The drum (and to a lesser the degree hi-hat) pedal is very important yet often neglected. Most drummers work with what came with their sets or simply go out and buy a “brand name” pedal without giving it much thought.
Throughout the 1970s and 80’s a pedal made in France by ASBA Drum company called the “Caroline” was one many drummers and drum store owners used to talk about. It was one of the most expensive you could buy at the time, priced around $100 or more.
A positive action means that the beater makes contact with the head without moving in-front of the pedal itself. This means less work and more torque when making contact with the drum head.
A negative action pedal is one that must past the top of the pedal, go forward and then make contact with the drum head.
The Caroline, and a few other pedals, made contact with the head at or before the 11 o’clock position with your foot still far from the ground. A lot of other pedals had to be in almost the 10 o’clock position with your foot practically on the ground before they made contact. This means all the power is starting to go out of the action of pressing down.
A few drummers we talked with like the gear and chain driven pedals for both the kick and hi-hat. These work like a bicycle, with a big spoke and chain connecting to the pedal, as opposed to a hinged piece and band of leather or metal that pulls on the pedal.
Dallas Taylor, who played on the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album back in the late 1960s was among the first session drummers to use the chain and gear pedals (the commercial versions were from Camco then rights went to Drum Workshop).
Of the pedals we saw the “stock” Ludwig was the worst, with two internal springs, followed by the stock “Slingerland” pedal. On the other hand the high-end Slingerland “Yellow Jacket” was a very nice pedal, as was the high end Tama (pictured right) or Yamaha (pictured left) pedal.
The old stock Slingerland hi-hat pedal used a hexagonal shaft which made placing the top cymbal with the clutch assembly difficult. We quickly replaced that with a standard round shaft.
Premier and Axis have also made some nice pedals on the higher end of the spectrum.
Stock pedals that come with your sets are usually priced between $30 and $70. A far better pedal will cost over $100 and close to $150 or $200.
On drummer we knew replaced his hi-hat clutch key with a lug-nut so he wouldn’t accidentally hit the clutch lock with his stick. This meant, however, that he had to use a drum key to position the height and tighten his hi-hat top, but he found it worth it to use this tedious procedure.
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