Struggles of Short Drummer and 5-Piece with Offset Toms

alparrott

Platinum Member
I am 5'5" and I own a kit with a 20" kick and some fairly deep toms (9x10, 10x12). But I have no issues putting them on top of the kick, and especially not if I offset them to the side. I always feel like I'm high enough, even though I set my throne at the low end.

I also play a 22" kick on my main kit with a 9x13" offset to the left, and still no issues.
 

dragonfly66

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.
That is an interesting thought. Double handed playing might be awkward. I’ll certainly keep this as an option.

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 thought about doing this swap it would certainly allow me to put the toms even lower. Just wondering how that would effect my drumming. I’m new to drumming and psychologically that seems wrong to me. I realize there is no one right way to set up a kit, so this option is a real possibility.

I am 5'5" and I own a kit with a 20" kick and some fairly deep toms (9x10, 10x12). But I have no issues putting them on top of the kick, and especially not if I offset them to the side. I always feel like I'm high enough, even though I set my throne at the low end.

I also play a 22" kick on my main kit with a 9x13" offset to the left, and still no issues.
Thanks for the input. The issue for me is the comfort of the span of my legs, the reach to get to my 14” high hats, and the reach to my toms. The reach is a little more than on a 1 up because in order to have my legs in the proper position, so I’m not pounding my knees, causes me to be further back.

You all have given me some great ideas to try, thank you so much! I have noticed that drummers are much nicer on these forums than on my guitar and bass forums. You all rock!
 
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dragonfly66

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
Yeah, it may come to this. What sizes are you using?

I think the only way the offset concept will work for me is if I swap the 10 and the 12, which would allows me to put the 10 over the bass drum and a little more to to the center allowing me to get the hi-hat a little closer. Just not sure if that setup will work well with fills. What I like about the 10 first is that if I go to a one up (removing the 10) the 12 is where I would expect it to be. Anyway, I'm still trying out things and we will see where I land.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
A lot of good advice so far, and while I'm not short I have some ideas.

Definitely lose the lift on the bass drum.

Angle the toms more. That will make them easier to get to.

Raising throne height (a little) could also help.

Work on getting the tom stand as close to the bass drum as possible, perhaps adjusting the spread of the legs a bit to help move it closer.

If the toms being offset makes the hi hat too far out to be comfortable, eliminate one of the toms. In the same vein only one rack tom should make height and placement easier too.

Ideally, set up should be ergonomic and comfortable. In reality there are always some concessions to be made.
 

Smoke

Silver Member
Assuming you're right handed and play your ride cymbal on a stand at your right, you could try mounting the 12" tom to the cymbal stand with a universal clamp and run your 10" to one side of the kick by itself. My 14" hanging tom sits just below my ride and is easy to get to.

It was a bit fiddly getting everything to balance right, but now it's stable and I can whack it to my heart's content.

Universal clamps and their brethren run about $25 to $35 USD and find many uses around the drum kit. Might be a DW member has a spare for the asking!?!

I use one something like this with my Yamaha Stage Customs.
 

dragonfly66

Member
A lot of good advice so far, and while I'm not short I have some ideas.

Definitely lose the lift on the bass drum.

Angle the toms more. That will make them easier to get to.

Raising throne height (a little) could also help.

Work on getting the tom stand as close to the bass drum as possible, perhaps adjusting the spread of the legs a bit to help move it closer.

If the toms being offset makes the hi hat too far out to be comfortable, eliminate one of the toms. In the same vein only one rack tom should make height and placement easier too.

Ideally, set up should be ergonomic and comfortable. In reality there are always some concessions to be made.
I lost the bass drum lift.

I have them at an angle and actually lifted them up a little more and I seem to be able to get to them ok.

I have figure out the throne height and I am a little higher than I was before.

I did focus on getting the tom stand as close to the bass drum. There is a vary small clearance, but enough where if I hit the 12 tom it doesn't hit the bass drum. I also have the 10 and 12 as close to each other as possible too, with just a sliver of clearance so they don't hit each other.

I will go to one rack tom if I have to, but I think I've got the kit setup where I can work with it. You can see in the photo, the tape on the floor represents my natural stance. On the hi-hat side you can see how far out I needed to move it to accommodate the 10" tom. The hi-hat still seems too far away, but I'll practice with this setup and see how it feels.
 

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alparrott

Platinum Member
I lost the bass drum lift.

I have them at an angle and actually lifted them up a little more and I seem to be able to get to them ok.

I have figure out the throne height and I am a little higher than I was before.

I did focus on getting the tom stand as close to the bass drum. There is a vary small clearance, but enough where if I hit the 12 tom it doesn't hit the bass drum. I also have the 10 and 12 as close to each other as possible too, with just a sliver of clearance so they don't hit each other.

