Gilmour, Guitars & Gear

Editor's Note

About Spare Bricks


Read Guestbook

Sign Guestbook

Front Cover

Nick Mason's drum gear

In this column, I'll be examining Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour's gear and playing techniques from a musician's point of view. Please feel free to e-mail me with questions and ideas for future articles if you feel you have an idea that readers of Spare Bricks might find of interest. Past articles are now posted here.

In keeping with the theme of this issue, I will examine Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason's drum equipment as documented by live video footage of the band with other printed material.

This well-known photo from Ummagumma shows the Premier drum kit disassembled and arranged artistically, along with an assortment of drumsticks, microphone stands, and other touring gear.

The earliest footage of Mason with Pink Floyd features the use of a Premier drum kit. At the time, Premier drums were also favored by Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Keith Moon of The Who. Early clips show Mason using six- and seven-piece drum kits. Mason always used one bass drum, a snare, two tom-toms, and a floor tom. A second floor tom or a second bass drum would usually make up the sixth and seventh piece of the drum kit.

In sessions for Pink Floyd's debut, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, producer Norman Smith placed tea towels on Mason's drum heads. This technique was also used on Ringo Starr's drums during sessions for the Beatles' landmark album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Around the time David Gilmour replaced Syd Barrett in Pink Floyd, Mason had the names "Pink" and "Floyd" painted on his bass drums. This can be seen on the back cover of Pink Floyd's 1969, half live, half studio, double album release, Ummagumma. This kit also appears in a number of the band's television appearances during this period.

In 1970, Mason changed to a seven-piece Ludwig drum kit. This kit was made up of 22 and 24-inch bass drums, 12 and 14-inch tom-toms, 14 and 16-inch floor toms and a 16-inch snare drum. Mason's kit also included 16-, 18-, 20-, and 22-inch Zildjian cymbals and a 12-inch Hi-Hat. This kit was used in the band's 1970 performance at the KQED television studios in San Francisco and is also featured in the live performance sequences of the Pink Floyd film, Live At Pompeii.

This overhead shot from Live in Pompeii shows the Ludwig kit's configuration. The snare drum is hidden behind Mason's head.

As a musician, in studio sessions at Abbey Road Studios for Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, Mason is credited for percussion and tape effects. During the song "Time," Mason used a set of roto-toms for the song's introduction. As the chord changes moved from F# minor to A to E and back to F# minor, the roto-toms were tuned to accompany the changes.

Ten microphones were used for the drums during the live performances of The Dark Side of the Moon, these were mixed down to a single channel on the band's mixing board. On the Animals tour, each of Mason's drum mics were processed through a noise gate to reduce background noise.

In recording sessions and live performances of The Wall, Mason used a standard Ludwig drum kit. This kit included four tom-toms that were sized 12x8-inches, 13x9-inches, 14x14-inches and 16x16-inches. Mason also altered his drums by switching to a single bass drum on his Ludwig kit, which also included a Ludwig Black Beauty snare drum and Paiste cymbals. The kit also employed Remo-ambassador drum heads.

Mason used Ludwig and Simmons electronic drums for the recording of A Momentary Lapse of Reason. A Ludwig kit with Paiste cymbals, Simmons SDX electronic drums, Drum Workshop pedals with Remo Drum Heads was used during the 1987-89 live performances in support of the album.

Mason used a variety of decorative bass drum heads on his early-70s Ludwig drum kit. The image at top left is from Live at Pompeii (1972), and the kit at bottom right was in use circa 1974-77.

For The Division Bell, Mason used a black Drum Workshop drum kit during the recording of the song "Marooned." This kit included black Ludwig tom-toms. During the 1994 tour, Mason used Drum Workshop drums, hardware and pedals, Paiste cymbals, Remo drum heads, and Pro Mark drumsticks with Latin percussion, Dauz Pads, and a Yamaha DTS-70 Trigger Interface.

Richard Mahon is a staff writer for Spare Bricks.