Re: Mike Portnoy
People keep bringing up Mike's kit and I have to say something about it. Now, I love Mike but his kit, (The Siamese Monster) is a bit excessive. The only reason he has a kit that large is because he has the means acquire one.
Mike's best work (IMHO) is the work he did on Transatlantic. For the Transatlantic kit, he used a smaller (well, smaller for him) 8 piece kit and half the symbols of his current kit. I always find it fascinating to listen to amazing drummers who are used to large drum kits, get behind say a 4 piece or a 3 piece kit. I feel it really hones great creative thinking and improv and you learn to approach your playing from a whole different perspective.
This also correlates over to bass playing. I play a custom 6 string, but at the same time I have an old Sears Steinberger rip off that I only have 2 strings on (tuned E & G). You'd be amazed at how well you can play when you have less.
So for those of you with large drum kits, try taking a couple pieces off and playing. If you have a 5, take it to 3. Leave the snare, one rack tom, and bass drum. Sit down and play for an hour or two, you might scare yourself and actually like it.