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On March 14 I received an invitation to play in Ben Rector‘s band for his slot on leg one of NeedtoBreathe’s Tour De Compadres, which ran from April 16 – May 16. I had never heard Ben’s music or even met any of the guys in his band or the other bands (NTB, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, Colony House), but the experience proved again why the music world is so rad: I really loved playing music with Ben and his band (Cody Fry on guitar, Kevin MacIntire on bass). They are all great players/vocalists, and Ben is a masterful songwriter and front man. On top of that, the hang was incredible… not just with Ben but with all 4 of the bands. I got home from the tour a week ago and I’m bummed it’s over!

But this post is about gear, because I love giving credit where it’s due. Risen Drums, Paiste Cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, Remo drumheads… theses companies all make fantastic stuff that makes playing music so gratifying. I remember when I had to always fight my gear in order to get it to sound good, and those days are over now.

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For Ben’s music I decided to use the same physical setup that I’ve had on recent Sara B tours: kick/snare/rack/floor, SPD in a second rack tom position, and hats/crash/ride. My laptop provided Ableton goodness but only for click purposes, and I kept a swap option snare off to the right.

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The drums were the Risen “vintage mahogany” shells with triple flange hoops (8×12, 14×16, and 14×22). The finish is a paint (not a wrap) and has been dubbed “Steve Gold Sparkle.”

I used my workhorse 6.5×14 black brass tube lug snare (tuned mid-low-ish) on most of the set, supplemented by my 5.5×15 Canopus Ash snare as the tight and high alternative. The BFSD muffles (Donut and Original) showed up as well a few times throughout the set.

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I brought two cymbal rigs on the tour, one for large outdoor spaces and one for theaters or enclosed bandshells. The outdoor rig is pictured above, L to R (all Paiste): 602 Modern Essential 16″ crash hats, 20″ Masters Dark crash, 22″ 602 Modern Essential 22″ ride. They’re full and rich, with some brightness and presence, but not overbearing.

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The indoor rig had the same 20″ Masters Dark crash, but the 16″ crash hats and 22″ ride were Masters Dark as well. That series is somewhat new to the Paiste world, and I got a set back in February. Wow. I love them. The tone is dark and the pitch is deep, but there’s no trashy or flimsy presence. The ride really surprised me – unique, full of character, and different than I expected – but I love it. I’ve used it on jazz gigs, in sessions, and now out on tour with Ben.

Below is a drumcam video I made at one of our Florida gigs, and it features the Masters Dark rig. It also features the always-boss stage moves of Kevin MacIntire, who I played disc golf with literally every day of the entire tour. #winning

As always, comment here or message me if you have any questions!

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A promo poster from a clinic Tony did at MDS.

A promo poster from a clinic Tony did at MDS.
One of Steve Jordan's kits, complete with gaff tape on the floor tom.

One of Steve Jordan’s kits, complete with gaff tape on the floor tom.

I had a wonderful experience at Memphis Drum Shop last week when the Sara Bareilles tour was in Tennessee for a day off. That place is amazing. The cymbal selection is apparently the largest in-stock assortment in the world, and I was able to play a bunch of cymbals that I’ve never seen in person before. However, my favorite part of the store was the vintage room, showcasing owner Jim Petit’s incredible collection of old drums.

A collection of old Black Beauty snares... etched and engraved models, nickel-plated models, etc.

A collection of old Black Beauty snares… etched and engraved models, nickel-plated models, etc.

One of Elvin Jones' Gretsch kits. NBD.

One of Elvin Jones’ Gretsch kits. NBD.

A collection of rare Solid snare drums, the first company to manufacture single-ply snare shells.

A collection of rare Solid snare drums, the first company to manufacture single-ply snare shells.

One of Ringo's kits. 13/16/22 Super Classic in black oyster.

One of Ringo’s kits. 13/16/22 Super Classic in black oyster.

I take that back, my FAVORITE part was the gong chamber. This is the only place in the world where multiple 60+ inch gongs can be played in the same room. Jim even has a once-a-month “sonic massage” session where he plays the gongs in succession while the massage clients experience the audio presence and force that only large gongs can produce. He gave me a sampling of this experience and it was incredible.

Jim and I trying to look natural with an 83" gong behind us.

Jim and I trying to look natural with an 83″ gong behind us.

Lastly, I was beyond honored to be recognized by one of the employees as a Paiste endorser, which led to an invitation to film a few demo videos for mycymbal.com, the online store for MDS’s mammoth cymbal stock. This is where I was able to play a bunch of cool rare/new Paiste models. It was a total blast. My favorite of the  demos was the 17″ Steve Jordan style Traditional-over-Dark-Energy hihats. All the videos can be seen under my name on the special guest section of the website.

Best day off on tour ever.

