Duallist Pedal Reviews...
DRUM MAGAZINE GIG MAGAZINE MODERN DRUMMER RHYTHM MAGAZINE
By: Brad Schlueter - DRUM MAGAZINE
Double Your Pleasure
The Duallist D4 bass drum pedal could be one of the most innovative and potentially revolutionary drum set products to be released in the last few years. Bold statement, huh? It has won international design and innovation awards. It has numerous patented features. It's one of the few pedals that is primarily constructed from lightweight yet very sturdy space age materials. It is also a labor saving device. You may be thinking, "That's all well and good but what's so different about it?" Well, there is one thing. The Duallist allows double bass drum patterns to be played with just one foot on one bass drum while enabling drummers to retain independent control of the hi-hat. In essence, you play the downstrokes and it plays another note on the upstrokes. It works like a charm.
Out of the Box
At first glance the pedal resembles a conventional double pedal that's missing the left foot slave unit. It's just a bit wider than the average double pedal to accommodate the levers that switch the pedal from single to dual mode. The pedal looked substantial but wasn't heavy. I noticed two small stickers on it. There was a small Scottish flag sticker on the pedal denoting its country of origin and oddly, a small DuPont sticker on the other side. DuPont? The cow- and drummer-friendly company that makes Mylar® used in drumheads? Further investigation of the Duallist revealed that DuPont collaborated in the R&D of the pedal and that the pedal's footboard and frame aren't constructed of metal but of Zytel®, an extremely strong DuPont polymer used widely in the automotive industry. I think this is a great idea. I play aggressively and am very tough on pedals. I've snapped enough hardened steel beater shafts, broken chains and cam teeth, cracked hinges and had enough parts strip and break over the years that I know metal construction is no guarantee of a pedal's durability. There are metal parts on the pedal, but reading the product literature reveals that many of the parts use more space age materials than the pedals you or I currently play. The advantage of all this is that the pedal is lighter in weight but remains extremely durable. Thank you, NASA. I'd like to see more hardware manufactured from strong lightweight materials like this. The pedal frame assembly is also a little taller than the average pedal and the beater shaft is about a half inch shorter. I presume this is done to accommodate the higher frame allowing the beater to strike near the center of the bass drum. The Duallist also features a patented sliding hoop clamp that allows you to maximize power and the beater stroke length. This will accommodate a tilted bass drum or Gajate brackets that mount tambourines, cowbells, etc. As on any high-end pedal the beater angle, strap length, and spring tension are fully adjustable. Electronic drummers will be pleased to learn it can be used with inverted beaters too. The toe stop is a molded part of the footboard and is not removable. I find toe stops unnecessary but this one never got in my way. The pedal comes with three Allen wrenches to make any necessary adjustments. During the course of this review I had no problems with the pedal's construction or durability and thought most of the parts were better machined than those on the six double pedals that I currently play and teach on. I could easily adjust the pedal spring tension nut from a sitting position without crawling around on my hands and knees, which is impossible on the other pedals I use.
In Single Mode
In single mode the Duallist operates like any other bass drum pedal. To engage single mode you must depress the lever on the left side of the pedal. This pulls the left beater back to its resting position, which is about 6" off the head. This is easy to do, but requires a little more pressure than engaging the pedal's dual mode. In single bass mode the pedal felt pretty good. I was able to play most of the patterns I play on my regular pedal with just a little more effort. I noticed that I tended to tire a little more quickly when executing demanding patterns on the Duallist. I attribute most of this to the difference between the length of the Duallist's slightly shorter beaters and my own. If you play with your beaters not fully extended, you might not notice any difference. For those of us who like to feel more weight, a beater weight should do the trick.
