How to Adjust Bass Drum Pedals

By Simon Foden

The bass drum pedal acts as an integral part of a drummer’s set up. The drummer uses the bass drum pedal to strike the bass drum, the biggest drum in the kit. The set up of the bass drum pedal influences the drummer’s style and sound. The beater in particular will influence the resonance of the bass drum. The pedal has three main parts: the foot plate, the beater arm and the beater head. The beater arm is connected to the foot plate by a chain.

Set the drum throne height so that your thighs sit at right angles to your shins when relaxed. Do this by spinning the seat. With the throne at the correct height, your pedal adjustments will be more accurate.

Replace the beater head if necessary. The weight and texture of the beater head influences the sound. A lightweight, traditional beater--similar to those used for military bass drums--creates a dampened sound. A heavier wooden or plastic gives more presence and dynamic range to the bass drum sound. To replace the beater head, unscrew the thin end of the beater from the clamp just above the foot plate. Insert the new beater and tighten the clamp.

Adjust the motion range of the beater. Naturally the beater can only move forward as far as the bass drum. The distance the beater moves backwards after striking the drum varies and is a matter of preference. The further back the beater rocks, the more potential power a drummer can put in to a beat. However a beater that rocks back too far can potentially hit the drummer’s shin. It is also slightly more difficult to keep time accurately if the beater rocks back excessively. Set the beater’s motion range to suit your playing style by adjusting the angle it sits at naturally. It will fall back to this position when you take your foot off the pedal. Loosen the clamp that attaches the rocker arm to the frame of the pedal and tighten it when the beater falls to the desired angle.

Adjust the pedal tension. A spring connects the pedal to the beater, with a finger screw on each side. Turning the screw will increase or relax the tension of the spring, which adjusts the tension of the pedal. The pedal tension dictates how much foot pressure you need to propel the beater towards the drum. If you want to limit the amount of power in your kicks, set the tension higher. If you want to hit hard with less effort, set it loose.

Mount the pedal on a piece of carpet. Most drummers place their entire kit on a rug to prevent the bass drum from slipping around. You can slightly adjust the overall angle of the pedal by slotting another piece of carpet underneath the pedal. This is also a matter of preference.

Tip

Improve a dull sounding bass drum by taping a coin to the drum skin in the position where the beater lands.

Warning

Warm up your muscles before prolonged drumming sessions and wear ear protection.

About the Author

Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.