There’s something deeply satisfying about a great-sounding bass drum when it’s struck with a beater that’s specifically chosen for your style and technique.
Bass drum beaters come in a wide range of styles and have a surprising number of features for an item that is essentially a stick with a lump on the end. The size, shape and material of a bass drum beater all affect the sound and how the pedal responds.
A larger head will generally produce more volume from a bass drum. A flatter surface can bring out a bit more attack, although few are truly flat. A completely flat beater could strike the head at an angle and eventually dent it, which is why many beaters with a flat contact area have a swivelling head or a slight curve to compensate for slight shifts in position.
The material that a beater is made from works in tandem with its shape and size to define your bass drum sound. A harder surface like wood or plastic will give you more attack, ideal for rock and heavy rhythm styles, while a softer surface like rubber or felt will offer a quieter, rounder sound that’s ideal for jazz and lighter music
Some felt beaters are nearly as hard as wooden models so the differences between them may not be all that noticeable, depending how sensitive your ear is. A soft beater will usually not have the durability of a harder one, so rock drummers often use felt beaters that are dense and solid. But even wood, acrylic, and plastic beaters will eventually show wear.
While a heavier beater will produce more volume, it can also bring out more low-end from a drum. Smaller beaters often work better for quieter gigs and with smaller bass drums. Some beaters are fitted with memory locks that enable users to set their ideal beater height. While it’s tempting to fully extend the beater for maximum volume, it’s important to consider the diameter of your bass drum. A fully extended beater will strike close to the sweet spot in the centre of a 26" bass drum, but will land far off-centre on a 16" drum. A counterweight can be used to modify the “weight” of the beater. Sliding it up or down the beater shaft will alter the feel from light to heavy and change the volume of the drum. Take all this into account when you choose your beater and if you need any advice our drum guys can help you switch to a beater that’s ideal for your needs.