My setup always varies depending on the gig, but the gear I use for rock shows is pretty consistent.
Q Drum Co. Mahogany kit (occasionally random brand rental kits, but always in sizes close to the ones below):
16″x24″ bass drum
9″x13″ tom (on snare stand, sometimes 8″x12″)
16″x16″ floor tom (sometimes 15″x15″)
16″x18″ floor tom
7″x14″ Q Drum Co. Gentlemen’s series copper snare drum, 6″x14″ Q Drum Co. Aluminum plate snare drum or 5.5″x14″ Q Drum Co. plate copper snare
Sometimes 12″ or 13″ side snare
19″ 2002 Crash (sometimes 19″ Signature Dark Energy Crash Mk I)
15″ 2002 Sound Edge Hi-Hat top / 15″ 2002 Medium Hi-Hat bottom
20″ 2002 Medium (sometimes 20″ Giant Beat Multi)
24″ 2002 Ride
20″ 2002 Medium
20″ 2002 Novo China
20″ 2002 Crash
I’ll use a 16″x24″ bass drum 90% of the time, but sometimes a 14″x20″, or whatever a particular studio or rental company may provide. The four basic tom size configurations I generally end up using, depending on the situation, are:
– 12″ tom, 16″ floor tom
– 13″ tom, 16″ floor tom
– 12″ tom, 15″ and 18″ floor toms
– 13″ tom, 16″ and 18″ floor toms
People ask me why a 15″ floor tom, and not a 14″. I find the sweet spot on a 14″ floor tom to be too small of a target, and when hit even slightly off-center, 14’s tends to sound very weak. They’re generally very unforgiving. 14’s also tend to choke easily when you hit a flam on them, and the pitch of 14″ floor toms is generally too high for my taste. I really dig 15″ floor toms because that one inch makes a huge difference and pretty much eliminates all those things, while still being decisively smaller than a 16″.
Generally, I’ll use bigger drums on bigger stages, and smaller drums for softer music and/or in the studio or on smaller stages. My favorite recording setup is a 12″ tom with 15″ and 18″ floor toms. Amazing tonal spread.
I love larger cymbals for the simple fact that they have a lower pitch that blends into music much better than smaller cymbals, which tend to stand out more and are more often found “annoying”. I also simply love the timbre and sonic textures of large cymbals.
I’m all about 15″ hi-hats. I prefer 15″ hats over 14″ hats because they tend to have a lower pitch, which often blends into music better and doesn’t become harsh. In order of volume/loudness of the gig, my favorite hats are:
15″ Formula 602 Modern Essentials Hi-Hats
15″ Signature Dark Energy Hi-Hats
15″ 2002 Sound Edge Hi-Hats
15″ 2002 Sound Edge Hi-Hat Top w/ 15″ 2002 Medium Hi-Hat Bottom.
I’ll sometimes use a rare pair of 15″ Signature Sound Edge Hats as well. I’ll pick whichever of those fit the music best.
I love 20″ crash cymbals. I’ll use any combination of crashes from Paiste’s Formula 602, Formula 602 Modern Essentials, Giant Beat, Masters, Dark Energy, Signature and 2002 lines for light to medium loud situations. For heavier music I’ll use either 2002 Medium crashes, or Signature Heavy Full Crashes.
Not many situations call for a china type cymbal these days, but when one does, the 20″ 2002 NOVO China is my very favorite. Its incredible dynamic range makes it respond very well to soft touches as well as loud hits.
Ride cymbals are a tricky thing. Every situation requires a ride to have just the right balance between volume, definition and wash. My current favorite ride is the 24″ Masters Deep Ride, which is John “JR” Robinson’s signature ride cymbal. This thing is special. The “ping” is strong, yet not too bright, and the wash is very controlled yet the cymbal isn’t super dry. For louder situations, I like to use the classic 24″ 2002 Ride. For lighter work, I’ll often use a 22″ Signature Dark Energy MkII Ride. For situations requiring a very versatile ride, I use my 22″ Twenty series Ride. But when recording, I will pick whatever fits the music from my large collection of rides.
My favorite snare drums, and studio workhorses, are:
7″x14″ Q Drum Co. Gentlemen’s series copper snare drum
6″x14″ Q Drum Co. aluminum plate snare
6.5″x14″ Ludwig Bronze plated brass Supraphonic (1980)
5.5″x14″ Q Drum Co. copper plate (3mm shell) snare
5″x14″ Ludwig Standard (aluminum) snare (1969)
I definitely love brass and copper snares, but I’ll use whatever fits the music from my collections of 20-odd snares. Below are some pictures (a few snares missing).
I use a variety of Evans drum heads. My favorite snare drum batter heads tend to be the UV1, G2 and ST, although every snare drum and situation is different and I will pick a drum/head combination that works for the music.
The Orchestral 300 snare side head is my favorite snare bottom head and I use it on most of my snare drums. It sounds a little bit warmer and darker than the regular Snare Side 300. In general, I use the Orchestral 300 on most of my metal snare drums, and the Snare Side 300 on wooden snares. On my toms I generally use Coated G2‘s on top and Clear G1‘s on the bottom. When the situation calls for it, I might use UV1’s or even Calftones on top.
On my bass drum I generally use a Coated EMAD with an EQ Pad (sometimes a clear EMAD, or clear or frosted EQ4), and a black EQ3 on the front.
I use Puresound Custom Pro brass wires on most of my snare drums and Blasters on drums that I want or need to project a bit more. I use 16-strand Puresound Custom wires on most of my vintage snare drums.
My main stick is Promark‘s Classic 5B (TX5BW). This stick is extremely versatile and will work in pretty much any situation. I might sometimes use any kind of variation of the 5B Promark has to offer, including the TX5BW with Active Grip, the Firegrain TX5BW and the Forward 5B (Acorn or Tear Drop tip, regular finish or Active Grip). I may use a variety of brushes, mallets and rods for various lower volume situations as well.
I use Qsticks dowel rods.
On tour and at my studio, I use all DW 9000 series hardware, with a 5000 series hi-hat stand and either 9000 or 5000 series single or double pedals. For local shows and sessions, I’ll often use a combination of DW 3000 and 7000 series stands because they are lighter and easier to transport. I use a custom Carmichael Throne throne top, or an Ahead Spinal-G round throne top.
I use Steinberg‘s award-winning Cubase recording software at my studio. I strongly believe Cubase is vastly superior to Pro-Tools, and much more user-friendly. One major benefit to using Cubase is the ability to put plug-ins on your input channels. With today’s incredibly plugin quality, I am able to put vintage pre-amp plugins on my inputs and achieve drum sounds in a way that is as close to old school as possible. Of course, I am using actual great preamps as well. Cubase and Pro-Tools sessions are easily interchangeable so I am able to record drum tracks for anyone who prefers to use Pro-Tools themselves.
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