7 Steps Guide – How to Set up Electronic Drums

June 12, 2023

Understanding how to set up electronic drums can feel overwhelming when you’re new – I’ve been there and understand the struggle. 

This article simplifies the process into manageable steps.

I will provide clear instructions to save time and avoid common pitfalls. 

In a nutshell: unbox, assemble, attach, connect, power on, plug in audio, and fine-tune. 

Ready to master the process of setting up your electronic drums? 

Let’s start!

What is an Electronic Drum Kit?

What is an Electronic Drum Kit?

An electronic drum kit is a modern instrument that emulates the sound and feel of a traditional acoustic drum set using digital technology. It comprises drum pads and cymbal pads, which, when struck, trigger electronic sensors to produce sound. 

The specific sounds are determined by a component called the drum module, often referred to as the ‘brain’ of the kit. The module can be programmed with a wide range of drum sounds, allowing the musician to customize their sound based on preference.

According to Roland, a prominent manufacturer of electronic drums, “Electronic drums bring the best of both worlds to the drumming space – the ability to experience the authentic response of acoustic drums, and the power to explore a limitless range of sounds and tones, all in one kit.

How to Set up Electronic Drums – 7 Steps Guide

  • Step 1: Unboxing
  • Step 2: Assemble the rack.
  • Step 3: Attach the drum and cymbal pads.
  • Step 4: Connect the drum module.
  • Step 5: Connect the drum kit to the power supply.
  • Step 6: Plug in the audio equipment (headphones, amplifier/speakers).
  • Step 7: Test and tune your electronic drum kit.
Unboxing electronic drums

Step 1: Unboxing 

When you open your box, you’ll find several components:

  • Drum and cymbal pads are your instruments, the parts you’ll hit to make sounds.
  • Drum module: This is the ‘brain’ of your drum kit. It’s where all the sounds are stored, and you’ll make adjustments.
  • Rack: This is the structure that holds your drum kit together.
  • Wiring: These connect your pads to the drum module.
  • Pedals: These control your hi-hat and kick drum sounds.

Remember, the same components may vary depending on your specific drum kit model.

Now that you know what’s in the box, it’s time to start setting up your electronic drum kit. Let’s move on to the next step.

Assemble the drum rack

Step 2: Assemble the Rack

Setting up electronic drum kit involves getting your hands a little dirty, metaphorically speaking. Assembling the rack is the first hands-on step, and while it might seem daunting, it’s actually more straightforward than it appears.

The drum rack is the skeleton of your drum kit, providing the structure that holds all the components together. It’s vital to get this step right, as it will significantly impact your kit’s stability and playability.

Your drum kit will come with a manual containing specific instructions on assembling the rack. Following these instructions closely is crucial, as every drum kit is slightly different.

However, here are some general steps you can expect:

  1. Identify all the pieces of the rack. This usually includes vertical posts, horizontal bars, clamps, and brackets.
  2. Start by assembling the rack base, which usually involves connecting the horizontal bars to the vertical posts using the clamps. Ensure the clamps are tight, but don’t over-tighten, as you may need to adjust later.
  3. Once the base is assembled, you can add the upper horizontal bars. These will typically hold your tom pads and cymbals.
  4. Adjust the height and angle of each rack part to suit your playing style. Remember, comfort is vital when playing the drums.

Here are a few tips from years of setting up drums:

  • When tightening the clamps, ensure they are firm but not overly tight. You want to avoid damaging the rack and remain stable during play.
  • Position the elements of the rack to match your natural reach and playing style. This will help prevent muscle strain and improve your drumming experience.
  • Always double-check your work. The stability of your drum kit depends on the rack, so it’s worth taking the time to ensure it’s assembled correctly.
Attach the Drum and Cymbal Pads

Step 3: Attach the Drum and Cymbal Pads

Placing your drum and cymbal pads is crucial for comfortable and practical playing. Now that your rack is assembled, we’ll set up your drum and cymbal pads.

Setting Up the Drum Pads

Your drum kit likely includes a variety of drum pads – typically a snare, three toms, and a kick drum pad. Start by attaching the snare pad to the snare clamp on the rack. 

