Fishman's Drums

Fishman's Kit As Of Summer 2017:  Jonathan "Johnnystx" Wright reports that Fishman switched from Yamaha to Gretch Shells (6",8",10",12") but is still using his old Ayotte Bass Drum with Wooden Hoops. Fish also appears to be using a pair of matching Gretch Floor Toms (16" and 18") (even though he has used older kit Floor Toms in the past). Fish used to use a Ludwig Black Beauty Snare Drum but appeared to have switched to a DW in 2014, though it's not clear what he's using in 2017.  Fish also appears to be using a 21" AA Dry ride, a 16" HHX Evolution Crash, another Sabian 16 or 17" Crash, an 18" Zildjian K Crash, and a 20" Zildjian Swish with a Zildjian Ozone Effects cymbal stacked over the Swish. It is unclear what type of splash cymbal he is using but it is probably his old 8" Zildjian. Fish is still using the 21" Zildjian A Custom Flat Ride with rivets positioned underneath and in between the AA Dry Ride and the Swish. Since 2015, he hasn't used any Wuhan China.

Fishman has made some drastic changes to his drum kit for fall 2014, to a radically simplified set with new shells, and a switch to primarily Zildjian cymbals (from a set that included an 8" Zildjian Splash but also had a 16" Wuhan China and Sabian HH Raw Bell 20" Ride). Thanks much to Jonathan Wright for these updates:

1. Yamaha stage custom  10,12,16,18
2. DW maple snare
1. Zildjian A Custom Crash 17"
2. Zildjian Vintage Ride 20" (older)
3. Istanbul Flat Ride 20" (5 rivets)
4. Sabian Fast Crash 16"
1. Gibraltar stands
2. Gibraltar rack system
3. Pearl Eliminator kick pedal
1. LP cow bell
2. Not sure if he's still using the LP
    Custom woodblock set
1. Vic Virth Peter Erkstein signature 
     Ride Stick


For historical purposes, the old entry with past info is currently below. We'll soon clean that up and summarize his historical kits, and apologize for inconvenience meanwhile.

"When I was seven or eight I was really into Cream, really into Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin was pretty much what made me pick up drum sticks." -- Jon Fishman, 4/22/92 interview with Shelly Culbertson

From c.1997 until 2014, Jon used the following (as reported by Jacob Levitin, 11/30/09), with only minor variations:

1. 22" x 14" Gretsch Bass Drum
2. 14" x 6 1/2" Ludwig Black Beauty Snare reissue with cast hoops and tube lugs
3. 6" x 5" Ayotte Tom (no bottom head)
4. 10" x 7" Noble & Cooley CD Maples Tom
5. 12" x 8" Noble & Cooley CD Maples Tom
6. 16" x 14" Noble & Cooley CD Maples Floor Tom
8" LP Icebell cymbal
6" LP Rancan cymbal
14" Zildjian A Custom Dark hi-hat
15" Sabian AAX Dark Crash
8" Zildjian K Splash
16" Zildjian Platinum Medium Thin Crash
21" Sabian AA Dry Ride
20" Zildjian Custom Dark Ride
20" Zildjian Riveted Flat Ride
16" Wuhan China
18" Zildjian K Ride
4", 6", 10", 9" LP wood blocks
4" LP Jamblock w/Axis Pedal
8" LP Cowbell w/Ridge Rider
6" LP cowbell

Fish also uses a Gibraltar rack, Pearl pedals, Purecussion RIMS tom mounts, Regal Tip Rock model drum sticks and Regal Tip Clayton Cameron model brushes.

Sometimes he adds 6/8 inch toms, and sometimes adds a DW 16" Floor tom

For heads, he uses Remo coated ambassador on top, remo clear ambassador on bottom, and Remo Coated Powerstroke 3 on floor toms.

To Late-1996: Around the time of the Clifford ball, Jon played a custom-made drumkit crafted by Ayotte Drums of Vancouver, B.C. -- jade green with blonde hoops. Jon's relationship with the company began when he contacted Ayotte on December 5, 1995 with an order for a 14" x 7" 10-ply snare drum in ebony satin finish. Apparently very pleased with the drum, on 1/25/96, Jon put in an order with Ayotte for an entire set of drums, which he has been touring with ever since.

Drums: With the exception of the aforementioned snare drum, all the drums are done in a Jade Green to Maple fade glossy finish. The dimensions of the drums are as follows:
     A. 20" x 14" Bass Drum
     B. 14" x 6.5" Ludwig Black Beauty or an Ayotte 14" x 7" 10-ply snare in Ebony Satin finish
     C. 6" x 5" Tom
     D. 8" x 6" Tom
     E. 10" x 8" Tom
     F. 12" x 10" Tom
     G. 16" x 14" Floor Tom
In addition, Fish has an Ayotte 22" x 14" bass drum in the same Jade Green to Maple fade glossy finish, and on April 2, 1996, he ordered a 14" x 6" 18-ply snare drum from Ayotte. These drums are not part of his touring set-up, however.

Etc: As the top head of his drums Jon uses coated Remo Ambassador heads, with Attack clear heads on the bottom of each drum, and for the road, Fish has replaced the top hoops of his Ayotte WoodHoop toms with standard steel hoops, leaving the blonde wood hoops on the bottoms. Jon plays Vic Firth sticks and mallets, and a Gibraltar rack system supports his set-up. The cowbell that rests atop the bass drum is made by Latin Percussion, as are the four woodblocks found beneath his hi-hat cymbals.

