Danny Carey’s Drum Set and Gear Breakdown

Every now and then, a drummer comes along with that special, indefinable quality that makes them stand out amongst the many incredible drummers in the world. Danny Carey fits into that mold.

As the drummer in the band Tool, Danny Carey is known for his remarkable technical skills, expert timing, and versatility. He’s played an astronomical number of live shows over the past thirty years, and his studio work is equally as impressive.

Tool’s music is astonishingly complex in places, but it’s also catchy, melodic, and mind-bending. A large part of the band’s success has been down to Carey’s rhythmic genius and skill driving the band forward.

In this detailed guide, we’ll analyze the gear that Danny Carey uses and has used in the past and the results that he is able to get from his drum set.

Who is Danny Carey?

Danny Carey is an American drummer best known as the drummer of the multi-platinum-selling alternative metal band Tool.

One of the most successful metal and progressive rock bands in history, Tool has sold over 14 million records worldwide. They formed in 1990, and Carey has been a part of the band since then. 

He has also performed on drums with side projects Pigmy Love Circus, Volto!, and Zaum, as well as other acclaimed bands such as Green Jello, Lusk, and Pigface.

Carey is one of the most highly regarded metal drummers in the world. His playing is characterized by technical skill, complex rhythms, and time signatures, as well as the ability to create intense moments and transitions with the drums. With Tool, he has released countless albums, live albums, and singles.

Some of Carey’s most notable performances on Tool songs include the likes of “Stinkfist” and “Forty Six & 2” off of Ænima and “Schism” from their album Lateralus.

Danny Carey Drum Set Breakdown

Danny Carey’s drum set has changed over the years, but he’s also consistently used some gear throughout his career as Tool drummer. Let’s take a look at the individual parts of the kit that he currently uses.

Danny Carey is a high-profile drummer and has a number of drumming endorsements from some of the world’s top drumming brands. He is currently endorsed by the following:

  • Sonor Drums
  • Paiste Cymbals
  • Vic Firth Sticks
  • Evans Drumheads
  • Roland Electronic Drums
  • Korg Synthesizers
  • Hammerax percussion

Danny Carey’s Cymbals

Danny Carey’s Cymbals - Paiste

Tool drummer Danny Carey’s drum set consists of a large number of cymbals, with one pair of hi-hats and multiple crash, splash, and rides cymbals He’s endorsed by the cymbal brand Paiste, and therefore all of his cymbals are made by the Swiss manufacturer.

Carey’s preferred hi-hats are the 14” Formula 602 Classic Sound Edge, which is known for its crisp sound and responsive feel, and he is a big fan of Paiste’s “Cup Chime” cymbals and commonly uses the 6”, 6.5”, and 5.5” models from 2002.

In addition to those, he also uses three splash cymbals – the 8” Signature Dark Energy Splash Mark I, 8” Signature Splash, and 10” Signature Dark Energy Splash Mark I. 

His crash assembly consists of three Paiste-made cymbals – the 18” Signature Power Crash, 20” Signature Power Crash and 22” Signature Heavy China.

Finally, Carey uses one ride cymbal, the 22” Signature Dry Heavy Ride “Monad.” This particular ride is well-known for its dry, dark tone that cuts through the mix and is ideal for Tool’s technical style of music.

Danny Carey Snare Drum

The snare drum is an instrumental part of Tool’s music, and Carey is one of the best at using it to punctuate the complicated and technical rhythms that are included in the band’s tracks. He currently uses his 8×14″ Sonor Signature Series bronze snare drum.

This rare snare drum has a rich tone, can reach high volumes, and is incredibly sensitive to ghost notes. It’s even got Danny Carey’s talisman symbols between the lugs that add to its visual appeal.

The ideal tuning range for this snare is low-mid to mid-high, and when tuned properly, it delivers Carey’s signature fat snare sound. It isn’t currently in production by Sonor and therefore has become somewhat of a collector’s item.

Danny Carey’s Drum Set

Danny Carey's Drums

The rest of Danny Carey’s drum kit is also made by the premium German brand Sonor, who has been at the forefront of instrument manufacturing since the late 19th century. Carey’s Sonor SQ2 set consists of:

  • 20×24″ kick drum
  • 19×24″ kick drum
  • 18×16″ floor tom
  • 16×14″ floor tom
  • 12×12″ rack tom
  • 10×10″ rack tom
  • 8×8″ rack tom
  • 15×22″ gong drum
  • 14×8” snare drum

As you can see, Carey uses a total of five toms, which allows him to get a great deal of tonal variation for fills and rhythms. He also has a pair of kick drums for his blistering bass drum pedal playing.

