Mark is honoured to play SONOR’s Custom SQ2 Series.  His kit generally consists of Rack toms, 8×10 and 9×12 thin. Hanging ‘floor’ toms 13×14 and 15×16, medium and a 17×22 bass in vintage construction.   Sonor’s exclusive walnut root finish with all hardware in 24k gold plating.   Mark also utilizes the SONOR Bop SE kit  16×18 Bass, 8×12 Tom and a 14×14 floor tom in beechwood.

sonorsideSQ2-logojazz kit 2015sonor bopse

Mark has been a  ZILDJIAN endorser since 1987.  Some of his most commonly used are:

13″ K/z Hats

14″ reinvented A New Beats

20″ 1990 K Custom Special ride

20″  1995 K Dark custom ride

21″  Re-invented A Sweet Ride

20″ Kerope Ride

18″ reinvented A Medium-Thin crash

18″  1983 K Crash/ride

18″  1978 A thin

18″ China Oriental Trash

18″ 1984 Swish

16″ A custom projection crash

17″ A custom Rezo crash

17″ K Hybrid Crash

8″ A splash

10″ A custom splash

SNARES:  Some customized by Ross Garfield at the Drum Doctors…L.A.

1962  5×14 LUDWIG Phonic

2011  5.75×14  FIERCE Custom Cherry and Canarywood STAVE built.

1998  5×13   PEARL Omar Hakim Mahogany 

1994  5.5×14    PEARL Sensitone Prototype Bronze

2009  3.5×14     Custom PHI Maple

2016 6.5×14  DUNNETT Mono-ply 

2017 6×14 Noble & Cooley Limited edition Walnut Solid Ply.  


MY  NOBLE & COOLEY 6×14 limited Walnut Solid Ply…….

Some Great DUNNETT  Magic…


BEATER COMPARISON. Although I thought the beaters were ‘too’ centered to the drum and foot technique would also make a variant…..




Shure-logo-B86F406110-seeklogo_com        brandmackie

AUDIX D6…BEST bass drum mic !

with CymPads

My Drum Kits…Then and now.

Previously I wrote about trends and favorite cymbals in the article below. Now let’s talk drums.  I thought I would share the trends that I was sometimes ‘forced’ to embrace and some that I long for and some that are timeless and love.

