What is a bass drum pedal?

Author: Simon DasGupta.
September 16, 2022

In this article

Whether you call it a bass drum pedal or a kick drum pedal, this mechanical device connects your foot to one of the most exhilarating drums to play - the bass drum!

  • Five things every beginner drummer should know about the bass drum pedal.
  • What's the difference between a single and double bass drum pedal?
  • How do I set up my bass drum pedal?

Despite changes in design, the essential function is the same.

The bass drum pedal has undergone many design changes over the decades, but the essential function has remained the same. Modern engineering and production have made it more efficient, and nowadays, if you have a realistic budget to work with, it's hard to buy a bad pedal.

The manufacturers will boast about speed, power, control, and visual aesthetics. Still, it's important to remember that all of this is lost without learning the essential technique of controlling your bass drum pedal. We cover this point in our free course preview. Before we dive in, don't forget there is a helpful jargon busting article for any terms that may be new to you.

Here are five things every beginner drummer should know about bass drum pedals.

1. What's the difference between a single and double bass drum pedal?

A single bass drum pedal is, as the name would suggest, a single-foot pedal unit with a single beater. A double pedal is a fantastic feat of engineering that allows you to play two foot pedals on one bass drum, thus alleviating the need for a second bass drum. In this case, the pedals are linked with a connecting bar, and both the right and left foot can play the pedals.

Why would you want a double pedal? If you are a fan of heavier music (metal, hard rock, thrash, hardcore), you may have noticed the pounding bass beats often played in lightning-fast succession. You need two bass drums or a double pedal to do this. Since we are no longer in the 1980s and 1990s (light-hearted joke, of course), the latter is preferable and more cost and space-effective. If you aspire to learn the double pedal, it is critical to understand that proficiency on the single pedal is a vital building block.

2. Why is the bass drum beater important?

Bass drum pedals have beaters. In fact, without them, you can't play the drum at all. The long, thin, vertical metal section is known as the beater shaft, and the beater head sits on top.

Beater heads can be round or slightly squared. They can also have a felt side and/or a plastic side. Which side you choose depends on the sound and tone you are trying to achieve. Felt beaters have long been considered the industry standard, but plastic beaters can give some extra "attack" for heavier music.

3. The bass drum drive system can vary.

Drives can be single chain, double chain, strap (also known as a belt), and direct. A direct drive replaces the chain with a cleverly engineered system working with metal connectors. (Search for direct drive bass drum pedals on Google, and you'll see the difference). These drive systems can give you a different feel and response, albeit marginal at best, and not something that should concern a beginner drummer.

4. The bass pedal attaches to the bass drum hoop.

"Thanks, Captain Obvious," I hear you say. Well, this author has often been told by students that their pedal keeps separating from the drum. On further investigation, it is often discovered the pedal has not been fastened to the bass drum hoop (or bass drum post, in the case of electric drums) using the attached clamp.

If you use an acoustic drum set, connect the bass drum pedal to the hoop. Most bass drum hoops have a plastic or rubber attachment to which the pedal will grip. This will provide extra stability and avoid direct metal-to-wood contact that could damage your bass drum hoop.

5. The factory setting is often the best.

For beginner drummers, the factory setting is often the best for bass drum pedals. This means that they are ready to go out-of-the-box (once you have attached the beater), and there is rarely a need to adjust the spring tension or angle of the footplate. Yes, we are curious, and yes, we want to tinker and experiment. But be warned, it can lead to frustration and that constant voice in your head; "Is my pedal set-up correctly?"

Our FREE guide answers many of your questions on beginning drums.

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