Since around 2001 my main kit has been a beautiful nesting bop kit custom made at Joe Cusatis’ Modern Drum Shop in Manhattan, which was sadly closed down soon after. I love this little kit, it was the best purchase I ever made and sounds amazing in every size venue. The 10″ tom fits inside the 13″ floor tom which fits inside the 16″ kick. Every time I pull it out of it’s case to setup on stage, it blows the mind of the soundperson on hand. Once it’s mic’d up, you would never imagine how small the kick is. And what a pleasure to pack down and transport in one case.
My other dearly beloved is my father’s original round badge early sixties blue sparkle Brooklyn Gretsch 20″, 12″, 14″ which I still occasionally bring out to gigs or recordings when I am in the New York area. He also has an classic Ludwig Supraphonic snare which has deeply imprinted it’s sound on my soul. These drums sing! They are legendary, with good reason, and an absolute pleasure and honor to play.
Honorable mention must go out to my friend Justin Tomsovic, drum builder at Paradigm Drums in western Massachusetts, who has lent me some of his fantastic drum sets on occasion for tours in the US. They are beautifully crafted and sound incredible.
My usual snare is a late 90’s Ludwig fake Supraphonic which I found on sale after Christmas some years ago at Manny’s Music for $99. It doesn’t add up, it shouldn’t be such a great snare but somehow this thing has always been so good to me. It was a Christmas miracle! I like to tune the top head fairly low and the bottom head quite a bit higher and it usually sounds fantastic.
I always prefer to use coated Remo Ambassador heads, and Vic Firth sticks. And I only ever want to play cymbals that were hand hammered in Turkey.
I also have a pair of congas, timbales, bongos, a guiro, a beautiful wooden calfskin Brazilian Maracatú marching bass drum, a Roland SPD-SX sampling pad and triggers, an Indian dholak, and a bag full of shakers, tambourines, bells and woodblocks.