A pro drum kit for under $50? Video evidence. My Coronet (by Pearl) 1960s drumset at Gerry Griffin’s studio


In this studio footage, captured via Zoom with on- board mics, I think the Coronets sound really good. I said so in my review published in these pages a few years ago.

These decidedly tacky-looking (in a good way) Coronet drums accompany me on many a recording occasion. I don’t use them live much; the spurs are too flimsy. In fact, if you look carefully you’ll see I’ve attached clip-on spurs to the front of the bass drum hoop and sealed the deal with industrial strength glue. Tommy K, shown playing percussion, got those drums for me at the Salvation Army; I think the toms, bass and snare (not shown) were $39.95US!

Here you see me tip-toeing a bit, my natural inclination when (1) encountering a new song (I’d never heard this Griffin original) and checking the “lay of the land”; and (2) figuring out what spaces Tommy K is going to fill so that I can underscore his work; although we’re friends, we’ve never played together except for a few minutes in my basement.

Thus, I’m avoiding my usual snare rimshot backbeats rather than pin Tommy to the wall or frighten off the vermin outside. Isn’t that a beautiful setting? Behind it, as it were, is a lake–a cool mountain lake, across which sits the Talulah Bankhead family cottage and to the sides properties owned by the Anka family and by Alanis Morrissette. And behind that business is a rock solid studio set up founded on a contemporary Radar recorder. The signal chain begins with the voice/drums as heard through RCA, Lawson, for example, run through a Massenberg 2032 preamps.

NOTE: you’re not hearing any of that on this “recording”, which is, emphatically, a rag-tag “jam” caught on a Zoom video recorder (on board mics). Gerry Griffin has authorized me, upon official release of the new album The Passage of Time, to snatch a few measures here and there and post them for you.

Just a reminder. My budget Pearl drums are not balsa/rainforest mahogany as was typical on Asian drums of the era. Mine are prototypes for the Pearl Phenolics that Nashville in the mid-1970s. If you tend to have an eye for detail, you can spot real bargains such as these at garage sales and thrift shops.