So as a late bloomer by today’s standards I wanted a drum set in a BIG way when I was 13.  I have students now that are 10-12 and I’m teaching them things I wouldn’t dream of at even age 16. They all have some sort of drum set as well. So again, my poor mother was forced to buy me a drum set. My first kit was a Pearl; a sort of ‘70’s version of the now infamous Export, or even more recently Vision. It was a ‘Silver Flash.’ I don’t know what happened to that little guy by the way. She was (as I stated in the cymbal article) forced to buy pro line ZILDJIAN cymbals. She bought it from a music store in the infamous ‘70’s Mall setting for a whopping $ 1,100.  That was a lot of money in 1978! Today you can purchase a decent entry level kit and cymbals for around 800 to 900.  The shells back then were mostly a cheaper mahogany, with a small amount of Maple. The hardware was cheesy crap as well but the shells were made in Japan. Believe it or not, I had that kit adding a 10” later (as drum sizes were getting smaller by 1984) until my second semester at Berklee. Now I changed all of the crap hardware out with TAMA. My drum Guru at that time was a wonderful guy named Donn Denniston who worked a little shop in Ann Arbor Michigan called Al Nalli music. Although considered today as a ‘mom and pop’ store, it was very hip and trendy at that time and they had a ‘management’ company as well. Unlike other M&P shops of the day, they had hip knowledgeable staff, who were players as well. TAMA, at that time, was the only company doing hip ‘now’ innovations in drum hardware as well as drums.  They were making hardware that was very substantial. So many of the drum companies were getting ideas from jazz greats that were playing small venues and their hardware was not being tossed around by roadies, TAMA enlisted the new hitters of the day that spoke to the engineers. So I replaced ALL my hardware on that Pearl kit with big heavy duty hardware. In the meantime it was 1984, and if you wanted a serious gig you HAD to have the infamous SIMMONS electric drums. I really couldn’t afford the modular set which was the SDS 5, but Simmons, that year came out with a ‘budget’ version that was only like a grand; SO I got one !  Well because of that, I got gigs! I was at the last of my tenure at Western Michigan University when I got a call from an agent I was in touch with that had a band that was ‘up and coming’ wanted to “embrace” the ‘80’s and wanted a skilled drummer that knew electric drums. The band was BODYWORKS and they were based out of IOWA(yea Iowa…go figure). I worked with them as an act that warmed up for Howard Jones.  After two months of gigs, I got a call from Howards’ American side Management Fitzgerald/Hartley. They were wondering if I would like to come audition. I was super exited ! I entered a rehearsal hall and there was a collection of Simmons drums. A combination of SDS 5’s, 1000’s and the budget line 8’s. The designer of the kit was a guy named Tim McParlan. He had designed this truss/tubing that the Simmons were erected on. I had to stand up and play, with the old SHARK pedals for triggering bass drum and Hi-Hat sounds, for the next 4 months of my life I never saw an acoustic drum. The drum tech assigned to me was a guy named Moochie and his rig looked like an electrician. He had three solder guns, tons of solder, copper wire, clamps, wing nuts and screws.   My next kit was a Yamaha Recording custom in their infamous rosewood finish. Jack (of Jack’s drum shop in Boston) had a great relationship with then Head of American drum sales Jim Coffin and he gave me the go ahead for a factory price type deal.  It was THE hot drum of the late ‘80’s Sizes were 16×22,8×8,10×10, 12×14,14×16.  They were very dark (birch) and ‘ thuddy’ and sounded the best with Emperor heads and muffling. I always thought they were the perfect mix of ‘electrics’ sounding and acoustic and I believe they truly melded those sounds and helped the acoustic drum make a come back in popular music.   They unfortunately got stolen in transit at the end of the Earl Klugh mini tour in the summer of 1989. SO after that I went through some years combining Acoustic drums and Simmons( as well as other electronics). In 1990 I purchased a TAMA Artstar.  I got acquainted with the rep and had them ‘custom make’ them, meaning I had them minus the tom mounts and put them on R.I.M.S. 10,12,13 and  14 & 16 ‘floors.’  I hate to say this, but as much money as I spent on them, they sounded less than desirable.  They were a maple shell, thin in construction but the issue was this hard almost acrylic interior.  No matter WHAT head combo I used, these drums possessed a ‘boing,’ sound.  So I was introduced to Tony and Rob of G.M.S. in 1992 when I owned a Drum and Guitar store. I loved the approach of how they made drums. Thin maple shells, a choice of bearing edge’s, custom lacquers, hand rubbed interiors. The lug design (at the time) was , I thought, genius. Made of brass and no inserts and with no noisy inserts with springs  and no mounting hardware. They were literally studio ready out of the box.  They were kind enough to give me an ‘endorsement,’ so I got 8×8, 9×10. 9×12, 10×13, 14×14, 14×16 and a 18×22.  I never used all those drums together, I had so many so that I could do different configurations for different projects. I had the bass drum batter edge cut to more of a 30 degree for a modern take on the ‘Vintage’ Tone. The Toms had a  a duel 45 degree .  I used those babies until the summer of 2013.  During the Late ’90’s I came very close to coming back to Yamaha by using their wonderful Maple customs ( which unfortunately are not produced anymore.) by some great coaxing from then Yamaha ‘drum man,’ Jay Wanamaker but decided not to. In 2013 I was blessed to be signed on with an educator endorsement with SONOR,  possessing a great SQ 2 custom kit  and the BOP SE kit.  Many thanks to Sonor rep Sam G !


simmons1978_pearl_drumsets6rc frontp1120065My-GMS-Grand-Master-Kit-for-My-Websitesuperstar_5p_1

Coming back full circle.

There have been so many trends in drums over the years; it’s laughable. Some is style and the in vogue thing of the time. Cymbals though, for me, have evolved not only from these things but from my technique and my ears maturing from working so many live and studio sessions. I have come full circle on many of my cymbal choices. So I thought I would share.

Before I get started I will state that I am a ZILDJIAN guy. The reason for this is, I’ve always loved their product and that they have been supportive through my life, from my Scholarship at Berklee to the now three levels of endorsements I have had with them. I think there are some GREAT cymbal companies out there; making neat items, but my heart belongs to the people of Zildjian.


