Carter Beauford has one of the largest and most diverse drum kits in the drumming industry. With its sparkling chrome hardware, rich ebony shells, and shimmering bronze cymbals, his kit lures you in as it sits on stage. If you're not drawn in by its remarkable appearance then the kit's sheer size will demand your attention. Carter's drum kit includes an array of professional drums, cymbals, hardware, and percussion equipment.
What sets Carter's kit apart from other drummer's equipment is its inclusion of so many different percussionist elements (cowbell, chimes, timbales, etc.). Carter credits Miguel Valdez as his inspiration to become the role of a percussionist behind a drum kit. Valdez played percussion with the Dave Matthews Band occasionally when the band first got started in the early Ď90s and also moonlighted as a member of the musical group the C-ville All Stars. After Miguel's unfortunate passing in 1993 Carter felt it was necessary to include in his kit more instruments that a percussionist would normally play. Carter explains that with Miguel gone he was noticing the absence of so many things, percussion-wise, which he felt that he needed to fill in.
Every year it seems that Carter's kit is growing larger and larger. One year Carter even decided to add a second bass drum to his kit. The one thing that seems to change the most is his cymbal setup. Every now and then Carter will experiment with new cymbals and sounds. It's not rare to find Carter playing different hi-hats, rides or crash cymbals each tour.
In addition to what's included in his drum kit, Carter also plays the bongos, congas, and other hand percussion on many of the band's albums. It can be said that Carter's drum kit is a continuing experiment that keeps evolving. One of the biggest thrills of being a Carter Beauford fan is waiting to see what he'll add to his drum kit next.
Much credit should be given to Carter's drum tech, Henry Luniewski. Luniewski is responsible for assembling and disassembling Carter's kit and mics before and after each show. Henry also tunes the kit to percussive perfection. He can often be seen lingering around the kit onstage while Carter's pounding away to ensure that each lugnut is tight and all of the kit's parts are stable.
I took on the task of tracking Carterís drum kit progress and development many years ago. After finding several outdated and inaccurate diagrams I decided that an accurate layout of his kit needed to be provided for the many fans and drummers. I grew tired of not knowing what a certain item was on his kit so I set out to gather as much information as possible on what he plays.
I collected information from many sources. I spent countless hours pouring over video footage, concert photos, recordings, and interviews. I even received assistance from Ronn Dunnett (http://www.dunnett.com), Carterís custom snare drum builder, and from Henry himself. After doing all this I feel that I have created one of if not the most comprehensive and accurate listings of Carter's equipment. Even though I donít claim it to be perfect I feel itís pretty close.
As always I welcome any comments or feedback you might have on this little project of mine. Please feel free to email me. I always love talking with people about Carterís kit and his drumming in general. I find no greater joy than spreading around the passion of his drumming.
- Justin "BeaufordBuddy" Scott
5/11/10 - I was very fortunate to speak directly with Carter's drum tech recently, Henry Luniewski, about some details and changes to Carter's kit coming up in the near future. I was extremely delighted with this opportunity to talk with Henry. It's been awhile since I updated the drum kit diagram and equipment list so I saw this as a fitting reason to do so. He provided me with some really interesting information, most of which I will share here. But first I need to say that it seems Henry is the one responsible for most of the changes to Carter's kit over the years.† From what he said Carter isn't always aware of upcoming changes with his kit.† So Henry is the one mainly wanting to experiment with different sounds, instruments, and equipment.† However, I'm certain that Carter holds the final approval on what he does and doesn't play.† So with no further ado here is what's in store for Carter's percussive playground and some other details that Henry divulged...
I'll deliver the biggest news up front. In the very near future Carter will be exchanging his beloved Recording Custom drums for a new "custom" set. Henry didn't say what kind specifically but I'm sure they will likely be Yamaha's new high-end line of Phoenix drums. This goes along with some information I previously received from Ronn Dunnett as well. Carter has been playing those same first four Recording Custom toms for the past 15 years. That's quite a long time to be playing the same drums. Remember his bass and floor tom changed several years ago. It's uncertain at this time if his tom sizes will remain the same. Another lingering question is what finish will he choose? The finish options available for the Phoenix line are, depending on the outer ply: matte natural, matte black, polar white, cherry sunburst, garnet fade, sapphire fade, turquoise fade, textured amber sunburst, and textured black sunburst. Whatever he or Henry chooses, nothing will match his current glossy lacquer black finish on his Recording Custom kit. The matte black is about the closest thing in terms of color, but matte is the exact opposite of glossy.