In Dual Mode
In dual mode the left beater rests against the head. Downstrokes pull the left beater off the head to its playing position while the right beater strikes the drum. Lifting your foot then causes the left beater to strike the drum. It may sound a little complicated but it works well. To switch to single mode depress the lever on the left side of the pedal. To return to dual mode, depress the switch on the right. With a bit of practice this becomes quick and easy. The Duallist's web page (www.theduallist.com) shows videos that demonstrate the pedal playing a variety of different styles. Using the Duallist effectively requires some adaptation of your current playing technique. This is part mental and part physical. On the mental side, playing the Duallist is a little like hearing your bass drum with an echo. You know you only played one note but you definitely heard two. This can take a little getting used to. On the physical side, there's a bit of a learning curve. The pedal responds to your downstrokes like a normal pedal, but it also responds to your upstrokes and whether or not you bury your beater into the head. I think the best way to grasp this is through the scientific process of screwing around. I was able to play a Swiss triplet ostinato with one foot within the first 10 minutes of using the pedal. I admit this happened by mistake. And like most of the mistakes I make, I kept repeating it. Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once. You can get different feels, shuffle or straight, depending on where your foot is placed on the pedal. Placing your foot further forward on the footboard yields more of a shuffle feel, while further back yields a straighter feel. Burying your beater also will affect the rhythm you play. I found I needed to become aware of how I lifted my foot and then control its timing. I couldn't play one-footed triplet ruffs at first, but after I read the manual I found I had to "play" an upstroke to achieve them. The pattern was up, down, down. I also found that I had to play a little bit lighter than I usually do in order to get even dynamics from the right and left beaters. I have a powerful foot and generally only play quietly when money is at stake. So while my right beater's downstroke volume ranged from mezzo forte to fortissimo, my left beater's upstroke volume seemed to remain in the mezzo forte to forte range. If I played heavy downstrokes I got two levels of dynamics from the pedal. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just something to be aware of.
How easy is it to play? Well, I was able to play sixteenth-note rolls and a sixteenth-note shuffle pattern within a minute of attaching it to my bass drum hoop. My maximum speed for these kinds of patterns was sixteenth-notes at a little over 150 bpm. Above that tempo I found it hard to control. The momentum of the right beater controls the left beater. So the faster the right beater played, the left followed suit, up to that 150 bpm range. Above that, I don't know if it was a problem with my technique or the nature of the pedal, but things got a bit too sloppy for my taste. One unique benefit of this pedal and perhaps its raison d'être is that you can retain complete independent control of the hi-hat when doing these patterns. Think about that for a moment. You can play hi-hat barks, heel/toe splashes or polyrhythms against simultaneous double bass drum patterns. Up until now this has been impossible. The polyrhythmic possibilities are actually dangerous. I played a Swiss triplet ostinato in sixteenth-notes with my right foot, under a straight eighth-note ride/back beat pattern with my hands, while doing a heel/toe splash hi-hat thing with my left foot. I got so dizzy I had to stop and take Dramamine.
To Dual or not to Dual
If you're a speed metal demon or a Virgil Donati clone who plays a single bass/double pedal set up and already have developed considerable skill, you'll have to assess whether this pedal offers enough to recommend its purchase. You'd gain the ability to control your hi-hat but might lose some of the playing techniques, patterns and speed that you've spent years torturing your left foot to do. However, if you play double bass with two separate bass drums and used a Duallist on your primary bass drum, you'd conceivably gain the ability to control your hi-hat while playing double bass with your main foot in dual mode. Then by returning the pedal to single mode, you could do all the other patterns you currently play on two bass drums. In fact, I can also see nothing other than musical taste to prevent someone from putting two Duallists on a double bass drum kit. Sixteenth-note flam rolls, anyone?
Before playing the Duallist, I was almost swayed by a friend who thought it was just a well-engineered novelty product that worked well but had limited applications. He even called it a "cheater" pedal. Is it? I don't know, but you may as well ask if automobiles are cheater horses. It dramatically shortens the learning curve of patterns that might take years to develop on a conventional double-pedal set up. I don't think that's a bad thing. Bottom line, who cares? It's well made and does what it's supposed to. After giving it some thought, I think there may be a lot of drummers that the Duallist is absolutely perfect for. Who, you ask? Well, I think it's perfect for the large number of single bass drummers who'd like to play the occasional double bass drum part but lack the time or inclination to play "catch up" by developing the coordination and strength of their weaker foot. It will also give one-legged drummers access to the world of double bass patterns. (I recall seeing a drummer at the '94 NAMM show using something designed by the maker of Axis pedals that allowed him to play an Axis double pedal with his prosthesis.) It gives standing percussionists the ability to play double bass or percussion patterns with their feet. It also allows set drummers to play left-foot percussion parts while maintaining a steady groove. Plus, the Duallist's design doesn't discriminate against left-handed (or would that be footed?) players by requiring a specially ordered slave unit. Drummers interested in pushing the limits of polyrhythms and ostinatos may embrace the Duallist as an indispensable tool in their arsenals. In this regard, the Duallist might be a little like throwing gasoline on their creative fires. I shudder to think what brilliant insanity is possible with this thing in the hands of someone like Terry Bozzio or Mike Mangini. The only really negative thing about it is if it catches on, the art of drum set transcription may take a giant leap backward. In the end, the decision depends on how open your mind is. If you get the opportunity, try it out. It's a lot of fun. It may not be for the herd of traditionalists, but for those looking for an edge over the competition, the Duallist might be just the thing.
