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Keith Cronin plays drums.

building a microkit

Little drums. Big sound.

I built this kit initially for rehearsing. I wanted to have all the basic time-keeping components of a drum kit, without spending half an hour setting it up. It's actually my second microkit. The first one was built back in the very early 90's, using old, beat-up drums that I was willing to sacrifice. It was all an experiment - I didn't know whether the thing would actually sound good. But to my surprise and delight, it sounded great!

So I reenacted my Frankensteinian experiments, this time with top-quality drums. The result: a kit I use more than my "regular" drums. It sounds terrific, and is SOOOOO much easier to haul around.

I've been approached by a lot of drummers who want to know what the hell this weird-looking kit is, so I threw together this page. Hope you enjoy it!

NOTE: Click on each picture to see larger version.
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I started out with a 1975 Gretsch 16x16 floor tom. I mounted Pearl spurs, 2 Pearl single tom mounts on the top, and 2 Ludwig floor tom leg mounts, one on the side for a ride cymbal holder, and one on the bottom of the drum, to mount the bracket I clamp my pedal on. bass drum w/mounts added
front view of bass drum Here's a front view of the drum. It still has the original Gretsch Permatone head on front, with a 2-ply clear Aquarian head on the batter side.
Underneath the drum, there is a Ludwig floor tom leg mount, with a weird bracket made from an old Ludwig hoop-mount cowbell holder and a piece of wood to clamp the pedal on to. More about this bracket in the next picture... a look underneath
the pedal bracket thingie Never one to pay full price for anything, I devised this clamp with Elliott Clay, the custom drum-building guru at Resurrection Drums, out of an old cowbell holder, and a small piece of a drum shell that some drum company was using for its color samples. Primitive, but effective. I've used it for years with no problems.
Here's pretty much all the hardware I use with this kit:

There's a Pearl L-arm for the snare, some Gibraltar-like no-name tom holder for the rack tom, and a Ludwig L-arm for the ride cymbal. No snare stand. No stool (I use the bass drum case, with a cushion on top).

The only actual stand I use is the hihat (not shown).

Very minimal. Very Zen.

bass drum with hardware inserted
single-headed snare drum Here's my snare drum. It's a 4x12 thin maple shell from Resurrection Drums, with only ONE head, equipped with a set of snares harvested from an old Purecussion Headset.

That's a Pearl tom mount on the side, mounted on top of some thick rubber washers to have less of a choking effect on the shell. Sort of a poor man's RIMS system...

To adjust the snares, you tighten a knob on the side of the drum, like those internal tone controls on older drums.

NOTE: Lots of drummers write to me asking where to get this kind of snare mechanism. These days, there are some great mini snares being made by Tama, Meinl and LP, which are single-headed drums with snares pressed against the underside of the head. So it's possible you might be able to buy the mechanisms they use by ordering the parts from your favorite drum shop.

This is also my second single-headed snare - my first one was an experiment, where Elliott and I cut an old Ludwig 8x12 tom in half, and built two snares out of it. The Ludwig drum sounded pretty good, but when we built this new one with the thinner shell, I was blown away by how much better it sounded.

Also, it’s worth noting that I built this kit before the advent of “popcorn” or “micro” snare drums. You may find it easier to simply purchase a ready-made small lightweight snare drum, rather than building one yourself.

inside the Bizarro Snare...
Neil Peart, eat your heart out! ...and here's a bird's-eye view of the whole massive kit, in all its glory.

The rack tom is a 1980 Pearl maple 8x10, mounted on the RIMS system. The cymbals are all Sabian: an 18" El Sabor, which is great for crashing and riding and has a killer bell, with an 8" B8Pro China Splash on top (separated by a felt washer). The hats are 14" HH Manhattan Groove Hats - really sweet!

It sounds great, I think it looks kinda cool, and you can pack it up so fast after a gig that you'll beat the bass player to the parking lot, which makes it all worthwhile!

Here's the whole kit, packed into three cases after a show.

While my main priority in designing this kit was ease of setup, similar kits are becoming popular for other reasons. Yamaha's "Hipgig" line of drums was designed to cater to New York drummers who needed compact kits for easy transit, while in the ever-changing field of dance music, "Jungle" kits have become more and more popular, with Sonor's line of jungle kits leading the way. Also, conversion kits are now available that allow drummers to temporarily transform their floor toms into bass drums, such as these offered by Pearl and

Check out to see some of the amazing innovations people are making in finding new ways to make drumming more portable.

All in all, we're living in the Golden Age of the Microkit!

Aquarian Drumheads and Drumsticks

Sabian Cymbals

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