Gear update…

This photo was taken immediately after we finished our playing our set supporting Maroon 5. Everyone promptly went to the concourse to get snacks and buy t-shirts.

I think this photo was taken during soundcheck. Either that or there were less people at this show than I remember.

I’m in the middle of 8 weeks of Owl City shows, most of which are openers for Maroon 5 on their North American 2013 tour leg. I’m using pretty much the same rig as this past Fall, but with a couple changes.

– No more side snare with a trigger. We played a bunch of shows overseas and couldn’t bring extra gear, so I had to get used to playing those samples on the Roland pad. I think I like it better now that way.

– I’m using my black brass snares this time around, instead of the 15″ glo kit snare. I have both the 5×14 (cranked tight) and the 6.5×14 (tuned pretty deep) with me, and I switch them out about 4 or 5 times throughout the set.

– Paiste Traditionals are almost always my cymbals of choice, but a brighter cymbal setup for these big rooms makes more sense. I’ve got a 22″ Twenty Custom full ride, 20″ Twenty Custom full crash, 20″ Twenty crash, 16″ Twenty Custom crash as hihat top, and a 16″ Twenty med thin hihat bottom.

Here’s a great follow-up to yesterday’s post about my personal cymbal rig.  This is Ed Clift talking at length about Paiste’s products and their approach to cymbal making.

His rig is… well, pretty serious.  I mean, obviously it’s over the top.  He works for Paiste as a sales representative, not as a player, though the guy can play.  So I think he gets a pass on maybe having too many cymbals.  Ha.

Anyway, let the gear geek fest continue…

Phil plays bass in the Jeremy Sanoski Band, and as a result he ends up being the camera guy for a lot of my random sound check videos. He’s a great musician, and a decent drummer, but I’ve posted two separate videos of him intentionally hacking, and apparently the Youtubers don’t all know that he’s kidding. Now you know, because this groove ain’t easy…

PS. We shot this video at a gig last night while I was getting some footage of my new 18″ hihat set up. I mentioned a few months ago that I’m going to keep non-educational posts on this site to a minimum and start doing more of that over at my Tumblr page instead. I’m currently giving a photo/video tour of my Paiste rig over there, so check that out if you’re interested.

ATTENTION CYMBAL CONNOISSEURS:

Paiste has launched a couple new lines of cymbals that look pretty rad, including some darker CuSn20 bronze rides for the Twenty Series and a full reissue of the famous Formula 602 Series. Here are the official press releases from earlier today…

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Paiste just put together a very cool “morph” video to demonstrate the difference between their various cymbal lines. Youtube video lesson hot shot Mike Johnston plays 8 bars of the same pattern on the same kit in the same room with the same mics, and some slick audio/video editing allows the viewer to watch and listen to the cymbal rig change on every repeat.  It’s a pretty cool trick and really shows the difference between the various options in the Paiste roster.

Great idea, Paiste.  If I was made of money I would do this kind of thing with a lot of my personal gear just for my own research.

PS… I’ve been using the Dark Energy line and the Traditional line for the past few years… the last two options in the morph sequence…

I’m gathering up cool Paiste cymbals like crazy lately. I posted a few weeks ago about the Giant Beats that I bought, and now here’s some footage of my Dark Energy set-up: 21″ Mark 1 ride, 18″ Mark 1 crash, and 14″ Mark 1 hats. I also have the discontinued 20″ crash on order direct through the factory, but it’s not here yet.  The Flip camera gets a little over-driven toward the end… sorry…

UPDATE:  I couldn’t resist posting this also… it’s Phil Hicks (bass in Sanoski Band) giving a clinic on pocket…

I got some more new Paiste cymbals this week… a full set of Giant Beats. They are so boss.  Giant Beats were made back in the late 60’s and used by John Bonham until they were discontinued and replaced by the 2002 line in ’71.  They were reissued a few years ago, and I’ve just now been able to get a set.  The rig is 15″ hats, 18″ and 20″ crashes, and a monster 24″ ride.  The ride is seriously one of the coolest sounding cymbals I’ve heard in a long time.

Ryan Paul and the Ardent shot some local tv stuff the earlier in the week, and I brought the hats and ride.  And then I used the full set last night at a Sanoski gig.

UPDATE: It turns out the RP&TA video shoot was actually for a website devoted to Minnesota Arts.  The stuff we filmed that night is now up and streaming.  Check it out.

I just posted some cymbals on Craigslist. Check them out and email me if you want any of them. They’re all killer sounding instruments, but the truth is that I don’t need them. I have a hoarding tendency when it comes to my gear, and I’m trying to get over it. I have too many cymbals right now, and the cymbals that aren’t getting played should really just be played by someone else who will appreciate them.

UPDATE: The cymbals are all spoken for at this point.

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