By John Sollengerger - GIG MAGAZINE
Here's a double bass drum pedal with a major difference. It has two beaters attached to a single footboard and actually gives you double bass sound capability with one foot and one drum, leaving your high-hat foot free. Duallist is an engineering marvel, with a couple of cams and a bunch of different adjustment points and it's built like a tank. Use it as a single bass pedal and- according to all reports- it's super smooth and strong. But a quick kick of a conveniently located lever next to the footboard and the second beater activates. As the primary beater makes its stroke, the secondary one rebounds; let off the footboard and the secondary beater makes its stroke as the primary beater rebounds. Cool concept.
by Chap Ostrander - MODERN DRUMMER MAGAZINE
An engineering marvel that lets one foot do the work of two
-double-pedal function operated by a single foot
-equally good action in either single or double-pedal mode
-lightweight and durable construction
The Duallist bass drum pedal is an unusual combination of complexity and simplicity. The simplicity lies in the basic concept of its design. It's a single-footboard pedal that operates two beaters. You push on the footboard and the right beater strikes the bass drum. You release it and the left beater hits. That's it in a nutshell. The complexity comes from what you make of this beast. Understand: This is not a toy, nor is it a flight of the inventor's fancy.
The Duallist pedal is the brainchild of Scottish drummer/inventor Kevin Mackie. He worked on the concept for fifteen years (!) before achieving the product we see today. The current model has been available in Europe for the past two years, but has just come onto the US market.
My first impression of The Duallist was that it was big and clunky. Not so. It's light, and only slightly wider than a standard pedal. When you play with it for more than two seconds you get used to the size. The Duallist's light weight is largely due to the fact that the frame is constructed entirely of DuPont Zytel, which is an extremely tough nylon polymer. The most common application for Zytel is for automotive parts, such as cam covers and air-intake manifolds, where its strength, stiffness, and resistance to heat and corrosion is needed. Zytel's light weight (it weighs less than one-fourth that of steel for a given volume) gives the Duallist pedal a weight of only five pounds. Yet it's tough enough to withstand the heaviest pounding.
Another valuable property of Zytel is its lubricity, which means that the bearings don't need lubrication. The footboard hinges are self-lubricating bearings manufactured from friction-resistant industrial nylon. They provide quiet and efficient pivot action. The color of the Zytel is an integral element of the material, so the parts will never scratch. A spokesman for The Duallist told me that Nigel Glockler from the heavy metal band Saxon has been using two Duallist pedals for over eighteen months and hasn't experienced any problems whatsoever. He attributes this to the toughness of the Zytel. The Duallist's aluminum parts are made from a corrosion-resistant alloy suitable for intricate extrusions, while its steel parts are an alloy of 18% chrome and 8% nickel-steel suitable for hand machining. All the castings are manufactured exclusively in the UK for The Duallist.
The design of the pedal is such that it can accommodate electronic setups, even those with inverted beaters. A one-piece sliding hoop clamp allows you to adjust the spacing between the pedal and the bass drum (or the percussion item, when used with something like a Gajate bracket). The drive connection for the right beater is made of Kevlar and provides noiseless performance. It's very sturdy and will take a pounding. The connection for the left beater is an elastomer belt similar to those used in electric motors for vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers. It's also very durable and was put through rigorous stress testing before being chosen. The straps are secured under the footboard. The right strap feeds from the front, and the left one comes down through the middle. Both straps can be adjusted to your own preference. The pedal's springs are made from piano-grade wire. The action is very smooth and predictable. Knurled knobs allow you to adjust the spring tension, with locking knobs above. Spikes mounted in the base help to hold The Duallist in place.
