Not all electronic drum kits can support a double bass pedal, but many can. What should you look out for if you want an electronic drum kit that can work with your double bass pedal?
The Ideal Type of Kick Pad for Double Bass
The most ideal type of electronic kick pad for double bass is a kick tower that has a pad that’s around 6 inches wide or more. The wider width of the pad is required since you need enough surface area for a couple of beaters to fit. Not all drum kits have kick pads that are wide enough to fit two drum beaters side by side, and it’s more commonly the budget kits that will come up short. Most intermediate to pro level kits will almost always have a kick pad that is wide enough for two beaters.
In addition to the kick pad itself, it’s best if the plate that the pedal will attach to on an electronic drum kit is at least a few inches wide or even wider. The wider the plate for attaching the pedal, the better. This is because some double kick pedals have a little bit of an offset where the clip that attaches to the drum hoop isn’t fully centered with the beaters.
Stay Away From The Electronic Kick Pedal Controllers
The least ideal situation for drummers who want to use double bass on their electronic kits is to use a kit that has one of those electronic pedals for the bass. You know, the kick pedals that look like the hi-hat pedal controllers. These types of pedals simply can’t play double kick due to their restrictive design and no way to hook up your own double kick pedal.
On some occasions these types of drum kits can be put into a “double bass” mode where the kick pedal and the hi-hat pedal both work as kick drum pedals, effectively allowing you to play double bass. I’ve never found it ideal to do this, personally, due to the spongy feel of most of those types of pedal on cheaper kits, but it can work if that’s what you have.
An example of this is the ddrum E-Flex kit, which has the double bass mode built in. On this kit you can set the hi-hat pedal to be a second kick pedal.
On some Roland kits such as the TD-02KV you can also daisy-chain a couple of KD-10 kick pedals to get the same effect. However, the KD-10 isn’t included with the kit, the KD-1 pedal is. And the KD-1 pedal can’t do that. So if you wanted to upgrade that kit to daisy chain a couple KD-10’s, you might as well just buy a kick pad and a real double bass pedal since it won’t be much more expensive than buying a couple of KD-10’s.
If you’re serious about double bass though, you’ll want to get something that can use an actual double kick pedal due to the feel being much better with an actual double kick pedal. That way, when you move over to an acoustic kit, you will already have a good feel for the type of pedal you’ll be using there.
Kick Pad Sensitivity and Centering the Beaters
Another thing to watch out for if you are going to use double bass with an electronic kit is the sensitivity of the kick pad itself. Some pads are much more sensitive right in the center and start to tail off as you move away from the center. In these cases, the kick drum will sound more quiet overall since you’re not centering either of the beaters into the middle of the pad. Usually this is workable though, you just need to make sure that you’re positioning both beaters equally from the center of the pad so that the volumes are similar on each side, and then usually you will also need to turn up the volume of the kick sound to compensate.
Axis Longboards with an Electronic Drum Kit
An example of a pedal that I’ve struggled to use with budget level electronic kick pads is my Axis Longboard double pedal. The clip is offset to the right from the center of the beaters, and there’s two riser pads on each side of the clip which don’t make a flat surface. While this is pretty good for securing the pedal to a kick drum hoop, this design makes it difficult to center up the beaters on kick pads that don’t have a very wide plate to clip onto.
When I clip it so that both the clip and the riser pads are secure on the attachment plate of most kick pads, one beater is centered on the pad and the other is off to the side, not even in position to strike the pad. When I shift the pedal to the right to center both beaters onto the pad, the clip and the pads under the clip are off-centered enough from the attachment plate that the pedal can’t securely clip onto the plate.
Iron Cobra Double Pedal with an Electronic Drum Kit
My Tama Iron Cobra double pedals have worked much better with various electronic kick pads, mostly due to the clip and the beaters being centered with each other a little better. The clip is easier to center up on an attachment plate while also centering the beaters. I have yet to find a kick pad that has a wide enough pad for double pedals that struggles to attach well to the Iron Cobra’s.
If you are wanting to use a double bass pedal on an electronic drum kit, watch out for a couple things. Make sure the kick pad is wide enough to fit two beaters – 6 inches minimum is usually ideal. Make sure you are able to center your beaters to compensate for any sensitivity issues when striking the pad off-center. And make sure that the plate that the pedal will clip onto is wide enough to compensate for the offset of the clip and the beaters on your pedal.
Kits that will struggle to produce good results with double bass, at least without pad upgrades, are kits like the Roland TD-02K and TD-02KV, Alesis Turbo Mesh, or the Simmons Titan 20. Most kits with standalone kick towers will usually work, as long as the pad and the clip plate is wide enough to support your pedal.