September '04
 
As the fortunate recipient of a new drum set from Yamaha, I thought it may be of interest to like-minded players to detail the specs. The attached pictures tell some of the story  -  if you've any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me & ask.
 

Dave Mattacks Beech Yamaha
Photo: Mike Barry
[NB] :The pictures were taken mid-Sept' @ " Rear Window " studios, Brookline, MA as the second installment of tracking sessions for the forthcoming "Super Genius" CD.  For those not familiar with said ensemble, I can highly recommend our first CD; for more info' please go to www.supergenius.us]
 
I have birch & maple drums that I use, & recently recalled that sometime during the back end of the '90's  - when still living in the UK  - I used a then new-on-the-market set of beech drums which the nice folks @ Yamaha UK supplied. The drums sounded great & that fact came to mind when earlier this year I was thinking of an additional studio set.

I tend to lean toward 20" kick drums so it made sense to have something different this time, but I did have specific ideas about tom sizes. As declared previously on these pages, I'm not a fan of " power " [read deep] tom dimensions  -  to my ears & method of tuning, if you want bigger/fatter, go to a larger diameter.
 
[For those of you not familiar with the device in the pictures which is sitting in front of the bass drum, it's a Yamaha "Sub-Kick" . This is essentially a speaker (mounted inside a small drum shell, with a female cannon socket on the outside for audio connection) & reverse-phase wired so's to act as a microphone. It's meant to be used in conjunction with another microphone inside the drum; the Sub-Kick hears very low frequencies generated by the bass drum and is (ideally) sent to a seperate channel on the mixing desk where it is balanced with the internal mic' . I've been using it for some time in the studio (& recently " live " on the Richard Thompson tour) with great results.] 
 
Dave Mattacks Beech Yamaha
Photo: Mike Barry
Drum sizes: I chose (diameter dimension first) 10 x 7.5 [not used/shown in pics' ] /  12  x 8   /   14 x 12(*)   /   16 x 16  -  the last two are floor toms with legs. The request to Yamaha to make a 14 x 12 (*) floor tom was to get that drum more "in-between" the 12 x 8 & the 16 x 16 . The initial (Super Genius) sessions proved my theory right - that tom's apparent most resonance point was not only clear but clearly discernable from the drums above & below.  
For tom heads there's Evans G2 clears for batters (not a " dead " sounding double-ply head, but one with a "fatter/thicker"  tone) & I used coated G1's underneath to keep the toms "warm" sounding; clear heads underneath give too "glassy" a sound to my ears .

The bass drum is a 22 x 14; again, tuned correctly, this can sound as big as barn or compact/small depending on choice  -  no need for 20 " deep bass drums in my book! The now ubiquitous EMAD is the batter head.
 
After discussing finishes with Joe Testa @ Yamaha U.S., I went with their "Vintage Blac " finish. This may not have the most exotic of looks, but it really allows the drums to "sing" unhindered & is similar to the finish applied to some of their woodwind instruments. As you can see, I also chose the "Nouveau" lug  -  not so much for the quick head-change capability (normally once a year at the most in my case! ) but because of the minimum hardware-to-shell contact.  
 
The chrome-plated brass shell snare is 14 x 5.5 & has a conventional strainer & butt, but has only 8 (not 10) lugs per side. Yamaha took one of their 14 dia. tom hoops (aluminium/cast ) that they're now using on all the Absolute series drums & cut a snare gate to make the bottom hoop. I'm a big fan of these hoops on the (top of the) snare; they have the advantage of a die-cast hoop (consistency of tuning/good rim-shot & cross stick sound) but because they're aluminum, not the disadvantage of a rim-shot sound that is disproportionately loud to the drum. The 8-lugs "open" the drum a little more &  -  again  -  if one is careful with tuning, can give a big range of sound/tone. Heads are Evans "reverse-dot " batter, opaque 300 weight underneath.

Dave Mattacks Beech Yamaha
Photo: Mike Barry
The Zildjian cymbals you see are part of my set that I carry for studio use. The most common layout is left (hh side) to right :

13 thin/med K 'hats  /  18 med' A with rivets  /  17 or 18 thin K  /  20 "dry" K  /  16 or 17 thin K or vintage  /  22 china  ...
I've not detailed this too specifically as I'll often change one or more cymbals per song ...  e.g.; their 16 & 18 china crashes sound wonderful  -  a great occasional substitution. 
 
If you've any questions about a sound you've heard on a CD that I've been involved with, don't hesitate to ask  -  I'll do my best to answer  -  memory willing   ...   & I do hope this new page has been of interest .
 
Regards to you all  ... DM