Although this may seem a bit old school but in many ways it's beneficial. For the most part there are few things I can't play on a small basic four piece drum set that I can play on a large complex and elaborate kit, or at least a scaled down version of the same drum part. Of coarse the logistics of this of this philosophy are limited, you can't play the flight of the bumble bee on a tuba, or can you?
I have seen drummers with complicated drum set that spun on risers, rows and rows of toms that some poor drum tech spent all day setting up so this guy could come out and play eighth notes on. Then on the other hand I have seen drummer with little tiny four piece kits totally blow me away. I recall seeing a drummer playing for a blues band in New York, (I wish I could recall his name) play with nothing more than a bass drum, a snare and a high hat. This guy was just grooving! I have too admit; I was a bit taken back. How full of a sound he was getting, his bass drum /snare combinations were funky and smart. No big drum fills needed. I would feel naked behind a drum set with NO toms! Regardless it was impressive. Then on the other side of the coin, to watch Neil Peart, or Terry Bozzio, or Mike Portnoy play giant drum kits is amazing also.
This is Terry Bozzio's Chromatically tuned drum set...and diatonic.
Point being, you can do a lot with a little, or a little with a lot, or vice versa. I suppose some people are just impressed with a large complicated drum set…..wow he was good, did you see all the drums he was playing! Something I could hear my pot smoking non-musician friend would say. Explaining to him that all that the drummer was playing was quarter notes is how I got the reputation as a music snob. Maybe if I walk around with a space suite on people will think I'm an astronaut.
Drummers are lazy; well I am a drummer who is lazy. All of my drums and cymbals are as close as they can be so I can get to them. If I have to reach out for it, I'll get tiered playing it. Thinking of seeing Steve Jordan playing on the early Late Night with David Letterman playing with his cymbals way up high, thinking that can't be right. Not to put Steve Down, he's a fantastic drummer; he just must have really long arms. Drum "set up" is personal. Everyone is different. It all matters on what your doing and what you like. I have brought small kits to gigs just because I didn't feel like carrying a lot of crap to and from my car. I like the fact that I can change my set up around, and go back to my old regular five piece set up and feel right at home. But that's why I'm a drummer and not a tuba player
Me playing my custom maple Spaun drum set during a Swan Song concert, a tribute to Led Zeppelin.