Chad Smith Standing behind his drum set in Atlanta

Chad Smith’s Drum Kit, Snare, Cymbals, and Gear Breakdown

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I’m GIVING AWAY an Alesis Nitro Mesh electronic drum set. Head over to the description of this video for more information!

Best known as the drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chad Smith is one of the most iconic drummers of all time. He’s had a lot of signature gear over the years including everything from sticks, to entire drum kits.

Unfortunately, a lot of his signature gear, outside of his Funk Blaster sticks, was limited edition. You might get lucky finding someone selling it on Ebay or Reverb.

Chad Smith’s Drum Gear at a Glance

  • Drum Workshop drums, clear acrylic
  • Sabian AA Cymbals (though on May 4, 2022 he announced he is leaving Sabian for an unknown company)
  • Vater Funk Blaster signature sticks
  • Remo drum heads

Smith played Pearl drums for the majority of his career but made the switch to DW drums in 2016. Smith also endorsed Sabian cymbals, but announced on May 4, 2022 he will be going in a new direction (we have yet to find out where). He still currently endorses Remo drumheads and Vater sticks. Chad is often seen playing an acrylic kit, which is a set of drums made from transparent acrylic shells.

Chad’s Mid 90s Touring Setup

In an interview with Modern Drummer in 1994, Chad breaks down his live setup along with an extensive interview about his playing, joining the band, and the overall success of the Chili Peppers.

Chad Smith Early Setup
3D render of Chad’s Early setup via Drumstructor.com (side snare missing from image)
  • Drum shells: Pearl Masters Series, 3.5×14″ piccolo snare, 5×14″ Brady snare, 10×10″ tom, 12×12″ tom, 14×14″ floor tom, 16×16″ floor tom, 16×22″ kick drum.
    Sabian cymbals: 14″ AA hi-hats, 10″ AA splash (2), 8″ B8 Pro China splash, 16″ AA medium crash, 19″ AA Rock crash, 21″ AA Rock ride, 20″ AA Chinese
    Drum heads: Remo coated CS dot on snare batter, clear Emperors on tom batters with clear Ambassadors on resonant sides, Powerstroke III on kick batter with Abassador on resonant head with hole.
  • Percussion: Assorted LP products
  • Hardware: Pearl rack and mounts, DW hi-hat, DW single pedal.
  • Sticks: Vater 5B wood tip

Californication Touring Drum Kit

Fan-site thechilisource.com, has archived magazine interviews with Chad over the years. An interview with Drum! Magazine shows his entire setup from the Californication tour.

  • Drum shells: Pearl Masters Custom 6-ply Silver Sparkle, 16×24″ kick drum, CS4214 Chad Smith snare, 10×10″ tom, 10×12″ tom, 14×14″ floor tom, 14×16″ floor tom.
    Sabian cymbals: 14″ AA Fusion hi-hats, 6″ Cymbal disc, 8″ Cymbal disc, 18.5″ Chad Smith Explosion Crash, 10″ AAX splash, 21″ AA Rock ride, 20.5″ Chad Smith Explosion Crash, 14″ AAX Mini Chinese, 17″ Jack DeJohnette Encore crash, 19″ AA China.
    Drum heads: Remo heads.
  • Hardware: Pearl hardware, DW pedals.
  • Sticks: Signature Chad Smith Funk Blaster.

I’m With You Touring Drum Kit

On an average show night, he will go through two or three snare drum heads, depending on how quick the tuning falls from his heavy-hitting. Back in 2012, drum tech Chris warren gave an in-depth breakdown of Chad’s kit from the I’m With You Tour.

Chad Smith Drum Kit Setup
Chad Smith’s 3D Drum Kit via Drumstructor.com
  • Drum shells: Custom Pearl Acrylic, RHCP logo frosted into each drum shell, 6×14″ Sensitone Elite, 16×24″ kick, 8×12″ tom, 14×14″ tom, 16×16″ floor, 6×14″ aux Free Floating snare, 6″ octabans (3).
    Custom Sabian cymbals: 19″ AA rock crash, 20″ AA rock crash, 21″ rock ride, 21″ signature Chad Smith AA Holy China, 14″ Accelerator hi-hats, 10″ splashes (2).
    Percussion: Adams Professional timpani, LP Jam Block, Gon Bops Red Rock cowbell.
    Drum heads: Remo Clear CS Batters on all tom batters, Controlled Sound X on snare batter, Ambassador Hazy on snare side, resonant tom heads are Remo Clear Ambassadors, Powerstroke 4 on kick batter, Clear Emperor on resonant side of kick.
  • Sticks: Signature Chad Smith Funk Blaster.
  • Drum tech: Chris Warren

“I’m always looking for something new… We have these fancy stage lights that come up from the bottom. And I thought, you know, I bet a clear drum set would be cool, I never played one of those before. So I called Pearl and of course they don’t make those shells… they were put together especially for me.”

