Your bass drum pedal is one of the most important pieces of hardware in your drum kit, forming a crucial link between half your limbs and your kick drum rather than simply being something that holds a kit part in place. Just like your drumsticks, the type of pedal, beater and its potential settings are hugely personal, and finding the best bass drum pedal for you can drastically impact the way you play.
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With many options available, from chain, direct or belt-drive, to the cam type that shapes the way the beater moves through its travel, plus footboard length, beater type and more, the features of your pedal will react to your bass drum technique. Chances are, a pedal upgrade will be a fairly long-term investment for you, so making the right choice now is crucial. Here, we take a look at the best bass drum pedals currently on the market.
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Best bass drum pedals: The MusicRadar Choice
For flexible options and a pro-quality combination of speed and power, we'd suggest checking out the Tama Iron Cobra or DW 5000. However, if you're looking for a chain-driven pedal which offers additional speed and a lighter feel, the Tama Speed Cobra is an excellent alternative.
Pearl's Eliminator Redline offers great value with its interchangeable cams, while those wishing to (literally) dip their toe into the direct drive world should check out PDP's Concept series, which offers a lot of spec for the money.
How to buy the best bass drum pedal for you
Single or double bass drum pedal?
When it’s time to buy your first kick pedal, or to upgrade, there are a number of features for you to choose from. The easiest decision to make is whether you’re going to want a single or double pedal. Most of the pedals in our guide are available in both configurations, with double pedal orientations for left-footed players.
Bass drum pedal drive type
With this out of the way, your next choice is the drive type. This part attaches the footplate to the beater cam and therefore has an effect on how energy is transferred when you stomp on the footplate. Drives fall into three main categories: chain, belt or direct-drive. Chains are the most common on modern pedals, often featuring dual-chains for increased durability.
Belt-driven pedals do the same job, and were the standard in early bass drum pedal design, offering less flex and give than a chain for a more consistent motion with less loss of momentum. Older belt designs were more fragile and prone to wear or even snapping, while modern-day equivalents are often made from stiff kevlar, making them literally bulletproof.
Finally, direct drive pedals feature a solid linkage for the most efficient transfer of energy, and in many players’ minds, have a light feel that allows for speedy playing.
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All bass drum pedals use a spring to return the beater to its playing position once it has struck the head. While this isn’t an option in itself, the spring tension on your pedal will effect the feel of the pedal, perhaps more than any other part. A higher spring tension will result in a faster rebound, but comes with the tradeoff of needing more effort to get the pedal moving. So, if you want super-fast rebound, look out for a pedal with the ability to set the spring at a higher tension – some companies offer replacement springs to help you do just this.
Next thing to consider is the cam type. These come in two main forms – linear or offset. Linear cams are perfectly round, and will throw the pedal at an even and consistent rate throughout the travel of your bass drum stroke. Meanwhile an offset cam will pull the beater towards the head in the final swing of its travel. This means you’ll get the pedal moving with a lighter feel, without losing a weighty attack as the beater rotates towards the head: an additional power boost for no extra effort. Some pedals come with interchangeable or reversible cams to offer greater flexibility.
Footboards and beaters
Finally, you’ll be met with different footboard lengths and beater options. Pedals that utilise a longer footboard are more comfortable for players with bigger feet, and while it’s possible to employ specialist swivel and heel-toe techniques on any pedal, many players prefer the extra playing surface and potential leverage that a longboard provides.
Your beater, meanwhile, is the easiest replacement to make on your pedal, and comes in a range of materials (felt, plastic, wood etc) and profiles (round, flat, ridged). Most modern bass drum pedals include a multi-surface beater – felt on one side for a softer attack, plastic on the other for added ‘click’ on your notes.
Others go as far as offering four different sides to give you options for material and profile, as well as moveable weights to vary the feel of the beater throw. The shape, weight and material of the beater will have an impact on how your pedal feels, but we would suggest focussing on the other main areas first, as beaters can be quickly swapped for a different style if you need to.
The best bass drum pedals you can buy right now
Since its introduction almost 30 years ago, the Iron Cobra pedal has continued to evolve and improve to meet not only the demands of the modern drummer, but also its clear mission statement: "rock solid strength and versatility".