Carter will also be getting a new rack system soon as well. Purportedly this is because the Hex Rack system has been discontinued by Yamaha. What rack he'll go with wasn't mentioned.
Some good news, Henry said he might work another piggyback or two into the mix. Could the splash stack possibly return?
Carter doesn't use a Yamaha throne anymore but a Clark Synthesis Thunder Throne with two Clark Synthesis Platinum transducers mounted underneath. He was previously listed here as using a ButtKicker.
Some details in the drumhead department, Carter plays a special snare batter head. It's a CS (controlled sound "dot") Coated Emperor head from Remo.
Henry didn't say why he put a different bottom head on the 8" tom in recent tours but he mentioned it was a Smooth White resonant head.
Carter will be getting all new batter heads for his toms soon. They will be the new Ambassador X heads, which are like Coated Ambassadors only with a thicker single-ply head. Henry likes the single-ply heads because they allow for more precise tuning.
Henry gave some good information about Carter's cymbals. For hi-hats Carter has been playing 14" K Mastersounds but Henry is going to switch to 13" New Beats soon. Carter's right crash is a 17" K Dark Medium Thin. He has a 10Ē Zildjian K Custom Dark Splash stacked atop his 14" K Dark Thin Crash. That previous unknown 16" crash in his setup is an A Armand crash. His 14" K Mini China doesn't have any rivets. Henry has done away with the china stack for good now because all Carter plays is the 18" Oriental Classic China. I know, shocking. Such a longstanding piece on his kit has been reduced to a single china. Continuing on, his left ride is a 20" A Custom Flat Top Ride with 6" A Custom Splash stacked upside down atop it. That EFX crash on his extreme left is no longer there. It's been replaced with a 22" K Custom Dark Ride. Henry confirmed the Zildjian skillet prototype he used recently on tour. It has been taken out of his setup now. The rack tom to Carter's left was a 13" and not 14". And speaking of that tom, it's going to get moved to Carter's right where his timbale is and his timbale will go where the tom now is only a little higher.
Henry also talked about some of Carter's electronics, like his triggers and sampler. For a while he was using kick triggers from Roland but recently received some rebuilt and modified ddrum triggers from Peter Hart and will be switching back to them at some point. The triggers are controlled with an Aphex Impulse module and then routed through an Akai Z8 sampler. Henry built an on/off switch for Carter to stomp whenever he wants to activate the sample Henry has cued up in his Voodoo Lab Ground Control midi controller (shown here with Henry).
All necessary changes have been made to the diagram and equipment list below.
Also, in the near future I will be adding a "Drum Kit Photos" section below the kit diagram/equipment list. This area will feature some good quality photos of Carter's beautiful kit. A few of the photos will be rare never-before-seen shots. So stayed tuned for that.
Archived updates can be found here.
Please be patient while the drum kit diagram image loads below, it's quite large. If it doesn't display automatically and you see a broken image icon (or a box with a red X inside) just right click on the icon and select "Show Picture." If you don't see any icon at all then right click on a blank white space immediately below and select "Show Picture."
Carter Beauford endorses the following products:
Drum Workshop Pedals
The above drum kit diagram and equipment listing was compiled from several sources including many photographs, video footage, information from reliable sources, and just plain common drum sense. To the best of my knowledge this listing is accurate as of the date listed below, however, minor mistakes or misrepresentations may be present. The diagram is not to scale and some items might be slightly out of place due to space limitations. Thanks to Henry Luniewski and Ronn Dunnett for their assistance, especially Henry for doing such a great job at keeping this massive kit tuned and maintained, the many fans and fellow drummers who inspire me to do this, and most importantly Carter Beauford for being the biggest inspiration behind my passion for drumming.
Page last updated: May 11, 2010
Diagram last updated: May 11, 2010
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