When a drummer is performing, they are mixing precision, speed, and an all-out assault on the drums to produce the beat of the music. There are so many parts that go into their performance that certain things just become an extension of their body. The drum pedal is a great example of that type of equipment that can also enhance your performance.
This is a piece of equipment that you definitely want to make sure is a high-quality piece, especially when you perform live. There are tons of brands and models to choose from, so it is important to know what preferences you have in a drum pedal, and what features to look for when you are out shopping.
Top Pick: DW MDD (Machined Direct Drive)Buy from Amazon
Synonymous with high-end pedals and hardware, DW more than delivers here with the MDD as well. It has an amazingly smooth and natural action. While aggressive it is also incredibly quiet.
Here are a few tips in what to look for in a quality drum pedal, and a few reviews to help you start shopping (including more on our top pick below).
After playing for the past thirty years, I have tried a number of different types of pedals and brands. Depending on your preferences and the type of music you play, some pedals are better than others. Finding a quality pedal that can take on a huge amount of wear and tear is a vital part of your search. Keep in mind it is always a good idea to try out a few different pedals before making a final decision.
Types of Pedals
1- Single Pedals
This style has one beater and one footboard. It is the most basic drum pedal option, and it is also a popular choice among drummers. All musical styles feature the single pedal, as it allows the drummer to play with just one foot.
2- Double Pedals
These pedals are found in different styles. The classic style has two bass drums that give you a dual sound. New models give the drummer a double beater on the same drum, which removes the need for having two different bass drums. The newest feature has one footboard and two beaters that each hit the head of the drum with each push of the pedal. Basically giving you two beats for each time your foot presses the pedal.
There are several different parts of a drum pedal that need to work well together, so that all the power that drummers are providing with their foot is transferred to the bass drum head.
Single Chain – a single chain is often seen on inexpensive drum pedals, and its job is to move the beater.
Double Chain – if you find a pedal with a double chain, it will be a more expensive model than one with a single chain. The second chain will give your pedal more control and smoother movement.
Band – this is a flexible material that is made from nylon, polyethylene covered fabric, or another durable material, and it connects the pedal sections to each other.
Shaft – this is attached to the pedal and lets the mechanism give quick action to the drummer. It is made of a solid construction that guarantees a powerful attack, and it doesn’t let the pedal become hard to press or sluggish.
Beaters – this is what strikes the head of the drum. Beaters come in different styles that each give a different feel and volume. Brands will design their pedals to allow the beaters to be replaced when the drummer would like a new sound or style, so they are simple to switch out. Options for beaters include wood or plastic.
Footplate – this is the section that gets pressed with the drummer’s foot. The footplate is mounted to the hinge which is the base of the pedal. When the plate is pressed, the device sends out the action through the tension unit.
Tension Plate – this is found on some drum pedals, and it is an adjustable spring set that is found between the footplate and the drive train. The tension plate calculates the resistance of the pedal against the drummer, and then determines the level of force the pedal has against the head of the drum.
Drive Train – this gives the power to the beater and the footplate. You can choose pedals with three different options, for example, the chain setup gives the unit’s action by pulling a gear that is connected to the beater. When the drummer presses on the footplate, the chain will pull and shift the beater. A second option is a strap that is made from durable cloth or nylon that pulls on the beater to active the action of the drum. The final option is a dense metal piece on a solid shaft that attaches the footplate and the beater.
Double Pedal Bar – this includes two beaters that are both placed over the right drum pedal. When a double pedal is created, it is made with a comfortable distance between your feet, and it includes a rod that attaches the two pedals together. This rod is an extension of the drive train, and it allows the left drum pedal to move the beater that is joined to the right pedal.
Drum Pedal Accessories
Storage Bags – these are a great feature when you are playing out and you need to transport your pedal. Some bags even come with extra pockets to store tools, beaters, and spare parts.
Lubricants – this helps the pedal work smoothly, protects the bearings on the pedal, and removes squeaks. It is a perfect accessory for hi-hat drum pedals and for the bass drum pedal.
Tool Kit – it is always important to have a tool kit handy to adjust tension and performance levels. Kits usually include a hex key, a drum key, and a Phillips head screwdriver.
Conversion Kit – this type of kit is handy if you want to create your own double pedal system.
After hours of testing and research, here's the final competition.
|Has a conventional design with two upright posts|
|Great for several different styles of playing|
|Perfect for the floating beater style of playing|
|The zero latency ‘Z-link’ is made of aluminum|
|Good quality, simple design|
|Uses a low-mass cobalt blue piece giving it a striking appearance against the polished chrome|
|The long footboard gives you more power|
|Has a fully adjustable cam for easy customization to your preferences|
|Great for recording session, professional studio work|
Our Top Recommendation: DW MFG MDD PedalView on Musician's Friend View on Amazon
The DW MFG MDD (Machined Direct Drive) Pedal is made by the DW company that is synonymous with high-end pedals and hardware. The MDD pedal was first launched in 2014, and it is available in either the single double pedal model. It does not follow DW’s normal pedal design, it is more sleek and streamlined.
It is the product of a three-year design plan with an aluminum construction for the most part, and machined solid block parts for other areas like the direct drive cam. It has a conventional design with two upright posts that offer clean lines and a cigar-shaped aperture on the polished outer face.
The solid footboard is made of aluminum that has been anodized in gun metal gray and then polished. The footboard is connected to the cam through a direct drive assembly of pivots and links that make what is really a complex system look very straightforward and logical.
