Struggles of Short Drummer and 5-Piece with Offset Toms

dragonfly66

Member
I'm 5'2", female. The kit is 20x18 / 14x14 / 12x8 / 10x7.

I'm attempting the ergonomic setup of having the toms offset to the left as opposed to over the bass drum. I have been struggling with the tom angle and height as well getting a good position in the throne with the hi hat moved further out. I was previously playing a bop kit with one 10x7 rack and an 18" bass drum (on an Dixson Lift). It was fairly easy to find a comfortable setup.

With the added tom and taller bass drum (it's on the Dixson riser too) and the movement of the hi-hat I don't feel comfortable. Hard to lift my legs, can feel strain in back, obliques. I was comfortable with my bop kit and now I'm like a fish out of water.

I have looked at this ergonomic series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gb8D3jSC4F8, which says because I'm short I need to angle the toms more. I'm going to start all over again with the bass drum, snare, and hi-hat and getting my feet in a comfortable position and then add from there.

Any advice or suggestions/tips on the offset setup and very short player would be great.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
First thing is take the lift off and then lower the spurs to level the bass drum out.
You don't really need a lift with a 20" bass drum.

I don't offset my toms, but someone else will chime in for that.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Advice for all drummers. First set the throne, then the bass drum pedal, and the the high hat pedal. Then drop the snare in, and and put the toms where they fit and where you can reach them. You don't want the tom angles to steep, but low and flat as possible that you can reach without stretching. Set your throne so that your knees are just lower than your hips. Heel up, or heel down will determine the height. But don't have your knees higher. One thing I noticed at the beginning of that video, although it was the main topic, the stick figure had knees and hips at the same level. Get your hips a bit higher.

As for the lift. As was mentioned, get rid of it. That will give you 2 to 3 inches to play with.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I'm tall, but don't let that discourage you. I'm also all about ergonomics and correct body position.

Start with your throne and pedals. The center of your throne and pedals should form an isoceles triangle. Just sit at your throne and get comfortable. Look at your feet. Put your pedals there. Now add the kick to your bass pedal. Your foundation, kick and hats, are where they need to be.

Add the snare next. It should bisect the triangle made by your feet and seat.

Now that your foundation is there, build around it. For me, the ride would be next, followed by the toms, cymbals, and any other accessories (cowbell, etc.).

It's really that easy. You should be just as comfortable sitting at your drums as you do at the dinner table. The utensils are different, but there in lies the fun part!

FWIW, I'm 6' and my wife is 5'3. While she doesn't play, she has sat down and hit them with no height issues.
 

whiteknightx

Silver Member
good advice so far. I'd also suggest you could try swapping the positions of the 10" and 12" toms, that would allow you to bring them down a little lower. Check out Anika Nilles kit for an example, or Kenny Aronoff. I have my toms offset using a stealth rack, and you can get them down pretty low and flat, the more offset you can go and still be comfortable.
 

lefty2

Platinum Member
I'm 5'6 and used a 20" kick for a while, loved it. I can't imagine having it on a riser. It's tall enough with-out one. That's what I liked most about the 20 is, I could lower my toms on the kick, lower than on a 22.
 

dragonfly66

Member
Got it, get rid of the riser. I used it with the 18" bass drum so the pedal could hit it in the center. I do have more room to lower the toms without it so that is a good thing.

I'm starting from the beginning, going through the steps as advised!
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I'm 5' 1" on a good day (with shoes on) - so let's just say I default to 5' 00" usually.

I've played all kinds of kit in my lifetime, starting with the usual 22" bass drum, and even have played up to 28" bass drums. I've just learned to deal with it. My current kit is 22" with only one rack tom. When I've played two rack toms in the traditional position, I would just adjust and go for it and I've never really had anything to complain about.

Simon Phillips put out a great video for Tama years ago about set-up ergonomics.
And I've followed his direction once or twice and ti works. Maybe you're already doing it, but you have to start with you being comfortable, and then making the kit work for you. In the 80s it was easy to do this as the hardware is very ergonomic and you can position stuff easily. As a kid in the 70s, I was playing gear from the 50s and 60s and you'd be surprised at how they stuff just won't help you at all.

But set up your bass drum, and set your stool so you're comfortable sitting at it, then add your snare, then your hi-hat. Everything else goes around that, because 98% of the time that's what you're playing the most. You probably won't have a problem playing two toms mounted on the bass drum when you start like that, everything will just be more angled than usual. But even that didn't stop me from setting up like Stewart Copeland (all toms flat) and I played like him for years while I was under the Police influence.

