If you are in the market for a new electronic drum pedal, there are many things to consider. You will need to factor in several things such as your playing style and the type of electronic drum set you own. In this article we will discuss some of the better pedals available to purchase, and also provide helpful tips and links which will aid you in your search. The main topic of discussion centers around the best electronic bass drum pedals but we will also cover a few hi-hat pedals too.
What to Look For
Depending on your playing style, there are a few factors that will be important to you. Do you play heel-up, heel-down, or a mixture of the two? Do you prefer bass drum towers or like the convenience of the beaterless variety? Many elements go into selecting the right pedal. Maybe you’d like to keep using your current bass drum pedal and just replace the trigger pad. Let’s go over some of the terminology with the products on offer.
Many lower budget and entry-level kits come with the beaterless variety of pedal. There are several advantages to this design. Firstly, it helps keep the manufacturing price down, so you can pick it up for a lot less than their beater bearing counterparts.
You can buy free-floating pedals for either bass drums or hi-hats. They’re both designed in the same way with a long flat footboard. All the triggering is internal, so when you press the pedal with your foot, a signal is sent to the module.
There is also the issue of portability and positioning when considering free-floating pedals. If you are buying for child or simply have trouble positioning hi-hat pedals comfortably, then free-floating could be the way to go. They also take up less space and are extremely portable. It does not take much strength to trigger a free-floating pedal, compared to the pad variety.
Another benefit of free floating pedals is that they tend to produce a lot less room noise than a pad tower. This can be of huge importance if you plan on practicing in an area that is densely populated, such as an apartment block.
One negative against such free-floating pedals is that they are generally not as robust as bass drum towers and hi-hat stands. There can be an issue playing free-floating pedals if you like to play either the hi-hat or the bass drum in a heel-up style. Naturally this style is more energetic and uses a lot more force on the pedals that with heel-down technique. Simply put, a cheaply manufactured free standing pedal will not put up with a lot of heavy heel-up playing, so bear this in mind before you make your purchase. The extra force expended with heel-up playing means that cheaper free-floating pedals can also tend to move about, even when secured to the playing mat. Again, for light players or kids, this won’t be too much of an issue.
Here are some free-floating pedals worth considering:
Yamaha KU100 Review
This is a lightweight free-floating bass drum pedal for use with an electronic drum set. It has been designed to be very silent during playing. The price is on the lower end, so it will appeal to any drummers working with a restrictive budget. Connection is easy through a ¼ inch jack lead and you can secure the pedal to your carpet or mat using the adjustable spikes provided. The (subjective) downside to this pedal is that it feels quite light and might struggle with a lot of heavy heel-up playing.
Roland KT-10 Review
This is the latest free-floating pedal from Roland and it has been updated and redesigned to eliminate many of the issues drummers encounter with these pedals. The KT-10 is a fair bit more expensive than the Yamaha KU100 but it does come with significant improvements. The weight and build is noticeably better and there is a slickly smooth footboard on which to play. The motion of the pedal is extremely impressive and there is a nice spring tension which is closer to a real bass drum pedal. It feels more like you are making contact with an actual drum as opposed to other free-floating pedals out there.
Like the KU100, the Roland KT-10 can be positioned virtually anywhere that suits you. You can even use it as an auxiliary pedal in order to play left-foot clave patterns on a cowbell, for example. This is very beneficial as things can get quite crowded when you start to add more than two pedals to your drum set up. The KT-10 takes up the minimum space possible. Roland claims that this pedal is 75% quieter than a KD-9 kick pad.
There are spikes on the rear of the KT-10 which can be adjusted to grip onto your floor mat. The base of the pedal has quite a bit of friction and stays in play during performances admirably. The shiny smooth footboard is in keeping with the design of many modern bass drum pedals. Having such a low friction playing surface means that many hybrid foot techniques are also playable with the KT-10.
Check out this video for a demonstration:
Yamaha HH65 Review
When it comes to free-floating hi-hat pedals, we’ve chosen to look at the Yamaha HH65. This is very similar in design to the earlier mentioned KU100 bass drum pedal. Like that pedal, the HH65 is very silent to play on and can be picked up new for well under $100. It’s a similar weight and build and functions much like the KU100. This pedal would be ideal for someone looking to make an upgrade to their table-top set of drum pads, such as the Yamaha DD-65.
