Mike Tarrani's Drum Gear

Drum Kits

I am not especially partial or loyal to most drum brands, but do tend to use Tama and Gretsch drum kits more than other brands. I currently own a DW Buddy Rich commemorative kit that I don't play, as well as Gretsch Special Edition kit that is also in bags unused. The DW is 24/13/16 + 5.5 snare configuration and the Gretsch is 22/12/14/16 + 6.5 snare configuration. I prefer 16/10/13 or 18/12/14 configurations.

Frankly, I don't obsess over drums. While they each have their own personality when played in isolation or in a studio, any decent kit, tuned properly, will suffice for me in live performances. That is the space that I occupy, so while I do own two custom kits, plus a Gretsch Brooklyn microkit, and a decent Yamaha kit, they are just drums to me.

What is important is hardware. I want my pedals to work, and my stands and holders to keep things where I want them without slipping. More important still (to me) is the throne. I spare no expense and always use models that have backrests. I am currently using Roc-N-Soc non-hydraulic thrones.


For years I was totally loyal to Zildjian. After the Dream Bliss cymbals hit the market I purchased a set and fell in love. I sold off all of my Zildjians and thought that would be the end of it. The reason why I went with Dream over Zildjian is they were thinner, darker in pitch, and had a great feel to them.

That would have been the end of my cymbal journey, but Amazon had a blowout on Soultone cymbals. By blowout I am not making an understatement. They were going for prices that were well below the B8, stamped junk that the other companies were selling for entry level. And the Soultones are B20 bronze and hand made. I acquired far more than I should have, and still have nearly all of them. In fact, their flat rides in all of their model lines are simply amazing and I use them on every set-up when I am playing.

I did manage to snag a great, thin set of vintage A. Zildjian cymbals. They did not bring me back into the Zildjian fold - nothing can drag me away from my Dream Bliss cymbals - but they were acquired at a bargain price and are better than anything that Zildjian is currently making.

Speaking of bargains, I also have a mixed set of Sabian HH and HHX cymbals, plus one of their Crescent Hammertone rides that I pieced together from some incredible deals. Honestly, had I been introduced to Sabian earlier in my life I may have never discovered Dream, and definitely would not have clung to Zildjians for so long. But I was in my 70s when I finally discovered the amazing sound of those Sabians and while they are wonderful, I still put my Dream Bliss above them. Granted, that is a personal preference, so I am not implying that Dream (or Sabian or Zildjian) are better cymbals - but for my playing style Dream takes first place.


Short and sweet: I am a big fan of Tama's Classic hardware line. They are light, compact and sturdy. I love flat base stands and in my opinion there isn't a better line of flat base hardware for those of us who like compact set-ups and light weight gear than Tama Classic. Prior to using Tama I was using the earlier DW flush base stand models. I never migrated over to the DW Lite line; the main reason is reading about how the hi-hat stand from their newer line wobbled, and from personal experience with their snare stands, which sit too high.

I will say that for bass drum pedals just about any on the market will work for me. I am a heel-down, single pedal player who often feathers, so I'll use any pedal that won't fall apart.

Sticks, Brushes, Mallets & Beaters

... and heads. I'll get those out of the way first. Remo all the way. I typically use coated Ambassadors on both the batter and reso sides of bass drums and toms, and the batter side of snare drums. Depending on the drum (and my mood) I sometimes use Fiberskyns (FD weight), and have a few kits with coated Emperors on the batter sides of toms. I also have one kit completely outfitted with Earthtone calf heads (batters and resos, including the snare side.) Nothing comes close to calf for some of the music I play - especially when brushes or mallets are involved.

For sticks I had been using Promark Elvin Jones signature sticks for literally decades. I recently switched over to Bopworks sticks (the 40s Swing and Birdland models are my main ones, but I have other models as well.)

Brushes have been Regal Tip Ed Thigpen signature model wire brushes. Sadly Regal Tip appears to have gone out of business, but I do have a large enough stockpile to get me through the rest of my life. Lately, to conserve my stockpile, I have been using Bopworks Sure-Lok brushes, Wincent brushes in various weights, and an old pair of Zildjian retractable brushes. None come close to the Regal Tip ones, but they are close enough that if a fire consumed my stockpile of those I could make do with the other brands and models mentioned.

My most used mallets are Zildjian Dennis Chambers or John Riley models, but I also use Wincent mallets.

For at least a decade I have been using Vater Vintage Bomber bass drum beaters. I am currently experimenting with some Vic Firth beater models as well as some from Innovative Percussion. I keep returning to the Vintage Bombers.

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