Start with the bass drum/snare drum/hi hat position, then move everything else in around that, then you'll be good.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Got it, get rid of the riser. I used it with the 18" bass drum so the pedal could hit it in the center.
You'll get more tonal response from your bass drum if you don't hit the center of the head. Anything up to a couple of inches above center is fine (or below center if you want to use a bigger bass drum. This guy seems to get by just fine with 26" bass drums :)
 

Attachments

SquadLeader

Gold Member
You'll get more tonal response from your bass drum if you don't hit the center of the head. Anything up to a couple of inches above center is fine (or below center if you want to use a bigger bass drum. This guy seems to get by just fine with 26" bass drums :)
No laces in his boots. Interesting the stuff you notice when one's studying other drummers :)
 

dragonfly66

Member
You'll get more tonal response from your bass drum if you don't hit the center of the head. Anything up to a couple of inches above center is fine (or below center if you want to use a bigger bass drum. This guy seems to get by just fine with 26" bass drums :)
Thanks for this info.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
You'll get more tonal response from your bass drum if you don't hit the center of the head. Anything up to a couple of inches above center is fine (or below center if you want to use a bigger bass drum. This guy seems to get by just fine with 26" bass drums :)
I thought he only used mere 24" bass drums :)

You learn something new every day!
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
I'm 5'6 and used a 20" kick for a while, loved it. I can't imagine having it on a riser. It's tall enough with-out one. That's what I liked most about the 20 is, I could lower my toms on the kick, lower than on a 22.
I agree, it seems a bit counterintuitive if you are struggling with being on the shorter side to do something that actually raises up your drums.

Like others have said, the goal is to just set things up around your throne and reach. Doesn't matter if you are 4'5" or 6'5", it kind of all gets setup the same way.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
.... I was comfortable with my bop kit and now I'm like a fish out of water....

I would say don't give up on mounting your toms on the bass drum.
They're shallow enough that it should work for you if you don't use a riser.
An 18" bass drum with a riser sits at the same height as a 20" without a riser.

Also, you could try just using one tom on the 20. The same size that you had on the bop kit.
It should feel more familiar and be just about the same size all around.

Another thought is that the bop kit may be just the right size for you.
If you give all the ideas here a try and still don't feel comfortable (after a while),
maybe you should stick with the bop sizes.
The only reason not to would be if you play gigs where you use someone else's set,
and have to deal with whatever's available.

One last thought is to try different throne heights.
I sit pretty high because of the way I play the bass drum, but that also helps with height issues.
 

dragonfly66

Member
I would say don't give up on mounting your toms on the bass drum.
They're shallow enough that it should work for you if you don't use a riser.
An 18" bass drum with a riser sits at the same height as a 20" without a riser.

Also, you could try just using one tom on the 20. The same size that you had on the bop kit.
It should feel more familiar and be just about the same size all around.

Another thought is that the bop kit may be just the right size for you.
If you give all the ideas here a try and still don't feel comfortable (after a while),
maybe you should stick with the bop sizes.
The only reason not to would be if you play gigs where you use someone else's set,
and have to deal with whatever's available.

One last thought is to try different throne heights.
I sit pretty high because of the way I play the bass drum, but that also helps with height issues.
I'm taking an ergonomic approach to my setup because I'm over 50 and I feel every little thing. I want to start off in the best set up for me to avoid any injuries ;-).

I may go to the one tom, that was my intent, but thought I'd give the offset two toms a try. The problem is with the extra tom the hi hat has to move more to the left too and I'm further away from the 12" tom. With one tom I'm closer to everything.

I'm pretty far from gigging at this point so no worries there.

I have been trying different throne heights and it does make a difference.

I've come up with a setup last night and am trying it out. I'll play it for a while and see how it goes.
 
Last edited:

gdmoore28

Gold Member
The comfort/reach/practicality issues are what has kept me playing a one-up, two down set for most of my life. My last effort at using two offset ride toms ended with the same issues you are having - the high hat was just too far to my left for a natural setup.

In the end, I've always come back to the fact that 90% of my playing time in a band is centered on the bass/snare/ride tom/hi hat area. As long as I focus my setup on those four instruments, I can enjoy complete and natural comfort. I've simply decided that I'm not going to sacrifice my long-term comfort for the sake of an extra ride tom.

GeeDeeEmm
 

beatdat

Senior Member
Have you tried setting up your kit with the 12" to the left of your hi-hat? You'll be able to play a 1-up (similar to, if not the same as, your bop kit) and have the extra voice of the third tom as well.
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
good advice so far. I'd also suggest you could try swapping the positions of the 10" and 12" toms, that would allow you to bring them down a little lower. Check out Anika Nilles kit for an example, or Kenny Aronoff. I have my toms offset using a stealth rack, and you can get them down pretty low and flat, the more offset you can go and still be comfortable.
I'm not small but after seeing a couple people do that, I've thought about maybe trying it out that way when I use a 24" Kick.
 
Top