Vapor Trails

Home Back Next

Updated: 01/24/2018

At a Glance:

  • Acoustic drums: Drum Workshop with Red Sparkle finish

  • Used from 1996 to 2002

  • Electronic drums: Roland V-drums, KAT midi-marimba

  • Cymbals: Avedis Zildjian, Wuhan (China type)

  • Sticks: Pro-Mark 747 wood tip Neil Peart Autograph model (Oak)

  • 5" x 14" DW Craviaotto (solid shell), and 13" piccolo snare

  • Hardware: Brass

  • Drum tech: Lorne "Gump" Wheaton

Used to record:








From the Vapor Trails tour book, by Neil Peart:

The drums are made by DW, with a custom red sparkle finish ― same as the last tour. (DW offered to build me a new set, but these ones still sounded great, so I decided to keep them.)

The bass drum is 22", the toms are 8", 10", 12", 13", 15" (two), 16", and 18". The current favorite snare drum is a 5" x 14" DW Craviaotto, and I'm also using a 13" DW piccolo snare, miscellaneous LP cowbells, and DW pedals and hardware.
Out back, and hidden all around, are Roland V-drums and trigger pads, accompanying the Kat mallet controller and Shark pedals, all feeding into Roland TD-10 modules with expansion cards, Roland 5080 sampler, line mixer, and midi converters.

(I have no idea what any of that means.)

Drum heads are Remo white-coated Ambassadors, and cymbals are Avedis Zildjian ― 8" splash, 2 10" splashes, 13" hi-hats, 14" X-hats, two 16" crashes, 18" crash. 20" crash, 22" ride, 20" Low China, and an 18" Chinese Wuhan.

(That sort of thing I understand better ― you just hit them with sticks. Promark 747 "Signature" ones, in this case.)

Someone has also written at the end of this list that I have "a really great drum tech." That would be Lorne Wheaton, better know as "Gump." Or is that "Grump?" Time will tell..."


Snare drum selection

From "Neil Peart: The Fire Returns" Modern Drummer Magazine, September 2002

I have said before, notably in my instructional video A Work In Progress, that I like to have a wide range of snare drums available in the studio. The choice of a particular snare for a song is influenced by several factors: the character of the song I'm playing and the drum part I have created for it, my taste in sounds, and the sonic environment of the room in which I'm playing.

The recording of Test For Echo was a graphic example, for I had chosen an array of snare drums during the pre-production process in a small studio, only to find that the big room at Bearsville Studios "required" a snare drum choice one degree brighter- i.e., a different drum.

For touring I use a "versatile" instrument that can cover all areas well, though even that is subject to change. For many years I depended upon an old Slingerland wood-shell snare for that purpose, but then it became supplanted by a DW Edge snare that combines wood and brass elements.

Now, as I rehearse for this Vapor Trails tour, I find that I've been favoring the DW Craviotto model, just because it sounds so good in the warehouse where I'm working. But again, that is subject to change when we move into full production rehearsals in an arena.

During the songwriting and pre-production work for the Vapor Trails album, as I played each of the songs to refine my part and its execution, I tried different snare drums from my ever-growing selection. Listening to the playback, I could compare how each one worked in a particular song.

I am fortunate that my tech, Lorne "Gump" Wheaton, has good ears for what I'm after. While the recording engineer is busy with the overall sound as well as each of the other details of sound and performance, Lorne will listen for the nuances of the snare drum as I play. Then, between takes, he will give me a reliable report on what the current candidate sounds like, and we'll discuss other options.

So given the above foundation, what follows is the selection of snare drums I used for each song on Vapor Trails. In that particular room, for those particular songs, the Yamaha Elvin Jones model proved to be the most versatile, showing up on more than half the tracks. (Though the wooden hoops that are a standard feature on the drum didn't survive my abuse. We switched to metal.) From the driving dynamics of "One Little Victory" and " Peaceable Kingdom" to the more rooted timekeeping of "Ghost Rider" and "Sweet Miracle," this drum was a joy to play, and obviously gave great results in the studio.

A similar versatility applied to the Yamaha bamboo shell, which sounded as crisp and bright as one would expect from that material, but still worked in the more sensitive role required in the song "Vapor Trail," for example (the intro to which also features "detail" work on a 13" DW piccolo, by the way).

I've always liked wooden piccolo snares, and it was a pleasure to find a use for the 14" DW model in "Earthshine," and the same with the 5x14 Craviotto snare that has become my current rehearsal mainstay, for it worked best on two of the tracks as well.

"One Little Victory" - Yamaha 7x14 maple Elvin Jones model
(with metal hoops, not standard wood)
"Ceiling Unlimited" - Yamaha 7x14 maple Elvin Jones model
"Ghost Rider" - Yamaha 7x14 maple Elvin Jones model
"Peaceable Kingdom" - Yamaha 7x14 maple Elvin Jones model
"The Stars Look Down" - Yamaha 7x14 maple Elvin Jones model
"How It Is" - Yamaha 5x14 bamboo
"Vapor Trail" - Yamaha 5x14 bamboo
"Secret Touch" - Yamaha 7x14 maple Elvin Jones model
"Earthshine" - 3 1/2X13 DW maple piccolo
"Sweet Miracle" - Yamaha 7x14 maple Elvin Jones model
"Nocturne" - 5x14 DW Craviotto
"Freeze" - 5x14 DW Craviotto
"Out Of The Cradle" - Yamaha 5x14 bamboo

After Rush

In storage

Back to Top

Home Back Next