Drum Set Assembly

Out of the UPS Box

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In this little article, I want to help you put that new kit together.  So, lets get started . . .

Before you do anything . . . take a long look at the following web page,How To Tune Your Drum Set'

Digest all that material first, because you may want to tune as you go, especially as you put the Bass Drum together.

Your drums may arrive completely dis-combobulated in one or more boxes. Take everything out of the box or boxes, and lay the pieces out on the floor, prior to assembly.


  • 1.  The bass drum shell is probably the biggest item in the biggest box. Take it out of the box and pull the protective plastic covering off, if there is any.

  • 2.  Take a long look!  Do you know the front from the back?  Don't laugh!  There is a difference!  The 'back' is the part your pedal will beat on.  The front then, will be on the opposite side.

    You can tell the front from the back by finding the where the 'spurs' will go. Look for two holes at the base of the shell.  The Spurs are the two legs that keep the drum from tipping, or sliding, when it is struck from behind. So, the spurs go in front and make contact with the floor or carpet.  These two 'spurs' will help stabilize the bass drum and keep it from rolling from right to left, too.

    NOTE: If your bass drum spurs have sharp points, you won't want them scratching the hardwood flooring. Some spurs may include a rubber footing. Those that do not may need a pad of some sort underneath the pointed spurs to protect the hardwood flooring.

  • 3.  Look for the spurs in all your neatly arranged pieces and parts.  They will look like short legs made of chrome.  Normally they may be anywhere from 4" to 15" in length. The spurs, once you find them, usually just slide into a mount of some sort on the front of the bass drum at the base of the shell like i said earlier. They are normally designed to protrude from inside the drum and will be adjustable to the length needed for stabilization and grip with the floor or carpet.  The 'spurs' are usually held in place with some type of screw device or wing nut.  Not all drums are designed the same, so you will just have to figure out how they attach to your specific drum set, then adjust them so that they do their job, as intended.

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    Now we are ready to assemble the back bass drum head.


  • Look through and find two of the largest drum heads that came in the largest box.  If they both look exactly the same then it doesn't matter which goes where.  However, if one of the bass heads has a round hole cut in it, that will mean it should go on the front. You will be installing the back head first (the bass pedal side), so be sure you have the right one.  If only one head has manufacturers logo on it, that will be the front head.  Usually both will have a logo.

  • Now, determine where the top of the bass drum is.  You will know the top by finding a special chrome tom-tom mounting assembly.

  • Place the bass drum head over the rim of the bass drum shell, as the drum lays face down, front to the floor.

  • Slide or adjust the head so that the logo (if there is any) looks right.  Usually the Logo (ie; Pearl, Remo, Ludwig, etc.) goes at the top and is centered with the tom mount assembly.  You can simply eyeball it and get it right.  The point here is that you don't want people to have to stand on their head to read the logo, upside down and backwards.  If it looks right, it probably is!


  • The ring of the drum head should fit snuggly over the lip of the bass drum shell (if you have the correct drum head size.) You may need to press it into place with your fingers.  It is usually a perfect (but very snug) fit, if all is well. Be sure the head is all the way onto the drum, (down as far as it will go) by pushing with your fingers and hands.  Now it is starting to look like a bass drum!  :>)

  • Is the logo on the head straight?  Will it look correct when the drum is upright, in the playing position?  Center it by eyeballing the tom mount apparatus.

  • You are now ready to mount the head to the drum, with the hoop and lug screws (or tension rods.)


  • Look through all those pieces and parts again for two very large hoops of chrome or wood.  They will look something like hula hoops and will be nearly the same diameter as the bass drum.

  • Lay either hoop onto the head as the drum is laying front to the floor. Press down lightly all around the hoop.  Use it to help seat the drum head a bit more.  Look for screw holes in the hoop.  Line those holes with the lugs on the shell of the bass drum.  The chrome lugs will each have a threaded 'female' screw assembly that will accept the long rods or lug screws.  These lug screws fasten the hoop over the head and the shell of the drum. By screwing them down evenly, we can pull the head tighter and tighter.  This helps achieve the tones we want when tuning the drum.  The tighter the drum head, the higher the pitch. Nearly all drums are based on this same principle.

