When he took over the drum chair with Dweezil Zappa more than four years ago, Southern California–based drummer Ryan Brown had to expand his setup in order to accommodate all of the sounds required in the extensive catalog that the guitarist was pulling from, which comprises mostly compositions by his father, Frank. “Before this gig, I was a four-piece guy,” says Brown. “But this kit has the minimal amount of gear that I need to pull off everything that you hear on the records. In the song ‘Inca Roads,’ I do a run at the end that starts on the 6″ Rototom and goes all the way down to the 18″ floor tom.

“This setup took a while to get use to,” Brown continues. “But I’ve always been a die-hard Frank Zappa fan. As a kid, I would play along to his records, but I never had all the gear to do it exactly like the recording. The extra toms, splash, bell, China, and stack are there to play the Bozzio-era stuff. For the cowbells, we decided it would be easier to put them into a sampling pad instead of trying to mic them up every night. I also use the pad for timpani and synth drum sweeps.”

When asked if there’s a specific tuning method for this kit, Brown says: “There is. I get out a piano app on my phone and hit an ‘F’ for the 6″ Rototom. Then I go down in triads, à la ‘Camptown Races.’ The 6″ Roto is an octave up from the 10″ tom, and the 16″ is an octave below it. The 18″ tom is a fourth lower than the 16″. When I go down the drums, it sounds like a chord. The toms are alternately panned—left, right, left, right, etc.—so the audience hears them bouncing from side to side. That was a Frank thing.”

Drums: DW Collector’s Series in Champagne Sparkle finish
A. 6.5×14 Performance Series snare in Merlot Glass Glitter finish
B. 8×10 tom
C. 9×12 tom
D. 10×13 tom
E. 13×16 floor tom
F. 14×18 floor tom
G. 18×22 bass drum
H. 6″, 8″, and 10″ Rototoms
I. 6×14 Gretsch Catalina Club snare (spare)

Cymbals: Sabian
1. 14″ HHX Legacy top and Evolution bottom
2. 18″ Prototype crash
3. 8″ Paragon splash
4. 7″ HH Radia bell
5. 18″ HHX Power crash
6. 17″ Paragon crash
7. 20″ HHX Stage ride
8. 19″ Paragon China
9. 20″ Paragon China with a 12″ Radia splash stacked upside down

Drumheads: Evans Genera HD Dry snare batters and Hazy 300 bottoms, Clear G2 tom batters and Clear G1 bottoms, EMAD bass drum batter and DW-logo front, and Black Chrome on Rototoms

Electronics: Roland SPD-S sampling pad, Tama Rhythm Watch metronome, and Jerry Harvey Audio JH-16 in-ear monitors

Hardware: DW 9000 double pedal, throne, and stands, and a 10″ Vornado fan

Sticks: Promark 5A Texas Hickory wood tip, Select Balance Rebound .595″ Hickory, TB-6 brushes, Thunder Rods, and Good Vibes Jerry Tachoir vibe mallets

Microphones: Shure Beta-52 on kick; AKG D-40 on snare and Rototoms, C-451 on hi-hats and ride, C-518 on toms, C-214 overheads, and D-5 for vocals