Danny Carey Drum Hardware

Hardware is another important part of Carey’s drum set, as it needs to be solid as a rock in order to withstand the power that he plays with. He uses hardware made by Sonor, along with Pearl Eliminator kick pedals.

Carey sits on a Roc-n-Soc Throne and uses the Pearl RH-2000 remote hi-hat stand. This stand is known for its stability and smooth responsiveness, which makes it ideal for the intricate hi-hat parts that Carey often uses in Tool’s compositions.

What Drumsticks Does Danny Carey Use?

Danny Carey uses Vic Firth Signature Series drumsticks with a wood tip. These sticks have a cut-in design to enhance the grip, and they are also tapered at the butt end to improve movement and speed.

The sticks he uses are 16.5 inches long, with a diameter of .695 inches at the butt and .630 inches at the shaft.

Carey is endorsed by Vic Firth, and his signature sticks are very popular amongst Tool fans and metal and rock drummers in general.

Danny Carey’s Drumheads

Danny Carey uses Evans drumheads, as he believes they provide the perfect balance of tone and durability for his live shows. He utilizes clear G2s (two-ply drumheads) as batter heads on his toms, while he uses single-ply Clear G1s as his resonant heads.

For his snare drum, he uses the Coated Power Center Reverse Dot which provides a powerful and defined sound.

On the kick drums, he uses Evans EQ3 Clear batter drumheads which provide a powerful low-end and a punchy articulation.

Which Electronic Drums Does Danny Carey Use?

Danny Carey's Electronic Drums

In addition to his acoustic drums, Carey uses electronic devices and trigger modules to trigger samples. Tool’s music includes many atmospheric sounds, along with other samples, to add different layers to the songs.

Carey uses the classic SPF-30 Octapad by Roland, an electronic drum pad renowned for its reliability and sensitivity. He also uses the Handsonic HPD-20 by Roland, as well as seven of Synesthesia’s Mandala Drum Pads. The Battery by Native Instruments completes his electronic setup.

You’re probably wondering how Carey manages to fit all of these drums into his set – particularly when you consider the large number of cymbals he uses.

Carey places four of the Mandala Drum Pads on the left side of his kit and the other three across to the right. This leaves enough room for him to comfortably play his snare, toms, and two-kick drums without being impeded by the samplers.

Danny Carey Frequently Asked Questions

What Makes Tool Such a Great Band?

Aside from Danny Carey’s amazing drumming, the American band Tool possesses many other qualities. Their distinctive musical style, which blends hard rock, alternative metal, and progressive metal, is both unique and appealing to a wide range of music fans.

The band also pays a lot of attention to its visuals. Their stage presence and performances are as captivating as their music, with live shows often including video projections and animated visual sequences.

Tool is widely considered one of the most influential bands of the 21st century. Many modern metal bands cite them as a major influence, and they continue to inspire new generations of rock musicians.

Why Is Danny Carey Such a Good Drummer?

There are many reasons that Danny Carey is considered to be one of the greatest rock drummers of his generation. His playing is incredibly intense and powerful, yet he still maintains a great sense of control.

Carey’s ability to adapt his playing style to the changing dynamics of Tool’s music is also impressive. His playing can be delicate, heavy, and powerful all at once without ever sounding forced or unnatural.

He also has a great sense of musicality, understanding how to create dynamic rhythms that complement the rest of the band while still standing out.

Last but not least, Carey has an instinct for the groove. His drumming serves the songs, providing solid timing but also moving fluidly with the chord changes and melodies of the music.

Who are Danny Carey’s Influences?

Danny Carey has stated that his influences include John Bonham, Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, and Neil Peart. He has also cited many jazz musicians, such as Max Roach and Art Blakey, as major influences.

You can hear Bonham’s influence on Carey’s drumming in Tool’s heavier rock tracks, while the more intricate players he admires have undeniably inspired his technical capabilities.

Does Danny Carey Play Any Other Instruments?

In addition to being an exceptional drummer, Carey also plays several other instruments to a high standard. He played the tabla on the Tool album 10,000 Days and has also played guitar, bass, and synthesizer on other recordings.

This is not surprising, as when you reach the level fo skill that Carey has on one instrument, it’s usually easier to transfer your knowledge to other instruments.

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