Neil Peart’s ‘Showdown’ with Five Different Drumsets 1986

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SKF NOTE: I received a letter on April 22, 1986 which Neil Peart wrote using an electric typewriter on April 18, 1986. Re-reading the letter today I notice Neil describes in this letter his somewhat well-known choice of a new drumset by assembling five identical sets by different manufacturers and having a “showdown.”

Neil said he was looking for “more tonality” in his drums.

There’s a nice shout out here to Neil Graham of the Percussion Centre in Indiana.

Finally, I trust people won’t misinterpret Neil’s remarks about his clinic audiences. They are simply the reflection of a drummer who said on other occasions he sees little to no value in drum clinics as a way for drummers to learn about playing drums. Listening and actually playing drums are better learning tools, Neil believed


April 18, 1986
Norfolk, VA

On the drum front, I am going down to Fort Wayne next month to conduct a serious drum “road test” on about six different drum kits, to satisfy my curiosity and my desire for more tonality (if possible). Anyway, we’re going to set up a set of Tama “Artstars,” Gretsch, Premier “Resonators”, Ludwig “Super Classics”, and a set of “Tempus” (formerly “Milestones”), all with the same heads and tuning, and have me a showdown.

Should be interesting. It’s getting time for a new set of drums, and this time I want to base my choice on informed objectivity. While I’m there I’m going to live up to a long-standing promise to someday do a clinic for Neal Graham of the Percussion Centre, who has done so much for me over the years in terms of building special things and acting as an intermediary with those nasty, demanding, m-a-j-o-r drum companies!

After my experience with the students from the P.I.T. out in L.A., I know that I can get through a thing like that — if not really enjoy it.

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