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Tips, Tricks and Road Stories


Musings On The John Bonham Drum Sound

September 23, 2011; David Gill

If you plan to buy the Ludwig Amber Vistalite "Zep Set" reissue drum kit, famously used by John Bonham through most of the Led Zeppelin albums, be sure to select Remo Clear Controlled Sound drum heads (often known as Black Dot Heads) as he used, to go with the drum set because this kit is a very live sounding one.  REMO “C.S.” drumheads give you a controlled response and a more focused tone.  They are less ringy and are very durable, like a two-ply head.

Part of Bonham’s sound when playing his Ludwig Vistalites and his other drum sets was that he used no muffling at all!   His drums needed careful tuning but the result was his huge sound!
The other drum kits I suggest from Ludwig are their Classic Maple and Legacy Exotic "Zep Sets."
There is also a Ludwig Amber Vistalite 6.5" x 14" snare drum that will go great with the Ludwig Amber Vistalite "Zep Set."  (LUDWIG Vistalite snare drums can be specially ordered.  Call 1-800-4SAMASH for ordering information

Cymbalwise, what also makes the Bonham sound are Paiste 2002 and/or Paiste Giant Beat drum set cymbals.  Should you happen to be a drummer that is a hard hitter, I recommend the Power Crash cymbals from the 2002 line in sizes 16"-20", next to using what made up the iconic drummer's setup; 15" Sound Edge Hi-Hats, 16", 18" and 20" Mediums, an 18" Ride used as a crash, and the crucial 24" Ride cymbal. 

Another Paiste drum set cymbal line that I would think would blend nicely with these are the Crash/Ride cymbals from their RUDE line in sizes 16"-19".  These Paiste drum set cymbals next to the lines and models mentioned have what I call the "Bonham Sustain", in other words, they really ring!
All that would be left to obtain is a Paiste 38" Symphonic Gong to set up on a Paiste Orchestral Round Gong Stand that has a 50" diameter outer ring, along with two Ludwig Professional or Grand Symphonic series timpani in 26" and 29" diameter sizes.

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