* Jeff's Drum Set History

Thought I'd post a little on Jeff's drum kit history...just a taste of his selections.

As kid, a neighborhood friend had won a Slingerland champagne sparkle set in a poker game and sold it to Jeff’s father with cases and cymbals.

In 1978, Jeff was 24 and I had three Ludwig drum sets. There were two Gretsch sets and a Camco set made for him. Everything was brass plated--all black and brass, with a solid brass 6 1/2" snare drum. His "heavy metal" set was a Slingerland with the 28" bass drum, everything in chrome, 20 X 20 floor tom, and an 11 X 15. The Ludwig was basically his all-around studio set. He got into Gretsch for live performances.

In 1979, Porcaro said his first set was a Ludwig as influenced by Ringo. In the studio, Porcaro played a combination of three different Ludwig sets with several old Slingerland Radio King snare drums. Onstage with Toto, he used Ludwig's new Power Drums, which featured extended shells. Cymbal wise, he used the older A and K Zildjians.

Around 1982, Live with TOTO, Jeff used an 8-ply Pearl Rosewood kit with eight rack toms in graduated sizes and two floor toms and playsed Paiste cymbals. He began endorsing Pearl Drums and felt that most all drums felt good to him stating; “Drums are drums, depending on the kind of head and how you tune them. Sometimes just the look of one will make me partial to that one for two weeks; just because it looks different and it's new. I always set up differently. Sometimes there'll be a lot of tom-toms, sometimes just two, depending on what I'm doing. Or sometimes I'll go into something where usually I'd have a bigger kit and the music kind of demands it, yet I'll go in with completely the opposite, which is kind of interesting. In the studio, my set changes for every tune” On heavier tunes, he used a Gretsch 24" bass drum and a 14 x 12 mounted tom and a 16 x 16 floor tom.

On Toto IV, his drum sizes used to record were 10", 12", and 13" rack toms of standard depth, 16" and 18" floor toms, and a 22 X 16 bass drum. He also used a 6 1/2 X 14 Radio King snare drum. The cymbals were all Paistes, and included a 20" Formula 602 ride, 18", 19" and 20" 2002 crashes, a 16" Formula 602 crash, and 14" Formula 602 hi-hats. Basically, he used the same setup for Isolation and I also used it live.

On, The Seventh One, he used his standard sized Pearl Maple kit. No power toms. 10", 12", 13", 14" and 16" floor toms. His bass drum was oversized, about 18"x22". He used a variety of snare drums--an old Ludwig Black Beauty, a Pearl Piccolo, a Ludwig chrome and a custom Valley Drum Piccolo. The choice of snare changed with the texture and style of each tune. Also, the popular Modern Drummer ad at that time was somewhat bogus. When Jeff went to the photo session, it was with a set of drums that weren't his. The toms seemed deep. Pearl said that in the past couple of years, the power-tom sizes became their standard drum. They have the super power toms, but the standard drums that have been around since the '20s and '30s, they call them jazz drums. So when you see pictures of him behind a drumset in the ad, it's deceiving. It's his setup, but those aren't his sizes. He used Pearl jazz-size toms, 10", 12", 13", and 14" and 16" floor toms, an 18 x 22 bass drum, a Pearl piccolo snare, a Pearl standard-size metal snare, and I have a Ludwig Black Beauty and a 6 1/2" regular Ludwig metal snare drum. His hats were a pair of 602 Paistes and also a pair of 13" Zildjians--a Z on the bottom and a K on top. Another was a pair of an old, old, old A Zildjian 14" on top and an Italian Tosco on the bottom that has four quarter-inch holes drilled around the bell and two sets of rivets on each north, south, east, and west point on the bottom cymbal.

Lastly, on Kingdom of Desire, he used a Pearl MLX (maple), alternating between: 3 1/2" x 14" Pearl Free-Floating brass piccolo, Pearl 5 1/2" x 14" steel, 5" x 14" Solid/Select maple, Ludwig Black, Brady 10" soprano snare drum with his toms.

Some drum forum comments and an interview with Paul Jamieson.

I can confirm this is accurate. Jeff owned a BRADY kit - it was the Jarrah Ply / Silver Gimlet kit that was our display kit from the 1992 NAMM Show. He took possession of it shortly after the show in January and used it quite often in those 7 months before until his untimely passing in August. I know there was a Ray Charles session in there somewhere towards the beginning of 1992, as he brought CB along to it.

Possibly the best example of Jeff's Brady kit was the track "Calling Elvis" by Dire Straits.

I hung with Jeff a bit for a few years prior to his unfortunate death. He ALWAYS played his Gretsch Carpathian Elm kit with gold rims and lugs in sessions. Ludwig, Pearl, or Brady snares and Paiste Sig cymbals...sometimes a 602 ride. Always Remo coated Ambassadors on all the top heads and a clear Aquarian head on the kick. DW 5000 pedal, Pearl hardware and rack.

I did go to a Toto rehearsal for The Kingdom of Desire Tour and he was playing a beautiful maple colored DW kit and Brady snares. Never saw him play those in public though.

Modern Drummer – August 2002
Paul Jamieson, who now runs Paul Jamieson Studio Rentals, worked with Jeff from 1975 through 1988. He was Jeff’s drum tech and confidante. Although Jeff always shied away from talking about equipment in his interviews, Jamieson says he definitely had certain preferences and pet peeves.

“When we recorded the first Toto album at Studio 55, he used one of my Gretsch drumsets, which were the same sizes as the Ludwig kit. He played Gretsch drums in the studio from that minute on. From there, I built him a Gretsch kit that he used on Boz’s tours.

“The first time we went to Japan, Yamaha gave us some equipment that Jeff used for a while. And then on our second tour to Japan he made a deal with Pearl. Along with the endorsement came our deal with the drum rack that he and I came up with. Jeff played Pearl live, but on recordings you’re listening to Gretsch drums.

“When Gretsch had their hundred-year anniversary, they built a bicentennial-edition drumset, which I got for Jeff. It was made of Carpathian elm, which is what they made Rolls Royce dashboards out of, with gold parts. To this day, it’s the most beautiful drumset I’ve ever seen. I got Jeff a couple of Gretsch sets, and he used them until he died.

“As far as snare drums, there were five I built for him, plus custom Radio Kings and a 6-1/2″ x 14″, ’40s Gretsch maple snare drum that I customized for him. Those were his main drums, even though toward the end he ended up with twenty to thirty snare drums(Black Beauties), a Brady, a Solid, and all the stuff Pearl and Yamaha had given him.