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

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 his performances with FutureJazz and others, Doc uses his Zendrum EXP, a Boss RC-300 Loop Station, KXD15 amplifier, and iRig Duo Pro with an iPad Pro, and Darin Kadrioski's ZDS Shifter.


Doc’s studio kit is a customized 17 piece Mapex, hybrid acoustic-electronic kit with 2Box Trigit Triggers routed to an 2Box Drumit 3 with Zourman's 32 gb Expander. This kit is outfitted with Zildjian ZBT cymbals, Gibraltar Rack and Mapex Falcon Pedals. Doc’s set-up was inspired by the double bass drum kits of drummer Simon Phillips.


live kit is a 12 piece, customized, hybrid acoustic-electronic ddrum kit. This kit uses Evans Hydraulic Red drumheads, a ddrum DD5X module, ddrum Acoustic Pro triggers, Avedis Zildjian cymbals, a Gibraltar Rack, DW Pedals, Hi-Hat, and is inspired by Billy Cobham's "tonal palette", reverse rack tom set-up.


Doc has a replica of Bill Bruford’s 1999 Yellow Tama kit and Bruford’s Signature Palette Series snare drum.
His set-up is also symmetrical, inspired by 
Bruford and used with his Earthworks acoustic band.


Doc’s also uses a vintage 6 piece, 1983 Gretsch USA Custom kit. His set-up is again symmetrical, inspired by drummer Bill BrufordDoc uses this smaller kit with Steve McQuarry’s new organ trio featuring guitarist David McFarland!


Doc's hybrid acoustic electronic Gretsch Concert tom kit was inspired by drummer Phil Collins and the music of his groups Genesis and Brand X. Made up from orphaned toms, Doc has re-wrapped it with wraps from Jammin’ Sam and added Padtech internal triggers and Evans mesh heads to trigger samples from his Alesis Strike Pro.

Gretsch Padtech

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.


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.


Doc's Rototom kit was also inspired by drummer Bill Bruford and the music of 1978-1980 his groups U.K. and Bruford. This kit is a 3 piece Tama, wrapped in chrome from Jammin' Sam. This kit uses Evans red hydraulic heads and a custom made, chrome, 6" x 14" Tama "Bill Bruford Signature Palette" snare with a Tama floor tom and kick drum.


Doc's Gretsch “Max Roach Progressive Jazz Kit”
is a custom made replica of the 1960s set made famous by Max Roach! The drum set features a 14” x 4” Chrome over Wood piccolo snare, 14” x 20” bass drum, 14” x 14” floor tom, and 12” x 8” rack tom. This kit was built and restored by Doc with all authentic Gretsch parts and wraps from Jammin’ Sam! This kit is also hybrid-electric with new Sensory Percussion triggers connected to a MacBook Air and Focusrite 18i18.

Sensory Percussion

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!