Choosing Your First Pedal (ft Verta, Ridwan Johari)
Many different factors in choosing your first drum pedals, including the cam, materials, and design features, affect the pricing. Today in this episode with Verta Collective, we invite special guest Ridwan Johari to discuss our own experiences with drum pedals and our advice for students looking to grab their pedals. Special shoutout to City Music, as well for loaning us the Sakae Axelandor single and double pedals!
Parts of Pedals
A seemingly easy mechanism, the drum pedals have many moving parts and thought put into it to achieve maximum efficiency for the genres you play. The first step to understanding the construct of the pedals is to know the different main moving parts.
Pedalboard – the pedalboard is the pedal’s main area in which you step and operate the pedal.
Beater – the beater acts like your drum sticks and hits the drum head upon executing a stroke on the pedal.
Spring – the spring, generally found at the side of the pedal, controls and allows the beater to bounce back after you execute a strike. It also affects the strength needed to depress the pedal to execute a strike.
Driver – the driver is the link between your pedalboard and your beater assembly. Different drivers allow you to have a slightly different response time and feel slightly different when playing on them. We will discuss this deeper later on in the article.
Cam – the cam is part of the beater assembly and is responsible for holding the beater and the driver together. The cam’s design often affects the pedal’s performance as well, as different cam designs can sometimes help generate slightly more power.
Take reference to the picture above and if you have the chance, try to examine a pedal closely to see how the different parts work together. It will also help a lot to know when you need to optimize the pedal for your comfort.
What Makes Pedals Expensive
Now that we have established the main parts found in a pedal, we can start diving deeper into the mechanics of what makes some pedals more expensive than the others. In a more general sense, an expensive pedal is more sturdy and reliable than a cheap pedal; because of the materials used. With the more expensive pedals, you will also find the action smoother and more stable than many cheaper pedals.
Factors that affect pedal pricing
1) Materials and construct: More expensive pedals often use more and better materials; this allows the pedals to withstand long hours of beating without getting destroyed and to allow the pedal to hold its place when being put under pressure.
2) Smoothness: The pedal’s primary function is to allow the drummer to translate and integrate their actions into motion as smoothly and efficiently as possible, to be an extended part of their leg. Keeping this in mind, most of the design’s priorities in pedals to ensure a smooth and reliable movement, as with the price vs. performance.
3) Design Features: Over the years, companies have come up with design features that incredibly convenient for the drummers in their day to day playing, especially for working musicians – who often need to assemble and dismantle their gears for shows and to make adjustments on the fly. Some of these features include quick turning knobs, quick tension release, hoop clamp systems designed for ease of use, or even a collapsible pedal that takes up minimal space in your bag.
It will be a great help to narrow down the features you require and how much you are willing to spend on having these features on your pedals. For example, if you are looking for a home-use-only pedal, features like a quick release or collapsible pedals are probably redundant. If you are required to play hard and fast footwork, you would probably want to invest in a pedal that has a stronger base and a sturdy build.
Types of Drivers
As explained earlier, there is a different kind of drivers available on the market. These drivers affect the pedals’ response, and it is up to your preference what you prefer.
Split into single and double chain drives, chain drivers are the most common drives in the market. Most high-end pedals use double chain drives, which provides more stability to the pedals, while lower-end one uses a single chain drive system. Some drummers, however, do prefer the single chained drives to doubles.
Using a belt instead of a chain, chain drivers’ working mechanism and belt drivers are similar. The only difference is that the belt uses solid materials like kevlar or other synthetic materials to create a belt that acts as the driver. Some drummers reports belt drive to be smoother than chain – but again – we feel that it’s all a matter of preference.
Probably the most significant debate between drummers (especially those who play fast and crazy combinations on their feet), direct drives are supposed to allow a more instantaneous response to the movement of the feet. How they achieve, this is – instead of using a chain or belt- a metal shaft connects the pedalboard to the cam, which allows the movement from the pedalboard to affect the cam directly, with no lapse. However, some users have reported that they are uncomfortable with the instantaneous movement and require time to adjust their techniques to work better with the pedals.
We suggest you spend more time with different kinds of pedals to choose a driver that fits your taste. We also understand that most people do not have the luxury to try out all the different types of gears before making their purchase. In this case, we would always recommend going for a double-chained drive as that is the most commonly used pedal thus far.
Single Vs. Double Pedals
Singles pedals -as the name suggests- only has one single pedal. It is the most common setup and type of pedals that you would see on a drumset, as most music requires only one pedal to play efficiently. However, when we expand into the technicalities of drumming, you will soon find out that there are many things that you could do with your legs if you could work them like your hands. Enter the double pedals; these pedals allow you to play the bass drum with both left and right feet, essentially allowing you to play your bass drum like your hands.
The double pedal works in the same way as your single pedal, with one major exception. To connect both pedals, you need a connecting element in between, called the shaft. This shaft is critical in selecting a pair of double pedals as it would directly affect your slave (left) pedal’s performance.
A few models out there are highly popular; we recommend you go down to your local store to try them out and find out more before committing. Now that you know the pedals’ mechanics, go ahead and research into each pedal and see what you are leaning to!
Type of Driver: Double Chained
Where: City Music
Tama Iron Cobra
Type of Driver: Double Chained
Type of Driver: Double Chained
Where: Singapore Drum Shop
Choosing the right pair of pedals takes tons of research. The first step is always to set aside a reasonable budget and work within your means. Feel free to go to your local drum store and talk to the people there and try out different kinds of pedals before committing to one. You might also want to talk to your instructor if you have any, and they would be able to guide you better. If you want to know more about our (and Ridwan’s) personal recommendations in choosing pedals, watch the video above!