While drums and cymbals are the main focus when it comes to your overall sound, there are a few small things that make subtle differences to your drum kit sound as well. One of those would be what kind of beater you have on your bass drum pedal.
There are several options when it comes to bass drum beaters, and each one serves a unique purpose.
In this guide, we’re going to do a thorough breakdown of different bass drum beaters. We’ll look at the different types, explain their qualities, and help you decide which one you should choose for your kit.
- 1 What’s the Point of Different Bass Drum Beaters?
- 2 Bass Drum Beaters Broken Down
- 3 Bass Drum Beater Qualities
- 4 How to Choose a Bass Drum Beater
- 5 Features to Look for in Bass Drum Beaters
- 6 Final Thoughts on Bass Drum Beaters
What’s the Point of Different Bass Drum Beaters?
The main point of a bass drum beater is to produce a certain sound from your bass drum. All bass drums produce low-end thumping tones, but the beater establishes the finer qualities within those tones.
The type of tone the beater produces depends on what material it’s made from, how heavy it is, and what shape it has.
Bass drum beaters also determine how the bass drum feels to play. Some beaters are thicker than others, so they react differently when you hit them against the bass drumhead.
Every drummer develops preferences over time, and choosing a good bass drum beater is almost as important as picking a good pair of sticks. If you’ve only been using the beater that came with your pedal, you may find that there are other beaters that feel a lot more comfortable for you.
So, let’s check out all the different types of beaters.
Bass Drum Beaters Broken Down
Felt is one of the most common types of beaters you’ll find, especially with lower-priced bass drum pedals. The first ever pedals had felt beaters, and they’ve remained popular since then.
Felt beaters give a warm and rounded tone. They bring out the deeper side of your bass drum, and the stroke definition they give is fairly moderate.
Beaters that are fully made of felt are typically round in their design.
The biggest downside of felt beaters is that they wear out over time. The felt degrades, and you end up with a beater without a full shape.
With a round felt beater, you can twist it around so that you still get a strong surface to connect with the drumhead, but you’ll need to completely replace the beater after that side wears out as well.
Here are a few good felt beaters to check out:
Plastic beaters are a lot harder than felt, so they feel more solid when they strike the bass drumhead. They also produce a lot more volume than felt beaters do, making them excellent for drummers who need a bit of an edge with their kick drum.
The louder volume also means you get more definition from your kicks, so plastic beaters are a great idea for drummers who play quick bass patterns.
With all that being said, plastic beaters are arguably the least commonly found ones. It’s quite hard to find a beater that only has a plastic surface. You’re more likely to find 2-way beaters with a plastic side.
Here are a few of those 2-way plastic beaters to check out:
Wood beaters have become incredibly popular in modern drumming circles. The sound they produce is natural and organic, and it’s slightly less aggressive than what you’d get with a plastic beater. The organic bass drum tone is what most drummers love about them.
Some wood beaters are lighter than others, so the impact and volume you get from them will just depend on their structure.
There’s a brand called Low Boy that specializes in making wood beaters, and that’s where a lot of the modern draw to them comes from. You can get custom art ingrained into them, which is very cool!
Here are some excellent wood beaters:
Rubber beaters sit somewhere between felt and wood beaters. They have more articulation and attack than felt beaters, but they’re not as punchy as wood or plastic beaters.
One of the unique things about rubber beaters is that they have slightly more rebound than most other beater options. The rubber surface bounces off the bass drum head easily, allowing you to utilize that rebound to play faster strokes. This only works well if you don’t dig the beater into the head with every stroke.
Drummers who play quick double bass drum patterns often gravitate toward rubber beaters because of this. They also like the fact that rubber beaters give defined tones that aren’t too bright.
Here are some good options:
Metal beaters are one of the more niche options. These are the heaviest beaters you get, making them the loudest and most aggressive.
While loud tones are the biggest drawcard, their durability is something else to consider. All the previous beaters we’ve mentioned are prone to wear out over time. A metal bass drum beater will last forever.
So, if you like how a metal beater feels, it’s all you’ll ever need to have.
Some metal beaters are designed to be light. So, they lose the impactful tone, but they keep their extended durability factor. Those are also good options to consider.
Just make sure to always have an impact patch on your bass drumhead if you plan on using a metal beater.
Here are two excellent picks:
Soft beaters are another niche option, and they’re mainly used by jazz drummers. These beaters have some sort of fluffy material on them, and you get almost no attack from the bass drum. You mostly get rounded warmth and resonance.
These are the types of beaters that you can only use on a bass drum that has no muffling inside its shell. You need the large and open tone, and the fluffy beater will produce a deep and resonating sound when it works along with that tone.
They’re not only for jazz, though. You can use them on cajon pedals, or you can play them for gigs in quiet environments.
The biggest downside of soft beaters is that they’re the least durable out of all the options we’ve mentioned. They’ll fall apart very quickly if you play the bass drum too hard.
Check these options out:
Combination beaters are beaters that have two sides. These offer you versatility, as you can switch the beater around to get two different tones from your bass drum.
As we said earlier, one side of a combination beater is typically plastic, while the other side will usually be felt.
If you have one of these beaters, you can use the plastic side for live gigs where volume is needed. You can then use the felt side when you need a bit less volume.
Another benefit of having a two-way beater is that when the felt side wears out, you’ll still be able to use the plastic side.