Further adjustments are available through fine-tuning the four brass weights that can be found in the back of the beater head. The beater head is also a new design that has three face options to choose from. Having studied the feel of chain drive players, DW achieved the same feel in the DD Pedal to cater to chain drive players.
It has an amazingly smooth and natural action that makes the beater glide against the head. It is easy to reconfigure the other end of the scale by twisting a few bolts. You will find an aggressive speed-driven machine that is well-suited for a bombardment of explosive beats. It is also an incredibly quiet pedal, virtually silent. Both sides are balanced well, you literally cannot tell them apart. This is the most expensive pedal on our list.
Current Amazon.com price:
- Versatile and highly playable
- Easy to adjust
- Really well built, solid pedal
- It is on the expensive side
Runner Up: Gibraltar G-Class PedalView on Musician's Friend View on Amazon
The Gibraltar G-Class Pedal is a stunning piece of equipment that is extremely eye catching. The sophisticated design with its arches and curves are a welcome addition among the more common military-like hard angles of its competitors. The post is fastened to a baseplate made of cast aluminum and a steel alloy that houses the innovative Helix mounting system.
This is an alternative to the usual wingnut operated hoop clamp. The Helix system centers around a ratcheting mechanism that you are able to tighten in one quick motion. Within the post, you will find the spring which adds to the uncluttered, sleek design of the pedal. Adjustments are made with the knurled wheel that is located within the post, just under the second slot that contains a gauge.
It is also easy to make fine adjustments on the Gibraltar G-Class with the clamp that is found at the front of the pedal. Attaching the pedal to the bass drum is done simply by sliding the Helix level to the five o’clock position, and it will quickly tighten the pedal clamp into place. There should be no concerns about whether it will stay there, as it will continue to solidly hold, even when you are out at a gig. To remove the pedal, simply flick the release button and move the level back to the three o’clock position.
Adjusting the beater and the footboard slopes can be done independently of each other, and the beater itself is able to conceal up to three weights in stowage slots. These are cylindrical weights that slot into the underside of the head of the beater. They do not require locking down as they are magnetic.
The two position cam, or the G-Drive, allows additional adjustments by simply loosening a single tension bolt, and then adjusting the cam along the block while ensuring that the double chains stay properly aligned when you retighten the bolt.
The Gibraltar G-Class is great for several different styles of playing, and if you move the cam to the front of the block, you will definitely get a more aggressive feel. This pedal has an insane amount of adjustment options, which will only help to improve your playing and your confidence level. This is a solid and reliable drum pedal that is extremely affordable.
Current Amazon.com price:
- Looks great and performs brilliantly
- Great value
- Easy to adjust
- Hits too high on some drum sets, make sure it hits the center of your bass drum before you buy it
Other Drum Pedals to ConsiderView on Musician's Friend View on Amazon
The Speed Cobra is one of the newest pedals in Tama’s line. It was created to focus on power and speed, and it has a longer footboard and a lighter tension spring that most of its competitors, The footboard is independently adjustable, and the lightweight linear cam and beater are really able to throw distance.
The Speed Cobra offers Tama’s revolutionary “cobra coil” that has a spring under the pedal board that returns the pedal to its playing position reducing lag time. There is a single and double bass version of the Speed Cobra, plus it comes with a hard shell case, so you can easily transport it to gigs.
The long footboard gives you more power, and it allows you to easily perform slide and heel toe techniques. The entire pedal is adjustable, and you can easily customize it to your preferences. You can use this incredibly sensitive pedal with all music styles, as it is quick, light, and full of power. It’s also priced a reasonable, so it is more than affordable.
Current Amazon.com price:
- Smooth, fast, and the new rubber beater sounds fantastic
- Comfortable, great build quality
- Sleek and beautiful to look at
- Not easy to get adjustment just right
Once again, DW is appearing on our list with the DW 9000 Bass Drum Pedal. This is one of their highest quality pedals, and it one of the smoothest pedals you will ever play. You can play fast doubles easily, and it comes with a strap so you can easily switch between strap driven and chain driven.
Unlike other DW models, the 9000 has a lightweight beater that is very responsive to the slightest touch of your foot giving you consistently loud strokes. Is has a fully adjustable cam for easy customization to your preferences, and it is one of the quietest pedals you can find when you are in the studio. One downside, however, is it is difficult to adjust the tension spring on this pedal since the main arm blocks the tension spring, so it is difficult to get to the spring’s tension screw.
It is a little pricier, but it is well worth the money for such a smooth pedal.
Current Amazon.com price:
- Easy to use, great quality
- Solid and consistent
- Wickedly smooth
- Not very functional
The Iron Cobra line from Tama has long been the gold standard of bass drum pedals. The Tama Power Glide Pedal from this line is a very well-balanced pedal that has a uniquely shaped beater that is actually smaller and lighter than its competitors. It includes the Tama “Cobra Coil” which is a spring set found beneath the footboard that helps the response time and moves the pedal back to the foot. This allows you to play consistently loud strokes with only fast and simple adjustments for any variable from the beater position to the spring tension.
The Power Glide is part of the 900 series, and it is one of the 3 Iron Cobra Pedals. Both the Power Glide and the Rolling Glide are chain driven, and the third pedal, the Flexi-Glide, comes with a strap. It has a cam shaped to give it more power, and it easily produces consistently powerful strokes. It is great for recording session, professional studio work.
Current Amazon.com price:
- Smooth and fluid
- Fantastic action and quick response
- Good to use in the studio and live
- Beater a little too light