I use a vintage 1960s blue sparkle Ludwig Downbeat kit with an added 1960s Carlton floor tom which I re-wrapped to match. The sizes are 20” bass drum; 12x8 tom; 14x14 tom and 16x16 tom. Right now I'm using Remo Ambassador coated heads on all drums. This is the kit you'll see at any show where we use our own gear. I love it!
Snare drums vary according to mood. I have a 14x5 chrome 1960s Ludwig Super Sensitive; a 14x5 chrome 1960s Rogers Dynasonic; a 1950s 14x51/2 wood shell WFL and a 14x5 wood shell Carlton of indeterminate age but probably also 1960s. I bought the Carlton for my rehearsal kit but it ended up being the one I used for all bar one track on our new album ‘Seven'. Because I use brushes a lot all the heads are coated. I like Remo Emperor and Remo Vintage batter heads.
For acoustic/very small venues I have what I call the ‘Lounge Lizard' kit. This is my own version of the 1940/1950s cocktail kit which was one tall 14” drum that was a bass drum at one end and a snare at the other. You had to play it standing up. Yamaha brought out their own version a few years back but all the ones I tried sounded horrible, so I made my own. It's a 14x14 Premier floor tom with a 1960s 14x4 Premier Royal Ace snare attached to the top of it with some homemade clamps. I have a set of Carlton kit bongos attached as well and the whole thing is in glorious red sparkle. The bass drum pedal is half of a Sonor double pedal rigged so that it beats upwards. I made it so I can play sitting down – I'm too old to be standing on one leg.
I also own another (mostly) 1960s Ludwig which has a 22” bass drum; 12x8 tom;13x9 tom;14x14 tom and 16x16 tom. These were all re-wrapped in Block Orange by Eddie Ryan at the tail end of the Seventies. They have a real “period” look about them. At one point I was thinking of re-wrapping them but then I found out how well Eddie had stuck the Orange on. I haven't had this one out for a while.
Lurking in my hall is a 1970/1980s Sonor Phonic which is the heaviest drum kit I have ever come across. It has 9 ply rosewood shells and if you have the strength to hit it hard enough it sounds amazing. This one hasn't been used for a long while and will probably be on Ebay soon. It has a 22” bass drum; 12x8 tom; 14x10 (!?) tom and a 16x16 tom.
21” Bosphorus heavy ride; 18” Avedis Zildjian rock crash; 17” Avedis Zildjian thin crash; 12” Istanbul hit-hats; 12” Stagg china; 8” Stagg handmade splash; 12” Paiste sound formula splash.
For the ‘Lounge Lizard' kit I use 10” Avedis studio hi-hats.
Hardware is a mixture of DW hi-hat; Premier 252 bass drum pedal; DW 5000 bass drum pedal; Tama Camco bass drum pedal and Yamaha and Tama stands, and moves between kits. Like most drummers I have other stuff hanging about including an Ajax bass drum pedal with the original leather strap.
The usual percussion setup I have next to my kit comprises a vibraslap; a small cowbell, mounted tambourine with bronze jingles and a plastic block. Occasionally I use a set of LP Granite Blocks ( They're plastic really).
For recordings I have a variety of shakers including LP One Shots and a wonderful double shaker by Tycoon that has a fabulous soft sound. I often use homemade shakers with rice; beans etc in old biscuit tins and cassette boxes.
There's also a multi-guiro by LP that doubles as a shaker, rain stick.
When we played Fuerteventura I came across a great little instrument called a Caňa. It's a length of split cane that you play by striking the base of it on the palm of your hand. Still practicing this one.
My cajon is a Schlagwerk La Peru model. I bought this because, at the time, it was the only one I could find in London but it still sounds better than any others I've heard.
The main Udu is by LP and it's around 14” high. I found it in Barcelona. I have a smaller, higher pitched udu by Toca and a big metal one I made from a brass lamp base.
Mine is a ceramic model that Ben and his wife Katie found in Marseille. At the time you didn't see any good ones in London so they said they'd have a look for me. When they found some I was in a services on the M1. They called my mobile, played me a couple and I chose this one.
Sticks and stuff
I really like the Vick Firth Steve Gadd signature model. I've been playing them for a few years now although I'm not sure how well they work as I still don't seem to be playing as well as him. I've recently tried the nylon tip model and I'm very impressed.
Brushes are Flix lightweight nylon, they're pink but what can you do?
I have all kinds of beaters, hot-rods, blasticks and so on but I'm not that fixed on any particular sort. All depends on the sound I'm looking for.
Tom's Drum Store in Denmark Street. I met Tom Wilkinson in 1968 when he was the manager of Drum City in Shaftesbury Ave. I was working across the road at Rose Morris with his brother Dave. Tom sold me my first Ludwig (I still have most of it) and his store is where I go to get most of my stuff. It's one of the few places left where you can talk drums with someone who knows what they're talking about.
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