Topic: Pains; need ergonomic set-up  (Read 1900 times)

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Aabech

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Pains; need ergonomic set-up
« on: May 01, 2004, 06:57 PM »
Uhm hello, I'm fairly new to this board :-X

I haven't really been able to find a thread here (or on any other site) where a guide to set-up your drums "ergonomicly". I have just acquired a double bass pedal, and I have problems keeping in balance while playing heels up with both feet (and at the same time, trying to hitting the cymbals :D).

I then reviewed my kit, and found out I needed some pro-help, that's why I've come here. Hints like: Which height should your throne have (I'm 191cm tall), how should the toms be positioned; almost horizontal or with the top facing you? And how far away should your cymbals be, and how high should they be adjusted?

If just one of the above questions will be answered, I would be really pleased, as I'm begining to have pain in my back after practising for a few hours.

Sincerely, Lars Aabech

Offline Bart Elliott

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Pains; need ergonomic set-up
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2004, 08:42 PM »
Here's what I do to and would suggest.

Regardless of your height, set the drum throne at a height where your thighs are parallel or almost parallel (slightly higher or lower) to the floor. This will place the least amount of stress on your back and will allow for better balance while playing.

The average seat height on funiture chairs is between 17-18 inches. The average length of an individuals leg, which measuring from the heel to the center of the knee is between 21-22 inches ... regardless of how tall you are. I would try and position your drum throne somewhere within this range ... at least to start with and see how it helps. My throne is usually 20-21 inches from the top of the seat to the floor ... and I'm 6'2".

Sitting too high or too low can make it difficult to keep good balance while working the pedals on your drumkit. It can also cause problems with your back; sitting so high that you slouch over the drums or sitting so low that you hyper-extend your back. Posture and sitting in a relaxed position is the first key to a great performance and little or no back discomfort.

Working the pedals may require a variety of techniques. Some people feel better playing with the heels down all the time, while others raise the heel SLIGHTLY to allow the use of a pivot action in the foot ... the ball of the foot making the primary contact on the pedal board. When using the heel up technique, I've found that allowing the heel to come back down (just after the stroke) not only reduces calorie use, but keeps me from tiring, straining or cramping over time.

The drum set-up is also key to having good posture and reducing back pain. Once you have your drum throne set to the desired height ... set-up your drums around you. Don't contort your body or adjust your throne to your drums ... adjust your drums to YOU and your THRONE! I play so that my elbows are down at my side 99% of the time ... in a quasi-fetal position, so that I'm relaxed and not having to exert energy by having to lift my arm just to reach an instrument.

My drums are positioned around me, keeping with the idea that my elbows will be down at my side (for the most part) when I play; the exception being when I need full arm movement for very loud playing or when cymbals are set high above eye level. While in my resting position, elbows at my side, my drumsticks hover 1 to 2 inches above the playing surface of each drum. I set the angle and height of each drum so that my sticks are parallel to the playing surface (including my Ride cymbal) as they hover. Crash cymbals are normally (on average) only struck once ... and so, in my opinion, the height and angle is more about what you are comfortable with. Sometimes my crashes are high because I want more separation in the mix while in the studio (no cymbals in the tom mics) OR because the audience or camera needs to see my pretty face  ::) while in a live performance.  Sometimes my crashes are low because I'm playing in a small venue or at low volumes ... helping me to play softly (and fast) with little effort.

In your case, I would try lowering everything so that you can play with your elbows down at your side ... for the most part. Sitting up straight and having your drums surrounding you will make you feel relaxed ... just like you would while sitting at the dinner table.

With the exception of the Crash cymbals, the only other time I really have to have my elbows away from my side for extended periods of time, is when I'm playing the Bell of the Ride cymbal. Again, it's a given that when I'm playing really strong and loud, I have the need to use more of my arms, so the elbows are no longer at my side. But when I'm finished with the full arm strokes, getting the height I need to accomplish the task, I return to my resting position ... elbows at my side.

Young players may find this a peculiar technique, but as they get older they will realize it's benefits. Our bodies don't last forever. Having good posture and technique not only helps you play longer, faster, louder AND softer ... but you'll also reduce back pain and other discomforts that are typically warning signs to you that something isn't quite right.

Lastly, I use a drum throne with a backrest. I use it to press against my lumbar (lower back), which helps me sit up straight and also lean back slightly with some support. I'm able to adjust my backrest forward so that my thighs are resting on the seat ... which is a concern for some drummers ... especially double pedal users.

I trust this will help you in your quest for a more ergonomic set-up. Let me know of the results and what you find to be the best for you.

Aabech

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Egonomic set-up #2
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2004, 05:36 PM »
Hello again Bart, thanks for your ideas on setting my kit up!

I started adjusting the height of my throne. Reading your suggestions, I found that I sat too high, resulting in lower-back pains and using way too much energy when playing heels up. I then started lowering my snare about 10 cm's or so, and found out that I basicly had been sitting too high while having my drums adjusted too high as well. :) I then re-viewed my placement of the cymbals, and once again summerized that the ride and the china had been situated too high up in the air.

I've only been able to play 2 hours today, but I could really feel the difference in my playing - how well-balanced I was, thus giving me a more "flowing" play.

Thanks alot for your dedication!

Regards, Lars Aabech

Offline Bart Elliott

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re: Ergonomic set-up #2
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2004, 06:07 PM »
I pleased that my suggestions are helping you.

One final suggestion ... continue to rethink your set-up and how you approach things. Do this for the rest of your life. With this mindset, you'll be fine tuning your approach and really find the best set-up for you!

 

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