Adjust the height and angle to match your preferred playing position, ensuring you can easily reach the pad with your drumsticks while maintaining a natural posture.

Next, move on to the toms. Attach each tom pad to its respective clamp on the rack. The general rule of thumb is to arrange them from left to right in descending order of size but feel free to set them up in a way that suits your playing style.

Lastly, place the kick drum pad on the floor aligned with the center of the rack. Depending on your drum kit model, it may have a stabilizing platform or spikes to prevent movement while playing.

Setting Up the Cymbal Pads

Cymbal pads usually consist of a hi-hat, a crash, and a ride. Attach each cymbal pad to its respective cymbal stand on the rack. 

Like the toms, the typical setup involves arranging the hi-hat on the left, the crash in the middle, and the ride on the right, but this can be adjusted to your liking.

Ensure that each cymbal pad is secure and positioned at a comfortable height and angle. The goal is to have all components within easy reach without straining.

Remember, the beauty of an electronic drum kit lies in its flexibility. Feel free to experiment with different setups to find what works best. In the end, comfort and ease of play are the ultimate goals. 

Once your drum and cymbal pads are in place, you can move on to the next step: connecting the drum module.

Connecting the Drum Module

Step 4: Connecting the Drum Module

Once your rack is assembled and your pads are securely in place, it’s time to bring your electronic drum kit to life by connecting the drum module.

First, let’s talk about the positioning of the drum module. Ideally, you want it within easy reach but not in a location where it’s likely to get struck accidentally. 

Many drummers prefer to place the drum module to the left or right of the snare drum, depending on their dominant hand. This position allows you to adjust settings and switch sounds or beats mid-performance without breaking your flow.

 Wiring Up Your Electronic Drum Kit

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty – connecting the pads and pedals to the module. Your electronic drum kit should have a snake cable or individual cables to connect each pad and pedal to the drum module. 

Each cable will be labeled corresponding to the pad or pedal it connects to, such as “Snare,” “Kick,” “Hi-Hat,” etc.

Start with your drum pads. Insert the plug labeled “Snare” into the snare pad, “Tom1” into the first tom pad, and so on, following the labels on the cables. The procedure is the same for the cymbal pads.

Next, connect the kick pedal and hi-hat control pedal if your kit includes them. The kick will usually connect to a port labeled “Kick” or “Bass,” and the hi-hat control pedal will connect to a port labeled “Hi-Hat Control” or similar.

Once everything is plugged in, neatly manage your cables using cable ties or clips to avoid tripping hazards and keep your kit looking clean and professional.

Remember, an adequate setup drum kit is critical to seamless performance. 

By understanding the optimal positioning of your drum module and the correct way to connect your pads and pedals, you’re on your way to delivering killer beats with your electronic drum kit. Let’s move on to powering up your drum kit in the next step.

set up electric drum

Step 5: Connecting the Drum Kit to the Power Supply

Ah, the moment of truth! Powering up your electronic drum kit is when your setup efforts start to pay off. 

But remember, it’s crucial to do this right, as improper handling of electronic devices can lead to damage. So let’s proceed carefully.

First, identify the power supply unit that came with your drum kit. It should be a small box with a cable ending in a plug, suitable for your region’s power outlets. 

The other end of the cable will have a connector that fits into a port on your drum module, usually located on the rear or side of the unit.

Ensure the drum module’s power switch is in the off position. Plug the connector into the power port of the drum module, and then plug the power supply into your wall outlet.

Ensure the power outlet is not overloaded, and avoid pulling the cord when unplugging the adapter. Instead, grasp the plug firmly and pull it out.

set up electronic drum

Step 6: Plug in the Audio Equipment

Your electronic drum kit is now assembled, and it’s time to bring life to it with sound. Let’s connect the audio equipment.

Connecting Headphones

Headphones are the silent hero of electronic drumming, allowing you to practice without disturbing others. 

