Stuff I Hit
I'm going to start by talking about what I use to hit all of my percussion instruments. Until the company folded recently, I was an artist endorser with Rich Sticks. With them, I worked on a couple of designs that bear my name; one is a multi-purpose stick that does almost everything I need, and the other is a slightly shorter design with a different tip that I use when I'm in a low-volume situation. They've been named "Luc Bergeron - Multi" and "Luc Bergeron - Lite". These two sticks replaced the five other models I used to use by another brand.
After Rich Sticks folded, I wasn't looking forward to compromising and finding existing other models to replace what I'd gotten so used to, but fortunately Jeff Feeney at Creative Percussion told me that a great guy named LeRoy Aaron Rhodes was making great sticks, and he was able to use his design from Rich Sticks. I contacted LeRoy, and the result was fantastic - 've been able to keep my "Multi" design, and so the sense of relief I have at being able to keep using my own models is huge! L.A.R. Sticks offers a really high-quality stick and the ability to submit your own custom design - at no extra charge, and LeRoy is great to work with! I highly recommend giving him a try!
I have one collection of acoustic drums that covers a great deal of ground. It's a collection of Drum Workshop Performance Series drums (8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16 & 18 toms, 20, 22, and 24 bass drums) in Silver Sparkle. This is a great-sounding maple kit that I can use for pretty much anything; their tuning flexibility is remarkable, and with all the sizes I have, I'm covered for any kind of gig. Lately, the 20" bass drum has been converted into a "gong drum" with the help of some PDP bass drum hoop clamps and floor tom legs. BOOM!
My snare drum collection covers quite a bit of range. I have a couple of DW Collectors 6.5x14 snare drums. One is a Black Nickel over Brass shell, and the other is Cherry/Spruce with a gloss lacquer finish ... these are my go-to drums. They're flexible and powerful, just great to play. I also have a Pearl Dennis Chambers signature snare (maple 6.5x14) that the man himself played during a clinic at The Drum Shop - a great all-around drum. Then there's a Ludwig 6.5x14 Supra-Phonic snare - I always wanted a John Bonham snare! There's also a 5.5x14 DW Performance snare (maple) in Silver Sparkle, autographed on the inside of the shell by DW's John Good and session legend Russ Kunkel. Rounding out the collection are a Yamaha Musashi 6x12 snare (oak shell) with a Russ Miller Groove Wedge on it, and lastly, a Pearl 5.5x14 Steel SensiTone.
Honestly, I get bored talking about pedals and hardware at this point, but for the sake of completeness, I have Pearl Eliminator Redline bass drum pedals, and most of my hardware is a mix of DW 9000, 3000, and 7000 series - sturdy, but not overly heavy. I sit on Roc 'n' Soc thrones, which last a really long time, even under a big guy like me.
My cymbal collection is made up of a few brands, and covers a lot of ground. For general-purpose gigs, the hi-hats are Zildjian 14" K. Hats; for Rock, A. Zildjian 14" Mastersound Hats, and for lower volume stuff, 14" A. Zildjian New Beat Hats that are actually pretty light by today's standards. Most frequently used crashes are: an A. Zildjian 17" Thin crash, and Zildjian K. Sweet Crashes in 17", 18", 19", & 20". For louder/more aggressive work, I have 18" and 19" A Custom Projection Crashes and a 20" A Custom crash. Rides: a Zidjian K. 20" Crash/Ride, an old 22" A. Zildjian Ping Ride (pre-1992), and a Sabian Medium-weight 21" SR2 (reconditioned series). There's also a 19" K. Zildjian China. Others in the collection: a 14" Sabian AAXplosion Fast Crash, an Istanbul Xist 20" Ride (I installed 6 rivets in it) and 18" and 20" Sabian B8Pro Chinas, a 10" B8Pro China Splash, a couple of Paiste Cup Chimes, and a 10" Meinl Johnny Rabb Drumbal.
For electronics, I have Roland products: an SPD-SX sampling pad, a couple of additional PD8 trigger pads, and a TD-11K kit.
Hand percussion: There's a couple of Toca products - a 14" djembe and an 11" doumbek. From LP: a Mambo cowbell that I've had since 1985, as well as a Jam Block (high) and a Gajate bracket. Meinl: a Percussion Block (low), a Large Studio Shaker, and a Luis Conte Live Signature shaker. I also have a set of Creative Percussion Baseball shakers as well as a couple of their Drum Taco drum mutes - a great idea and very effective. There are also some tambourines; a classic Rhythm Tech, a Meinl, and a Pearl mounted.
I've been a big fan of Evans heads since 1999; I found my sound through them. I was lucky enough to be invited to tour the factory and be part of a focus group in 2004, and it was absolutely fascinating. I'll never forget it. I typically favor Power Center Reverse Dot heads on my snares, although the DW Collectors brass snare sounds really great with the UV2 (2-ply) head as well; usually I'll have clear G14's, G2's or EC2's on the tom batters. (For Jazz gigs I like the Evans Calftone heads.) For the toms' resonant heads: depending on how bright or how full I want to color the tone, I'll use Genera Resonant (10mil) for a full, powerful sound, Resonant Glass (7 mil) for a sharp, bright attack, or clear G1 (10mil) for a warmer, darker sound. The bass drums have either EQ3 or EQ4 clear batters and EQ3 black resonant heads most of the time, but EQ4 Resonant when I need a rounder, fuller, livelier sound.
Stuff I Tap
At The Grand Theater, Ellsworth ME 2018
I've been fascinated by the Chaman Stick ever since I, like so many others, first heard Tony Levin using one with King Crimson and Peter Gabriel when I was still in high school. (See www.stick.com for more info!) I finally got the chance to get my first Stick, a 1983 model that had been refurbished by inventor Emmett Chapman, in 2012. Exactly two years later, I got their newest model, The Railboard, which is CNC machined from a single block of aluminum, and had its own pickup made for it, which can be active or passive, and stereo or mono. I requested what was a new option at the time, linear fret markers, and had gold inlay tape put in to go with the brass tuners. Strings are Stick Enterprises' Medium gauge. It gives an incredible tone, even dry and all by itself, and it's a very comfortable model for me to play; the finger spacing suits my hands more than the regular string spacing does. Learning to play it has been one of the biggest challenges of my musical life, but well worth it.
My wife Jen got herself a maple Stick in 2015, and if I ever need that classic "Stickup" Tony Levin-esque sound, I borrow it. ;)
Left: My first Stick, s/n 1170. Right: My Railboard, s/n 6453
Main drum microphones: Audix D-Series for drums (D2's on rack toms, D4's on floor toms, D6 for bass drum), an Audix i5 (a good dynamic percussion mic' that also sees duty on snare drum), two ADX-51 condensers, and two AKG Perception P420's for overheads. I've also recently begun to research other microphones, and have a Shure Beta 52 kick mic, which sounds incredible, especially when blended with the internally-mounted D6.
My vocal mic' is an Audix OM-7.
Also in the group are an Audix D1 (discontinued), AKG Perception 120 large diaphragm condenser that had been sounding great in front of my bass drum, two Audix F series fusion condensers, and a Shure SM57.
My Railboard goes through either a Line 6 Spider 4 combo amp and an SWR SM-500 bass head into a Carvin BR15 cabinet, or straight into a mixer.
Miscellaneous: there's a Behringer XAir18 mixer, a QSC K12 speaker, and a Roland Juno-D keyboard.
I use Cubase software to record with.