faster kit set-up? help!


Senior Member
So my band played there first battle of the bands today. In between bands we all got 10 minutes to set up, but by the time the last band got their stuff off it was actually about 7 or 8 minutes.

Anyway, it was a house drum set, but every other drummer brought their own cymbal stands (which I didn't think would happen), so I had to hurry to get about 4 of the venue's stands and set them all up which was a pain because they were pretty old. Then I had to put on all my cymbals, attach the pedal, hi-hats, stick holder, etc.

I just barely made it with 8 minutes. And I didn't even get to "fine tune" everything's placement, so the first song, I was a wreck. After that I was able to move things around a little in between songs so it was a little better, but next week I have a show where I have to set up my entire kit within the same or slightly longer time frame. Any tips for a quicker set-up?!?!


Gold Member
Knowing precisely what you're going to do and where everything is going to be when you're done is a big help when rushing a set-up. Having a plan is a big part of it.


bringing your own stands should really help. Just mark them while they're set up at home so that you know the most comfortable spot for everything.


Platinum Member
First, always try to bring your own gear with you, even if the venue says gear will be available, it's just better to be safe than sorry plus you usually perform better with your own gear because you're more intimately familiarized with it. If not the whole kit, at least carry your stands, cymbals, pedals and snare.

If your stuff doesn't have memory locks, mark them with something at the settings you prefer, choose something highly visible like a bright color so you can always find a reference point in a rushed and dimly lit venue.

Talk to your band members, tell them it's in the best interest of the band for them to help you setting up as fast as possible, at least the vocalist shouldn't have too much problem with this, if he doesn't know how to set up a kit, teach him! It's not rocket science.

If you bring your own stuff, don't wait till it's your turn to assemble it all, go to a corner and assemble everything so that when it's your turn, it's a matter of putting everything in place. Of course, with this, you need to keep a sharp eye on your stuff because it WILL get stolen if you leave it alone.

And that's about it, if you come organized and prepared, with your bandmates ready to help you out, you should be able to set up in five minutes max. Of course, there's always room for error and you can't predict everything, like my math teacher says: "Nothing's perfect, but we try to minimize error the best we can." It's all about being confident and prepared.


Senior Member
I know exactly what you mean man, and through the years I have a pretty good system. Here’s my limited advice.

*always set the bass drum up first! It’s like the “nucleus” of your kit, and since everything goes around it, bringing it in first, getting the legs down and attaching the pedal are priority one.

*if you have the room (like a trailer, van, station wagon, etc) leave as much set up and ready to go as you can. If I can leave my cymbal stands somewhat where I need them w/o damaging them or anything else, I do. I have a huge station wagon and so I’m able to do that now. If I pack everything into my Taurus I cannot haha.

*it’s likely your buddies will set up before you – have them help you! I’m really happy with my new band, as they know I have tons more stuff to bring in so when they get into place each of the 3 members grabs a couple things, and before you know it all my kit is in and all I have to do is setup!

Good luck brother man, I really and truly know what a hassle it can be when promoters or venues want you to get on ASAP. Not fun sometimes!


Gold Member
I used to use a piece of carpet that was marked for each stand that had memory use a rack..hauled in truck set-up with all arms extended and blocks and stuff mounted to it so I just unfold it slap on the cymbals and go..


Platinum Member
If I was pressed for time, I'd set up as much as I could before getting on stage. Other godsends are memory locks (or a piece of tape around the tube at the required height) and a carpet with my kit markings on it. It all aids in speedier set up and ensuring the kit then sets up the same way each adjustments necessary.


I recommend using a quality permanent marker to do the following while the kit is set up and positioned the way you like it (that is, while it's still set up right now):

For the pipes of a stand (any stand), draw a ring around the pipe so that it acts like a visual memory lock. But also draw a vertical line on both the pipe and the receiver so that you know that it's also in the right 360° position. It'll act as another type of visual memory lock.

For boom stands, draw a line on the tilter assembly so that your line is "broken" when the tilter is not at the correct tilt position (so draw it across the two sections so that your line is broken until the tilter is in the correct position).

Do the same thing for the little cymbal tilter at the top of the stand just in case one of them loosens during travel. I actually had one of those little tilters come loose during travel, and so it consumed a little bit of extra time because I had to try to remember which angle I had it at. I mean, I never touch them so I figured I didn't need to make a mark. But now I tighten every single one of them after every single set up, but I also have a mark on each one just in case.

For the boom arm, make two marks on the boom arm itself: one on either side of the tilter assembly of the stand. But also draw a straight line on both the boom arm and the tilter assembly so that when the boom arm is at the right angle, these lines line up. So I'm talking about when you are turning the boom arm while it is inside of the tilter.