To connect your headphones, locate the headphone jack on the drum module – it’s typically marked with a headphone symbol or labeled ‘Phones’ or ‘Output.’ 

This jack is usually a standard 1/4-inch jack, so ensure your headphones are compatible or use an adapter if necessary. 

An adapter allows headphones with different plug sizes to connect to audio equipment, making operating your preferred headphones easier. Insert the headphone plug into the jack, and you’re ready for silent practice.

Connecting Amplifier/Speakers

If you wish to fill the room with your beats, connecting to an amplifier or speaker is the way to go. Find the ‘Output’ or ‘Main Out’ jacks on your drum module. These are also typically 1/4-inch jacks. Depending on your setup, you might need a single cable (mono output) or two cables (stereo output).

If you’re using an amplifier, connect the other end of your cable(s) to the ‘Input’ jack on the amplifier. For speakers, the connection will depend on the type of speakers you’re using. 

Powered speakers can be connected directly, while passive speakers require an amplifier. Always refer to your speaker manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.

And there you have it! You’ve successfully connected your audio equipment. Now, it’s time to test and tune your electronic drum kit. 

Let’s move on to the final step.

how to set up electronic drums

Step 7: Test Your Electronic Drum Kit

Once everything is connected, turn on the drum module and test each pad individually. This step is crucial because it ensures that the pads respond correctly to your strikes and that the sound matches the pad. 

If the sound does not match the pad or there is no sound, refer to the user manual or manufacturer’s website for troubleshooting tips. Incorrect connections or faulty pads could be potential causes.

Testing Your Drum and Cymbal Pads

Start by hitting each drum and cymbal pad one at a time. You should hear a sound for each pad you hit. The volume and tone of the sound should correspond to the pad you’re hitting. 

The snare drum should sound different from the tom pads, and the cymbal pads should produce a cymbal-like sound. If a pad doesn’t make a sound or the sound doesn’t match the pad, you’ll need to troubleshoot the connections.

Adjusting the Sensitivity and Volume

Next, you’ll want to adjust the sensitivity and volume of each pad. Sensitivity determines how responsive a pad is to your hits. 

You should decrease the sensitivity if you’re a hard hitter. On the other hand, if you play lightly, you should increase it.

To adjust sensitivity, navigate to the sensitivity settings on your drum module. This involves scrolling through a menu using the arrow or selecting buttons for most drum modules. Select the pad you want to adjust once you’re in the sensitivity settings.

Now, hit the pad softly and then hit it hard. Adjust the sensitivity accordingly if the soft and hard hit volume difference is too significant or too small. Repeat this process for each pad until you’re satisfied with the response.

As for volume, each pad should have its own volume control on the drum module. 

This allows you to balance the volume levels across your kit. For example, you might want your snare drum to be louder than your toms or your crash cymbal to be quieter than your ride cymbal.

To adjust the volume, navigate to the volume settings on your drum module and select the pad you want to modify. Turn up the volume for pads you want to be louder, and turn down the volume for pads you want to be quieter.


And there you have it! You’ve journeyed through the process of setting up your electronic drums. Let’s quickly recap:

  • Step 1: You start by unboxing your kit and becoming familiar with each component.
  • Step 2: You assemble the rack, the skeleton of your setup.
  • Step 3: Attach the drum and cymbal pads to the rack, the heart of your rhythmic output.
  • Step 4: You connect the drum module, the brain of your electronic kit.
  • Step 5: You ensured your kit was powered up, bringing it to life.
  • Step 6: You plug in your audio equipment, enabling you to hear your beats and rhythms.
  • Step 7: You tested and tuned your kit, ensuring it’s ready to produce the best sound possible.

But the real fun begins now. The beauty of electronic drums is the vast range of sounds and styles they can produce – so don’t be afraid to experiment and explore. 

With your drum kit now set up, it’s time to lose yourself in the rhythms, beats, and melodies you can create.

Remember, mastery comes with practice. So get out there, start drumming, and most importantly, enjoy the music you make with your newly set up electronic drum kit. 

After all, playing the drums is all about expressing yourself and having fun. Happy drumming!

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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