Member Articles

John Stadtlander
House Concert Drum Kit – Alternative Drum Kit

While on tour several years ago, some people asked me about the “drum kit” I was using while playing with Heather Dale ( and S.J. Tucker (  This is how  the kit evolved.

When I first started to play with Heather, I was looking for a small kit that would take up minimal space so I purchased a Yamaha Hipgig Al Foster Sr. drum kit for use on the road.  This particular drum kit consists of an 18″ (w) x 22″ (d) bass drum.  This allows the other 3 drums to fit inside the bass drum (which has a removable front consisting of the head and rim and about 4 inches of shell).  This is fastened to the head by hinged clips.  The snare and high and low toms hang off the bass drum.  Lightweight hardware consisting of a high hat stand, two cymbal stands, as well as a bass drum pedal and drum stool round out the kit.

This particular kit usually comes with me on the road when we are in our “4 piece configuration” and playing larger gigs such as festivals.

When we are playing house concerts and smaller venues, I take what I call my house concert kit.  This has grown over time out of necessity (i.e. if there isn’t enough room in the car to take the larger kit).

I started using the smaller house concert kit at a gigs where space was limited.  I set up my high hat and cymbal stands clamping the snare drum to the high hat stand. The house concert kit was born.   I now use a Yamaha 12″ Stage Custom snare instead of the Hipgig snare on this configuration.

The next thought was to use my Cooperman Bendir (tar) as a sort of floor tom by mounting it on a stand.  (Sorry to you hand drum aficionados out there who will see this as sacrilege.) I originally used a snare drum stand to hold this but now use a Sonor MPS Multi Percussion Stand.  It is important that you don’t hit the bendir too hard with mallets or sticks.

I took this kit on tour but  found  that I had nothing to do with my right foot (bass drum foot) and started looking around for a solution to the problem.   I had been following a well know doumbek player and noticed that one of the members of the band was playing a doumbek with his right foot.  I contacted this fellow who replied that he uses a Drum Workshop 9909 Bass Drum Lifter to hold his floor doumbek.  I purchased one of these and started using it on tour.  It doesn’t fold up very well and seems to like getting in the way when packing the equipment into the car, and so it was named “The Bear Trap”.  In addition to being a great stand it does seem to make a good shoe tree.

I have also used a Remo djembe in place of the doumbek to get more of a bass sound. Both of these drums require some muffling to cut down on the overtone “ring” that you get when striking it.  I drape a towel over the end of the doumbek which helps to dampen the sound.  With the djembe, in addition to draping the towel over the end, I also put two pieces of Moongel on either side of the drum head where the beater strikes it.


To round out the kit I use a series of cymbals that I feel are suited to lower volume situations.   The hi-hats are 13″ 1960′s vintage Zildjian A cymbals.   These hi-hat cymbals are much thinner than the ones they make today and so have a lighter sound.   I use two crashes, a 13″ Sabian El Sabor splash cymbal which has a fuller, richer sound than the normal splash as well as a 16″ Sabian AA crash.  The ride cymbal is a 21″ Sabian hand hammered.  With the ride I get great stick definition and just the right amount of wash for a smaller venue.

So the nice part about this kit is I can play it like a regular drum kit or I can use some of the individual drums as they would be played traditionally.  For example, for some songs I might pick up the doumbek from the floor and play it on my lap as it is normally played.  I also use the bendir in the traditional hand held way to play rhythms.

When on the road, I also carry a Cooperman Riq, a shaker and a set of finger cymbals for creating different  “soundscapes”.

I also carry a full stick bag of various types of sticks and mallets as well as other accessories.


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