Neil Peart

Modern Drummer - Ask a Pro

From 1982 to 1993, Neil Peart answered Modern Drummer readers' questions in the Ask a Pro column. These questions and answers are an interesting dialogue between Neil and his fans. Taken as a whole, they represent snapshots of Neil's opinions, knowledge, and priorities as a drummer.


Click any link to go to any Ask a Pro column or click the thumbnail to go to slideshow view.

Ask a Pro Slideshow

May 1982

  1. What is the significance of the (Starman) logo on the front of your bass drums?
  2. What is the odd-looking, single tom holder mounted to the side of your left bass drum. What make is this tom holder and where can I get one?

February 1983

A response from Neil Peart (about another Ask a Pro column)

May 1983

How did you learn to use double bass so well?

August 1983

How much was Keith Moon's drumming an influence on your style?

November 1983

  1. What is that strange piece of hardware located directly below your concert toms and hi-hat?
  2. Can you elaborate on the size and weights of your cymbals?

January 1984

  1. What kind of shells do you use?
  2. What is meant by a custom finish?
  3. What is the reason for having the shells coated with the Vibra-Fibing treatment?
  4. What is the reason for brass-plated hardware?
  5. What color drumset would you recommend?

September 1984

  1. How do I maintain my style when I have to change my setup size due to stage restrictions?
  2. How did you learn to play so hard on the drums and not lose your technique?

November 1984

Why do you use single heads on your smaller drums and double heads on the larger drums?

April 1985

Can you give me any exercises or suggestions to build up my left hand?

November 1985

Do you have any tips or exercises to improve playing in odd-time situations?

February 1986

Can you elaborate on the idea of using a triplet to begin a single-stroke roll, which in turn shifts the downbeat to the opposite hand?

May 1986

How do you play double bass while keeping the rhythm on a hi-hat that remains at an unvarying opening? Is there an auxiliary hi-hat hidden in your massive drum kit?

August 1986

  1. What kind of microphones do you use and where do you use them?
  2. Is your studio microphone setup the same as your live setup?
  3. Do you still use a PZM mic?

November 1986

What is the "double-hand crossover?"

December 1986

How do you play songs onstage that are identical, note-for-note, to what's on the records?

March 1987

On tracks such as “Jacob’s Ladder” and “New World Man,” the ride and the China cymbal are played together. I have heard other artists do this, but not as cleanly as you do. How is it done?

June 1987

I have noticed in some of your songs that your 12” concert tom seems to be tuned lower than your 12” closed torn. Is this the case, and if so, why? In fact, why do you have two 12” toms and no 14” tom?

November 1987

I have noticed a big change in your bass drum sound since the Moving Pictures album. How would you describe the difference between that sound and the sound you have now? And why the change?

June 1988

During the Hold Your Fire tour, at a point in the solo where you were playing more or less in a “big band" fashion, you triggered your Simmons pads to make a somewhat trumpet-sounding section. Is that a pre-programmed sound that comes standard with your set, or did you create it yourself?

During the Hold Your Fire concert, you would hit your cymbals and a synthesizer sound would be heard. It was a great technique, but how in the world was it done? Also, did you use triggers on your acoustic toms?

December 1991

Where do you hold your sticks, and please explain hazards and advantages of a proper grip.

June 1992

Do you have advice about leading with your left or right hand?

February 1993

With Rush you play matched grip, but when you played at the Buddy Rich Memorial Concert you played with traditional grip. Why did you do this?

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