The "Renaissance Man" Drum Kit

 

This is the Official Page of
One of the World's Rarest, Most Unusual Drum Sets:
Bobby Rock's Original, 10-Piece
Sistine Chapel-themed Radial Bridge Kit,
Custom-Painted by John Douglas

 

Friends -

I've been asked a lot of questions through the years about the "Sistine" kit. So we thought it might be cool to set up a tribute page for these awesome drums that will hopefully answer most of them.

Enjoy!

BR

 

14" rack

Snare

18" floor

26" & 24" bass drums

 

Of all the drum sets I've had through the years, this "Sistine Chapel" kit that Peavey custom built for me back in 1995 would have to be my sentimental favorite. With its sheer size, beautiful symmetry, jawdropping paint job and explosive sound, this kit has been an absolute joy to tour and record with through the years. And since the Radial Bridge drums have been out of production for a while now, it makes this set even that much more of a one-in-a-million rarity in the drumming world.

The Art of the Drum: How This Kit Came To Be

I've always had a deep connection to the Renaissance era of artists, and a serious reverence for much of the art that was created back then. As a result, I've always tried to embrace that "live and die for your art" mentality intrinsic to the multiple-mediums-of-expression philosophy of that era. So when it came time to dream up the "ultimate" kit, the idea of unifying classic art in one medium (painting) with classic art in another (drumming) seemed like an obvious theme to go with.

I had been playing a quadruple bass drum set-up for a while at that point, so I knew we would want to continue on with that configuration, along with three racks, two floors, a snare, and the usual slew of LP timbales. But the real distinguishing quality would be the paint job. And for that, the gig was going to my long-time friend from Houston, John Douglas.

I had been good buddies with John since high school and we had been talking for years about him doing a kit for me at some point. In fact, by '95, he had already done a bunch of cool kits. (Nowadays, he's recognized around the drumming community as THE guy for custom work.) So as we began to discuss the concept, we inevitably got around to the idea that the kit be based around replicas of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel paintings.

The kit took months to complete, starting with the painstaking detail Peavey put into the initial manufacturing. Steven Volpp, the inventor of the Radial Bridge concept, took a very "hands-on" approach to every detail of creating these drums, which included some custom-sized bass drums. Then once John got a hold of the shells and hardware, we were in the final homestretch. Of course, my year-long clinic tour with Peavey was already underway, so we were dying to get this kit out there on the road with us.

The actual painting went surprisingly quick, which is a nod to John's prolific airbrushing skills. (And even more awe-inspiring when you compare the images, side by side, with the actual Sistine Chapel paintings. The similarities are stunning.) John said he was completing a drum every day or two. But it was all the post-painting stuff that took the longest, as John took weeks to sand, buff, lacquer and dry the kit through multiple cycles.

 

 

These drums have been featured in several publications through the years. Here's one from some custom airbrush magazine that featured the "Sistines" in a start-to-finish article where John described his process.

 

((Click on image to enlarge)

((Click on image to enlarge)

 

 

More About the Drums:

These drums feature the Radial Bridge design, which means that they don't have traditional lugs. Instead, the shells - which are notably thinner than any conventional shell - connect with the drum head via a donut-shaped "bridge," and are able to resonate more openly. The result of this technology is a big, warm drum sound with clearly more bottom end and volume than regular drums. Sound-wise, I would put these drums up against anything else out there (including any old Gretsch or DW kit), any day of the week.

And for some reason, these drums in particular remain my favorite sounding Peavey kit. I used them on both my Out of Body and Snap, Crackle and Pop...Live! solo CDs, as well as a bunch of other records, sessions and tours. I've often wondered if, by chance, the density of the paint and/or lacquer could've somehow tightened-up the super-ambient sound these drums naturally have. I'm not sure. But I've always felt like the Sistines had a tad more attack and punch than other Radial Bridge kits, giving them a "best of both worlds" kind of quality. As a result, they've always been untouchable, both live and in the studio.

Again, the Sistine Chapel kit is a quadruple bass drum set-up and includes the following:

 

4 Bass Drums

2 - 24" X 20"
2 - 26" X 16"

R-24" (left side)

R-24" (right side)

From the Sistine Chapel...

Here's the original. Compare to the bass drum image above right,
keeping in mind that these drums were airbrushed!

 

L-24" (left side)

L-24" (left side)

From the Sistine Chapel...

Here's the original. Compare to the bass drum image above right.

 

With their ultra-thin maple shells, these are some of the biggest, baddest sounding kick drums around. The low end on these drums is without compare, and when you slap the right kind of heads on them (I like the Aquarian Super-Kicks), they have the perfect mixture of attack and power. Plus, these 26” Bass Drums are a one-of-a-kind set!

There are literally no other 26's in existence in the Radial Bridge design, except for the 26's on the original plain maple kit Peavey built for me. But these Sistine Chapel kicks are actually 2” thinner than the other kicks, making them the only set of their kind in the world. (I requested that they make them thinner so they would have an even greater distinction from the 24's. As suspected, this made them a bit bigger, boomier and more "Bonham" sounding.)

 

5 Toms

2 Floors - 16" x 16", 18" x 18"
3 rack toms - 10" x 9", 12" x 10", 14" x 12"

 

 

Here are a couple different angles for each drum.

 

10"

10"

12"

12"

14"

14"

16"

16"

18"

18"

As mentioned, these shells are literally the thinnest out there. This means that they're going to vibrate faster and produce more volume and overall tone. Combine this with their super-clean edges for optimal attack, and you have a pretty scary tom sound.

 

1 Snare Drum

14" x 6"

 

From the Sistine Chapel...

Here's the original. The centerpiece of one of the most recognizable and enduring images in the
history of art, replicated front and center on the snare drum. (Poetic justice for us "lowly" drummers, right?)

 

John surprised me with this custom insignia on the back of the snare,
just above his signature. A nice touch, I thought...

This is the original 14" "chopping block" snare. It has a very distinctive and warm "crack" sound.

 

 

Here, There and Everywhere:

In addition to the hundreds of clinics and solo club dates I've done with the full kit, I've also done a number of tours with scaled-down versions of it, as well. With guitar great Gary Hoey, it was a single-kick version for clubs, theaters and festivals. With hard rockers Slaughter, it was a double-bass version for arenas and amphitheaters.

Gary Hoey

Slaughter

Playing at some arena with Slaughter on the Whitesnake tour

 

 

Ironically, I used the full kit on an extensive Bill "The Buddha" Dickens video project.
(He absolutely insisted, and I didn't argue!) This YouTube video shows a jazz trio segment from the video,
which is not exactly the best representation of the drums (or my playing, for that matter).
But, the Sistines sure look magnificent, don't they?

 

 

The tour ends here, for now. Thanks for visiting...

 

BR

 

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