Kicking myself

TB’s Weather Update:  Uh, yeah, we’ve been getting more freezing rain for about the last hour and a half.  The icicles on the garage are steadily growing, and a few of the trees are starting to droop.  Given that the precipitation isn’t supposed to stop until after rush hour tomorrow, I’m hoping the temperature drops again and turns to sleet or snow – if we get a whole lot more ice then I’d start to worry about fallen limbs and power outages.  As it is, the quarter-inch of ice is already up to about three-eighths – the dog is almost able to walk across the top of the ice instead of stepping through to the snow.  

*****

Anyway, I wanted to talk about the fact that I broke yet another Rock Band drum pedal.  This time, my $30 Rhythm Maker pedal from Best Buy.  I know most of you couldn’t really give a crap, but there are a couple of RB-heads that read here that might learn from my experience…if that’s you, read on.  If not, bah, this is just me bitchin’, and you can hear me doing that anytime.  

I had heard that the stock RB pedals broke ridiculously easy before we ever bought the game.  I was prepared for it, so I tried to take it as easy as I could.  I taught myself from the start to play with my foot over the little orange bar so there was always some support, rather than pushing down between the fulcrums on a weak point.  I never, ever played with shoes on – barefoot or sock feet only.  The stock pedal is also pretty light.  It’s just plastic, really, and even though it has a little method of attaching to the base of the drum kit, it tends to move around when you’re playing, which makes for an adventure.  

Still, I started out as a complete and utter dumbass, so it took me at least two or three weeks to start playing drums on Medium instead of Easy.  Hell, on Easy you’re only using the kick drum for about half the song.  Comparatively, that’s some pretty light wear.  As I graduated from Easy to Medium and then to Hard, I was working the kick pedal a lot harder.  Pretty soon after I moved to Expert, I felt something rubbery during a song (Tom Sawyer, maybe?) and said:  “Uh-oh.”  Yep.  The stock pedal had developed a crack in the middle.  That was in early October, if I recall, so the stock pedal made it about five months.

I went to Best Buy and attempted to use my Extended Warranty on Rock Band to get my pedal replaced.  They did in fact replace it, but only after some serious side discussion since EA puts that big hot-pink sheet in saying “STOP – do not return this to the store, mail it to us instead if you have trouble!”  Well, thanks, genius; NOT wanting to wait two months to ship you a unit and receive it back is why I bought the protection plan in the first place.  Tell me I can’t use that $50 protection plan and I’m gonna ram this pedal up your butt.  

Anyway.  They opened a new package and gave me the pedal out of it.

Literally the next weekend we were out and about and saw the Rhythm Maker pedal on sale at another Best Buy.  I thought it looked good, and when I found out it was only $30, I grabbed one.  I took it home and was immediately impressed.  It doesn’t connect in any way to the stock kit, but it’s sufficiently heavy to stay in place all on its lonesome, without even bouncing around.  Excellent.  It’s also faster than the stock pedal – the actual “pedal” part is hung from a spring above it, at the end of the pedal, rather than resting on a spring below it in the middle of the pedal.  The feel is just a lot more light and precise.  

The Rhythm Maker pedal has a thin metal reinforcement strip across the main body of the pedal, which helps absorb some of the impact and reduces the fatigue on the plastic parts.  Good plan – so good that the RB2 kits started doing the same thing.  Anyway, it worked out great, except that the metal strip started to separate from the plastic after a few weeks.  And it started to curve upward away from the plastic, which meant that when my foot hit the pedal you’d actually hear a little “click” as the metal hit the plastic.  Annoying.  

I tackled that problem by using one of a DIY guy’s best friends:  JB Weld.  A little epoxy held that sucker together right.  

So I played right on along, almost entirely on Expert level, until this past Saturday.  I was in the midst of a particularly hard set (I think I’d just done “Ace of Spades” as part of it) and toward the end I got that “uh-oh” feeling again – there was a little too much give there.  I looked, and yep, the pedal was starting to crack on both sides.  Sumbitch.

I switched to the stock RB2 pedal to finish out the set, and as soon as we were done, unplugged the drums.  At first I was all about running back to Best Buy to replace this pedal, but then Dys and I were talking about it, and damn – $30 lasted me three months?  Suck.  

I remembered one of the primary YouTube Rock Band drum savants, Azurite Reaction (sskitzo), heavily recommending the Destroyer Pedal – an aftermarket job made by taking a real metal drum pedal chassis and adding the piezo triggers to it for use with the game.  I’d dismissed it earlier as stupidly expensive at about $85 shipped, but compared to going through a $30 pedal every three to six months, maybe not.  I surely derive a buttload of joy from playing RB drums, so it’s worth it to me to throw a little more money at it to keep enjoying it.  And let’s face it, once I spent that ludicrously huge chunk on the throne (even if I was still thinking at the time that it was step 1 toward the boy’s drum kit that now he probably doesn’t want), I was what the poker players call pot-committed.

So my recommendation to you RB drummers out there is that if you’re going to play drums consistently at a Hard or Expert level, the stock pedal is going to die – and even if it doesn’t, it sucks.  The Rhythm Maker pedal is a good fix if you don’t play a ton and are willing to work on it a tad if the metal separates, but it’s not a long-term fix either.

The Destroyer is supposedly on the UPS truck and on its way.  You know, assuming that UPS is running today and all.  Once I’ve played with it a bit, I’ll give another review.  

Onward and upward…

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2 Responses

  1. I believe you’ve crossed the line over into The Land of Obsession. Congratulations. Don’t forget your towel.

    I think I made that border crossing a few months back. I’m boldly forging across the frontier into Freakin’ Psycho.

    My towel is right next to my bottled water and extra drumsticks.

  2. Do you keep extra sticks nearby in case one breaks mid-set?

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