Your setup affects your playing. Your playing influences your setup. My setup is in constant change. I implemented and rejected many ideas. The solution is to re-think thus leaving familiar habits behind.
Open Handed Playing has long been part of my playing. I’ve implemented it in an unusual way, and assigned the snare to a new place.
Over the past years I searched for a drum setup that would make it possible to play relaxed while realizing my musical ideas.
After some detours I found my current setup. The newest picture is the first one, find the development down below.
MY DRUM SETUPS FROM 2002 to 2016
It all started in march 2002: I could not play free with crossed arms anymore. It was difficult for me to combine a loud snare with a low Hihat because the hand below ccould not raise, and I wanted to avoid a small movement or a reflex motion with my elbow (“powerstroke”).
“Open-Handed-Playing” was the solution BUT: I didn`t want to play hihat with my left hand or install a second hihat. So the hihat had to move to the right hand. My left hand should also reach the hihat. So the middle was the best position:
I left the toms like they were before and everything stood on the right side. I tried different setups which were all uncomfortable to play.
I remembered setups from drummers like Bernard Purdie, Kenny Aronoff and others who mounted the smalI tom on the right side. I tried it out and my set was easier to play. The breakthrough came when I put the lowest tom to the left. All the years it was positioned on the right side and I got accustomed to that very much. But it had to be changed. Tom #1 and #3 where positioned on the right and #2 and #4 on the left side. I used a double bass drum pedal and a cable hihat.
For the first time I could play the set without any problems. All my ideas were easy to realize:
In November 2004 I used two bass drums which were located far on both sides of my setup. I used two double bass drum pedals to reach the drums. I moved the bass drum to the right because the hihat needed too much space in the middle of the setup. I now play this drum with the left pedal of the double bass pedal. Then I added a second bass drum which I placed on the left side. I played this drum with the right pedal of a left foot double bass pedal.
In May 2005 I combined the two bass drum pedals to a single one. I attached the left pedal of my right foot pedal on the left side of my left foot pedal resulting in more space for the cable hihat a little more on the right thus creating space for a tom right above the bass drum.
After that I had the idea to position both toms on the left. The bass drum was still placed right in front of the snare. The mounted toms were placed on the left side of the snare. I put the ride cymbal right in front of me. I added two splash and two china cymbals:
In November 2008 I made a crucial step forward. I realized: Abolute symmetry was only obtainable when putting the hihat more to the middle and the snare more to the left:
The result was a completely relaxing symmetric open handed position of both hands. The idea derived from playing with both hands on my thighs. No more accidental hihat tones while playing side sticks on the snare. At that point I did not need toms on the left.
This is my newest setup:
The snare is positioned right in front of my left knee, the Hit in front of the right one. An absolutely symetric setup. I tested this principle back in November 2008 and forgot to go through with ist. My left hand is free to ad toms whenever needed.
After a long journey I returned to the standard setup. It feels like coming home. After being able to playing more quiet even in a recording session, I don´t need as much room to reach up with the left hand for a stroke.
That all had to do with my new kit from Slovenian custom drum builder MANICdrum.