  • FIND THE BASS DRUM LUG SCREWS (tension rods:)
    Look for 6 or 8 (maybe 10) long screws.  They may be 8" to 10 inches long and usually will have a wing-nut type of apparatus on one end, and they'll be threaded on the other.

  • Glide the lug screws through the holes in the hoop, then into the 'female' screw assembly of the lugs.  Go all the way around the back drum head doing this.  Pull each lug screw down to about the same tightness and try to keep all the lug screws at about the same tension as you go.  The drum tones will get higher and higher as you apply more tension to each of the tension rods or lug screws.

  • It is best to assemble in a criss-cross fashion so that the head will seat evenly all around the drum as you tighten each screw. You may hear some crackling and popping as the tension increases with each turn of a screw.  This is normal as the plastic drum heads stretch to conform with the drum.

  • Don't pull the head too tight though!  This is a bass drum and you probably won't want it to be 'pitched' all that high in tone.  About medium to loose tension is best.  Tighten to a point where there are no wrinkles in the head, then stop.


      We'll leave the front head off, until later!  You may want to add some packing inside the bass, to help achieve the tone your ear will be wanting to hear.  Bass drums are all very 'boingy' sounding without some sort of packing inside. Most drummers will place an old pillow, maybe a blanket or two inside the drum permanently to get just the right 'poof' sound, they want.  You will do best to experiment with this idea until you get the drum just like you want it.

OK.  Flip the drum into the upright playing position. We are ready to add the toms.


      Now, its back to the pieces and parts pile!  Look for the tom tom mounting post.  There may be two separate posts, (one for the right tom and another for the left.)  It depends on the brand of drums you have.

Insert the post (or posts) into the hole (or holes) on top of the bass drum.  Find a screwing device (usually a large wing-nut) and secure the posts in place. If there is any kind of logo stamped on the post it will face outward, towards the potential crowd.

The posts are designed to be adjusted to the height and arm-length of the player.  You will need to experiment until the best height (for you), has been determined.

Also, the arms that hold the toms are usually adjustable many ways.  This is another thing that needs experimentation. Every drummer tends to want everything just so-so, his/her on personal way.


      The different toms go together about the same way the bass drum went together.  Go ahead and put both heads on each drum. They will probably sound somewhat 'boingy' if left unmuffled. 'Dead Ringers' or 'Sound Ovals' are the best remedy for that problem. Ask for a demonstration of 'Sound Ovals' at your local music store, the next time you go in.  You can easily add them later if you want and need them.  My bet is . . . you probably will.

Common sense prevails here.  As you assemble the different toms, notice the lug screw lengths.  Larger toms use longer screws and versey vicey.  Be sure you have the correct lug screws going to the correct toms or this thing will get humorous real quick, haha.

Look for a drum key . . . somewhere in all that mess of pieces and parts.  It will probably be a 'T' shaped tool that works very much like an old-time skate key. It is a wrench, you will use to tighten the lug screws of each drum to be assembled and tuned.

Tune as you go (see the tuning lesson.) You'll want the smallest toms to have the highest pitch and the largest toms to have the lowest pitch in progressive order around the kit.  The tones you'll choose are arbitrary . . . it is up to the drummer!  There is no standard tuning for drummers.  We all tend to know what we want to hear, then we proceed to pull that tone from the drum. Again, the tuning lesson may help you here.

You will want to mount the smallest tom on the left side of the kit as you sit behind the set.  The larger sized toms progress around to the right, with the Floor Tom around on your far right hand side sitting on the floor.

Just slip the toms onto the mounting arms of the post and secure them with the provided (large) wing-nuts or whatever.

Most Floor Toms have three legs that mount through a chrome mounting device on the sides of the drum shell.  Just slip the legs through the leg holders and tighten them into place with the wing nuts provided.

All Bass Drum pedals are a little different, but most operate on the same principle.  Usually, there will be a tongue in groove type clamp, that bites into the hoop of the bass drum as it sits on the floor in the playing position.  Just slip the pedal up to the hoop and look for a way to attach it firmly to the drum so that it won't fall away as it is being used.  It is pretty much a common sense thing.

There are millions of stand designs.  It is hard for me to second guess what you may have.

All stands are designed to be totally collapsible and adjustable, for easy mobility and flexibility.  There will be several stands in every drum kit.

