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Carl Palmer's gear

Live > Equipment





Custom made stainless steel drumset (the only off the shelf items were the Gretsch hoops), including percussion synthesizer

6", 8", 10", 12", 13", 14", 15", & 16" single-headed tom's, 18" floor tom (single-headed), 28''x20'' bass-drum in combination with a Ludwig Speedking bass pedal , Ludwig Super Sensitive Concert Model 14" x 5.5" snare drum, drumheads by Remo (CS and Ambassador). Drumsticks are Ludwig Star 5b, brushes are white-handled Ludwig, and a variety of timp beaters.




Carl Palmer:
"My drums are not just a piece of engineering, they're set up medically correct for my body to function the right way behind that drum set, which is just something I have to take consideration now. Each drum was suspended by a rod that was angled at the exact position I wanted it. I would make a template out of cardboard and take it to the steel manufacturers with my specifications. Every night that I set the drums up they’re in the same position and my technique had got really good because I’m familiar with the distances.




The custom-built stainless steel drumset were made in London and no drum companies were involved - mostly because they'd look at it from a commercial mass-production point of view, where as I'm looking at it from a purely personal view, almost eliminating most of the practical aspects. A metalworking firm made the stainless steel shell, which is about quarter of an inch thick and this means that the total weight approches something like two and a half tons. The thing is that it's such a true sound, unlike a wooden shell. I've been experimenting for quite a while and I've found that most wooden drums were okay a few years ago but they just didn't give that constant sound. With stainless steel, for me personally, the drums project a lot more. They have more top frequencies. I have them tuned quite tightly, unlike the heavy rock and roll drummers who go for the fat flabby sound. The complete set, including cymbals- and other holders, as well as all microphones were mounted at a massive rack made of bended tube.





The idea for the engravings came from a hunting rifle I saw one day with a couple of foxes jumping over a fence and I thought it would make it more personalised. I left most of the actual drawings to Paul Ravn . He drew them first and we went over them together. On one tom there is a common vole, on other a hedgehog, a turkey, a man on a horse and a fox. It adds a touch of quality. It's very bizarre and it's very extravagant but it is something that I've always wanted.





The biggest innovation with this kit, though is that it's part-electric. I've been working on that for such a long time and was sort of let down so many times - well, not so much let down, more that the people helping me didn't have time to make it any further. Bob Moog was very busy at the time. He gave me a prototype drum. On the floor it had five buttons which you pushed to change the sound. That was okay, but say you wanted to play all those sounds really quickly in succession you'd have to be a tap dancer. What I did was to transfer all the sounds I wanted to each individual drum. I've therefore managed to get five electronic drum sounds that are pure electronic rhythmic impulses. Another drum plays a sequence, a series of 14 notes that repeat on the 14th and I managed to produce to counters. One counter plays a long bass note when you strike it while the other plays a pattern that's a little more complicated. The whole thing operates through a simple on-off button.



I got the design together myself and delegated the work to various engineering firms. There's a small pickup microphone inside each of the drums which is wired to a small box with eight mini-synthesizers so each drum has its own electronic sound. I could be doing a roll around my drum set, for instance, and hit a button on the floor which suddenly switches one any of those mikes. When I strike the drum with an active mike, the signal goes back to that little box and triggers pre-set electronic sounds into the speakers while I keep playing along. It has as many possibilities as a keyboard synthesizer."


Custom built P.A. (with eliminator monitors) based on a Kelsey Morris


Rotating rostrum (with lightning and strobe effects)

Carl Palmer:
"I've got a rostrum that revolves. During my drum solo, at a given moment, I start to turn, and I turn completely around so that I'm facing the other way. We have things set up in such a way that we have a complete black-out of the auditorium and all you can see in the centre of the stage is a dragon, about eight feet long, just flickering. The dragon is painted on the back of my gongs and I get this flickering effect from two strobe lights. For that tour I was on a drum riser that would revolve clockwise or counter clockwise, roadie-powered, not machine driven. I first saw it when I was 13 years old. There was a drummer named Eric Delan. He was a popular big band swing drummer and he would play a set of red and silver glitter drums on a revolving drum riser, dressed in a gold lame jacket. When you're 13 you get influenced by things like that."


Paiste cymbalset

13" Sound Edge Hi-Hat 2002 in comination with a Ludwig Atlas Hi-Hat stand, 24" China Type 2002, 22" Medium 2002, 22" Crash 2002, 24" Ride 2002, 24" Medium 2002, 17" Seven Sound Set No. 3 FO 602, 7" splash, 2" / 3" / 4" / 5" / 7" Children's Cymbals

Extras:
8" Bell 2002, 16" Flat Ride Medium FO 602, 22" Ride 2002, div. small tuned gongs, 22" Proto Gong No. 1, 20" Proto Gong No. 5, 20" Proto Gong No. 7


Carl Palmer:
"I like to play Paiste because whatever the atmospheric conditions, i.e. at festivals, in concert halls or in hot ballrooms, Paiste cymbals have a very bright sound under any conditions. The Paiste 2002 cymbal, I have found, has been the biggest improvement in cymbals over the past five years, due to the fact that they are hand made with the modern group drummer in mind. The Paiste 2002 is the best cymbal designed for use in the rock field."


Paiste 38" and 50" Symphonic Gong



The gongs were manufactured in Switzerland and painted by an art teacher in Fulham. He copied the pictures from a Japanese vase.

Carl Palmer:
"I have also found that Paiste gongs generate more sound that any other gongs I have used. I use the Paiste gongs more than ever in my music."


Ludwig 26'' and 29'' Symphonic Timpanies



Mounted on 6 support struts and rods similar to the original Dresden design, these polished copper timpani deliver premium playability and reliable service time after time.


A huge 134 lb. church bell



The bells of Aldgate do not refer to principally to a church but to the Aldgate Bell foundry. Carl still has the bell.

Carl Palmer:
"I bought this from the Aldgate Bell Foundry. It was a reject from a church peal, it being slightly out of tune."


An octave and a half of tubular bells, a set of temple blocks, a row of camel bells, an atmospheric tray consisting of a vibraslap, a ratchet, a violin bow, and cymbal and chain in a bucket plus an extra large triangle







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