Sometimes the drum kit you play is based upon musical and stylistic demands. At other times, it’s strictly a matter of space. Whatever the case may be, make it part of your musical growth to experiment with your set up from time to time. As always, do this with your band according to the requirements of the gig.

Like most drummers in the modern worship world, I’ve adopted the typical four-piece kit for most situations. This is also the normal set up in most churches where I use the house kit. – 22” Kick, 14”x 7” snare, one 12” rack tom, one 16” floor tom, hi-hats, ride cymbal, and right & left crash cymbals. There may also be assorted percussion items and a digital drum/percussion multi-pad. This is becoming part of the standard set up. Just check out the Worship Drummers Facebook page and you’ll get the idea. Or you can reference almost any modern worship video.

I occasionally play for a friend in a small church in Nashville where there’s no room on the platform for drums. I literally set up on the floor, in front of the first pew. In the photo, you can see that I’m crammed in between the bottom step of the platform on the left and the pew on my right. For this situation it’s a kick, a rack tom, a snare drum, hi-hats, and a ride/crash.

Carl’s Minimal Kit

For this small room, I’m playing with lightweight hot rods and plastic brushes. People are actually standing right next to me in the services in the very next row. I’m set up in front of one of the house speakers so I don’t use IEMs (In Ear Monitors). I just listen to the mix and blend in. After playing in so many large venues it’s really a pleasure to play for a small congregation on occasion to feel the sense of family they have.

My basic four-piece kit is not that much different from any kit you’ve seen before. I do make the point to change drum and cymbal sizes to hear what happens in the music when I do that. Sometimes I’ll change the types of drumheads and muffling to see how that also affects the sound. This keeps things interesting for me. But again, I remember to honor and serve the music as the leader prefers.

Finally, I really enjoy it when there are musical situations where I can set up everything. This mostly happens in recording sessions where I don’t know what’s called for and we have to get through a lot of music quickly. I may not use everything on each song, but all the sounds are there if I need them. Of course, the music always determines the choices.

Carl’s Everything Kit

This full set up has a kick with a double pedal and a trigger pedal next to it. Two snare drums are used with triggers on both. Three toms, sometimes four if they’ll let me. A digital drum/percussion multi-pad to the left of the hi-hat with an extra pad to the right of the floor tom. There are lots of extra cymbals set up on the kit with plenty of options in my cymbal bags, and a case full of percussion toys.

It’s important for drummers to try different things to keep the creative juices flowing and to keep challenging your own creative thinking. I encourage you to try something new in your setup every now and then to see how it inspires you. Blessings on your drum kit adventures.

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