Playing drums for me has been a constant game between what’s affordable and what really suits my needs sound-wise. I started on a cheezo CB starter kit when I was maybe fifteen years old. From there, I tried whatever drums and cymbals I could get my hands on. Just by chance one day, in a random drum shop in New Hampshire, I found my dream kit: an early ’90s Pearl Masters custom with 8″, 10″, and 12″ rack toms and a 14″ floor tom. When recording, I currently use an extra 18″ floor tom for a little extra “boom.” The bass drum is a woofy 18×22. All are gorgeous deep-wine maple (no gloss). It’s pretty.
Just last year, I made the switch from an early ’60s Ludwig 3 1/2×14 steel snare to a newer 5 1/2×14 DW birch. The wood within the DW provides a bit more body while still having enough high end to sit on top, but without the “ping.” The head on the snare is an Aquarian Studio X that provides controlled, steady thickness with a snappy attack. I have Remo Clear Pinstripes on all the toms for a bulgy, resonant tone. These almost make the cute, light toms sound bigger. The bass drum head is an Evans EMAD, which sounds like a boot to the chest. I use a Pearl Eliminator double bass drum pedal. It’s been a workhorse for a few years now.
Cymbals to me seem to be the toughest thing to experiment with, being so expensive and how they have the tendency to evolve, sonically, after weeks and months of smashing. For now, I have Zildjian 20″ and 18″ A crashes for the deep sounds, a 16″ Sabian AA crash for fast stuff, and 14″ Sabian Rock hi-hats. Last year I picked up a 22″ Paiste Rock ride. It’s the first Paiste I’ve ever played, and it rules. It offers big, full “crashiness” but still has a ping with a big, bright bell. Supporting those noisy things is an assortment of Tama, DW, Pearl, Gibraltar, and maybe even SP, stands. For sticks, I’ve been back and forth between Vater 5B nylon tip and Vic Firth 5B nylon tip.