Drum Kit Level: Carter Beauford – The Drum Kit Behind Dave Matthews Band’s Years of Success


The Drum Kit Behind Dave Matthews Band’s Years of Success

How has The Dave Matthews Band been able to create and perform music from almost every genre in popular music today? -Versatility- Each band member brings years of experience and a love for dynamic playing.  In that environment, equipment must be of the highest quality and Carter Beauford has a drum kit that is already legendary. Let’s take a peek at one of the most influential drummers of our time and the kit that powers one of the world’s most popular bands.

Black Raven Yamaha Recording Custom drums in gloss are the core of this impressive drum kit. For a period of time, Carter tried out Yamaha’s new Phoenix line but was less than satisfied with the overall resonance of the drums and went back to the classic brilliant black tubs. The Recording Customs are made of birch wood and are as versatile as the drummer himself. The same set of drums has been used for the entirety of his tenure in the band.  Carter utilizes a “four up, two down” tom setup mounting them high to low, left to right. The 8”, 10”, 12”, and 14’’ toms are mounted on the Yamaha Hex Rack system up front while a second 14’’ tom (also mounted) is positioned to the left of the snare and the 16’’ low tom is mounted on the right.  All of the drums are fitted with Remo drum heads including the Ronn Dunnett 13’’x7’’ timbale.  Although Yamaha’s PHX drums were not up to par for Carter, he still uses the red/black fade bass drum from that line of drums. For the most part, the tom positions do not vary and may be the one aspect of which there is little change.


One of the most prominent sounds that can be heard while listening to a Dave Matthews Band song is the snare drum. Carter has a preference for loud, heavy, popping snares and only the best brands have passed through this kit. One of the most eye catching models employed for a long time was the Dunnett 5.5” x 14’’ Titanium snare in purple with die cast hoops. Ludwig, Paiste and Yamaha have also provided amazing snares, all of which have provided a strong, powerful attack while maintaining the versatility required by this world class drummer.

One of the most unique features of this kit is the cymbal arrangement and Carter’s ride position is no exception. Mounted at a steep angle and directly above his hi-hats, is a 22” K Dark Medium Ride which is accompanied by a 20” A Custom Flat Top Ride behind and towards the rear left of the kit. This positioning allows for the open handed, left hand lead drumming of which Carter has taken to the next level. This open stance means Carter is capable of playing the entire kit, intricately blending toms and cymbals with his right hand, along with maintaining the songs rhythm on the rides and hats with his left. The 10’’ A Armand splash (underneath and between the two main crashes) and the 14’’ K Mini China on the right are quite often used in this colorful style of drumming.


Another unique visual with Carters kit are the “piggy-backed” Chinese cymbals mounted off to the high right side above everything else in that zip code.  Power grooves and climaxing crescendos often involve this pairing and a (fairly) recently added 19’’ K Custom Hybrid China can be found above the rides on the left hand side giving Carter another option for heavy playing.  Two major crashes up front, the 18” and 17’’ K Dark Medium round out the basic cymbal positioning on this monster kit. The base cymbal structure (positioning) is a constant however the cymbals in those positions often change. The cymbals on Carters current setup may, or may not be accurate to this article.  The minor cymbal positions may also change to keep things fresh.

To help achieve that “World Music” sound that the band is known for, Carter has incorporated products from Latin Percussion, or LP for short. The Rock Classic Ridge Rider cowbell and the LP Jam Block (red, low pitched) are situated above the hats, in-between the ride and first crash cymbals.  A mainstay on the kit, Carter often uses these as a percussionist would during songs to great effect. Other items from LP include a set of Granite Blocks, Whole Tone 72 bar double row chimes, and various LP hand percussion items.  There are other LP mounted items at various times on the kit like Ago go bells and smaller cha-cha bells.

That thundering double bass heard quite often in any DMB song comes from the ultra smooth Drum Workshop 9002 double kick pedal which is accompanied by the DW 9500TB hi-hat stand.  Supporting Carter for often hours on end is the Clark Synthesis drum throne. Carter uses Vic Firth 5B Vic Grip sticks and Vic Firth felt core fleece mallets, while getting max grip and comfort through the use of Footjoy golf gloves.


15+ years in the game has culminated into a collection of powerhouse brand names that bring the latest technology and innovation to the heartbeat of The Dave Matthews Band.  Through the thousands of shows that this band has played, and the many millions of miles covered, names like Yamaha, Remo, DW, Vic Firth and Zildjian are still used and counted on for performance and versatility.  Versatility: the name of the game for one of the greatest drummers (and drum kits) of all time! sticks drum info, cymbals, hardware, accessories