my Drums

Since I posted that video on YouTube,

I've been getting a few emails asking about the structure of my drum kit. For the non-drumming readers, check back tomorrow for a slightly less noisy post. For the percussionist readers, let's do this.

Building this kit required a few specific goals.

Two Toms
Two Crashes
Cased & Portable
Minimal Hardware for a nice, tight setup

My kit is based around a couple of brands. (all hyperlinked)

Gretsch Drums
Zildjian Cymbals
Evans Heads
dw Hardware
SKB Cases

Gretsch Natural Satin 18in KickI play a Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz kit. It's a four-piece kit in a Natural Satin finish. It's a relatively small kit being a jazz kit:

K - 18in x 14"
S - 14in x 5"
T1 - 12in x 8"
T2 - 14in x 14"

I went through a couple of steps to find this kit. I prioritized the important elements to me in a kit, which were:

Natural Finish
18in Kick
5" Snare Depth
14in Floor Tom

Natural Satin ShellsAfter mixing tons of drummers with big and small Kicks in big and small rooms, I realized that the 18 was the right size for me. The first time I heard Alan Thomas of The Running Back play an 18, I was sold. I basically sat down thinking of a list of every single drum kit made. Obviously this is an imaginary list. I knocked off everything that didn't have an 18in kick in a natural finish. That list got small. Small enough to count on two hands. Some had deep snares, OUT. The only thing left was the toms. I had it down to the Gretsch kit and a DDrum kit. After researching, I pushed on the Gretsch kit. The DDrum kit was a 5-piece (two floors) which would have been nice, but would have cut down on the portability. I would have ended up only using two toms, defeating the purpose.

I originally fell in love with the Gretsch natural look after seeing Travis Cottrell's drummer Kevin Jones play a 6-piece Gretsch kit. Obviously his kit is way more tricked out, but I love my Gretsch kit. I also have a theory that every drummer thinks their kit is the best. Maybe so, but my kit is the best. Seriously, there are more expensive kits on the market, but I will not be selling this kit five years down the road to "get serious". This is my kit. I'll be holding on to it for... well forever I guess.

Zildjian A Custom Mastersound 12in HiHatsIn looking for cymbals I considered two brands. Zildjian and Sabian. Both brands sounded fine. I was comparing the Zildjian A Customs and the Sabian AA's. I had been warned to "spend the money on your cymbals, kid. not your shells" so I did. Just like my Gretsch kit, I have no intentions of buying mediocre gear to sell five years down the road. It was tough to be patient enough to wait, save up, and step up to the plate. In my setup, I looked for 4 cymbals, specifically:

12in Hats
16in Crash
18in Crash
20in Ride

This way, I have room to slip in a 14in crash, which I probably won't, down the road. The 12in hats were an important part of my originality for this set. I was being boring enough with the 16/18/20 setup, I had to go somewhere with the hats. I settled on:

12in Mastersound A Customs
16in Medium A Custom
18in Fast Crash A Custom
20in Medium Ride

A Custom Medium 16in CrashNothing too exciting, except for those hats. The fast 18 matches well with the 16, sounding closer to a 16 because of the faster attack, without just being two matching 16's. The A Customs have a magnificent brilliant finish, which will not be a low-maintenance relationship, but I bet Miss USA isn't low-maintenance, and I bet she looks almost as good as my cymbals on stage.

The cymbals came with a decent bag that will work, but I had to case these drums. Without any thought at all, I ran straight to SKB. I have used them for Pro Audio and respect their sleek designed, lightweight-but-strong case design. But those suckers aren't cheap, so I waited until a Memorial Day Sale to pick them up. Even on sale, they ran me about $100 a case. dang. Almost as much as the drums.

