Kick/Bass drum pedals

Setting up

Can anyone offer me some advice on setting up the kick/bass drum pedal that came with my Traps E400 kit.

Remember, I’m not a drummer - just someone who’s getting started.

According to the blurb, I think it’s a Big Dog Pedal. There are two adjustments on the pedal - beater height and pedal spring tension. I guess the batter head tension may come into this somehow.

Perhaps this is a moot question, but are there some basic guidelines to setting up the pedal?

I’ve tried various settings (mostly stabbing in the dark) and still can’t find something that works. In particular the pedal seems to “stall” when the back swing coincides with my next beat. Setting or bad technique? I would have guessed that a shorter beater would help, but the excess length of the beater stalk then fouls on the batter head. (Should I cut it off?). From what I read I think I lean towards a “heel up” approach.

Any suggestions, comments, let-downs, appreciated.

Thanks folks.


It’s hard to say what the problem might be. It could that the spring to too loose, or it could be to tight. There’s a spot it feels good and either way is probably funky. A shorter beater is faster. I cut mine off a few inches, so yes, some drummer do this, but probably not many. I’m an oddball in that department. Of course, once it cut it off you can’t put it back. With the “typical” beater length, I adjust it so that the bottom sticking out doesn’t quite get to the head. That’s VERY short and I won’t suggest going that short. Go too short and there’s not enough length to get any inertia going. You loose power quickly when it’s too short.

The length I end up using will cause the beater to hit a 22" head almost dead centered. That’s not good. The beater should hit a few inches off center. That’s just another thing I’ve learned to live with that’s not right with my setup. But, I switch between 20", 22" and 24" kicks. It’s not a problem with the 20" and 24" kicks.

When adjusting the spring, loosen then tighten it up until it feels ok (whatever that means). I start with it so loose that the beater will not have any tension at all on it when held right at that center rocking back and forth spot. That is too loose in just about all cases. It will be floppy and it can fly back and hit your foot, or do what I think you are describing where it goes too far back on the rebound and feels like it’s sort od sticks there a little. Slowly add a little more tension until that goes away.

The other end is when it’s too tight. That will cause your foot to fatigue and make it harder to get the beater to the head. If you feel like you have to really lay into it to get any kind of strength to the hits then it could be too tight…or you could simply be trying to play to hard.

Anway, that’s what I do, and by far my feet are the weakest part of my playing. I’ve struggled for many years trying to find a pedal and setup that works well for my feet. It’s very possible that what I do is the very reason I’ve struggled.

The other thing is that I use Drum Workshop pedals. The Big Dog might adjust differnetly, but it looks similar functionally.

Thanks Phoo, I’ll re-read, and absorb what you’ve written, then have another play with the pedal at the w/e.

I might see if I can pick up another beater so I can hack it about but still go back to “normal” if I mess things up.

Thanks for the tip about the beater not hitting dead centre on the head. I didn’t know that.


Why is it not good for the beater to hit dead center? I see a lot of drummers who apparently think that the center is where it should hit. ???

A lot of drummers will plant their foot and not allow the beater to bounce back a little - the beater stops the drum from ringing. Hitting just off center will bring out a little more tone but letting the center vibrate more. Experiment with a tom by hitting it near the edge, then closer to the center, then dead center. Listen how the tone changes as the stick gets closer to the center. Do that by allowing the stick to rebound,then do it by forcing the stick to stay on the head, stopping the ring with the stick. The same kind of thing happens with the kick, but not nearly as prominent.

It’s basically the same reason a timpani is played near the edge.

Also, keep in mind that many kicks are tuned so that there is virtually no ring already so there is little difference in the sound when the beater is allowed to rebound and when it’s just stuck into the head.

One “problem” when recording sometimes is that there can be a “ruff” sound to the kick where the beater bounces very fast off the head. This is the way a ruff is played with sticks, but a kick should be a quick single snap. This is mostly a problem with kicks that are two headed and have no hole cut in the resonant side. I’m seeing more an more drummers go back to this kind of tuning after many years of using a single head with a pillow. This was VERY obvious at Woodstick this year (I’ll post a few pictures). I was surprised at how many sets had two heads on the kicks, and many had little muffling. This is the way kicks were done for MANY years before the dead sound took over.

Thanks phoo!

I’ve really come to dislike the dead sound. Except for Stax recordings. :)

Hey Phoo - there is a drum solo posted by SaxAppeal on the music forum. The recording of the kick drum doesn’t sound quite right to me. I thought that it was probably because of the tuning of the drum head rather than recording technique. As you are one of the reigning drum miesters in the forum, would you mind listening to see if you think that was it? Sorry if this isn’t quit on the topic of the thread – but at least its related…


The kick sounds plenty snappy with good depth and punch on the speakers at work. It actually sounds pretty good. Based on what I hear right now I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the turning or the recording. I’ll have to listen at home to get more of an idea.

Maybe its MY speakers then. Worse yet maybe its my ears… Hmm. Thats lots harder to fix.


Maybe, but you got to trust what you got. What I have at work are Creative 5.1 things. They bring out stuff and can’t hear on the “good” speakers and hide other problems. They do have a pretty good bottom, but very brittle high end, so if something sounds smooth on these it’s probably lacking some highs somewhere. The only way to know for sure is for me to listen on these and the good ones.

The kick still so good on the home monitors. I hear a little lower mid ring in it, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s hard to judge whether or not there too much of the lower mids and not enough snap until it’s mixed into a song. Of course it’s still subjective. There’s enough snap that it could easily be brought out with very little EQ, so I still don’t see any problems with recording or tuning.

Thanks Phoo. Gotta go retrain my ears now.


Quote (phoo @ May 17 2006,12:31)
I'm seeing more an more drummers go back to this kind of tuning after many years of using a single head with a pillow. This was VERY obvious at Woodstick this year (I'll post a few pictures). I was surprised at how many sets had two heads on the kicks, and many had little muffling. This is the way kicks were done for MANY years before the dead sound took over.

Interesting... I play bass in a reggae band, and the kick drum sound that's very big with us is a fat, round 'dead' sound with a hint of snap on top- just enough to empahasize the beginning of the hit. Separated from the bass guitar by a few Hz.
Maybe back in the day of the Skatalites, Earnest Ranglin, and that early company of reggae stars the more 'open' sound was prevalent, dunno. Now I'll have to go give them another listen to see!
Funny how things come back around, though. "New and improved" ends up finding its true place, eventually.