How It Works
There have been several designs for double-action single pedals on the market in the past. The problem with all of them has been that while they might produce the desired double-action, they never produced a decent single action. They were one-trick ponies. The Duallist, on the other hand, feels great in single mode. You can adjust the stroke, the beater height, the spring tension, and the length of the drive straps (for both beaters) to obtain as light or as heavy an action as you want. It's also easy to "shift" playing modes from single to double. This is accomplished by stepping on one of the Speedswitch levers located to the left and right of the foothoard. The positioning of the switches lets you do the switching with your heel, thereby keeping your foot on the foothoard. This allows you to continue playing as you choose your playing mode. Press the left-side switch and the left beater is locked back, putting you in single mode. Slide your heel over and press the right side to release the left beater, and you're in double mode. Your playing pattern can go uninterrupted.
So What's The Point?
The Duallist offers single-bass drum players most of the advantages of double-bass playing, without some of the drawbacks. For example, if you were a single-bass player who wanted to switch to two bass drum pedals (or a double pedal), your hi-hat foot would have to learn to hit as hard as your bass drum foot. Arguments could break out, resulting in swelling, cramping, and overall irritability. (The agony of de' feet'?) With The Duallist, the same "trained" foot operates both beaters.
Another drawback of conventional double-pedal setups is that while playing them, your hi-hat is pretty much inoperative. It's either stuck closed or open, even with the use of a drop clutch. Since the Duallist requires the use of just one bass drum foot, your other foot remains free to operate the hi-hat.
The Duallist is also the only "double-pedal system" that allows you to play standing up. This means a percussionist could combine a Duallist with a Gajate bracket to play a wood block, a cowbell, or a tambourine while standing and playing bongos, congas, timbales, etc. I even considered mounting an X-hat in a perpendicular position to keep a hi-hat pattern going.
Licks And Tricks
As I said earlier, the basic concept of The Duallist is that while the right beater strikes the bass drum head, the left beater is drawn back. When you release the footboard the left beater comes forward and strikes the head. How that action applies to your playing is really up to you. For example: If you play 8th notes in double mode, the pedal translates them into l6ths. Play quarter-note triplets and you get 8th-note triplets.
That might be all that many players would want in a double setup-but there's more. For instance, I tend to keep the beater on the head between beats when I play. In double mode, that works out as a shuffle beat, producing the first and third notes of a triplet. When I played a double stroke with the right beater, with what the left beater added I got a one-8th-and-two-16ths pattern. When I did the bounce with a pause, I got triplets. (I was able to accomplish this fairly quickly.) I was also able to produce the power triplets I hear players like Gregg Bissonette do, by playing the first beat with the stick on a snare or tom, and letting the beaters fill in the rest of the triplet. Very cool.
You may have surmised that with one foot you will not be able to play power paradiddles, or scare Virgil Donati into early retirement-and yuo are correct. The Duallist cannot completely duplicate every lick that can be played with a double pedal or two individual pedals. On the other hand, it boggles the mind to think of two Duallists on one kit, either on twin bass drums (can you say, "double-stroke rolls"!) or one on the bass and the other on the hihat side for percussion applications. Remember, because The Duallist is essentially a single pedal by nature, it works with either your hi-hat or bass drum foot. The main thing is that you don't have to build up your hi-hat foot to bass-drum strength. I have no doubt that any drummer's creativity will be expanded as a result of contact with The Duallist.
The Duallist already has quite an impressive history as an engineering achievement. In the UK it won the Millennium Product Award and the John Logie Baird Award for innovation. In the US it has been included in the NAMM Centennial Collector series, and it is on display at NAMM's Museum of Making Music. Meanwhile, Kevin Mackie may be the only percussion inventor in history to have been received and congratulated by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to the music industry.
On The Double
You can check out the manufacturer's site at www.theduallist.com, . But that's just breaking the ice. You really need to check the pedal out in person. Put your foot on it and you'll understand what I mean. The possibilities are limited only by what you put into it. This is a serious new instrument that can-and most probably will-encourage drummers to reshape their thinking about how they play.
