If you’ve ever watched popular touring metal bands play, you’ve most probably seen some intense drumming setups. Large drum sets aren’t exclusive to metal, and many drummers are passionate about creating giant drum sets for them to explore sounds on.
With that being said, there are a few drummers in the world who are quite well-known for the size of their drum kits. These famous drum sets are often head-turners at gigs, events, and festivals.
Here is a list of some famous drummers who have some of the biggest drum sets, as well as some other information you should know about large drum sets. Let’s dive right in!
Drummers That Play the Biggest Drum Sets
One of the first names that come to mind when thinking of huge drum sets is Terry Bozzio. He’s a legendary drummer who’s been well-known in the industry for decades. Two of the most popular artists that he has played with are Frank Zappa and the band, Missing Persons.
While Terry hasn’t always played drums on a huge kit, his drum setup started getting larger and larger over the years. His current kit is absolutely massive, and it spends most of its time living in one of the studios at Drum Channel.
With 8 bass drums and 26 toms, you’d probably feel overwhelmed when sitting in front of this set. It has over 50 cymbals to complement all the drums. On top of that, it has over 20 pedals that trigger several kinds of percussion instruments.
Neil Peart has to be one of the greatest drummers to ever live. He was the drummer of the band, Rush. He was a pioneer when it came to progressive rock drumming.
Rush was incredibly popular in the 70s all the way through to the early 2000s. That platform gave Neil Peart the opportunity to become one of the most renowned drummers in the world.
He went through multiple drum brands and kits in his career, but the final kit he had was the most notable. It was a massive DW drum kit mixed with electronics from Roland. There were so many drums that he created an interesting 360-degree setup. One side had acoustic drums while the other had electronic drums.
Unfortunately, Neil passed away in 2020. His influence on the drumming community and his giant drum set will live on forever, though.
Mike Mangini is known to be one of the fastest drummers in the world. He’s been playing in the metal scene for decades with different bands, but he’s currently known for being the drummer for Dream Theater.
When you play for a band like Dream Theater, you need dozens of drums and cymbals to be able to support the complexity of the music. So, Mike Mangini has a massive kit that he plays at every Dream Theater gig.
He has a few different drum setups that he uses for varying settings, but all of them involve having multiple bass drums, dozens of cymbals, and more drums than most people will ever play on. Even though his huge drum setups are always big, he somehow manages to utilize every tool at his disposal when he plays.
Mark Temperato isn’t as famous as the other drummers on this list. He doesn’t play with any popular bands and he’s not on the artist roster for any big drum brand. However, he holds the Guinness World Record for having the biggest drum set in the world!
The drum kit is constantly growing as the years go by. Mark Temperato has stated that it’s taken over 30 years to build, making it the biggest drum set in the world. It’s well on its way to having over 1000 pieces.
While that may seem like an excessive number of drums, Mark Temperato has learned how to utilize all of them, especially when he’s playing solos. The kit is so large that it needs to be transported in a custom trailer.
Before Mike Mangini joined the band, Mike Portnoy was the drummer for Dream Theater. He was one of the founding members, and he stuck with the band for 25 years. Similar to Mangini, Portnoy needed a large drum set to musically cater to all the songs that Dream Theater made.
He’s always had a big drum set, even after leaving Dream Theater. Mike Portnoy has been one of Tama’s biggest artists over the years. His large drum setups have been good advertising for Tama. He’s also a Sabian cymbals artist.
The combination of those two brands has allowed Mike to create some of the biggest drum sets on stage. He always has multiple bass drums with dozens of drums and cymbals mounted on a very large drum rack.
Mike Portnoy has been very influential over the years for drummers who play similar kinds of setups. His drumming style is looked up to very often.
Thomas Lang is another well-known drummer who typically plays on large setups. Although his drum setups are never quite as big as the other drummer setups on the list, they’re typically quite complex with all the features they have.
Lang is known for having multiple pedals that trigger all kinds of unique things such as percussion and auxiliary hi-hats. He’s a master at playing these things as well.
He’s a very versatile drummer, able to play expertly in multiple styles of music. He occasionally plays on smaller sets, but it looks slightly abnormal as he’s most commonly seen playing on large ones.
Thomas Lang is a DW artist and his large drum setups are always beautiful to look at.
Things to Know About Large Drum Sets
Appropriate Musical Styles
It’s fairly common for beginner drummers to dream of playing the biggest drum sets. After all, doesn’t it look like it will be a fun time playing them?
Although that is true, most of the drummers listed above have large drum sets for very specific reasons. They play styles of music that require large drum setups that will musically cater to those styles.
For example, progressive metal music has complex instrument parts that will benefit from having multiple tom tones playing at the same time. Playing a drum fill down a metal drum set will benefit those complex melodies.
On the other hand, playing a 10-drum fill at a pop gig would be seen as overkill and out of place. So, just be aware that these large kits are large for a reason. Most drummers don’t need kits that are so big. Even modern progressive metal drummers have started downsizing their sets.
Should You Have a Large Drum Set?
You shouldn’t aim to get a large set just for the sake of it. Aim to build one if you’re doing it for pure enjoyment, or if you specifically need it for the band that you’re playing in.
Remember that the famous drummers above all have drum technicians that set the kits up for them at gigs. They don’t typically do it themselves.
You’re going to have a rough time if you have a massive set that you need to set up at every gig you play!
It’s amazing to see how far some drummers can push the boundaries when it comes to drum kit size. While Neil Peart’s drum kit may seem excessive to some, it’s become a solid piece of drum history. The same can be said with Terry Bozzio and all the other drummers’ kits.
Some drummers look down on players who have massive drum kits. Each to their own, but it’s important to realize how all these players have utilized these large drum sets incredibly well in their playing. What may seem unnecessarily large to you, definitely isn’t unnecessary to them.