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The options for bass drum beaters are as follows:
Wood: Wood beaters are loud! They tend to last well and always deliver a ‘hard’ punchy sound. They keep their shape as well.
Plastic: Much like wood in tone: Perhaps with slightly more ‘slap’ to the tone. Again they last well without the shape distorting. Sometimes they can mark the heads as the surface will slightly wear over time.
Felt (hard): This is a great alternative to wood or plastic: They give a warmer tone with less punch and tend to accentuate the lower end of a drum (bass tone). A disadvantage is that when they are played hard they can distort and end-up with a flat surface. Out of interest some players like this as more surface area equals more tone!
Felt (soft): The quietest beater.. Fluffy in appearance these offer a soft tone with little attack. Tend to last as they are only ever used low volume situations.
What to look out for in a beater:
Quality of beater head. Be it wood, plastic or felt. Feel for the quality of the materials used. Pretty obviously this is a vital check for longevity. Price is also a good indicator.
Quality of beater shaft. The beater shaft needs to be strong enough not to bend and take the abuse only a bass drum pedal can dish-out!
Fit: Not all shafts are the same size. Check your pedal first….Earlier Premier beaters were particularly troublesome – Being oversized in diameter. Also some Pearl beaters have similar issues.
Weight: All beaters have different weights. For instance some Tama beaters are very light. These are great for speed but lack volume. The other end of the scale is DW beaters. These are heavy and give a real volume boast. Weight is an important consideration as it sometimes makes the difference between being comfortable and not!
Extra specification: Beater weights for balancing the beaters, some beaters have dual purpose beater heads e.g. heads that turn around to give a plastic or felt surface
Price ranges: £6-£45
Makes: Pearl, DW, Tama, Slug, Stagg