• Drum Set and Percussion Setups from Musical Theatre and More

Jon Berger - Tim and Scrooge

Jon’s setup for the premiere of Neil Berg’s Tim and Scrooge at the Inserra Theater in Montvale, New Jersey.


“The music was not available until the night before the first orchestra rehearsal so only having the instrument list I began assembling the large two player set up so one person could efficiently negotiate it. The budget was limited so I assumed no conductor video monitors would be available. The orchestrator assured me the drum set parts were more orchestral based with little to no standard time keeping - more like a percussion section then a drum set player. There were lots of marches, mallets and timpani parts and spooky sounding effects.

I opted to play mostly sitting down with the mallet instruments in front of me (timpani to my right) so I could look left at the vibraphone music stand and see the musical director.

I thought about using an ‘old school’ mirror from the timpani but having the orchestra on stage might have caused too much reflection off the lights.

I tested a few of my smaller bass drums and found that the 20" x 14" fit perfectly half way under my vintage portable Musser One-Nighter Vibraphone.

The tom mount base held a boom cymbal stand for moves from timpani to the cymbal. The Miller Machine and a tray for my sticks and mallets sat over the bass drum. The snare placed near the bells allowed me enough room to reach the vibraphone pedal. A wood plank wrapped with a towel extended the pedals reach from the drum stool. I did stand up for many of the vibraphone parts.

Although there were parts written for the xylophone I had no room to put one in. To simulate the xylophone I used a hard yarn mallet with no pedal on the vibraphone and played on the upper register. Next year I will try using a pit xylophone.

Only one tune called for two beat hi-hat time so I placed the hi-hat out of the way and to my far left.

The main book was on an iPad using the forScore music reading application - I did the page turns by hand. I had regular vibraphone parts on another music stand and the music for the two big timpani numbers were also on their own stand.

For a variety of ghosts effects I added a Paiste 17" Sound Creation China to my setup. For cymbal chokes I used a Paiste 16" Formula 602 Paper Thin Crash. And for cymbal scrapes and warm washes I used a Paiste 18" Traditional Thin Crash Cymbal.

I also used:
  • Paiste 14" Signature Dark Crisp HI-Hats
  • Paiste 20" Sound Creation Tam Tam hung off the top of an LP bongo stand
  • Antique Temple Bells
  • Paiste Small Cup Chime
  • TreeWorks Single Row Chimes
  • Miller Machine for Finger Cymbal
  • Grover Pro 8” Bronze Triangle

There were many fast switches from orchestra bells to timpani, cymbals and/or to snare that I couldn’t always use one set of sticks or mallets. As you can seen in the photo below I was using a pair of Regal Tip Bell/Drum Sticks. I also used my Austrian genius stick maker Ernst Hosner's Multi Mallets with removable ends. I used his Mozart timpani mallets with brass glock inserts and a pair of hard yarn inserts with drums sticks.

Other mallets I used:
  • Mike Balter Timpani/Drum Stick
  • Vater Hard Felt/ Drum Stick
  • MalletTech Poly Ball
  • MalletTech Hard Plastic
  • Vater General Timpani Mallets
  • Vater Staccato Timpani Mallets
  • David Herbert Staccatos
  • Gary Burton Good Vibes
  • Mike Balter Hard Yellow Yarn
  • Vater Fusion Acorn Drum Sticks
  • Vater Sweet Ride Drum Sticks
  • Generic Thin and Large Triangle Beaters for scrapes on Tam Tam and Cymbals

DW 9000 Pedal and Hardware
Gretch 1940’s era Bells (by Leedy)
Slingerland 28” and 25” Early 70’s Post Pedal Fiberglass Timpani

Jon is an endorsing artists for Paiste Cymbals, Vater Sticks, Remo Heads, DW Drums and Hardware and Etymotic Research Ear plugs and In-Ear Monitors.

Check out Jon’s website.

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