The latest incarnation features a wider footplate and frame to eliminate side-to-side motion, updated lightweight cams (inherited from the Speed Cobra) in both Rolling Glide (linear) or Power Glide (offset) shapes. A smaller Power-Strike beater head design uses dense foam in place of felt for maximum punch. In addition, the Iron Cobra is fitted with Tama’s Cobra Coil to help make the pedal feel lighter, even at higher spring tension settings, and the whole pedal offers plenty of adjustment including beater angle, beater face angle, spring tension, footplate height.
As always, the Iron Cobra 900 series comes in a hardshell plastic case for safe transportation.
Read the full Tama Iron Cobra 900 review
Like the Tama Iron Cobra, the DW 5000 inherits DNA from the Camco designs of the 60s – both companies have owned the brand name at different times.
Drum Workshop’s current 5000 series pedals are available in a range of options: Accelerator or Turbo Drive, heel-less (5000ADH), extended footboard (5000 XF) and single-chain (5000 AH4). Here we’re looking at the more regular AD4/TD4, which both feature a dual-chain design with either linear or offset cams.
The 5000 is very much a standard in the bass drum pedal market, offering premium power, speed and adjustment. The sturdy baseplate features non-slip rubber to hold the pedal in place, and features such as the Dual-Bearing Spring Rocker, Tri-pivot clamp and single-post design (for easy slave pedal placement) all help the 5000 to fit into your setup and offer all the customisation you could need. It’s a monster of a pedal that should last you years.
Read the full DW 5000 bass drum pedal review
Trick’s Pro 1-V is a sleek-looking, modern direct-drive pedal built from machined aluminium. A compression spring sits at the heart of the pedal’s feel, and all moving points incorporate ball bearings to maximise the smooth action of the pedal. The use of compression springs has also allowed Trick to build in a design feature that allows for extremely quick and easy tension adjustment. Grab hold of the knurled knobs and give them a turn in order to firm up or slacken pedal feel. It´s that simple.
Directness of response and consistency of the pedal feel is remarkable and the Pro 1-Vs feel as though they’re attached to your brain rather than your feet.
The refreshingly easy manner in which you can set up and alter the feel of the Pro 1-Vs makes them of real interest to anyone with a pocket to cope with the prices. Yes, these are expensive propositions, but cutting-edge design and engineering never came cheap.
Read the full Trick Pro 1-V review
While Yamaha has always produced some of the best hardware across its range of kits, its bass drum pedals have always remained on the safe side, best described as ’solid’ rather than mind-blowing. But the FP9 series changes that, with some high-end features and looks to match.
Available in chain or direct drive versions (priced the same). There’s a flexible level of adjustment available, with independent control of the footboard and beater, plus a sliding control over the cam's response between linear and offset. The springs feature a self-locking system to keep everything secure, and the FP9 comes with beater weights in aluminium and brass for further experimentation.
The whole thing has a cutting-edge, space-age look to it, and we think that whichever flavour of FP9 you choose, it will certainly give some more established pedals a run for their money.
The Tama Speed Cobra shares many features with the Iron Cobra, such as the Speedo ring, Vari-Pitch beater head, Oiless bearing hinge, Cobra Coil and more. However, the Speed Cobra is designed to feel lighter than the Iron Cobra, with the whole lot geared-up to respond like a Cobra after a couple of shots of espresso.
The footboard is longer, and the pedal is available with Tama’s Rolling Glide cam only. The idea being that the linear response helps maintain higher playing speeds without any additional resistance from the pedal. Unsurprisingly, the Speed Cobra has a lighter feel to the Iron Cobra which is especially useful for double-kick playing.
This pedal is a joy to play and lives up to its name with no difficulty. If you’re after a pedal that’s quick, but aren’t yet ready to give up the weighty feel of a chain-driven pedal we think it could be a revelation. For review we have a double Speed Cobra. Without a shadow of a doubt, this pedal is impossible to fault. Simply put, it just does its job, as it’s told.
Read the full Tama Speed Cobra review
DW’s flagship 9000 hardware line gives us the 9000 series pedal – which sees it steal some thunder from the faithful 5000. A floating rotor, repositioned spring and near endless adjustment of the drive cam between Accelerator and Turbo settings means that you can really dial in the 9000’s feel.