Here are some popular picks:
Specialty beaters are unique beaters that don’t fall under any particular category. Some drum brands go crazy with their designs, attaching various things to the metal rod that latches onto the bass drum pedal.
Like soft beaters, these are mostly used by jazz drummers who want weird and wonderful sounds. The perfect example of a specialty beater would be a brush or rute stick attached to the pedal.
Here are some options:
Electronic Drum Kit Beaters
The final beater type is beaters that are purposefully designed for electronic drum kits. Most beaters are perfectly fine to use with electronic kits.
However, you shouldn’t use felt beaters if your bass drum has a mesh surface. Felt beaters will damage mesh pads after a while.
The best beater to use for mesh bass drums are plastic ones, and some electronic companies produce beaters just for them. However, they typically come included with their brand-specific kick drum pedals, and you can’t really purchase them on their own.
So, here are some electronic drum kit pedals with ideal beaters attached:
Bass Drum Beater Qualities
Beaters come in all shapes and sizes, and the shape of the section that makes contact with the drumhead plays a big role when it comes to sound.
The more surface area that makes contact with the drumhead, the fuller the sound will be. So, beaters with flat shapes produce the most volume.
Beaters that are more rounded don’t give as much attack, producing more warmth and roundness.
Two-way beaters typically have flat shapes on both sides, so that’s another excellent quality that they have. However, not every drummer wants the most volume and attack possible, so rounded beaters will be better in that case.
The weight of a beater affects how your pedal feels to play. Heavier beaters will give you a lot more powerbehind your strokes, but lighter pedals will give you more agility.
You need to assess your playing style and decide whether a light or heavy beater will suit you better. If you need a lot of volume from your bass drum, a heavy beater will stop you from having to exert a lot of force to get loud notes.
If you don’t need too much volume and you want to play quick notes in succession within your grooves and fills, a lighter beater is a better choice.
You could also find a beater that sits somewhere in the middle, giving you the best of both worlds.
Size is arguably the least significant quality to take note of. However, the rule of thumb is that large beaters are louder while small beaters are softer.
The shape affects the size as well, so flat beaters are typically bigger than rounded beaters. After that, the weight adds to the volume and power you get.
How to Choose a Bass Drum Beater
Assess the One You Already Have
If you like how the beater feels on the bass drum pedal that you have, you probably don’t need to get a new beater, and you can save a bit of cash by not getting one.
If you’re not a big fan of how your current pedal feels, the beater may be a big factor in that, and getting a different beater can change things drastically.
At that point, you’ll need to figure out why you don’t like your current beater and then decide what kind of beater will be better for you.
You’ll need to learn about all the different beaters and their qualities so that you can make an informed buying decision when getting a new one.
If your current beater is felt and you want something harder, you should get a plastic or rubber beater.
If you currently have a wood or plastic beater and you find it to be too hard, you should try out a felt beater.
If you want something completely out of the norm, consider getting a specialty beater or a fluffy beater. Those are especially relevant if you play jazz.
Think About Feel
While sound is the most important thing to consider, you should also consider how different beaters will feel when they’re attached to your bass drum pedal.
A metal beater may be the best option for the style of music that you play, but if you don’t like how it feels, you shouldn’t use one. It’s better to get something that you’re very comfortable with, and that will encourage you to use it.
There’s nothing worse than playing on a drum kit that doesn’t feel great, and the kick drum is the one drum that gets played the most, so it’s vital that you like how the bass drum pedal feels.
Get Multiple Beaters
It’s a good idea to get multiple beaters to use for different settings. That will make you a more versatile drummer.
It’s very easy to swap beaters out, so having one or two different options in your stick bag is a great way of staying prepared for anything.
If you’re about to play a jazz gig, you can use a fluffy beater. If your next gig is a big rock one in a sizeable venue, then you can pull out the metal beater.
Luckily, most bass drum beaters are inexpensive, so it’s easy to build up a collection of them.
Features to Look for in Bass Drum Beaters
Some beaters come with memory locks on their metal rods. You lock these in place so that the beater can be placed at the same height whenever you dissemble and reassemble your bass drum pedal.
The memory lock is a small feature, but it’s an incredibly useful one. If the beater you purchase doesn’t come with one, we suggest you buy one separately.
If you don’t lock the height in place, you’ll need to fiddle and experiment with your kick drum every time you set your kit up again.
Some beaters also come with adjustable weights. This is an incredible feature, as it allows you to control how heavy and powerful the beater is.
You can put all the weights on a beater to get a forceful tone, or you could take them off to make the beater nimbler.
Having weights is a great way of altering how a beater sounds no matter what material it’s made from.
Bass Drum Patch
Bass drum patches aren’t included with beaters, but they’re something that we need to mention in relation to using different beaters.
Bass drumheads are very expensive, so it’s important to protect them as best you can. You do that by placing a bass drum patch at the point where the beater hits the surface.
If you’re using a fluffy bass drum beater, you don’t need a patch, but you should use one for every other type of beater. It’s especially important when using a metal beater, as those will punch a hole through your bass drum very quickly.
Final Thoughts on Bass Drum Beaters
The best thing you can do to find your ideal beater is to test them all. You won’t know how good a certain beater feels to use until you play it and realize how well it suits you.
The cool thing about bass drum beaters is that they give you more mileage from your kick pedal. You can use the same kick drum pedal, but you’ll get an entirely different feel when switching the beater out.
So, look around, see what you like, and then pick a bass drum beater that you feel you can’t live without.