• Drum Set and Percussion Setups from Musical Theatre and More

Jacob Levitin - Circus Smirkus

Jacob’s setup from Circus Smirkus’ Big Top Tour called Anchors Away for Atlantis in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.


  • Roland TD-10 Expanded Module with 4x PD-7, 1x PD-8, 1x KD-8, and 2 CY-8's triggering Addictive Drums through Ableton Live
  • Korg Wavedrum WD-X as my main snare
  • Roland SPD-SX for foley, extra percussion, etc.
  • Meinl Cajon

I’m using a hybrid DW/Pearl kit in Addictive Drums, with Sabian HHX crashes on the CY-8's

Acoustic Cymbals:
  • 8" Zildjian A Splash
  • 13" Zildjian New Beat Hi-Hats
  • 17" Sabian HHX Effeks crash
  • 18" Sabian AAX Freq Crash
  • 19" Dream Bliss Ride

  • LP Twist Shaker (Red)
  • LP Red Jam Block & Cowbell
  • Slide Whistle
  • Tycoon Chimes
  • Treeworks Triangle on Miller Machine

"The whole setup is supported on a Pearl Icon rack, with a mix of DW, Mapex and Tama pedals and hardware.

The band for the show is the composer/musical director and me, and while we do have sequenced elements, everything is live and flexible and no two shows are the same musically. Between the sound designer and us, we are responsible for accenting, anticipating, and covering anything that may happen in the ring, as well as providing sound effects and incidental music for the clown acts.

The Miller Machine is invaluable for this purpose, as I need instant access to the triangle as an accent in the middle of playing act music, without losing the groove.

The decision to use electronics was largely because of the acoustics (or lack of) in the 750 seat circus tent. I opted to use the acoustic hi hat and ride, as I could not get the dynamic range I needed from trigger cymbals, but the dream bliss is very good at having a presence at a low volume, as are the new beats. The Roland cymbals are used for quick crashes and accents, while the Sabian crashes are used mainly for swells, rolls, and for a number where I play with brushes. Our amazing sound designer/engineer put together a very seamless blend between the acoustic hi hat, ride and the triggered drums and percussion, and this is a very fun and complex setup to play 8 to 10 shows a week on. The best part is that setup and teardown is a snap, when it's time to move to the next city. I also mounted a 17” ELO Touch screen to the rack as a way to control Ableton and turn on and off different channels without having to reach for a keyboard.”

And check out Jacob’s Circus Smirkus Drum Cam Video of him playing the show.