So when I started drumming there were two types of cymbals….Garbage can lids and pro line. There wasn’t the in-between items like Zildjians ZBT’s, Sabians, B8’s etc. So when I drove my mother to near insanity asking for a drum set she was forced to purchase pro line cymbals. I was directed by a guy in the store to buy Zildjian’s “New-Beat” Hi-Hats; now for some history on these great hats. The late great Lennie DiMuzio who was Zildjian’s artist relations man, was influenced by demands of drummers for a Hat that possessed a louder ‘CHICK’ sound. So along with cymbal tester, Leon Chiappini. he developed a medium heavy bottom and a thin top. They became a hit with drummers in various genera’s in the early ‘70’s. (Mine were purchased in 1978). I played those hats until the music changed to drummers using Hats that had a very quick chick sound; fighting the drum machine sound of Hats. I tried Quick Beats, a ZILDJIAN Hat that was 13” with the bottom having no bell and 4 holes cut out in it. Thought they sounded good, but was directed by my old friend Donn Denniston , who at the time was the ‘drum guy,’ at my favourite local store to try something different. He pulled out a pair of PAISTE 602 Extra Heavy 13” Hats. He informed me that was the Hats that Stewart Copeland (the Police) was using. Being a big Police fan, I loved them. They mixed well with the SIMMONS drums I was forced to use in the mid ‘80’s. I used those hats until 1994. While I was at Berklee and deep into jazz I used them for the fusion that was popular then, but was introduced by the late great Jack (of Jack’s drum shop fame in Boston) to a 1950’s pair of Zildjian Hats. I never knew if they were K or A, but they were thin and musical and fit the traditional jazz well. By the early ‘90’s my touch and approach still lent itself to 13” hats, but I had grown weary of the “thin” sound of my PAISTE hats. I had a chance to visit the ZILDJIAN factory where I was on a mission to find a crash to replace an old 16” thin A from the late ‘70’s that had seemingly been ‘ played out.’ I was also on a mission to replace those PAISTE hats (especially after the scholarship and my first endorsement.) I tried many hats and at that time greatly influenced by Dave Weckl and Vinnie Colaiuta, I choose what they were playing, a set of ZILDJIAN K/Z 13” Hats. I used these from 1995-2011 as my main Hats; and then my ears changed again as well as my technique. Although I still use those K/Z’s today, uncleaned and gathering dirt (I believe that cymbals take on different mellowing characteristics this way), my go to Hats now for POP, Rock, Country, etc. is back to the same cymbals my mom bought for me back in 1978…NEW BEATS. I have the reinvented A’s. The A’s in the mid to late ‘90’s through 2013 where not my favourite. During the ‘90’s-though most of the 2000’s there wasn’t a regular A on my kit! Zildjian has redeveloped the A more toward the way they were spec’ed out in the ‘70’s.


