Performing and being asked to push back as far as you can


Active Member
That's why I take a 20/12/14 setup with a 14" deep bass drum. Fits anywhere and doesn't sound like a toy.

If a gig is really small I'll strip down to kick, snare, hats and ride


I too take a 20/12/14 with a bass drum mount for the ride to small venues and jettison things that don't fit. Playing one venue weekly with kick, snare, hats and ride. Not the most fun, but pays well.


Platinum Member

I too take a 20/12/14 with a bass drum mount for the ride to small venues and jettison things that don't fit. Playing one venue weekly with kick, snare, hats and ride. Not the most fun, but pays well.
Kick, hats, snare and ride is the meat and potatoes of drumming.

Think of the pack down time at the end of the night!


Diamond Member
Part of being a gigging drummer means accepting (and making the most of) the environment in which you're performing. I've never really been one to complain about limited space, poor acoustics, less than ideal temps, or similar inadequacies. I do my best to interpret every opportunity to drum as a privilege. I extract a lot more joy from playing when I maintain that frame of mind.

I looked at it this way do I overcome the challenge? what is in my tool box that will let me overcome this.

I learned it the quickest when I had a few gigs where I had to play a left-handed set up on the spot. Not being allowed to change the set up in any way. That could have been a disaster...but I quickly adjusted fills - had to get creative - and also put to test my open hand, and left foot bass drum skills. Pretty much after that, there has never bee na situation I couldn't adapt to...


Platinum Member
This goes in a couple of different directions. Some of the venues I play locally, and probably will play again, have rather small stage spaces. In fact, a place we used to play until it got sold last year, called "The Vogue" was our measurement reference because of its famously small dimensions. "Guys, this is a pretty decent stage! At least six Vogues!"

What I often find, and YMMV, is that places that have skimped on the size of the stage will also skimp on paying you and publicizing you. If this (gratefully) isn't the case but the stage is rather small, you have to adjust. Consolidate your stands, pare down your kit, and work together to fit in the available space.

if it's your band, well, this is less about actual logistics and more about respect and consideration. In this case I feel spoiled by all of my bands, because I struggle to remember a time where I had to fight for space for my kit. Like others, I get there plenty early and stake the space with my rug; but then again, I also make sure I ALWAYS fit on that rug. I also feel like there's no misunderstanding between my bands' members for the amount of space needed for each person. If you feel like this isn't the case for you in your band, that bears thought and perhaps action.

No Way Jose

Silver Member
I've been on small stages but never got that cramped.

Janet Tambour

Junior Member
You simply set up with the minimum space required to move your arms in order to play, and that's that. It's nobody in the band's fault that space may be tight, and since the other players are asking, they obviously understand that a certain amount of space is necessary.

Actually I don't think they do. I think most people who've never played drums are completely clueless about what's involved and what we're doing back there. No band I've ever be in has watched what I was doing even when we face each other, they're involved in their own stuff.

Cmdr. Ross

Silver Member
I built a kit for small footprint gigs that eliminated this issue. With a kick drum only 8" deep, I can fit almost anywhere.
I did play in front of the doorway of a storage shed that was in a carport once. Pretty cramped, but workable.
Like @C.M. Jones said, playing is a privilege. I don't take that for granted.


Diamond Member
Nope. The band I'm in knows how much room I need, so they make it happen. I'm also always one of the first there, so I mark my place early.

same fact, they always tell me to set up first, and in the rare occasion that I am not the first one there, they wait...

Highway Child

Senior Member
I set up on a plywood topped frikkin pool table once..back then my frame of mind was bitch about it. I've been asked many times to scoot back..move left..etc irks me but I'm usually pretty decent...usually.
Me too with the pool table. Up against a broad window sill of same height so not bad in terms of space but occasional elbow clonks on the glass and wobbly. It's a no next time.


14" deep bass solves a lot of problems - especially if you sit fairly low and have long legs - like me. Once I went from 18 deep back to 14 - could never go back. And they sound good too.

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
The way my legs work (or don't work) I gotta have space and can't move back. The space issue usually only happens on lower volume gigs not big stages with big sound. I bought a DW pancake bass for those small venues and problem solved. It's only 4" wide and sounds terrific for low volume gigs. And I eliminate surprises by investigating new venues beforehand. If it's not local I Google it and check out pics of musicians they've hosted before.


Silver Member
Use a carpet that gives you enough room even when it's against the wall. The carpet is your space. Get to the gig and toss it on stage and claim your space before anyone else takes it all.
This! The carpet territory thing works, and of course quality communication above all. I've even had people move my stuff back on me after setting up.
Another idea: advocate for the "bookend" style that you see jazz bands doing often, with keys on the left, drums on the right, facing each other and a little forward, with everyone in between. It makes a nice performance "well" so to speak for singers and soloists to prance about and strike all their poses 👯‍♂️ :p. It gives the whole band eye contact with each other so the quality of music rises, and the side view to the drumset gives the audience more moving things to see. It's a win-win-win-win.


"Uncle Larry" - Administrator
Staff member
I had a gig where I had to be as small as possible. I bought a Sonor Players kit for that occasion. 20 x 12 bass drum, 12 and 14 toms. I was able to set up in a 4 x 4 foot space...which included me. I wasn't cramped, but if I can't have a minimal 4 x 4 space, then they don't get me.


Silver Member
How many of you guys feel like I do.
You are in a band, grateful to be playing, like the music you are playing, getting along with all your band mates, yet you show up to a gig and you are limited on space.
As a musician who has the largest instrument. You get told “ you can’t be out here that far, push your kit as close to the wall as you can”
I hate hitting my elbows on the wall, worse being an acrobat getting to and from my drums on breaks.
Has anyone figured out how to avoid this?
Also, looking for the weirdest place you had to set up your drums.
I played a show this past week where my drums were on such a downslope, I felt as though I was going to fall into my drumset. Not exactly my best performance as I was so uncomfortable and distracted by my snare stand moving
No idea what you're talking about.



Diamond Member
Me too with the pool table. Up against a broad window sill of same height so not bad in terms of space but occasional elbow clonks on the glass and wobbly. It's a no next time.
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I can't think of anyplace I have played that would have allowed for a drum set to be on a pool table...I have never seen that.

No idea what you're talking about.

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is that in a hotel? How did you get back there? We had a practice space years ago where I had to set up in a cubby like that...except I set up facing the wall, so I was looking out into the room to my left. That allowed me to get in and out better. I actually really liked it b/c no one f'ed with, or moved my stuff. I had lights and posters all aroud...