Meet The Aviator: Nigel Olsson’s New DW Kit

Don’t expect to see this week’s Drum Kit Of The Week at your local drum shop anytime soon. As much an art object as a musical instrument, “The Aviator,” as its creators at DW have dubbed it, was built for Nigel Olsson to play on Elton John’s ongoing Billion Dollar Piano tour.

But before a single shell had been bent, Olsson consulted with DW mastermind John Good to devise a strategy for the sound and visual approach of the classic rocker’s new kit. With the exception of an Edge snare drum (which features a hybrid shell that mixes metal alloy with a maple center), they determined that the drums would be constructed around maple SSC shells.

They then rolled up their shirtsleeves and began brainstorming about the drum set’s unique design. “Nigel told me he wanted the kit to look like an old wartime Spitfire airplane,” Good tells us. “He was at first under the impression we would have to wrap the kit in stainless steel to get this look – you can imagine how relieved he was when I told him we have a paint process that looks just like stainless steel. We then sat down with our resident artist Louie Garcia. If you can imagine it, Louie can paint it – simply put, he’s an amazing guy.”

Excited by their plans, Olsson went home and began emailing a barrage of airplane photos to Good. “Nigel had just purchased some furniture that was actually made from parts of old Spitfire planes,” Good continues. “This helped the conceptual part of the process quite a bit. From every detail of the rivets that hold a plane together to the patchwork panels of stainless steel, Louie nailed it right down to the lettering involved to make it look like an aircraft. We put satin chrome hardware on it to enhance the whole plane vibe and I feel it really worked. Nigel was really happy with the end result, front of house engineer was happy, even Elton’s happy with the kit.”

We’re happy about it too – and we’re not sure why! Here are the specs for the kit:

Mounted Toms: 8" x 7", 10" x 8", 12" x 9", and 13" x 10"
Floor toms: 14" x 12" and 16" x 14"
Bass Drums: 23" x 23" with 23" x 8" Woofers
Snare Drums: 13" x 6" Edge, 14" x 5" SSC, and 14" x 6.5" SSC