Drum Sets

I endorse the worlds greatest hand made custom drums & cymbals, designed and made by LA Producer, Iki Levi. Sorry I don't have a picture on line, yet. Iki made me a very bright canary yellow (Elvin Jones yellow) set. It's stained inside and out. You can see the wood grain through the finish. And they sound incredible. My cymbals are . You can find more details on these drums and cymbals' properties below in the Drum Acousitics section below.

In I969 Dad bought me a 1960 Champagne Sparkle Ludwig set. I commissioned it to be painted in '97 by fine artist Hendrick Gideonse. This set received an honorable mention in the Boston Painted Music Art Show. P-Funk's guitars & keyboards won first, second, and third places. I still have these babies. Very exotic.

1985 Cherry Wine Natural Wood Tama Superstar heavy metal set. These drums just couldn't take it. The Ludwigs have been thrown off stages, accidentally rolled down the steps of the Utah capitol building with me running behind, burned, frozen, played in the rain and with whipped cream, and they still sound the same, probably better. My Tamas on the other hand, fell apart just sitting there looking pretty. The bass drum and the floor toms are the only drums in this 9 piece set that did not delaminate.


DC California black hand hammered brass. The ultimate tight but rich sounding snare. Iki Levi is now making full hand hammered drum sets and will introduce them at NAMM this year.

Ayotte with wood hoops, 6 ply African Mahogany finish with inlays. This drum is a great loose but rich sounding snare. I also have a Sonor solid brass, and two chrome Tama snares--one deep and one shallow.

Drum Sticks

Successfully emerged from a devopmental crisis, here. After playing Vic Firth 2b woods for about 18 years I woke up and realized they weren't working for me. I was always running from store to store looking for some light but fat 2b's. Some years, I've gone a half-a-year playing sticks that were too heavy. So, I got involved with a New England stick maker who found a cord of lighter wood in New Hampshire. He made me some knock off 2b's. The weight was perfect, and due to the fact they're all from the same cord, they are identical in pitch! But the length was too short. I have about 80 of them left. I chopped through them, and give them away to new students. Pro Mark sent me about 20 sticks to try and I really like some of them. They're all broken now, and those custom sticks from New England just keep on going! I think Vater makes the best quality sticks but they're too short for my long hands. It drives me crazy to feel that smooth perfection in my hands, yet not be able to make any music out of them. But then I came accross the relatively new Vic Firth 5B Extremes. I don't have to worry about the weight, they're longer sticks too, and I have never looked back. I've been using them for 3 years, now. I suggest if you're a 5A player with big hands, that you try the 5A or 5B Extremes. Finally, the small handed guys at the stick companies are making sticks for tall drummers.


On the DC California's, the batter's are REMO Emperors, the resonants' are clear REMO diplomats Remo black dots and dips on the other sets.  On the Ludwigs', the paintings on the shells actually continue across the heads.  I know, post a picture~.  Oof. When I get the money to do so, I'm switching over to Aquarian heads for the bass drums and possibly some of the snares.


I use DW 9000 double-kick pedals and articulating Lever-Glide Tama Hi Ha stands. The Lever Glides really stay out of my way moving more like a kick pedal. This allows me to better improve my Four-Hands techniques. I've been working hard on and off for 3 years on double bass. I have so much respect for anyone who has brought their double bass drumming to a pro-level. It's no picnic. Notice I said above that I worked on and off? Maybe if I'd never stopped I'd be much more proficient. But I have a lot of the techniques to an amateur level: Swivel ankles, heel toe, toe heel, heel up buried beater, heel up bouncing beater, heel down buried and bouncing beater.

Drum Acoustics

My 2005 drum acoustic and tuning studies culminated with an extensive search for the ultimate snare drum and tom toms. The major drum companies just don't make what I was looking for. I played them all. So, I started meeting with the custom builders. I found an incredible wood hooped 1995 Ayotte African Mahogany snare in New York. But, that was nothing compared to what I found at the Annual Hollywood Custom and Classic Drum Show. I had the great fortune of meeting Iki Levi, an LA music producer and drummer. He'd built a nice real estate portfolio, and started getting into more and more projects. Thoughout Iki's diversification efforts, he managed to continue producing recordings, and laying down drum tracks. He started a drum school on Ventura Blvd, in Sherman Oaks. His school has hundreds of students. Iki put someone else in charge of his school, and built an elegant drum store only steps from his teaching studios, also called Drum Connection. During this time, he'd also been experimenting with drum shells trying to achieve the same sound that I'd been imagining. Slowly but surely his drum creations got closer to his ideal. Now he loves the drums he's making. As do I. His toms are as loud as a snare drum. This is an anomaly among drum builders. The problem this fixes is that with standard drums you hit the toms so much harder than the snare to get the same volume level. It means a lot of uneven sluggling/tapping to successfull play evenly. Or, as in the case with many drummers, they hit the toms exactly as hard as they hit the snare--so whenever they go to the toms, the music kind of stops, "Hey where'd the drummer go?" Iki's drums also have incredible sustain and timbre through the entire EQ spectrum. Imagine: High fidelity drums. He wanted drums that sounded amazing in small dry recording studios, instead of just sounding great in perfectly reverberating rooms. Real estate has become so expensive that a lot of New York and LA studios are in small spaces now, further necessitating the use of drum machines because the rooms sound so bad. Iki's drums, (branded DC California) are as beautiful at pianissimo as they are at fortissimo. He'd take his drums into a studio hit them twice and the owner or producer on the gig would get out his checkbook. This fueled Iki's ambition further. Custom hand hammered cymbals.

Iki went to Istambul, Turkey to spend time at the eating places outside the Istambul cymbal foundaries. He asked around, "Who is the master cymbal smith? Who does everyone dream of apprenticing with?" He found they were all mentioning the same guy. So, Iki approached him and financed an independent foundry. Iki designs SoulTone and TRX (Turks) cymbals and his Istambul partrner and apprentices hammer them out. They're incredible. And unlike pinging through all the dogs in a Zildgian or Sabian display, every SoulTone or TRX cymbal you play sounds great. It comes down the happy crisis of having to choose between them. --I'll take them all, please. Last year Iki designed black hand hammered brass snares, and toms. This year he's building entire sets of hand hammered drums that he'll prremier at NAMM. Iki built me a beautiful paper thin maple canary yellow set, and a hand-hammered brass snare. I'm an endorser of his products. They're simply the most dynamic high fidelity drums made.