Drummer Magazine February 2012 – Chad Smith

Pepsi Super Bowl 48 Drum Kit

I was able to track down some information on Chad’s Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show drum kit. If you’ll remember, the Super Bowl kit had two kick drums. The NFL split the kit in two for the auction. Unfortunately, I don’t have any information on the large tom drum that sat in the middle of the kick drums.

Chad Smith’s Superbowl Kit via Drumstructor.com
  • Drum shells: Custom built Pearl shells, 16×26″ kick (2), 8×12″ tom (2), 14×14″ floor tom (2), 16×16″ floor tom (2), 6.5×14″ Steel Sensitione snare drum.
    Sabian cymbals: 19″ AA rock crash, 20″ AA rock crash, 21″ rock ride, 19″ signature Chad Smith AA Holy China, 14″ Accelerator hi-hats.
  • Hardware: Pearl hardware, hi-hat stand H1000, snare stand S2000, boom cymbal stand B1030 (4), tom arm TH1030 (1).

Current Drum Kit Setup

Chad Smith now exclusively plays DW drums, as he signed onto their artist roster back in 2016. These exact specs are rumored to have been used on the Getaway tour.

  • Drum shells: DW Collector’s Custom Purple acrylic, 18×24″ kick drum, 9×12″ tom, 14×14″ floor tom, 16×16″ floor tom, 6.5×14″ snare drum, 6×10″ Ratatom, 6×12″ Ratatom, 6×14″ Ratatom.
    Sabian cymbals: 19″ AA rock crash, 20″ AA rock crash, 21″ rock ride, 19″ signature Chad Smith AA Holy China, 14″ Accelerator hi-hats.
  • Hardware: Collector’s Series hardware.
  • Sticks: Vater Chad Smith Funk Blaster.

About Chad Smith

Chadwick Gaylord Smith was born on October 25th, 1961 in Saint Paul, Minnesota and grew up in Bloomfield, Michigan. Chad never received formal drum instruction but was part of several bands throughout his high school years. Smith is one of the most well-known rock drummers in the world today because of iconic songs like “Dani California” and “Californication.” However, many people don’t know that Smith was not an original member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Chad and the Red Hot Chili Peppers

The youngest of three, Chad moved to California in his twenties to live with his brother Brad. In 1988, the Red Hot Chili Peppers held drummer auditions in LA to replace DH Peligro. 

The band had gone through three drummers in the previous five years and had been looking for someone that would be committed to the band long term. 

After Smith’s first audition, lead singer Anthony Keidis told Smith he could return for the session the next day only if he shaved his head. Keidis apparently thought that Smith’s bandana hairstyle was more of a Metallica look and was not fitting for the Chili Peppers’ punk rock music. 

Smith showed up the next day with the same bandana on, and though Keidis kept to himself, he later acknowledged that he respected Smith’s persistence. It was part of the reason he landed the gig with the band. 

Chad Smith officially joined the band in December of 1988, and within a few months, they were recording the album Mother’s Milk. 

Despite several on and off guitarists such as John Frusciante and Dave Navarro, Smith has been a permanent fixture of the band ever since, along with Keidis and bass player Flea. 

The band has released eight studio albums since Smith joined the band: 

  • Mother’s Milk (1989)
  • Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)
  • One Hot Minute (1995)
  • Californication (1999)
  • By the Way (2002)
  • Stadium Arcadium (2006)
  • I’m with You (2011)
  • The Getaway (2016)

Other Bands

In 2007, Smith formed Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats with guitarist Jeff Kollman and keyboardist Ed Roth. A funk-fusion instrumental band, the Meatbats have released two studio albums. 

While taking a break from touring in 2008, Chad Smith joined the hard rock band Chickenfoot. Along with Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, and Michael Anthony, Chickenfoot has released two studio albums and a live album with Smith on drums. 

Chad Smith has also played many session gigs with artists such as Johnny Cash, and Jennifer Nettles. He joined forces a second time with Sammy Hagar to work on his twelfth studio album.

Influences

Chad Smith cites several notable drummers as influences to his style of playing. Famed jazz drummer Buddy Rich, Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, and drummer for The Who, Keith Moon are just a few of the drummers that inspired Smith.

Charity and Community Service

One thing that separates Smith from so many other famous drummers is his devotion to community service. 

He is an active supporter of several non-profits including Little Kids Rock and Surfer’s Healing. In 2013, NAMM asked Smith to lobby in Washington DC on behalf of public school music education. 

The following year, Smith joined the Bystander Revolution, an anti-bullying campaign, and participated in a talent show at the White House directed by Michelle Obama to raise money for music education in low ranking schools.

Over the past 3 years, Chad Smith has teamed up with his celebrity look-alike, Will Ferrell to raise money for a host of different causes. 

In 2016, they hosted a benefit comedy and music show that raised money for Ferrell’s Cancer for College and Smith’s Silverlake Conservatory of Music. 

They also teamed up twice in 2018 to raise money for Cancer for College, an organization providing scholarships for kids who have survived cancer.  

Smith was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame in 2012 and continues to be one of the most influential rock drummers in the world. 

Resources

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