Constructed in 2003, this Yamaha Birch Custom Absolute Nouveau kit is one of Jimmy Chamberlin’s most cherished possessions. Compared to the maple kit that he has also played on the road, Jimmy says birch complements both his playing style and the band’s music. “It’s not as loud and broad as the maple,” he says. “But for the way I play and the phrasing I do, it seems to fit the music better. I’ve always played maple with the Pumpkins, and I’ve always played birch with my jazz bands, but as the stage volume went down and we started using in-ears, I thought I’d use my most musical kit. The birch has a little more control, and a little bit of a carved-out mid-range, so you’re not competing with guitars as much. It has a nice sweet attack on top and warm low end.”

Although the visual component of Chamberlin’s kit wasn’t a top priority, it meshed with the band’s current stage setting well. “I only have a few kits, so it’s either yellow or custom painted,” he says. “I care about optics, but I’m not overly concerned about them. It’s a good-sounding kit, which is why it’s on the tour. The fact that it fit in with the other design elements on the stage was a bonus.”

Chamberlin’s signature snare remains one of his favorites. “It’s such a great utility drum; it really works in any situation,” he says. “I’ve used that snare on straight-ahead jazz gigs where the front row is three to four feet from the drumset, and I’ve used it to play big arenas and outdoor shows. I have yet to find another drum that versatile.”

Wanting dark, rich cymbal sounds, Chamberlin elected to use Istanbul Agop. “It’s amazing how musical they are and how little effort you have to put into playing them to be heard,” he says. “There’s a lot of history in the Turkish sound, yet they still sound very modern.

“Before it was almost like the cymbals were one instrument, and the drums were another,” Chamberlin continues. “Now I’m playing a complete instrument where both are married together. When you have a sonic palette that you’re comfortable with, you can challenge yourself to make decisions that are outside of the box because you’re not hampered by conventionality from an instrument standpoint.”

Also included in Chamberlin’s cymbal setup is a DW cable hi-hat that was recommended by his drum tech, Vic Salazar. “I was a bit skeptical because I’m a very hi-hat-centric player and thought the feel would be different,” Chamberlin admits. “I don’t find there’s that big of a delta between the cable hat and the straight hat. It’s a little noticeable; the slight latency in the hat is kind of better for me because it keeps my playing less on top.”

Needing a versatile drumstick for touring, Chamberlin chose the maple Vic Firth Modern Jazz 4, which is similar in length to a 5B but lighter. “I got sick of switching to 7As when I would play a jazz gig and then go back to 5Bs and 5As for rock gigs,” he says. “I road-tested the Modern Jazz 4s during Smashing Pumpkins rehearsals and found them to be extremely musical—and I wasn’t breaking any. Additionally, because of the maple grain structure, they open up the cymbals a little more than hickory or oak.”

Drums: Yamaha Birch Custom Absolute Nouveau with custom yellow lacquer
A. 5.5×14 Yamaha Jimmy Chamberlin signature steel snare
B. 12×14 tom
C. 8×10 tom
D. 9×13 tom
E. 16×16 floor tom
F. 16×18 floor tom
G. 14×22 bass drum

Cymbals: Istanbul Agop
1. 14″ 30th Anniversary hi-hats
2. 12″ Traditional splash
3. 21″ Traditional swish with six rivets
4. 16″ Traditional Thin crash
5. 18″ Traditional Paper-Thin crash
6. 10″ Traditional splash
7. 20″ Epoch crash (used as ride)
8. 18″ Xist Ion crash
9. 12″ Traditional hi-hats
10. 8″ Traditional bell over 20″ Xist Power Brilliant China stacked on 22″ Traditional Trash Hat
11. 20″ Xist Ion crash
12. 8″ Traditional splash
13. 26″ gong
14. 7″ closed mini hi-hats (mounted off bass drum) comprised of Turk splash (top) and Turk bell (bottom)

Drumheads: Remo Emperor Coated snare batter and Ambassador Hazy snare side, Emperor Yellow Colortone tom batters and Ambassador Clear resonants, Yellow Colortone Powerstroke P3 bass drum batter (with Remo Falam Slam Double patch) and custom graphics Ambassador front

Hardware: All Yamaha except for a Drum Workshop DWCP9002 double pedal (with Yamaha BT950 beaters) and two 9502LB remote cable hi-hats

Sticks: Vic Firth Modern Jazz MJC4, Steve Smith Signature TW12 Birch Tala wands, GB1 gong mallet

Microphones: All DPA except Neumann overheads, Shure Beta 91 inside kick, AKG on hi-hats, and a Shure talkback

Accessories: SledgePad bass drum dampener, Kelly SHU FLATZ kick drum mic system, RTOM Moongel, Gorilla Snot drumstick grip enhancer, JH Audio in-ear monitors, Shure wireless body pack, RoboCup drink holder, On-Stage accessory tray