Such drum pads often come with basic on/off foot pedals and can be quite limiting to play on. The addition of a HH65 here would help the playability. This is an electronic hi-hat pedal for the drummer on a tight budget. If you have any more to spend, it’s worth considering investing in a hi-hat stand setup complete with clutch and pads.
William Ludwig of the infamous Ludwig drum company is credited with producing and selling one of the first fully functioning bass drum pedals.
Bass Drum Pads and Towers
To get a better sense of realism and playability, more advanced electronic drum sets come with bass drum pads. These pads function much in the same way as a conventional drum. You can hook up a bass drum pedal to the pad and play it in the same way. The typical design of a bass drum pad is upright in nature. This allows the striking area to be at the same height as with a normal acoustic bass drum. The upright nature of this design of lends them to be referred to as ‘towers’. There are many different designs of bass drum pad but the main difference is that the player now has a surface to play on. This means there is automatically more potential for bounce control and multiple hits.
Some bass drum pads ship with pedals included – others do not. It really depends on the manufacturer and the price range. Also, not all electronic bass drum pads are compatible with double pedals. If the pad is too small there will not be enough room for two beater heads to strike. Let’s examine some popular bass drum pads and towers in detail.
Yamaha KP65 Review
The KP65 is an upright bass drum tower with a large rubber pad as a playing surface. The tower can accommodate any bass drum pedal, either single or double, and is very easy to set up. The design of the KP65 is very no-frills. It’s plain black in color and very functional to look at. Weight-wise it’s a little on the light side and there is a noticeable bit of movement when playing heavier bass drum strokes.
The rubber pad is large and feels a lot like a typical practice pad. When using with a hard plastic beater, there is quite a bit of slap and a lot of spring. You can reduce the noise and the spring by switching to a felt beater or one that is not so hard.
Price-wise this tower actually works out cheaper than the free-floating Yamaha KU100 discussed above. The reason for this is that you must provide your own bass drum pedal to play with.
Hihat pedals on most electronic drum kits can be reassigned to function as a second bass drum trigger
Roland KD-9 Review
This kick drum tower is the same one that comes with the Roland TD-11KV electronic drum set. It’s a nice pad to play on and gives a pretty natural beater response. This is largely down to the unique cloth-type material used in the manufacture of the pad head. Gone is the traditional rubber pad with this iteration by Roland.
Most rubber pads can tend to give too much spring when played on. This is in contrast with the response of a real acoustic bass drum head. A lot of drummers, especially for rock and pop, like to tune the batter head low so that it provides a nice deep tone. The net result is that these bass drums feel less springy than a tightly tuned drum. With the KD-9, Roland has done an admirable job in producing a more realistic bass drum head. It’s still a way off the more advanced mesh and silicone options that some models offer, but it’s a welcome addition. The KD-9 is more expensive than the more basic Yamaha KP65. In most stores and online it retails for around $200, and that’s without any bass drum pedal.
Here’s a nice overview of the KD-9 in action:
You can alter the settings on most drum modules to cater for your own playing style. If you tend to play hard on the pedals, just go into the settings for each pad and adjust the touch sensitivity accordingly.
Buying an electronic drum pedal throws up a lot of questions to consider. Your playing style is perhaps the most important of all in this respect. If you find that keeping the noise down is of paramount importance then there is an argument to be made for free-floating pedals. These type of pedals work out cheaper and in many cases are more silent. You don’t have the added expense of purchasing a hihat stand or a bass drum pedal. They are a small, portable one-stop-shop. Internal triggering takes care of it all. They’re effectively like a glorified button, but one that is comfortable to be played by foot.
Free-floating is all well and good but what if you are making the transition from an acoustic kit and want the most realistic experience possible. You can get quite a good feel from an electronic drum set when it is equipped with both a hi-hat stand and bass drum tower.
The Roland KT-10 deserves an extra mention here as it plays well and is quite sturdy. You can also use it alongside an existing bass drum tower setup. It’s the perfect addition if you’re looking for another pedal and want to save on space.
When it comes to playability it’s hard to beat a proper bass drum tower. Every drummer knows the importance of balance behind the kit, and balance largely comes from your feet and leg positions. Many drummers find that it can be harder to get immersed in their playing when using free-floating pedals. This may or may not be an issue for you. Either way, make sure you get the right pedals to suit your demands.
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