MY DRUM SET – UPDATE* – The Blessing of Endorsements

Carl’s Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute kit/ In Session

Some of you have asked if I’ve been changing drum sets very much. Probably because of photos of other kits when I’m traveling. Well, I do love the Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute series for studio & live projects. You can hear this set-up on the Paul Baloche projects, “Glorious,” “Our God Saves,” “The Same Love,” and almost every project & tour I’ve been part of in the last…  well, several years. I’ve actually lost track of the time frame. I can say the Yamaha gear never fails me; it’s super consistent from kit to kit. (We do rent or get back-line gear on many events.)

I normally use a 22″ kick; 10″, 12″ & 16″ toms. I’ve sort of let go of using more than 3 toms. In fact most producers I’ve worked with ask me to just use 2 toms – usually that will be a 12″ rack tom & the 16″ floor tom. Snares can vary, but the go to collection has been what’s pictured. A 14″ x 7″ deep brass snare & a 13″ x 3″ brass piccolo. *Optional 14″ x 5″ Absolute Maple; a Steve Gadd signature snare with wood hoops, and an old 14″ x 6 1/2″ chrome over brass tuned “WAY” down…  “GOOOOSH.”

You may see pictures or video of me playing other drums at events. That’s usually because Yamaha drums are not available. My endorsement deal is pretty good… but sometimes it’s tricky to get the kit  I’ve requested. After all — I’m NOT Steve Gadd… I understand that. And it’s all cool with me… Yamaha treats me very well. Endorsements are about relationship, and I’m super grateful to the team at Yamaha for how good they treat me. My friend Mike Overlin of Yamaha has drum kits around the country available for events that we do that are to my specifications, and that blows me away. Bless you Mike. When things don’t work out, I’m totally flexible, and make things work with what I get. I always remember endorsements are a blessing & a privilege, not an entitlement. There are many great drum kits that work very well; it’s just different. AND, it’s a good opportunity to experiment. Anyway, much of the sound of a drummer is drumhead selection, tuning, sticks, and the technique of the player. Of course microphones, mixing, and other technical issues come into play.

So, there you go… I’m not changing drum deals… but, yes, you may see me on other equipment from time to time. Here’s my big kit in a Nashville studio. As you can see the 4th tom is added here. (10, 12, 14, & 16).


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About Carl

Carl has been a professional drummer & percussionist for over 30 years. He has played on over 80 Integrity Music projects; Maranatha Praise Band recordings 7 thru 10, & numerous other Christian, Pop, Country, Jazz, & Commercial projects.


  1. Hi gang, The sizes by the way are a 22″ Kick,/ 10″,12″, & 16″ Toms / a 14 x 7″ Brass Snare / (I also use the 14 x 5″ Maple Custom Absolute Snare that comes with this kit*) / AND a 13 x 3 Brass Piccolo snare- to the left of the hi-hat. // I also use an Akai MPC 2000 to create or edit loops OR I’ll do that on my laptop & make a quick mp3 of a loop idea & give that to the engineer to drop into a track in the recording program. Various MEINL cymbals according to the music. Peace, Carl

  2. What is your favourite cymbals set – details please as I have no option to hear and buy here in Kuwait so I may just order based on your recommendation.

    This would be mainly for church use.


    Btw, I really enjoyed the short workshop you had here when you had visited with Paul Wilbur. Hope you will come again and this time may be your wife too!

    • Hi Max, You can check out my cymbal ideas on my web under “drum talk” – in the FAQ section. Let me know if that helps. Peace, Carl

  3. Danny Knox says

    Hey Carl – really like the updated website – tons of cools stuff to dig into. One area that would really be helpful when you have a moment (ha) to document with pics and text would be your home recording studio where you track. Soup to nuts – how you get tracks sent to you, how you import/export them – into what/where? What kind of computers, external storage, midi, mixers, software tools – the whole sha-bang. You mentioned your Akai MPC 2000 – what else? If you already have this posted sorry if I missed it. It may be kind of techie stuff for some but its whats happening now – being able to work almost real-time without going into “the studio” and track with a producer and the full band. I know this would be dated as soon as your make it but it would be a great multi-part podcast on how you work from home.

    Blessings to you and yours,
    Danny Knox
    Carnation, WA, USA

    • Hey Danny, Thanks for your note… and I like that idea./ We are working on posting more info in the area called “in the studio” — I might make it a lead banner so it’s easier to find. / My set up is pretty simple, but it’s working great. That would be pretty encouraging to drummers/ & other players who are wanting to build a working studio. — Stay tuned. Blessings, Carl

  4. Hi Carl, I have been a big fan of you and your music for quite some time now, keep up the good work.

    I was wondering about the Piccolo snare, what songs have you incorporated it on in the past (live or studio)? Also, regarding hoops on snares, do you have a preference for live sets, do the studios prefer one over the other?
    Derek / Greensboro, NC

    • Hey Derek, Thanks for your kind note. / The piccolo snare I use most often is a Yamaha brass 13 x 4. It works great for that high sounding pop I want from a small drum. Paul Baloche likes it used in verses of songs to create almost a drum machine effect. His favorite standard snare is a large brass 14 x 7 Yamaha snare that I tune down pretty low for that typical rock n roll fat snare sound. I can’t think of a particular song that would feature the piccolo, but anytime you hear a high/ tight/ ringing drum in a song that’s probably what I used. Blessings, Carl

  5. Is there an available recording of your tune: “Where You Go”?

  6. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles
    as long as I provide credit and sources back to your website?
    My website is in the very same area of interest as yours
    and my users would truly benefit from some of the information you
    provide here. Please let me know if this okay with you. Regards!

    • Greetings, I would be honored if you want to quote anything or link back to these writings. Blessings on your work. Peace, Carl

  7. Dan Alnajes says

    Hi Carl,

    Been walking you play drums in the days with Don Moen and Ron Kenoly with you long Blonde hair LOL and that amazing Pearl Kit you had From Memory what was the Specs on that Kit?

    You are my Hero 🙂

    God Bless you and Leann


    • Hi Dan, I still have that kit & use it on occasion.. although now I’m a Yamaha artist & love my Maple Custom Absolute series. The Pearl kit is an old MLX series (kind of a maple masters series) 22″ kick – 10″, 12″ 14″ & 16″ “power toms” (deeper). A 14 x 6 snare – free floating brass shell and a 14 x 3″ brass piccolo snare. I used that kit on many projects & tours, and it served me well. Thanks for your inquiry. Blessings, Carl

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