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The Man With The Platinum Touch.

His resume is one of the most impressive in rock. He brought the world Green Day and gave the word “Dookie” new meaning. His records have sold nearly 200 million copies and Eric Clapton, Dave Matthews, My Chemical Romance, Kid Rock, Avril Lavigne, Fleetwood Mac, The Goo Goo Dolls, David Cook, Paramore, Hot Hot Heat, [...]

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The Axesmith: Acoustic Guitar String Change

I’ve been changing guitar strings for decades. Smugly, I had always placed the degree of difficulty somewhere between tying my shoes and pumping gas. That all changed when I met Joey Brasler, now one of our top guitar merchants. He took a sad look at a Baby Taylor I brought into work, rolled his eyes, [...]

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Certainly one of the best rock drummers of his generation, Chad Smith is among the busiest as well. He’s toured around the world and back again with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, played on the Dixie Chicks Grammy Award-winning album Taking the Long Way, as well as Queen’s "We will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions", laid down the groove for artists including Johnny Cash, Dave Navarro, Glenn Hughes and Wu Tang Clan, recorded the third album with his instrumental-funk side project, Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats, acted in the short film "Session Man", which won an Academy Award, and published the first two installments of his instructional DVD series with Hal Leonard.

One of the future hall-of-fame drummer’s (Red Hot Chili Peppers are eligible this year and we’re rooting for them) current primary projects, Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats, just tied things up in the studio. "We have three records now," says Chad. "We have one that's coming out in August and then we did a live record that has songs from that and the new one that we just finished. It's instrumental. It's not like Joe's rock instrumental thing. It’s more kind of funk.

Never one to sit still, Chad’s taking on a new challenge as the drummer for Chickenfoot, a hard-hitting rock group with Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony and Joe Satriani. Chad says a big part of the Chickenfoot fun is working with two of his childhood rock heroes, Sammy and Michael.

"I couldn't really say it when they were sitting here, but I’m such a fan of [Mike and Sammy]. I grew up listening to Van Halen and Montrose," says Chad. "That first Montrose record is fantastic. And actually we're going to play one of those. We're going to play the first song that Sam ever wrote with Montrose. A little song called "Bad Motor Scooter"."

While it’s every musician’s dream to take the stage with the guys they look up to, it’s a whole different thing to earn their respect. To credit Sammy and Mike, Chad says that he was welcomed from the start.

"These guys are like legendary hall of fame, they're amazing musicians. And when we play together, we're all peers and we're on the same level. But you know, sometimes I look over and Mike's singing those high parts that are just so part of that signature, man. I can't believe I'm in a band with this guy. Amazing. Sammy sounds better than ever. He's like the Energizer Bunny of rock. He's great and he's always so positive. And then you've got Joe just doing his thing. I'm just lucky they let me near them, let alone hit stuff."

Coming in to Chickenfoot, Chad has played with several of the world’s top guitarists, including Chili Peppers axe-man John Frusciante, so he was well prepared for Joe Satriani’s unique approach.

"The only thing that John and Joe have in common, other than they're both Italian and they both play guitar and they're both amazing musicians, is that they play completely different," says the quick-witted Chad. "I'm very fortunate to be able to play with both of those guys. I wasn't that familiar [with Joe]. I knew who he was and some of his instrumental music that he played, but I knew Mike and Sammy longer and was more familiar with their music, I guess. Joe Satriani's like this guitar hero, amazing musician, funny, great guy – really sweet guy. He's very creative."

As far as the kit he’ll be playing on the upcoming tour, Chad’s sticking to his guns. "It’s the same kit I’ve always used," he says. And while he doesn’t claim to be much of a gearhead, it’s clear that he knows his drums and cymbals like the back of his hand.

"I’m playing a Pearl Masterworks [kit]," Chad says. "It’s a 24x16" maple kick, 12x10" maple rack tom, 14x14 and 16x16" floor toms. I use a couple of different Pearl Sensitone snare drums – both 14x5.5" one’s steel, one’s brass.

"They allowed me to have [the kit] painted by this guy, you know the Orange County Choppers show... the guy who paints all their stuff. His name is Nub. I just told him to go for it. He’s really a fantastic artist. Joe thought it looked like the alien Smith crest. It’s matte black with silver and a lot of pinstriping. And it looks good, and more importantly, it sounds good.

"I’ve been with Pearl for over 20 years," Chad says. "I’ve been with all my companies for a long time. I’m not one of these whores that jump around from company to company," he says with a laugh. "[Pearl’s] been really great to me. So that’s the kit for this tour and tonight is the first show I’m gonna use it.

"And then I have Sabian cymbals... 14" medium AA hats, a 10" AA splash. Then," Chad says, leaning back in his seat and extending his arms as if he’s getting ready to lay down a heavy beat.

"This is me. I'm sitting at the kit. I'm pointing like this. So over here on the left is a 19" medium crash, also AAs. I think these are all AAs. 21" rock ride and 20" rock crash. Then there’s a 19" AA or AAX China, and I think that's it.

"[AA Series cymbals] are just pretty musical," Chad continues. "I play pretty hard for this kind of music – I gotta compete with Mike Anthony and Joe Satriani, both have been deaf for 14 years, so it's really loud on stage. It’s pretty loud with the Chili Peppers as well, and these cymbals, they're still musical, but they're cut and they're very loud. They're big cymbals, especially the crashes. I just found that those work good for me."

Though he prefers jamming with other musicians over spending hour after hour practicing on his kit, Chad remembers how important practice was early on.

"Kids, you should always practice. Practicing is good because you always want to be good on your instrument so when it's time to play with other people, you can do what you want to do or be able to express yourself through your instrument. But I really, at this point I prefer playing with other people. That's playing music. So I don't really play with myself very much," Chad says with a wink and grade school smirk.

Chad’s passion for playing with other musicians explains why he’s got so many different projects lined up.

"I just want younger players to know that you have to put the time and work into your instrument and hopefully if you love it and you're passionate about it, you'll want to do that," Chad says. "I see a lot of kids that they just want to take shortcuts or they don't want to work hard at it and it just doesn't happen overnight. You've really got to – and if you love it, you'll want to do it. But to want to just play and get one beat down and then you want to join a band, then you think you should be on MTV – that's not how it works."

There are examples to follow, Chad says. "There's a lot of great new drummers. I mean, newish for people to know about. Thomas Pridgen is a friend of mine from The Mars Volta. He's fantastic. I really like the way he plays."

Chad also knows how important the early years are for a developing drummer, and credits his older brother Brad for lighting the path. "My brother is two years older than me and certainly when I was growing up he was a huge [influence], just with all the music that he liked. He played guitar. We were in bands together. I started playing when I was seven, when I was really young, so the late ’60s, early ’70s English bands were the ones that [my brother] loved. All those Sabbath, Zeppelin, Cream, The Who, Hendrix came from over there – those kind of bands were the bands that I grew up really admiring, and those drummers. And so my brother, I listened to all his records, so he's a big influence."

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