RHYTHM MAGAZINE - Ronan Macdonald
Winner of the John Logie Baird award for 'Best Invention Of The Year', The Duallist is a fast-track solution to those double bass drum woes. .
Here's a question that's been bugging me since I was first introduced to the rather remarkable and controversial piece of equipment I'm about to tell you about: is it possible to cheat at playing a musical instrument? I mean, is the concept of cheating even applicable in a non-competitive field such as music? You're probably wondering what I'm talking about. But if you'd tried The Duallist for yourself, similar issues would he crossing your mind. As you can see, essentially this is a single pedal that uses two beaters, meaning, in a nutshell, that you can simulate the effect of having two bass drums with one foot (we'll get into the specifics in a moment), leaving your other foot free to operate the hi-hat. This, it occurred to me and everyone else in the Rhythm office, could be construed as, like I said, 'cheating'. Two bass drums are meant to be played with two feet, after all, making hi-hat negotiation something of a challenge and requiring serious left toot development. But then, is using a double bass drum pedal cheating? What about an X-hat - is that cheating? The conclusion I eventually came to is that, no, The Duallist isn't in any way fraudulent; it's just different, requiring, as it does, a new kind of skill to be mastered.
JUST FOR KICKS
In terms of construction and styling, The Duallist is, I think, a rather sexy beast. It's manufactured by Du Pont (a company specialising in near-indestructible plastics and such like) from the same material used to make car pedals, which is presumably us strong as it gets. It certainly looks and feels it. Setting the thing up is a little daunting at first, it's bristling with no less than ten adjustment points, and there are two independently operating beaters, springs and cams to think about. While this could be seen as somewhat overwhelming, with perseverance and experimentation it allows for absolute set-up perfection.
So how does The Duallist actually work? Basically you have two separately sprung beaters (with four rotatable striking surfaces), one connected to the footboard in the normal way, the other with the connecting strap passing over the cam from front to back. Hence, with the pedal in its 'resting' position, the second beater is in contact with the drum head and first beater is at rest. When pressure is applied to the footboard, the first beater strikes the head as you'd expect) and the second is pulled back; release the pressure and the first beater comes back while the second moves forward and hits the head. Thus you get one stroke when you push your foot down, and another when you lift it back up. Without getting into the physics of it, it really is as simple as that. And given that most of the time you probably won't actually want to use both beaters, there's a big foot-operated lever on the left to lock the second one in the 'off' position, and another on the right to re-engage it. Okay, so the obvious move for the first time Duallist-ist is to kick out singles as fast possible a joyous endeavour that results in an incredibly satisfying and perfectly timed doubling up of what you're actually playing. It's... well it's mental, frankly. When the novelty of that has worn off, you want to start trying something a little more fancy, which is where it all gets considerably trickier. The fact that taking pressure off the footboard results in a strike on the bass drum is a nightmare at first, requiring a total re-assessment of the way you play to take it into account. But after a couple of hours I got a few licks together with the thing, and they really did sound a lot more impressive than the movement of my foot implied. I was doing stuff I couldn't have imagined pulling off with both feet on a double pedal. Certainly, a few months of practice with The Duallist could imbue any player with frighteningly fast, albeit simulated, 'double' bass drum technique. And all this with a pedalled hi-hat accompaniment.
PRIDE & PREJUDICE
All in all, The Duallist is a very nifty, if mildly eccentric, piece of gear. Just as a single pedal, with the second beater disengaged, it's very comfortable to play and pretty much infinitely adjustable. But kick in that other beater and you really are thrust into a new paradigm of bass drum artistry. It's a whole new ball game which not only allows you to match or even beat the speed of a double pedal, but lets you keep the hi-hat fully operational as well. And what an excellent thing that is, to be sure. So how well will The Duallist fare in commercial terms? As is so often the case where the drumming fraternity is concerned, this may well come down to how open-minded potential purchasers are willing to be. It does look rather unusual and a little intimidating, and there's always the risk of people seeing it as a novelty item - which it most certainly isn't. And then there's the price: it ain't cheap, but then neither is a second bass drum and pedal, or even a conventional double pedal, neither of which offer the same hi-hat accessibility anyway I for one would very much like to see it succeed, but however The Duallist's future pans out, there's no denying that it is a revolutionary new addition to the drummer's arsenal.