As Elton John’s percussionist, John Mahon has to be ready for anything on any given night. Elton’s book of hits is enormous and there are hundreds of deep album cuts to choose from as well. Mahon’s job is not only to play the traditional hand drum instruments but also provide the extra parts to songs, the ones that make the tracks faithful to the recording and kick the show up a notch. That could be conga on one song, bongos on another, tympani, timbales, drums, shakers, tambourines, and samples he triggers to sweeten and deepen drum sounds.

John was originally featured in our March 2018 issue, and now we present an exclusive guided tour of his enormous percussion setup. Mahon has also detailed in the list below what he packs in his traveling cases. (Tip of the hat to drum tech Chris Sobchack to the list and help with the video).

John Mahon Large Drums
Latin Percussion Classic Top Tuning Vintage Sunburst/Black Conga

Latin Percussion Classic Top Tuning Vintage Sunburst/Black Tumbadora

Latin Percussion Vintage Sunburst Generation II Bong’s

28″ x 8″ Yamaha Marching bass drum

13″ x 5″ Yamaha Super Sensitive Maple Snare Drum (Low tuning)

14″ Latin Percussion Prestige Series Brass Timbale

LP Pro Maracas

Hand/Mounted Small Percussion

  • Latin Percussion CP sleigh Bells (25 Bells)
  • Latin Percussion Rock Shaker (Gold)
  • Latin Percussion Pro Maracas
  • Latin Percussion Live “One Shot” shaker
  • Latin Percussion Cricket
  • Meinl Waterfall
  • Hanging Misc. small middle eastern bells
  • Latin Percussion Cluster Chimes
  • Latin Percussion Mounted Cyclops Tambourine White with Steel Jingles
  • Latin Percussion Mounted Cyclops Tambourine Black with Brass Jingles
  • Latin Percussion 2-Glow in the Dark Hand held Cyclops Tambourines with Steel Jingles
  • Latin Percussion Pro Triangle 5″
  • Latin Percussion Jam Block Low (Purple)
  • Latin Percussion Jam Block Med (Red)
  • Latin Percussion Pin Chimes
  • Latin Percussion Rock Ridge Cowbell
  • Latin Percussion Black Beauty Cowbell
  • Zildjian 6″ Zil-Bel Small
  • Latin Percussion Concert Series Bar Chimes with Custom Mute (36 bars)
  • Latin Percussion Pro Triangle 6″
  • Suspended Finger Cymbals
  • Latin Percussion Multi Güiro 2
  • Latin Percussion Fiber Maracas
  • Latin Percussion Traditional Cabasa
  • Latin Percussion One Handed Triangle
  • Zildjian Finger Cymbals (Thin)
  • Latin Percussion Mini Shaker
  • Latin Percussion Live “One Shot” Shaker
  • Latin Percussion Deluxe Vibra-Slap II
  • Latin Percussion King Klave
  • Latin Percussion Ching Chock
  • Latin Percussion Jim Greiner Shekere
  • Black Swamp Percussion Custom Headed Tambourine


  • 20″ Zildjian Wind Gong
  • Zildjian 9.5″ Zil-Bel Large with an 8″ Zildjian Trashformer stacked directly on top.
  • Zildjian 15″ K Custom Hybrid Trash Crash
  • Zildjian 18″ A Custom Crash
  • Zildjian 12″ Special Recording Hi-Hats
  • Zildjian 18″ K Custom Hybrid Crash
  • Zildjian 9″ Oriental Trash Splash
  • Zildjian 6″ A Custom Splash
  • Zildjian 18″ Oriental China/Trash

All Remo drumheads. Fiberskyn 3 Conga and Bongo heads, Smooth White Ambassador bass drum batter head with custom logo resonant head, coated Ambassador snare top with Ambassador weight snare bottom, and Smooth White Ambassador timbale head.

All Yamaha HexRack II, 800, & 900 Series Hardware including Cable Hi-Hat, and FP9500D Kick Drum Pedal.

Yamaha DTX 900 Electronic Drum System, 5 Yamaha XP 100T 10″ tom pads, 1 Yamaha XP80 trigger pad, Yamaha Motif XS rack, Alternate Mode MalletKAT Express, D-Drum bass drum trigger.

Shure SM56 mics for congas and bongos, Shure AKG 460 condensers for the hi-Hat/tambourine, & AKG 414’s for chimes and large shaker overhead, Audio Technica 6100 for vocal microphone.

Sticks And Mallets
Mahon plays Vic Firth Custom Logo CT4 mallets, Custom SAA2 Logo timbale sticks, Steve Gadd wire brushes, Rute 505, Rute Original bundle sticks, Kenny Aronoff drumsticks, and Ralph Hardimon “Chop-Out” practice sticks.


John Mahon: Elton John’s Colorist