dw PileNow for the hardware. Like I said, I wanted this painful step to be as clean and basic as possible. I am no rock drummer, and don't think I could pull off the 37 cymbal stands look. Furthermore, I wanted to mount my T1 to a stand, not to my Kick. To get the cleanest look, I began with two dw 9700 boom stands. Instead of getting four small stands, I got two beast stands. Each stand held a crash. The left stand has my 20in ride clamped to it. The right supports my T1. My T2 just sits on the ground, nothing special. These booms easily hold the weight the additional clamped items. I chose the dw 9300 snare stand for it's booming arm. I am able to set the stand deep into the kit, and have the snare "float" to it's position. An unnecessary luxury by far, but a convenient feature.

dw 5000 AC3 KickThe pedals were a debate. I originally chose a Pearl Powershifter kick pedal. However, after choosing dw for both booms, the ride clamp, and the snare stand, I was in pretty deep. I chose to continue the dw support into my pedals, giving dw a full monopoly. For the stands, I went 9000. For the pedals however, 5000.

I believe it is important to use quality gear. I refuse to buy something with the intentions of "five years from now I can upgrade". However, above all this is humility. I am not a professional drummer. I wouldn't call myself a "drummer" at all. I have no intentions of making a career out of this. I am not planning to take this anywhere to seriously. Everything should have a budget, and I have no business devoting $8,000 to a hobby. This is not a career. Let the guys making a living off of this stuff buy the fancy stuff. I am only a worshipper, not a professional.

Those 9000 pedals would have been over $300 a piece. That would make two pieces of hardware equal the cost of the drums themselves. That's too far.

From Left to Right:
Black Rug
dw9700 Boom - L-Crash & Ride Clamp
Ride Cymbal Boom Arm
dw5500TD - HiHat Stand
dw9300 Snare Legs
dw9700 Boom - R-Crash & T1
Old School CB Throne Legs
dw9300 Snare Basket
Floor Tom Legs
dw5000AD3 - Kick Pedal
CB Drum Throne Seat
Gretsch Kick Drum Lift Riser

All this fits on a 3x5ft black rug my mom found for me at Target. It all fits in my mid-sized SUV, and it call all be carried by one person, me.

For heads, I stuck with Evans. Gretsch and Evans are owned by the same company, so I figured they would have sort of designed the two using each other. I don't know. I've heard good heads from Remo, Attack and Aquarian too. I just went Evans. And here's why. Just like everything else, I prioritized and patiently took everything step by step. The Kick batter head was the first stop. I only liked what I saw from the Aquarian and Evans lines. That knocked it down to two. After seeing the dampening system used by Evans in their EMAD2 head, it was over for Aquarian. Like the rest of the kit, I wanted things to match.
Evans EMAD2 Batter Kick Head
Some guys are smart enough to buy the best items from the best companies and not worry about matching. I wish I was that smart. I'm too... anal retentive... or compulsive... whichever one it is where you're crazy about stuff matching. I left the resonate Kick head on with the Gretsch logo. For the toms, I went with EC2 coated batter heads, with EC clear's underneath. The coating on these things is more frosted than coated. I like it. Snare has an EC-Snare on top and a Hazy 300 below. I'll stick with Evans heads, and I'll probably stick with these same specs. I like them.

I may come across as a little particular, but I didn't want to go buy the model sitting on the Guitar Center showroom in Fayetteville. I ordered the kit from a warehouse. It came in two big boxes and my friend Phillip and I built it from the ground up. I would highly recommend this, by the way. I feel a lot more pride in the shells, and I'm glad I was patient enough to wait for UPS instead of Guitar Center. Don't get me wrong, I still use Guitar Center. I just didn't want anybody breathing on my drums.

I started making my own sticks a while back, and have gone and gotten myself addicted. I don't want to use anything else now. It took about 40 sticks to get them just right, but now that they are, OH MY GOSH I love 'em.

That pretty much walks you through the kit. No, that drags you. That was a LOOOONG post. I apologized to the non-drummers earlier but I'm sorry drummers too. dang. I hope you enjoyed it. You can be sure this will not be the last of me not shutting up about this thing, I just wanted to bring it all into one post. I would appreciate any comments that you could spare. thanks for reading!