Have you ever heard of a remote hi-hat? It’s when you take hi-hat cymbals and mount them to a spot at your drums that is away from the regular hi-hat stand. When drummers have remote hi-hats, they typically use them as auxiliary hats to go along with their normal hi-hats.
You need a unique piece of hardware for these to work so that you can open them with a pedal. We’re going to break down how that hardware works, and we’re also going to discuss whether having a remote pair of hi-hats is worth all the trouble of setting them up.
How Do Remote Hi-Hats Work?
All remote hi-hat stands will have a footboard that you can place anywhere around your kit. The most common place to put it is next to the footboard of your standard hi-hat stand, but some drummers like to put it in a unique place.
The footboard acts the same as regular footboards, and you’ll get certain adjustability options that depend on its quality.
Most drummers will try dialing in the same settings that they have with their regular hi-hat footboard so that the remote hi-hats feel the same to play with your foot.
The footboard won’t have a solid rod sticking out the top like standard hi-hats, though. It will have a shortened rod for stability, along with a baseplate to keep it stable.
The rod will have a cable attached to it, which moves us on to the next section.
All remote hi-hats will then use a cable that attaches to the arm part of the hardware. Cables range from two to ten feet, with the longer ones giving you more freedom with your placement options when you set up your kit.
The cable works on a hydraulic system, so the force from the pedal will transfer through the cable and reach the hi-hats mounted remotely on the kit.
The great thing about these cables is that they’re switchable on most remote hi-hat stands. You can purchase shorter ones to use in settings where long cables will take up too much space.
The idea of a hydraulic cable controlling your hi-hats feels a bit weird at first. You don’t get the same accurate response that you do from the rod on a typical hi-hat stand. However, you get accustomed to how it feels after a while.
The final part of the remote hi-hat stand is the bulkiest. Companies basically take the top half of a regular hi-hat stand and alter it so that it can be mounted to other cymbal stands.
You need to have a sturdy cymbal stand to mount it to, as it can be quite heavy with the second pair of hi-hats attached to it.
You’ll get an arm with the hardware to mount to another stand. You’ll then position the rod on that arm in a vertical position. After that, you’ll place hi-hats in the same way that you do on a regular stand with a clutch.
The cable attaches to the bottom of this rod, and most remote hi-hat rods will have adjustment mechanisms near where the cable attaches. This is where you can adjust things like tension and angles.
Once you’ve set that all up, you’re good to go with a remote set of hi-hats on your kit.
Are Remote Hi-Hats Worth It?
The question of whether remote hi-hats are worth it is heavily debatable. A standard drum set only needs one pair of hi-hats, so having a second pair is unnecessary in most musical settings. Remote hi-hat stands also don’t come cheap.
With that being said, having a second pair of fully controllable hi-hats can make your drum kit setup very fun to play. It adds a fresh touch to your set, and that can spark inspiration to play things you would have never played before.
You just need to work on the coordination with moving your left leg from one hi-hat pedal to another.
It helps to get a drop clutch for the remote hi-hats. It will allow you to change between open and closed hi-hats on the fly.
We’d say that remote hi-hats are worth it if you’re willing to buy the stand for them and play them within your drum kit setup. If you’re not going to play them a lot, it’s not worth the hassle of setting them up.
Alternative Options to Remote Hi-Hats
Remote hi-hats aren’t very common, mainly due to the stands being expensive and drummers not feeling the need to have a second pair of hi-hats. However, here are two alternative options that give similar results in your drum kit setup.
If you don’t want to set up a remote hi-hat stand, you can just get a regular hi-hat stand and place it on the other side of your drum kit.
You won’t be able to control the hi-hats with your foot, but you’ll be able to play them along with your main hi-hats to get unique patterns and sounds.
It helps to get a drop clutch here as well. With that, you’ll be able to switch between open and closed hi-hats without using any pedals.
Cymbal stacks are far more commonly used than remote hi-hats. Drummers love these as they sound similar to hi-hats, but they have a bit more of a bite. Instead of having two pairs of hi-hats, it’s good to have two different tonal options in your cymbal setup, and cymbal stacks give you that.
When you have a tight cymbal stack, you can play grooves with it in the same way that you would with hi-hats.
You also don’t need to buy an expensive remote hi-hat stand for these. You can just mount them to standard cymbal stands, and then you can just tighten the wingnut firmly.
Final Thoughts on Remote Hi-Hats
Overall, remote hi-hats are only worth adding to your setup if you’re specifically looking to have two pairs of hi-hats to play interchangeably. Otherwise, it’s better to use a cymbal stack.
A cymbal stack will give you a different sound, but you can play the same things. That will add a good bit of variation to your cymbal setup.
If you do want to set up remote hi-hats, make sure to get a high-quality stand from brands like DW, Tama, or Pearl. They tend to make the best ones.