Wow….have I gone through some rides!! My first ride that my mom bought me was a rock ride 21” This wasn’t necessarily only used for rock as Ed Shaugnessy used it on the Tonite show in the ‘70’s and early ‘80’s. A medium/heavy ride with a somewhat large bell. I liked it but always seemed high pitched so my grandmother and I went to a drum shop in Dearborn MI. It was claimed to be one of the oldest drum shops in the country and it was run by a bruiting old guy named George. He showed me a ride that ZILDJIAN just made that was supposedly endorsed and used by the great Steve Gadd. Actually Gadd was using an old K ZILDJIAN at the time with a little cracked chunk out of it. It was called the deep ride. It was an A but had some small hammer marks in between the laths. I never really like this ride either as it had a weird funky ‘under tone’ to it. I used a little tape in varying degrees, depending on the type of music I was doing. I used this ride at WESTERN U and BERKLEE and after. Now After Berklee, and playing mostly the pop of the day, Rides weren’t being used much, so my dislike for it wasn’t that much of a problem. I used this cymbal until 1990. There was one ride that I used as well in this time. On one of my many visits to the ZILDJIAN Factory I choose a 22” Ping ride as I was getting ready to embark on a summer tour with Mitch Ryder, who was a rocker from Detroit and the band was LOUD. After that , around Late 1988 I was getting hired by jazz groups and Pop Showbands and by 1990 found an outlet of new income called country (which I had NEVER played in my life). Neither rides were cutting it! Vinnie C and Dave W. had been recruited to help ZILDJIAN create a ride. In those days, even in fusion Jazz, rides were making a comeback, but where to be “felt more than heard,” especially when crashing or ‘shanking,’ on them, so onto the K Custom 20”. Again at the Zildian Factory, I tried many rides and after going through about 4 K Customs, I FOUND IT !!! I used that ride on so many Live a recording sessions throughout the ‘90s and through to 2014. I was invited on input to a new K custom. I was the last to receive a proto type that had been handled by the likes of Peter Erskine, Adam Nuassbam, Steve Smith and Manu Katche, amongst others. There were re-lathed marks, writing, tape and removed tape marks all over it. After my suggestions, I was instructed to send it back to Zildjian. After a few months I inquired what happened to that prototype. It was still there and was told I could have it! I paid for the shipping and the ZILDJIAN people where nice enough to clean it up the best they could and re logo it. I use this sometimes to this day and used it for Jazzy and lighter stuff from 2000. So by 2011 I longed for a ‘washer’ ride. It was the in thing but I just loved how that 1990 K custom felt in my hands. In 2013 I was doing a ‘house’ gig that was mostly country and again grew weary of the sound. That ride had loved SO much was a thorn in my side now. I wanted a ride that was brighter and ‘washy,’ but with some stick definition. I had no time or resources to visit the Zildjian factory that year. The artist relations man at Zildjian, John DeChristopher( who had just retired) suggested I check out the sweet ride. I had tried this ride before in 2004 and didn’t like it. So I headed out to many drum stores in search of them. After trying many I found one that was a little heavier than most. It was 21” and was based of the ‘late ‘70’s Rock ride and the Armand Sweet ride as well had characteristics of ZILDJIAN standard A Medium ride. It was very similar to the first ride I had, that old Rock ride 21” but it had a prettier sound and a more pleasing bell tone. I thought to my self…”hmm, coming back full circle”. Now besides that I have a new ZILDJIAN KEREOPE 20”. I remember back in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s drummers were pawing off these cymbals that Zildjian created in the ‘50’s. Most were K’s, some were A’s, but they were Dark and washy. I purchased the first reissue of the K’s in 1983 in a crash/ride. It was reminiscent of that sound. I used it throughout college but discarded it into the closet for most of the ‘90’s on. I recently brought it back out on my Jazz kit as it marries up with my new (old) Kerope beautifully. I remember encountering one of these rides at Jack’s drum shop in 1987 and thinking, “what an old cruddy sounding cymbal.” I laugh today at the thought that I love this sound.


I’ve gone thru TONS of crashes ! My ear has always enjoyed a full body crash lows and highs, probably why I have never used some of the other companies as they were either to muffled sounding or to ‘hissy’, with no low end. My original crashes that my mom bought with my first set were: an A thin 18” crash and a 16” Medium thin. So I like bigger crashes but by the ‘90’s I was using 15” and 17” Also by the ’90 I was not using A’s as I stated before I thought especially by the mid ‘90’s A’s kinda, well….SUCKED. I was told by the good people at ZILDJIAN that they had not changed anything in process of making A’s. I just knew they did and was vindicated just recently that yes, they were concentrating on all the new lines and were ‘skimping,’ on the A’s; hence the reason for the new re-invented A. By the ‘90’s the only A on my set up was a 1983 18” A Swish( a flanged cymbal like a china.) Everything else was A Custom, K’s, and K Customs. Again going back full circle I now use on my ‘modern’ live kit a beautiful re-invented Medium thin 18” , a 21” sweet ride and the 14” new Beat A’s. Still using A custom and K Hybrid crashes as well.

new beatsMy first pair of hi hats C..1978hybrid crash21-A-Zildjian-Sweet-RidesWP_20151002_00_39_01_Pro That prototype 20″ K ride


More about SONOR….

K.H. Menzel with Sweetwaters’s  Nick V……

A GREAT video of how valuable Paul Francis has become to ZILDJIAN. Unfortunately Paul has left Zildjian in 2021.

The LTD edition small kits from SONOR….