I also recommend drawing a ring around the bottom part of every stand (including the snare stand) so that you know exactly how far out to extend the legs (again, like a visual memory lock).

And you can make marks for the toms too: put a mark on the tom arms so that you know exactly how far up or down the tom arm you want the tom to be. But also mark all other parts that could be changed just in case something loosens during travel, or in case someone else decides to loosen something in an effort to help you. ;)

You can also mark one of the three legs on each stand so that you know which one points towards you the most.

And then if you have a rug, use some tape like gaffer's tape (or duct tape) to make squared U-shapes for the foot of each leg of each stand. Not only does this tell you where to put the foot, but it also gives you the exact angle. In this manner, you should be able to "see" every tripod when absolutely nothing is on the rug. And if you think you'll forget which placeholders are for which stands, then mark every placeholder by writing something on each one.

But it doesn't have to end there: I also recommend placing tape markers on your rug for both feet of your bass drum. What I mean is, place the tape under the spur so that the spur makes a hole. This way not only will you instantly be able to see where the leg goes, but you'll have the exact placement thanks to the little hole made by the spur!

And for the bass drum pedal, all you will need here is a single strip of tape to mark where the end of your pedal's heel-plate is (the part closest to you). It should serve as both a marker and an angle marker to confirm that the bass drum is in the correct position. But of course, you can also use 2 more strips of tape to put on either side of the pedal (on the rug) so that you know the pedal is in the right spot before tightening it down on the hoop.

And if you have a double pedal, then I recommend leaving like a "platform" of tape underneath the part of the slave pedal where the spurs are so they can dig into it and leave a nice mark. :) But of course, leave a strip to mark where the end of the heel-plate is as well as to confirm its angle. This "platform" also helps prevent the slave pedal from sliding away from you if the spurs are extended all the way into the tape!

So, just mark every part possible that can be adjusted - even accidentally. The idea is to leave a "visual memory lock" for everything.

Oh, and finally: leave letters or numbers on your stands to tell you which stand is for which cymbal or instrument. I mean, here's a silly example: I have one Paiste cymbal while the rest are Zildjians. So, I put the letter "P' on my Paiste stand. :) And so then for the rest, all I did was leave a number to tell me which size cymbal goes where. Except, I just realized that I put "R" on my ride stand when I could have just put "20" down. However, I do have a china, so that stand has a "C" on it. I also left a "J" on the cymbal stand that I use exclusively for my Jam Blocks.

So, I have a 5pc kit with a double pedal, one double tom stand, one cymbal stand attachment for my third tom, 6 cymbals, and LP's red and blue Jam Blocks. 5 of my cymbals are on boom arms, the Jam Blocks are on a cymbal stand that doesn't have a cymbal on it, and the double-tom stand has a built-in cymbal holder that has the top of a boom stand in it. All three of my toms are suspended (no floor toms to set up). So, while this could take me over an hour to set up and get my positions correct, it only takes me 25-30 minutes to be 100% ready to play my first note - and everything is in exactly the same spot as it was last time. :)

And actually, it used to take me about an hour and 15 minutes to set all this up because I didn't have a single mark on anything. But then I saw close-up pics of Mike Portnoy's Purple Monster where you can also see purple gaffer's tape on the rug to mark where everything goes (click here and scroll down a bit to see the pics I'm talking about) . It blew my mind and so I did the same thing. Except, I took it to the extreme with a permanent marker. :)
Last edited:


Platinum Member
oh man! i've been in that situation a bunch of times! my system is to wait til the band before us goes on before i begin setting up anything, or even bringing it into the venue, because inevitably there will be very little space for off-stage setup and other bands have all their junk in the way.

while the band before us is playing i set up as much of my stuff as i can reasonably expect to carry onto stage in one piece. like other people mentioned, i use memory locks and all that.

when it comes time to setup, i usually try to help the other drummer get his stuff off the stage as quickly as possible. then i haul my stuff onto the stage at warp speed. the sound guy sets up the microphones, we do a high speed sound check and voila! it's show time!

after we're done i reverse the process, again at warp speed. i take everything off stage already assembled, as much as possible.

once everything is off stage, i take it all apart and put it away right away. if at all possible i try to get it out of the venue and into my locked car, both to get it out of the way and to prevent others from damaging my drums, accidentally mixing up my stuff with theirs, or even outright stealing my valuable equipment! then, and only then do i bask in the glory of the event and start ordering drinks from the bar, etc.


Senior Member
Ahh, sorry it took so long to respond. Just been kinda busy..but thanks for the advice everyone I'll definitely be trying some new stuff on Sunday.