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How To Set Up Electronic Drums (With Photos)

Samantha Landa  /  Nov 15, 2023

If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t just drum your heart out at 3 AM without annoying your entire neighborhood, well – you can.

With an electronic drum kit.

These modern drums use touch-sensitive pads that trigger a sound sample when you hit them, which means you just need a pair of headphones to enjoy jamming out. They’re easy to set up and don’t require as much space as acoustic drums – another big win for apartment-dwellers.

In this quick how-to guide, we’ll show you how to set up electronic drums like a tech-savvy rockstar – no soundproofing required.

Exact instructions are unique to each model (so read the user guide, damnit!) but most electronic drum kits have a similar setup – and we’re here to walk you through the basic process.

1. Set up the rack

It may look like a lot of pieces, but the rack is surprisingly simple to set up.

Loosen and tighten the wing nuts to expand the rack pieces and/or connect them together. Make sure the rack can stand on its own and that you position it around where you’ll be sitting. It should frame you like a cage!

set up rack for electronic drums

Even though electronic drums are very quiet, it’s still a good idea to build the kit on a thick carpet or mat to absorb any vibrations or thumping from your kick.

2. Add the kick tower and pads

If your e-kit comes with a kick tower, set it in front of your right foot and clamp your bass drum pedal onto the bottom. Make sure that your leg can rest at slightly more than a 90 degree angle.

If your kit includes a hi-hat pedal, set that up so your left foot can access it just as easily.

set up kick pad for electronic drums

Now add the pads to the rack. If they’re too high or low for you to comfortably strike them, you can make big adjustments by moving the top rack bar up or down.

set up tom pads on electronic drums
You can also see the angle of the pedals here.

Everything should be within easy reach – and this is actually one big advantage of electronic drum kits. The pads are typically smaller than acoustic drums, so it’s easier to condense your setup.

3. Add the cymbals

Twist off the cymbal toppers, add the cymbals, then replace the toppers. If the kit didn’t come with a hi-hat stand or a bar for the hi-hat pad, you might need to add your own.

set up cymbals on electronic drums

Just like your tom and snare pads, make sure the cymbals are within reach. If you’ve ever set up an acoustic drum kit, the same rules of ergonomics apply when setting up an e-kit. You shouldn’t have to strain your arms or legs to play!

4. Mount the module

Connect the module (a computer interface sometimes known as a ‘brain’) to a spot on the rack where you can easily see and reach it. Most drummers keep it on their left side.

set up module on electronic drums

5. Plug it all in

Follow your e-kit’s instructions and make sure each labeled cable is connected to the right piece. Then plug the other end of the cables into the brain.

plug in electronic drums

Your product’s user guide will tell you about all the useful settings that come with your e-kit and how to use features like the built-in metronome, sound samples, practice tools and more.

You’ll likely have the option to adjust pad sensitivity (how hard or light you have to hit to trigger the sound), so play around with this if the default settings don’t work for your playing style.

electronic drums module

Setting up electronic drums can take time if you’ve never done it before. And you might have to do it a number of times before you get faster. It also might take multiple tries before you figure out what’s comfortable for you.

But what matters first and foremost is having that drum kit in front of you. Once it’s ready to play, play away!

Samantha Landa is the editor of The Drumeo Beat. She currently drums with Conquer Divide and has been featured by outlets such as Sick Drummer Magazine and DRUM! Magazine. Sam proudly endorses Mapex Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Evans Drumheads and Los Cabos Drumsticks.

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