I will go to one rack tom if I have to, but I think I've got the kit setup where I can work with it. You can see in the photo, the tape on the floor represents my natural stance. On the hi-hat side you can see how far out I needed to move it to accommodate the 10" tom. The hi-hat still seems too far away, but I'll practice with this setup and see how it feels.
I think you've done about as well as you can for now. Your stance certainly is a bit wider than before, but it's pretty typical for folks using double pedals, and not unexpectedly wide for two-up offset setups.

You can see how wide my stance was with a 10" and 12" tom when I ran two-up some years ago. Since I had a double pedal, the hi-hat was already a bit wide to the left.
 

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ineedaclutch

Platinum Member
Have you tried mounting the 12 on the kick and flying the 10 from the stand? That could buy you a few inches to scoot the 10 and hh over.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Wow, nice kit and cymbals. That looks ergonomic but tight, almost nothing going on in the right side. If you finished a fill at the floor tom there is no crash there. Your snare stand feet could collapse a little and give more room for your bass drum foot.
That said, every body is different, and I think it takes time to tweak a new setup and get one's body working around it. Definitely a change from 4 piece to 5 piece.
 
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Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I'd invest in a couple of cymbal stands. It's an awful lot to ask of a stand to fly two toms, a splash and two crashes.

One, it's really negatively affecting crash placement, and two, it forces you to have the leg spread on the tom stand really wide, preventing you from moving the stand closer to the right.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I lost the bass drum lift.

I have them at an angle and actually lifted them up a little more and I seem to be able to get to them ok.

I have figure out the throne height and I am a little higher than I was before.

I did focus on getting the tom stand as close to the bass drum. There is a vary small clearance, but enough where if I hit the 12 tom it doesn't hit the bass drum. I also have the 10 and 12 as close to each other as possible too, with just a sliver of clearance so they don't hit each other.

I will go to one rack tom if I have to, but I think I've got the kit setup where I can work with it. You can see in the photo, the tape on the floor represents my natural stance. On the hi-hat side you can see how far out I needed to move it to accommodate the 10" tom. The hi-hat still seems too far away, but I'll practice with this setup and see how it feels.
Even for me at 5' 00", that looks really cramped. How do you wind up to hit anything? I have most of my stuff out a bit because I like a nice big swing when I go big dynamically. There's a Billy Ward video where he talks about how drummers stay in their safe spaces, then when it comes time for a big fill (or a fill in general), they have to stretch out, and then no longer feel safe, and this slight trepidation screws up the time, and I think he hit the nail on the head for a lot of drummers I've seen. You should check out his "Big Time" video, he touches on all those set-up aspects and how to feel comfortable.

I just learned from watching someone like Tony Williams play - he's not a huge guy, but his kit is big, and the way he sits it's like he's standing up, but he gets this huge sound and he has no problem flying around the kit.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Even for me at 5' 00", that looks really cramped. How do you wind up to hit anything? I have most of my stuff out a bit because I like a nice big swing when I go big dynamically. There's a Billy Ward video where he talks about how drummers stay in their safe spaces, then when it comes time for a big fill (or a fill in general), they have to stretch out, and then no longer feel safe, and this slight trepidation screws up the time, and I think he hit the nail on the head for a lot of drummers I've seen. You should check out his "Big Time" video, he touches on all those set-up aspects and how to feel comfortable.

I just learned from watching someone like Tony Williams play - he's not a huge guy, but his kit is big, and the way he sits it's like he's standing up, but he gets this huge sound and he has no problem flying around the kit.
Yeah but you got short guy syndrome! Massive kick, giant hats, if you don't swing no one would see you! I kid, I kid.

Dragonfly, rotate your snare feet so they are a triangle pointing toward you. It will get the left out of the way of the hi hat pedal. Then if you want you can rotate the hi hat stand inward just a bit so the pedal is more where your foot wants. It won't be perfectly straight under your foot, but would reduce your stretch a bit.
 

Gottliver

Senior Member
Please get a 4x8 rug and put it under your rig. Once you get it setup nice and comfy you can use tape to mark off the layout and have a reference for when you need to move your gear. Plus the kit won’t run away from you.

You are on the right track to though. Please don’t worry about keeping your toms flat. Mount them back on your bass drum and angle them 30ish degrees or so. Now you can lower them to a comfortable height and strike them with efficiently without hitting the rims - unless of course you want to!

You are going to want to move your floor tom leg away from your bass drum pedal.

Ps, I’m 5’7” so not much difference.....
 

dragonfly66

Member
Have you tried mounting the 12 on the kick and flying the 10 from the stand? That could buy you a few inches to scoot the 10 and hh over.
I keep thinking about this setup. I just tried it.

