Now, I get a lot of questions from students, audience, etc. asking me what type of gear do I use with Bill Lyerly - both on the road and in the studio. The answer to that question is pretty straight-forward, and it goes like this.....
DRUMS: Over the years, people have seen me with nearly every major - manufacturer drum there is. I have owned and played at least 4 different G.M.S. kits, 2 Premier Genista kits, a TAMA Artstar Custom kit, a TAMA Starclassic birch kit, an Ayyotte kit, not to mention kits from Ludwig, Slingerland, and some vintage Rogers kits. Up until about two years ago, you would normally see me with a YAMAHA Recording Custom kit - either a “production” kit, or more typically a special 20th Anniversary kit sent to me from *Mr. Hagi himself. (*Note: If you ever had the absolute pleasure of meeting Hagi - "Mr. Yamaha Drums" - you know what an incredible person he is. There are few people in this business who have had more of a positive impact on the industry than he. He is truly a wonderful human being!)
Now, it is not because I was unable to reach any sort of final conclusion when it came to making a decision as to which drums I liked the best. To be honest with you, I liked them all. Each of those kits represented the finest designers, craftsmen, and artists available, and there is nothing about any of them that should discourage a person from buying any of those mentioned. However, these days you will find me playing and recording with a Gretsch U.S.A. Maple Custom kit (see pictures in the Photo Gallery). Gretsch drums - considered to be one of the “elder statesmen” of American drum manufacturers - are played by so many world-class drummers (like Vinny, Tony Williams, Charlie Watts, etc) to name them all here would be beyond the scope of this web site.
The sizes I use are quite simple, both for live performances and studio. They are: 18 x 22 kick; 10 x 12 rack tom; 16 x 16 floor tom. That’s it! I always have a 10", a 13", and a 14" rack tom for every kit, but they are hardly ever used. They are there just in case the producer wants to have that particular sound. Snare drums can vary, but the usual line up would either be a 6 ½ x 14 TAMA Granstar custom, a 5 x 14 Gretsch 120th Anniversary snare, or a Ludwig Black Beauty 5 x 14. Again, it is a good idea to have several snare drums (as many as you can afford), because you never know just what type of sound may be required or desired in a certain condition. It is always good to be able to produce it!
CYMBALS: This is an easy one - PAISTE! Not that I don’t own cymbals from other manufacturers, but since the early to mid 1970's, the PAISTE line (2002's in particular) have been my pride and joy. Cymbal sounds are such an individualistic thing, and what sounds great to me may not sound particularly good to you. See, most of my drumming idols were from Europe, where playing Paiste cymbals was as commonplace as driving Fords and Chevys here in the states. Consequently, my ears naturally gravitated towards that particular sound. The sizes I normally use are: 20" 2002 “Rude” Ride; 18" 2002 Medium crash; 17" 2002 crash; 10" 2002 splash; 14" 2002 Sound-Edge hi hats. I will use a 14", 16" or 18" Paiste china depending on the venue. To be sure, I have lots of other Paiste cymbals, and I will occasionally slide one of those in place of one of the primary ones, just to alter the soundscape for a while. Also, the “Sound Formula” line from Paiste also sounds great (when you can find them!). Just listen to Phil Rudd from AC/DC to hear how they sound!
MICS: OK, we are getting pretty picky here, but for those of you who care, here goes... For studio work, I usually just rely on the engineer to supply the mics. Any good quality studio will certainly have good quality mics, and the engineer will usually be very familiar with their capabilities and sound characteristics. Unless you just HAVE to have your favorite mics, and/or unless YOU are paying for the session (what???), give the engineer a chance. Usually, they will be able to get a great drum sound for you if you will just leave them alone and let them do their job!
As for live work, I carry my own mics. These consist of: Audix D-6 for kick drum; Audix D-2 for toms; Audix D-4 originally designed for kick drums, but seem to work great for floor toms; Audix D-1 for snare; AKG C1000S (2 of them) for hi hat; AKG C3000 (2 of them) for each overhead - left and right. For vocals, I usually use an old standby, the Shure SM58. They sound great, you can’t hurt them even if you run over them, and every music store sells them. I also have (but rarely use) two Sennheiser MD421 mics. They are fantastic for drums, but a little pricey for most people. Besides, I have never had any front of house guy doing production for us complain about the Audix mics, and they seem to be quite roadworthy!
STICKS: Hmmm, no real clear-cut winner here. Depending on the gig, I might be using Pro-Mark 808 wood-tip hickory, Vic Firth 3A or 5B wood-tip hickory. Sometimes, I'll even use the Easton "Ahead" sticks. There are so many great quality sticks to choose from, I've just never settled on "just one". Maybe it's just a symptom of deeper illness.........
HEADS: I use Evans drum heads. Again, it is a matter of personal choice. There are several companies out there making good-quality drum heads. Each company has one or two products that are - “unique” of you will - to that company. For example, Evans has their “Hydraulic” line of drums heads. These actually have a thin layer of oil between the two layers that make up the batter side of the head. They also have other lines which are really innovative, such as the E-Mad system for bass drums. Personally, I nearly always use the Evans G-2 Coated series on the batter sides for rack toms and floor toms. However, I also use Evans clear EC-2's for many situations. On the resonant side, I usually use the G-1 Clear models. For the kick, I use the 22"E-Mad Clear for the batter, and EQ-3 for the front. On the snares, it is usually the 14" HD Dry batter head, with a 300ml snare-side head. Evans offers such a large selection of heads, it would nearly impossible for you not to be able to find the “right” ones for you. By the way, their website is really informative. Check it out!
For a detailed list of my personal equipment, click ==> HERE!