And if that weren't enough, DW offer a Pedal Customising Kit with footboard weights and stacker heels with which to adjust the response of the 9000s even further. A nine-position Elevator Heel Plate arrangement is arrived at through the use of three different-sized heel sections that can be used in conjunction with one another – the higher the stack, the greater the control.
So, how do they handle? Well, quite frankly, they're a joy to use. These pedals offer wonderful responsiveness and a grace and elegance that is pretty much unbeatable. Both pedals are rock solid in operation and give the impression that they are working with you.
Read the full DW 9000 series pedal review
Pearl's famous Eliminator pedals have become a popular choice among professional and amateur drummers alike, and this popularity can be put down to their trusted reliability and the sheer scope of customisation available. The Eliminator Redline takes this to the next level. Original Eliminator features include the patented interchangeable cams (the pedal comes with four but two others are available) and the 'Powershifter' function which allows the entire footboard to be moved up and down on the base. Shiny ‘Redline’ additions include Control Core Quad beaters (two felt sides and two plastic), Click-Lock Spring Adjustment and NiNja precision axle bearings.
The latter are established skateboard bearings, as used in Pearl's flagship Demon Drive pedals. According to Pearl, this new functionality allows the Redline to perform 85 percent better than its predecessor in velocity testing.
The Redline is available as a chain or belt-drive option, both as single or double versions. Despite the almost infinite scope for customisation, the Redline performs well straight out of the box, with the interchangeable cams really making a difference to the pedal’s feel. It can take a long while to work your way through each variation and choose a preference, but for those willing to tinker away the hours finding their perfect set-up, there really is a pedal for everyone in the Pearl Eliminator Redline.
Read the full Pearl Eliminator Redline review
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Mapex takes a big step forward with the Falcon single (PF1000) and double (PF1000TW) bass drum pedals. It comes with two cams – linear and offset – which can be swapped in a couple of minutes, and overall the pedal feels light to play (although fairly heavy, physically).
For heels-up players, the pedals are ideal. The slim footboard is great for pulling your toes half-way down the board and stomping. It almost wills you to play faster. While for heels-down we found if we shoved our toes up under the stop our average size 9s sat perfectly on the heel plate for comfort. The Falcon has plenty of adjustment – including spring tension, beater angle, footboard angle – and manages to feel effortless, smooth and silent of action.
Read the full Mapex Falcon review
Sonor’s Perfect Balance Standard pedal takes the blueprint of Jojo Mayer’s signature pedal and simplifies it further. It’s a belt-driven pedal, available as a single pedal only and Sonor has done away with the folding mechanism of Jojo’s signature pedal. Other changes include an un-etched heel plate, and an un-polished footboard.
What remains is the same drive design, which aims to deliver the, ahem… perfect balance between the beater’s forward motion and rebound. The Perfect Balance mirrors your foot movement for a silky-smooth action that’s a great option for those looking for a pedal without too many bells and whistles, while maintaining high-level performance.
Reissued for 2020, the Ludwig Speed King offers modern enhancements to one of the most iconic bass drum pedals of all time. While the retro looks of the original remain, Ludwig has made a few upgrades to the dainty – by today’s standards – Speed King with improved cam and heel-plate bearings and a beefed-up metal linkage that is better suited to the rigours of heavier playing.
The Speed King’s spring is housed within the metal framework, which both helps to reduce noise while playing, and protects the spring from collecting debris. Adjustment is limited to spring tension and beater height only, so tweakers will need to look elsewhere. But for lightweight, quick pedal action and a vintage feel, the Speed King set the bar.
The Concept Series pedals are available as chain-drive and direct-drive models, although here we’re focusing on the latter. As well as the striking cobalt blue drive linkage, features include XF extended brushed aluminium foot boards, offset toe clamps, retractable spurs, DW air beaters, DW spring rocker adjustment, lightweight black aluminium baseplates and needle bearing hinges.
As you may have noticed, several of these features have been inherited from the pro-level DW models such as the 5000 and 9000. Which, considering these have become commonly recognised as the industry standard for bass pedals, should not be under-appreciated.
The direct drive Concept pedals look great and are comfortable to play. Probably best suited to the mid-level player looking for an upgrade, or as a great first-foray into the world of direct drive pedals.
Read the full PDP Concept bass drum pedals review