The influence of setup on your technique

Ryan Culberson

Well-known Member
Weird tom angles, no left side cymbal, throne up high… all these things are deliberate on my part, specifically to alter my technique. I want to have to think about it a little bit. Definitely not an approach I’d recommend to anyone else, but I love the mindset it puts me in and what it forces me to focus on. My rig kinda looks like it came out of a Dr. Seuss book.

0E7FC843-E612-491E-857A-2C51DCF00EA9.jpeg
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
Weird tom angles, no left side cymbal, throne up high… all these things are deliberate on my part, specifically to alter my technique. I want to have to think about it a little bit. Definitely not an approach I’d recommend to anyone else, but I love the mindset it puts me in and what it forces me to focus on. My rig kinda looks like it came out of a Dr. Seuss book.

View attachment 125929
Busting out the big set again? Ya, that’s a setup I would totally struggle with. Yet I’ve seen drummers make their lives way more difficult than you, and they can fly all around their sets like nobody’s business. They’re way better than me, though, so I guess that makes a difference ;)
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
Weird tom angles, no left side cymbal, throne up high… all these things are deliberate on my part, specifically to alter my technique. I want to have to think about it a little bit. Definitely not an approach I’d recommend to anyone else, but I love the mindset it puts me in and what it forces me to focus on. My rig kinda looks like it came out of a Dr. Seuss book.

View attachment 125929
I don't see anything strange about that setup at all.

Might say something about me! lol
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
I don't see anything strange about that setup at all.

Might say something about me! lol
The things that trip me up are the rack being that flat and up over the snare, as well as being too far away from the floor tom for my tastes, and cymbals up that big. Could deal with the crash but not the ride.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
The things that trip me up are the rack being that flat and up over the snare, as well as being too far away from the floor tom for my tastes, and cymbals up that big. Could deal with the crash but not the ride.
You would have hated some of my old kits! Note the BOTTOM of the power toms even with the snare. Haha!!
 

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GetAgrippa

Diamond Member
That was during my Simon Phillips phase. Not that I could ever play like him, but still... 😊
I like that- your Simon Phillips phase. Ain’t that the truth- I don’t think we have a thread on that topic. What are your drum heroes/phases you’ve gone through? It’s gotta be a pretty hefty list. I’ve gone crazy over so many and then following phases “trying” to emulate them. But still….
 

Sonar Dave

Active Member
I played churches for a few decades and the kits were never setup to my physical requirements, so adaptation was my friend. On my personal kit, I used a cable hat for a few years and placed it in front of me (á la Bill Bruford) just to mix up my physical setup. At first, it was difficult to adapt 'cuz I'd had the hats on my left for decades. Splitting the toms up helped me adapt double strokes as needed. It was ugly at first but I got very used to the setup.

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Are you a southpaw?
 

cbphoto

Diamond Member
Are you a southpaw?
No, but I am tall and sit slightly high, so if I wanted to dig into the music, I'd haft raise up everything. I have met a lefty player at church who was very capable of playing a right-handed kit. I think that be the only way to do it without an obligatory hour of setup.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
I found I could reduce the average distance from where the sticks were when I play 'pattern' most frequently(HH/Snare) to other parts of the set by moving the HH and Snare to the center of the kit...not way off to one side.

I then did a symmetrical tom(represented by numbers) placement like...

......HH
...1..sn..2
3...............4

...with a remote HH attached to my snare stand and positioned away from me - in line with the snare.

I also found that not crossing my arms to play 'pattern' reduced effort even further.

All of this changed how I play. Not just ergonomically but compositionally...I started seeing toms and cymbals as interchangeable - as the effort to get to those sounds did not have much disparity. I also found my use of double linear voicing of a tom reducing and my single stroke voicing of toms increasing. i started having more internal cognitive 'space' to consider where I was going and why since my playing started taking much less effort and had fewer bottlenecks in allowed motion.

loads of tension disappeared in the sounds I made(unless I wanted to create that tension).

Yeah...set config can indeed change your playing!
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
I found I could reduce the average distance from where the sticks were when I play 'pattern' most frequently(HH/Snare) to other parts of the set by moving the HH and Snare to the center of the kit...not way off to one side.

I then did a symmetrical tom(represented by numbers) placement like...

......HH
...1..sn..2
3...............4

...with a remote HH attached to my snare stand and positioned away from me - in line with the snare.

I also found that not crossing my arms to play 'pattern' reduced effort even further.

All of this changed how I play. Not just ergonomically but compositionally...I started seeing toms and cymbals as interchangeable - as the effort to get to those sounds did not have much disparity. I also found my use of double linear voicing of a tom reducing and my single stroke voicing of toms increasing. i started having more internal cognitive 'space' to consider where I was going and why since my playing started taking much less effort and had fewer bottlenecks in allowed motion.

loads of tension disappeared in the sounds I made(unless I wanted to create that tension).

Yeah...set config can indeed change your playing!
Hmmm…that’s not a bad idea at all. Do you have any reach problems having to go up and over the snare?
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Hmmm…that’s not a bad idea at all. Do you have any reach problems having to go up and over the snare?
Not at all!

I have the HH occluding the far side of the batter head so its pretty close in...and the back of the top 2 toms are closer to me than the back of the HH. Cymbals are close in (my ride is a bit higher up than i would like as it sits over a 22" bass-considering trying a 20" Bass)...I sit fairly far back and hold my sticks almost all the way down to the butt when i know I dont need much finger control - easily going back to fingers when needed.

I'm about 5'7" tall like most of the rest of the world.

Things are more wide than they are deep...and i dont feel cramped like i did using standard setup. to me it feels like walking up to an 'aux perc' unit instead of a set.(the feeling is possibly due to violating several decades of setup assumptions and not feeling the set as a 'block' and more like individual instruments)
 
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JimmyM

Platinum Member
Yeah, @Otto, everyone should try the Bruford setup like yours as least once. I did it for a year and a half back in the aughts. Ultimately, it didn’t work out for me, but it was an eye opener for sure!

View attachment 126388
In your pic, I am seeing a couple reasons why putting the hats there may not be for me. But thx for posting it.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Yeah, @Otto, everyone should try the Bruford setup like yours as least once. I did it for a year and a half back in the aughts. Ultimately, it didn’t work out for me, but it was an eye opener for sure!

View attachment 126388
Thats the thing!...with everything much closer in(fractions of an inch between objects) and HH closer in.
 

Ryan Culberson

Well-known Member
Thats the thing!...with everything much closer in(fractions of an inch between objects) and HH closer in.

It was a very comfortable setup, I simply lacked the creative thinking, technique or style to make good use of it. Seems like someone who marched tenor drums, or a creative mind like Bruford, or someone looking to do something unique with drumming could benefit from setting up that way. I'm a meat and potatoes pop/soul/country drummer with hamfisted technique and no desire to create anything new on the drum set. Backline kits are also a regular part of my drumming life, so I try to stay as "normal" as possible.

@Otto, do you have any pics of your rig? I'd love to see how much tighter in you get everything. I've got an albatross wingspan, so I found I needed to spread things out a bit in order to not feel cramped.
 
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