Equipment

Endorsements? Yes, please. If anything, I’m loyal.

That being said, I have played the same set (more or less) of Gretsch drums since 1978. Smartest thing I ever did. You should have seen my first kit, bought in 1975. (I wish I had pictures). It was a Ludwig Vistalite Vistalite(clear blue tinted, much like this kit here, ‘cept bigger) – double-bass, 4 toms (which were expanded later with two hideous sounding concert toms). God, they looked cool. But sounded horrible. No tone. Check out the sizes.

  • (2) 14″x24″ kick, 8″x10″ / 10″x12″ concert toms, 9″x13″ / 10″x14″ rack toms, 16″x”16″ / 16″x18″ (!!!) floor toms.

Yeah!!! Boogida, boogida, boogida, boogida. . . Boy, did they sound killer in the gym during pep band. Not so good at jazz festivals. Oh well.

Had a life-changing experience at my first Jamey Aebersold Jazz Camp in the summer of 1976, held at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA. The drum instructor was Ed Soph, to whom I had listened to a good deal from the recordings of North Texas State University (now UNT) 1 O’Clock Jazz Band and Woody Herman’s ‘Thundering Herd’. He played a small bebop (blonde maple) Gretsch kit with really pingy cymbals. My fate was sealed. Came home that summer, put my big kit up for sale thru my first drum teacher, the legendary Freddie Manton, and I went from a nine-piece monstrosity to a very small four-piece be-bop kit. Never looked back. Wished I still had it so I could channel John Bonham on the rare occasion (and who doesn’t do that?).

Eventually began playing louder music (big band and top-40) so the 18″ kick wasn’t cutting it. Traveled south several times to the legendary Valley Drum Shop in Van Nuys, CA in 1979/80 and purchased what amounted to another Gretsch kit, only with larger sizes. The next smartest thing I ever did.

  • 14″x22″ kick, 6.5″x10″ / 9″x13″ / 10″x14″ rack toms, 16″x16″ floor tom. Bought a 6.5″x14″ Rogers DynaSonic Snare too. Never could get a good sound out of it, outside of the real fat Don Henley-ish snare (note the extreme cymbal height/angle, and down jacket muffling. Ah, the joys of youthful experimentation.)
    kit
    with the CSU, Fresno Jazz Band “A”, on tour in Japan 1983

Currently still playing the Gretsch kit(s), although almost exclusively on the bop kit now.

kit
studio sessions for Kevin McDonald Fellowship, August 2011
  • 14″x18″ kick, 8″x12″ rack, 14″x14″ floor. Snares: sometimes on a refinished round-badge Gretsch 5″x14″ or 7″x14″ Noble & Cooley – but most often a 60’s Ludwig Supraphonic 5″x14″.

Cymbals? As you can see, I have a little of everything. Still searching for the perfect combination – which I hope I never find 🙂