So using the bass drum mount for the 12" does allow me to get back to my natural stance with just a tad bit of the 10" drum covered. This feels so much better to me. The 10" can only go so high before it hit the hi-hats. The 12" can only go so low before hitting the bass drum. So the 10" and 12" are not at the same height, which seems awkward. The only way to remedy this is to push the hi-hat back out so the 10" can be lifted. The 12" cannot go any lower on the bass drum mount. This puts me back to the wider stance when both toms were on the dedicated mount.

I think there is just no getting around the fact that there must be a wider stance when the toms are off set. I just have to play with the wider stance and see if I can get used to it.
 

dragonfly66

Member
Please get a 4x8 rug and put it under your rig. Once you get it setup nice and comfy you can use tape to mark off the layout and have a reference for when you need to move your gear. Plus the kit won’t run away from you.

You are on the right track to though. Please don’t worry about keeping your toms flat. Mount them back on your bass drum and angle them 30ish degrees or so. Now you can lower them to a comfortable height and strike them with efficiently without hitting the rims - unless of course you want to!

You are going to want to move your floor tom leg away from your bass drum pedal.

Ps, I’m 5’7” so not much difference.....
Thanks for the advice. I have been meaning to get a rug, just haven't yet. The drum set stays in place so far.

I have realized that I am not tall enough to have flat toms so whether mounted on my bass or the independent stand they must be angled so I can reach them. I am choosing the offset setup for ergonomic reasons plus I like the ride positioning with this setup.

We'll have to agree to disagree on 5" not being "much difference" ;-). If I was 5'7" we probably wouldn't even be having this conversation.
 
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AzHeat

Platinum Member
Thanks for the advice. I have been meaning to get a rug, just haven't yet. The drum set stays in place so far.

I have realized that I am not tall enough to have flat toms so whether mounted on my bass or the independent stand they must be angled so I can reach them. I am choosing the offset setup for ergonomic reasons plus I like the ride positioning with this setup.

We'll have to agree to disagree on 5" not being "much difference" ;-). If I was 5'7" we probably won't even be having this conversation.
I’m 5’9” and fought this battle for quite a while. My biggest issue was feeling like that bird that had to return to the cage, when given freedom! I couldn’t wrap my brain around giving up my mounted toms. I had just figured catchyrims and missing hats was part of being at my level of play. I did this for 35 years.

I started to take lessons and some of my lessons required me to be super fast between drums, hats, ride, so distance became my enemy. Even with the 10/12 offset setu, hats, crash and ride were too high and too far. With a lot of grumbling I shed the 10” and realized only then how much better I played with proper ergonomics. I’d just never had the reason to change I suppose, but with time some of the shoulder, neck and back discomforts subsided and I stopped hitting rims and missing hats and cymbals. Things just seemed natural, so I can’t even bring myself to move my hats to the left ant to fit in a 10” again.

You may not be able to set your drums up flat due to height, but at least from what I can see ergonomics are ergonomics. Lose the 10 if you have to to be comfortable. It just isn’t worth it. Go with ergonomics first. Wish I wasn’t so pigheaded about my rack toms for so long.
 

Gottliver

Senior Member
Sorry, miss read, thought you said 5’5”. But also remember if you are new to drums, even ergonomic may feel uncomfortable.
 

dragonfly66

Member
I think you've done about as well as you can for now. Your stance certainly is a bit wider than before, but it's pretty typical for folks using double pedals, and not unexpectedly wide for two-up offset setups.

You can see how wide my stance was with a 10" and 12" tom when I ran two-up some years ago. Since I had a double pedal, the hi-hat was already a bit wide to the left.
From your profile pick it looks like you are doing one up now. Why the change?
 

dragonfly66

Member
I’m 5’9” and fought this battle for quite a while. My biggest issue was feeling like that bird that had to return to the cage, when given freedom! I couldn’t wrap my brain around giving up my mounted toms. I had just figured catchyrims and missing hats was part of being at my level of play. I did this for 35 years.

I started to take lessons and some of my lessons required me to be super fast between drums, hats, ride, so distance became my enemy. Even with the 10/12 offset setu, hats, crash and ride were too high and too far. With a lot of grumbling I shed the 10” and realized only then how much better I played with proper ergonomics. I’d just never had the reason to change I suppose, but with time some of the shoulder, neck and back discomforts subsided and I stopped hitting rims and missing hats and cymbals. Things just seemed natural, so I can’t even bring myself to move my hats to the left ant to fit in a 10” again.

You may not be able to set your drums up flat due to height, but at least from what I can see ergonomics are ergonomics. Lose the 10 if you have to to be comfortable. It just isn’t worth it. Go with ergonomics first. Wish I wasn’t so pigheaded about my rack toms for so long.
This is good to hear, thank you for sharing.

Sorry, miss read, thought you said 5’5”. But also remember if you are new to drums, even ergonomic may feel uncomfortable.
You are right about that. All of this is weird, so I'm trying to listen to my body and let it tell me when something isn't right. My knees scream right away, but my back and shoulders take a little longer to let me know.
 
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