At a concert last night my wife asked me ‘why are rock band drum-kits often set up on a platform above all the other musicians?’

I speculated it may be about the drummer being able to see the rest of the band better, or vice versa, but I don’t know. The kit was fully mic-ed so it can’t be an acoustics reason, and it was the headline band in a concert hall so it wasn’t a festival situation where kit is set up offstage then rolled on.

Any pointers or explanations?

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    To stop drummers getting above themselves..? – Tim Nov 19 '19 at 12:57
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    Maybe because they are sitting down at the back of the stage, so the front row can't see them – marcellothearcane Nov 19 '19 at 13:02
  • Actually, raising drums off the floor helps prevent the bass and sub-bass frequencies of the kick going directly into the floor, which in turn gives the kick a deeper sound. This is the same reason why contrabass (upright basses) and cellos have pegs lifting them off the floor. – jjmusicnotes Nov 19 '19 at 16:52
  • @jjmusicnotes - except that the raisers are (smaller) stages in their own right, hollow, and work as sound boxes themselves. Bass drums have legs at the front (spurs) mainly to stop the creep. Seems somewhat counter-productive. – Tim Nov 19 '19 at 16:57
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    Ah yes, but “How can you tell when the drum riser is level?”... (wink wink)... – Bob Broadley Nov 20 '19 at 9:06

I think you'll find that this is not limited to rock bands. Any time there are seated musicians in more than one row, it is quite likely that the rows in the back will be elevated. This certainly helps with visibility in both directions (so the trombones can't claim they don't see the conductor ) and to some extent also helps with sound projection.

You'll see risers used for many choral groups for the same basic reasons.


One scenario where it is also very helpful is during festivals. Setting up a drum kit, such that it feels comfortable for the drummer and just "like at home" can take some time. Often they set up the drumkit backstage on a small stage that is moveable. As soon as the performing band is finished the drumkits can be changed on the stage and doesn't need to be rearranged.

  • This. When the drum kit is on a riser with wheels, it can be rolled to its place (and out) in seconds. – piiperi Reinstate Monica Nov 19 '19 at 16:45
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    And as I said in my OP, this was not the case here and doesn’t apply to many other occasions I’ve seen the same setup. – Steve Mansfield Nov 19 '19 at 19:57

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