Cymbals: Speaking of cymbals, Jon's current cymbal set-up* is as follows:      A. 13" Zildjian K Custom Dark Hi-Hats
     B. 6" Rancan Chinese
     C. 16" Sabian Thin Crash
     D. LP icebell
     E. 8" A Zildjian Splash
     F. 17" Zildjian K Dark Crash Medium Thin**
     G. 21" Sabian HH Dry Ride
     H. 20" Zildjian Flat Ride
     I. 18" Wuhan China***
     J. 18" Zildjian K Ride
*"Even though the drums have stayed the same since he got the new kit, his cymbals are always changing. On the Billy Breathes album and the summer tour of 1996, Fishman began using Sabian cymbals. To the best of my knowlege they were 16", 17" and 18" crashes, 14" hi hats, a 21" AA Dry Ride, 8" splash, 20" flat ride with rivets the same Rancan 8" and 10" icebells with an 18" wuhan chinese cymbal." Nick 11/26/97
**may now be 22"
***Note that Fishman had used a Zildjian oriental China crash, Zildjian's copy of the Wuhan, but he went back to the Wuhan.

(Compiled 8/98 by Darius Zelkha from Kennedy Grey, DRUM! Magazine, Vol. 6, #1; Feb./March 1997, and Randy Turner, representative from Ayotte Drums. Thanks also to Joe Chellman 8/12/98; and 11/7/98.)

In Europe summer of 1998, he used a rented maroon setup. (Posted by Joe G 7/19/98)

Pre-1996 drum kit was assembled by Mike Sangillo of Portland Percussion in Portland, Maine, and rests in a Gibraltar rack system with Pearl 800 Series pedals. (Fishman reportedly eyed it for years until Mike finally conceded to selling it.) The custom orange shells are handmade by Eames with Ludwig die-cast rims, DW lugholders, and Phish logos. The snare is 14x5.5, and the four toms (with RIMS mounts) are 8x8, 10x10, 10x12, and 14x14. The kickdrum/bassdrum is a 22x16" Tama Artstar II with clear Ambassador head on the batter side and Ebony Ambassador on the front. Heads on the snare and toms are Remo-coated Ambassadors. The five differently pitched woodblocks (mounted under his high hats) and one small cowbell (mounted on his bass/kick drum) are by Latin Percussion. Of the ten cymbals -- 20" Ping ride, 18" K pang with rivets, 18" K dark thin and 17" K dark med.thin crash, 16" Zildjian Oriental Trash Cymbals (not Wuhan China crash), 16" thin crash, 14" New Beat hi-hat, 8" splash, and 8" and 6" Rancan Icebells -- all are Zildjian except the Rancans, which are Latin Percussion. And, of course, a 1956 Eletrolux cannister vacuum cleaner. (Thanks to Tom Wolfe, Musician, September, 1994; David Russell (7/26/95); Charles "Floyd" Anderson 8/18/95; Modern Drummer, 9/95; Chris Wicklein 11/17/95; and Joe Chellman 5/12/96.)

BTW, written on the drums are some messages -- submitted by "Doobie", who wrote (1/27/96) about "...a postcard from jon fishman. i had written him at the schvice asking him what he had written on his drum set. He sent me back a list of 5 quotes They were...
     1. "A man has to shoot his own dog"
     2. "i've been all over the world and i've never seen a statue of a critic"-Leonard Bernstein
     3. "the beginning and end of all philosophy is freedom"
     4. this was a quote from sun ra, but it's really long and i'm lazy
     5. "art lives by limitation"-Bach

Drum classics: You can hear Henrietta's percussive magic in particular during covers of "Frankenstein" and "A Day in the Life", as well as on tapes of these shows favored for their drumz jamz, many featuring guest drummers: a 10-15 minutes segment (likely also including Daubs) on 12-1-84 just prior to the Dude's introduction; the 5-2-96 Surrender to the Air show; 11-3-96 with Karl Perazzo; 10-23-96 Hartford with Bob Gullotti; 5/5/93 with a "severely percussive" YEM; Thanks to Charlie Dirksen 5/22/97 and Steve Leonard 5/23/97. (Trey plays drums during Tubbs' front-of-stage solos.)

"Drums Is" by Fishman:

  • Drums is a rickshaw being pulled by a manic mule down a dusty road.
  • Drums is falling eloquently down a long flight of stairs and landing on your feet.
  • Drums is like learning to ride a bicycle built by Dr. Seuss.
  • Drums is schizophrenia at its best.
  • Drums is four limbs floating gradually out from the center until you are nothing, but a butt on a seat supporting a brain on automatic pilot looking down on the whole affair and laughing in hysterical disbelief.
  • Drums is the ride of a lifetime.
  • Drums is the dam bursting.
  • Drums is the breeze whispering.
  • Drums is so good it will make you want to pop.

"I can go off and other people will support me and vice versa. I think that I have more of a 'lead drummer' tendency in this band historically [although] I think I've matured over the years and known when to be a lead drummer and when to be more supportive."
-- Jon Fishman, 4/22/92 interview with Shelly Culbertson

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