The snare stand will be the only stand in the bunch that even looks capable of holding a snare drum.  You should see a stand with three adjustable arms that spread open wide enough for the snare to be laid in place.  Then, somewhere on the stand there will be an adjustment device that will allow you to tighten the arms into the drum and hold it securely.

They come in all shapes an sizes . . . some with boom arms, others may be straight.  All are always totally collapsible and telescoping with adjustment screws everywhere.

Usually each stand is packaged with all its parts intact. It is just a matter of common-sense to get all the adjustments right for the person who will be playing the drums.  Use your own judgment here.

Again, there are hundreds of designs.
Spread the tri-pod legs first . . . then attach the foot pedal to the base of the stand according to your own intuition.
Adjust the height of the stand intuitively according to the size and stature of the player.

At the top of the hi-hat stand you will see a hole running full length of the stand all the way through the tube (or shaft) to the base of the stand.  There will be a long rod that goes through the shaft (or tube) and attaches (some way) to the pedal. The idea is that as you press the pedal the rod will move up and down, making two cymbals clap together at the top of the stand.

Now for the Cymbals . . .
The BOTTOM HI-HAT CYMBAL will cup upwards and lay on a cushion, usually made of felt.  You don't want metal to metal anywhere.  It will effect the tone.  The cymbal will have a hole in the center. Drop it down over the rod that comes up from the floor through the shaft. Be sure the cymbal is cupping upwards. Also, the heaviest of the two hi-hat cymbals should (usually) be used as the bottom cymbal.

The TOP HI-HAT CYMBAL is usually the thinner of the two and it will be set to cup downward into the bottom cymbal. A HI-HAT CLUTCH is used to secure the top cymbal onto the rod that comes up from the floor.  The HI-HAT CLUTCH is normally an assortment of washer-nuts, (they look like washers but are usually threaded inside the center hole), felt cushions and maybe a wing-nut. IT IS VERY HARD TO DESCRIBE IN WORDS!  Anyway the top cymbal needs to be sandwiched between felt cushions and washer-nuts in such a way that it will hold the top cymbal securely onto the rod coming from the base of the hi-hat by use of the wing nut.  The idea here again is that there should never be metal to metal.  Felt cushions are used to protect the cymbal from the metal washer-nuts.

That's it! You are about ready to jam!

We left the front bass head off, on purpose.

Grab a couple pillows, a blanket, or something and toss them inside the bass, up against the batter head.

Now play awhile!  How does everything sound?  If you like the way the bass is sounding then go ahead and put the front head on, leave the packing as it is.  Mom will be frantic looking for those pillows and blankets!  Just keep a straight face, and don't say a word, haha.  She'll never know!

Just kidding!!!! Don't do that!

If your bass tone isn't quite right though, keep experimenting with different amounts of packing until you are satisfied.

Yep!  It goes with the gig, haha!  And, it is very difficult to remedy! A good snare rattles because it is sensitive!  It is a part of the design.  The 'snares' or wires under the snare drum are intended to vibrate and help produce that tone we all want. The trouble is, almost any vibration in the room will set them to singing and rattling.  If we tape or tie them down, then much of our snappy tone may be lost in the trade-off.

About all we can do is shoot for a compromise!

  • Pull the 'snares' as tight as you dare, using the straining device on the side of your snare drum.

  • Be sure that no two drum rims are touching.  I always like my toms VERY close, but there should be at least a 1/2" inch gap between each drum. Otherwise, when you hit one drum . . . the other will likely vibrate and rattle. This is especially true if the snare rim is touching the hi-tom rim.

  • Sound Ovals:  These are thin mylar ovals designed to be laid on top of the batter head of each drum.  They do very well at killing the overtones and excess ringing that occurs with all unmuffled drums.  You need to see a demonstration of how they work.  Go harass your local music store!  They need the money!  Tell them you would like to see how Sound Ovals (aka; O-Rings) work, before you buy them.  Try them out on a demo set at the store.  You'll drop about $15.00 to $30.00 going around your kit with 'Sound Ovals' but it may be the best tuning investment you will ever make.
    Anyway, 'Sound Ovals' will do a lot towards controlling all the unwanted vibrations and overtones.  This will help to cut back on snare rattle tremendously.

    OK!  You are all set up.  Now, beat it!



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