E. Doctor Smith plays the new Zendrum EXP, MIDI percussion controller!

zendrum-exp
Doc's interview from the November 2013 issue of digitalDrummer explains his latest set-up...
"I first saw a Zendrum at a NAMM show back in the ‘90s and thought it was great, but I still preferred the ergonomics of the Drummstick. One day, a friend surprised me with a maple ZX he’d just bought, and happily let me program it and try it out. The first thing I did was to flip it up vertically, so I could play it the way I play the Drummstick. Although the straps weren't in the right places, it worked well enough. After 20 minutes or so, I'd programmed the ZX to a playable level. It was so incredibly responsive. I immediately loved it.

In 2007, I finally made the switch. The Zendrum Corporation’s David Haney built a beautiful, black “Jimi Hendrix ZX” for me, which was modeled after Hendrix’s Fender Stratocaster. After I replaced the strap locks, so that I could play it vertically, it worked like a charm. When Haney and John Emrich announced the new Zendrum, “EXP”, in late spring, I took a look at it, saw that it had been redesigned to allow greater left hand trigger access and to be worn vertically, and I knew I had to have one. I bought the first ever production model, and it’s been a dream come true.

Live, I’m a hybrid of new school meets old school, so I use a MacBook Pro with BFD2 and GarageBand for my basic kits, along with an Alesis DMPro. I also use iDrum to trigger my pre-recorded samples. My rigs vary depending on the size of the venue, and my sound is fed into either a Fast Track Ultra 8R, a Tascam US-1800, or PreSonus USB/MIDI interface. I use either an Alesis iMultiMix 9R or a Mackie mixer and a pair of Mackie SRM450s. For recording, I mostly use GarageBand, Logic, and ProTools. I also enjoy using Darin Kadrioski’s Zendrum editor app, ZenEdit.

My Zendrum technique is based on my nearly 20 years of playing the Drummstick. My left hand carries a lot of the snare, open hi-hat, crashes, and sample triggering. With my right hand, I do my signature finger rolls, as well as carry the basic kick, ride, closed hi-hat, snare, and toms, split between multiple fingers. I was really happy when I discovered that I could put the EXP on over my right shoulder, ala Hendrix. This gave me more range with my left hand, allowing me to use the EXP’s additional triggers more comfortably. So far, I haven’t used any pedals, but you never know..."

Doc has several rigs depending on his musical situation…

For smaller venues, and his performances with John Wubbenhorst’s Facing East, and Laura Austin Wiley’s Electric Quartet, Doc uses his Zendrum EXP, smaller rig features an Alto Kick 15 amplifier, mated to an Alesis DM Dock and iPad featuring world class percussionist Pete Lockett’s amazing app DrumJam!


alto-dmdock

For larger venues and his FutureJazz gigs, Doc uses his Zendrum EXP set-up, consists of a MacBook Pro with BFD2, using the Billy Cobham/Ken Scott VST samples, GarageBand and iDrum, PreSonus USB MIDI interface, an Alesis Nanoverb, a Mackie ProFx16v2 mixer, and a pair of Mackie SRM 450 monitors.

mackies

Doc’s home kit is a customized 10 piece Ddrum, hybrid acoustic-electronic kit with Ddrum Acoustic Pro Triggers routed to an Ddrum DDTi that’s connected to an MacBook Pro. This kit is outfitted with Zildjian ZBT cymbals, Gibraltar Rack and DW Pedals. Doc’s set-up was inspired by the “tonal array”, double bass drum kits of drummer Billy Cobham

the-ddrums

Doc’s live kit is also a customized, hybrid acoustic-electronic kit, made from Mapex and Yamaha shells. It’s outfitted with internal Pintech triggers, routed to an Alesis DM10 module and an Alesis SamplePad Pro. This kit has all Avedis Zildjian cymbals, a Gibraltar Rack, Mapex Falcon Pedals, and is currently being used with Steve McQuarry’s “Echelon” quartet.

yamaha

Doc’s other acoustic kit is his 6 piece Gretsch custom, with a Tama Stewart Copeland Signature snare. His set is also open-handed and inspired by one of his favorite drummers, Lenny White. Doc uses this smaller kit with Steve McQuarry’s new organ trio featuring guitarist David McFarland!

gretsch

Doc's
Simmons electronic kit was inspired by drummer Bill Bruford and the music of his 1987-1990 groups Earthworks, David Torn's Cloud About Mercury and Kazumi Watanabe. Originally part of an SDS9 Simmons kit with a Roland PM-16 MIDI interface and assorted Alesis D4 and DMPro drum modules, Doc has updated it with an Alesis Trigger I/O and a MacBook Pro for all of his sounds and samples.

simmons

Doc's other “axes” include the original Drummstick, Drummstick #2, the Black Drummstick #3, the custom-made "Jimi Hendrix-style" Zendrum ZX and a Dynacord Rhythm Stick.

axes

Doc's Rototom kit was also inspired by drummer Bill Bruford and the music of 1978-1980 his groups U.K. and Bruford. Doc has two versions; the all acoustic Gretsch kit and the hybrid acoustic electric Ddrum version. This kit uses Remo Silentstroke mesh heads on the rototoms, Hart Dynamic Magnums mesh heads on an old, converted 6.5" x 14" Viking snare with an internal Pintech trigger, and Maxxums on the floor tom and kick drum, plus Ddrum RedShot or Pro triggers, mated to an Alesis Trigger I/O and MacBook Pro.

rotos

Doc's latest kit was inspired by the Indian Subsonic Bass Sound and the music of Trilok Gurtu! The hexagonal shape came via his love of the Simmons electronic pads. This kit was built by Doc and Herb Sessums of Coos Bay Oregon and refinished by bassist and luthier Kate Aragon! Doc will also be adding the new wireless Versatriggers… Stay tuned!

subsonic