Pros-talk: Yael’s drumming gear and more

(mtebaldi | Posted 2010-10-25)

Pros-talk: Yael’s drumming gear and more

Had I not come across the recently released The Love Project DVD, I would have missed out on the opportunity to talk to one of the most passionate drum artists that I have ever had the privilege to chat with. A charismatic person and skillful drummer, Yael shows all her many years experience behind the kit through words in this exclusive interview I had the honor to conduct for MGR.

MGR: Where does your love for drumming come from?
Yael: I was the pots and pans kid that found a rhythm to everything from Mom's cooking to the Stevie Wonder and world music played at home. Got first toy drum set at 6 (bashed through it in a few months) and at 13 got my first used Ludwig 4 on the floor kit with one cymbal and a hi-hat. I was in love with figuring out how to play everything on drums. It's amazing when it first starts to click and you find your groove.

MGR: On a daily basis, how often you are behind the kit?
Yael: At this particular time I'd say I'm playing a bit almost everyday as now I have a kit set up in a little guesthouse that I can play at all hours, day or night. It varies depending on who I'm going on the road with or what sessions I have coming up. Or what songs I have to learn, create parts for, or just free time to jam with my mates. But sometimes I go quite a (frustrating) while without playing enough, for example, while editing DVD, I barely played besides when we actually recorded and filmed drum parts.

MGR: What was your first drum kit?
Yael: The toy kit was called a "Sterling Beat" but a real kit was blue sparkle Ludwigs 22”, 12”, 13”, 16” when I was 13.

MGR: What kit you are currently playing and why?
Yael: I play DW drums and have been endorsed with Drum Workshop since 1999/2000. My kits also vary with the projects I do. What you need for one band isn't necessarily the best kit for the next. For instance I am currently doing some "one offs" with a flamenco Spanish style guitarist so I have fallen deep into loving my DW mini-pro kit and I used it live at our Grammy museum premiere where Love Project performed live for the first time in LA. The kick has a unique, almost 808 (drum machine) sound to it. It's configuration is 16” kick (yes,16!), 10” rack, 13 floor. I add my 8” mini timbale and 6" rataban also a PDP 805 10" popcorn snare to the left of the hats. ("Great things come in small packages" kit). But in yesterday's session I recorded at Mikal Reid's studio, for an Irish singer-songwriter's album on a Bonham-esque set up 22” kick, 12” or 14” rack, 16” floor 14x6” Black Beauty snare drum ... not my own unfortunately. The sexy old school "all one needs to rock" kit. On Lynch or Caffery or heavier Skolnick type songs/albums that I've recorded, I've used my Spiderpine 22x18” kicks double bass, 14” rack in the middle, 16 floor on left, 18” floor on right. Big loud drums. On the Miller tour with Res, Talib Kweli, I used 13” snare, 20” kick, 10” rack, 10” popcorn snare, 6” rataban, 14” floor. Way more funky and punchy, a little tight.

MGR: What about cymbals?
Yael: I'm with Sabian cymbals now. Size and set up also varies accordingly The Radias are badass and I love all the tiny f/x. Bozzio’s nano hats rule as do very large chinas for recording soundtrack or scoring jobs. Trying to get into that a lot more these days. I use HHX x-plosion fast crashes and AAX crashes 14 -20” then the Roy Mayorga signature ride is going on my list. The ozone killer crash is sweet and Max Stax amongst my favorites.

MGR: What drumsticks fit better your drum style and why?
Yael: I have a signature "drumaddict" stick with Vic Firth. Very similar to 3A wood tip. I prefer the stick not to go skinny at the tip, almost one thickness all the way through. Medium in weight and has to feel comfortably balanced to your hands.

MGR:What about drum skins?
Yael: Remo for heads. Right now I'm using Ambassadors for this recording and Black Suede Emperors live. Powerstroke 3 on kick drums.

MGR: How often do you replace your drumheads?
Yael: Snare heads the most, but when at home playing they last about a week to 10 days recording - maybe 2 songs - and live - just one show per snare head. Toms last longer at home - kicks last longer with the Falam pads. I find Black Suede EMPS last the longest. And they look the best, which doesn't suck.

MGR: Do you have any tricks you use when tuning your kit?
Yael: Sometimes for the kicks I tighten evenly throughout the normal criss cross method and loosen the top two lugs, just to get the Sound as close to Bonham as possible, but without pillows or losing any resistance off the kick beater itself. Lay into it and feel like you're hitting something - Nothing better than a great sound to get you in the zone. Moon gels are a great help in the studio as well. Even cut them in half sometimes just a tiny piece is all u need.

MGR: What mics do you feel make your kit sound the best?
Yael: That varies on studio and budget but this package sounds nice:

  • C1000 Condenser Microphones
  • C518M MicroMics with Mounts
  • D112 Dynamic Microphone

    My favorites in the mix are usually the room mics.

    MGR: What are your favorite drum recordings?
    Yael: I have so many favorites - simple to complex from Mahavishnu to Queens of the Stone Age, Alain Johannes solo record, Spark resonates quite magically. Always love my Soundgarden to Stevie Wonder and the Beatles to Beastie Boys, Missy Elliott and Mastadon - but the ultimate drum sound recordings has been any LED ZEPPELIN for me... New Stone Sour with Roy is a true evolution in an amazing drummer, finding a band for his own voice - great grooves, new Shooter Jennings with Bryan Keeling is epic, Ojos de Brujo cuz they rule, Them Crooked Vultures with Dave G is incredible. A Perfect Circle with Josh Freese and a real close second to Bonham vibe, I'd have to say The Dead Weather with Jack White on drums has been my favorite this year- quite brilliant live too.

    MGR: How do you warm up before a gig or session?
    Yael: Before a session I drill the songs over and over in the house on the iPod in the car etc, and actually don't play to it for a while - only a bit for review, not a few notes on the snare drum and go! Live. Just kick it on a pad or couch arm for a little bit to take the edge off but should do better with that next time I'm offered a bigger tour.

    MGR: Are you planning to take The Love Project to the road?
    Yael: We managed to get a few of us together at the Grammy Museum premiere in Los Angeles to play. I would love to take the project on the road but obviously people like Terry Bozzio are very "special guests" and maybe only available for one offs. There is a way we are trying to sort out and a few of us have performed together at SXSW music and film festival in Austin and most recently in Portland at Pendulum Dance Theaters High Art show. It's a crew so big in a sense yet, between 4 or 5 of us... we can execute most of the material quite nicely using stems for piano or cello, etc. We hope to find a way to take it on the road because with the DVD and EP out we have requests to play from Brazil to Hawaii to Tokyo and Europe/UK. That would be a blast.

    MGR: Any advice you would give to those leaning toward a drum career?
    Yael: Be passionate. Stay focused and don't be too hard on yourself or take the business side of it too seriously. We get into music because we love to play. If it's your passion you will find a way to make it work for you. Good luck! Follow your heart and make it count.

    For more information about Yael and The Love Project, please visit

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