with TERRIBLE action due to a defective cable, which John Good personally offered to deal with, much to his credit. I should have done my testing ahead of time).

If you trust your own craftsmanship enough to try it, you can make your own remote out of old hi-hat stands and a few parts from the bicycle shop (see the Kit Of The Month in the April 2009 Modern Drummer). I have also tried this with some success, but ultimately I am too obsessive/compulsive to have such a "Frankenstein" in my kit, so hello 9000 pedal!

With a standard hi-hat, I would say that there is DEFINITELY a too low position that will lead to conflict when crossing over, and if you can find a balance between height, foot position and hand position that works without causing you pain (y'know, bad posture, twisting torso etc...) then you can happily ignore the previous three paragraphs and save a bunch of money in the process! :)
 

Baddstuff

Senior Member
not trying to be a wise-ass but I never understand posts like this. How drums are setup, tuned, etc, is a very personal thing and it's basically whatever works for you. I recently saw Steve Gadd and was surprised at how low he really sits but you know what...that might not work for some drummers but it works for him. Just experiment, move things around until you find what suits your movements best and what feels comfortable. Drum setups are about as personal as it gets.
 

Funky Crêpe

Silver Member
not trying to be a wise-ass but I never understand posts like this. How drums are setup, tuned, etc, is a very personal thing and it's basically whatever works for you. I recently saw Steve Gadd and was surprised at how low he really sits but you know what...that might not work for some drummers but it works for him. Just experiment, move things around until you find what suits your movements best and what feels comfortable. Drum setups are about as personal as it gets.
i agree, but dont you need ideas aswell??....i also sit low, but not because of gadd
but i do have my right tom facing slightly right, due to watching old jazz drummers...
 

Baddstuff

Senior Member
what I'm saying is you just have to try different heights, placements, angles, etc.
It's Ok to checkout other setups but because we're all built differently and move differently we have to find what works best for us regardless of what anyone else is doing. After enough trial and error one should eventually find what feels the best and allows for efficient movements on the kit. Again, it's quite personal.
 
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