Although drum maintenance may not be the most exciting aspect of being a drummer, the fact remains that taking care of your drum set is the only way to truly get the most out of your kit and also sound your very best whether in recordings or live.
While the drums themselves are highly important, one of the most overlooked parts of the drum set cleaning routine is the bass drum pedal. Despite the fact that bass drum pedals can get by with a bit of lubricant and frequent use, to significantly improve the longevity of your bass drum pedal, cleanings every few months are essential. But, what is the right way to clean said pedal, how can you ensure you don’t make a common mistake and wind up with a broken pedal, and what lubricants are best for smooth playing?
The keys to a clean bass drum pedal are fairly simple. To clean your bass drum pedal in the simplest and most effective way possible, first remove any preexisting pedal lubricant and separate the slave pedal if it’s a double pedal. Next, lay the pedal on a towel and remove any fasteners, screws, or springs so you can clean every piece using proper cleaning supplies and an old toothbrush. Then, spray your new lubricant into the U-joint, any other moving parts, and on the fasteners and screws. Lastly, wipe away excess lubricant with a lint-free cloth and reassemble your pedal to be done.
For a more in-depth breakdown of this process and answers to the rest of the questions above, let’s take a closer look at the intricacies of bass drum pedal maintenance below.
What NOT to do When Cleaning a Bass Drum Pedal
There are many mistakes that can be made when cleaning your bass drum pedal which can cause serious damage to the pedal and its smoothness over time. For starters, when disassembling your pedal for cleaning, it can be easy to lose pieces of your pedal which will immediately make it impossible to reassemble.
Similarly, when disassembling your pedal, you may also want to clean your pedal with standard cleaning supplies and not ones designated for instruments specifically. The problem is that these household cleaning supplies can be corrosive and damaging to your bearings, springs, and other parts that are integral to the longevity and quality of your bass drum pedal overall.
Some of the inherently bad cleaning supplies to use include bleach, LA’s Awesome Orange, Ajax, and polishing sprays like Pine Sol. Instead, opt for instrument-centric cleaning supplies, Simichrome polish, ProCussion Pedallube, and WD-40. In the same sense, some of the most horrendous lubricant options to use include vegetable oil which will harden and destroy bearings as well as bike and machine lubricants not mae for delicate parts.
You also will want to not opt for cleaning utensils like brillo pads, dremels, and sanding gear as this can significantly damage your pedal base and other elements. Instead, use a toothbrush, polishing lint-free cloths, and other less abrasive cleaning items to avoid damaging these parts irreparably.
By taking into account these slip-ups, you can insure that your bass drum pedal is handled appropriately when cleaning and that every step is done correctly.
Proper instructions for Disassembling and Cleaning at Home
Now that you know the most common mistakes, it is time to learn the right way to disassemble and clean your bass drum pedal on your own. By following the step-by-step instructions below, you will be able to increase the lifespan of your bass drum pedal and the smoothness in which it responds as well.
- Set up Your Workspace
When cleaning your bass drum pedal, it will be far easier if your workspace is clean, indoors, and set up with a towel, a lint-free cloth, your toothbrush or other cleaning mechanism, your lubricant and cleaning supplies of choice, and a small container for the small parts you will be removing.
- Remove any Preexisting Pedal Lubricant
Next, use your cleaning utensil and cleaning supplies to break down and remove all of the leftover pedal lubricant that is likely hardened and eliminating the smoothness of your pedal overall. Make sure that none of it is left anywhere as it may respond poorly with your new lubricant.
- Separate the Slave Pedal if it’s a Double Pedal
After the old lubricant is removed, separate your slave pedal if you are using a double pedal so both can be disassembled and reassembled separately. If you have a double pedal, you may also want to have two separate small containers for parts as well so nothing gets mixed up in the reassembling process.
- Remove Fasteners, Screws, Springs, etc.
As you disassemble your pedal, take all of these fasteners, screws, and springs and set them aside in your small container until you are ready to clean them and reattach them to your pedal. This will ensure that you lose nothing and you can easily put your pedal back together.
- Clean Everything Using a Toothbrush or Similar
Now that your pedal is entirely disassembled, take your toothbrush and cleaning supplies, coat your parts with the cleaner, and scrub in every crevice until your pedal looks good as new. This will remove debris, excess lubricant, and other elements that may be affecting the performance of your pedal. Once done, wipe down your parts with a lint-free cloth and set them down.
- Spray U-Joint, Fasteners, Screws, and Other Moving Parts With Lubricant
Next, take your new lubricant, attach the spray nozzle to the end, and spray your fasteners, screws, moving parts, and U-joint. This will keep your pedal smooth for longer. However, do not over-apply as this is where ‘gunking up’ your pedal comes into play. Once again, it is important to note that vegetable oil, machine and bike lubricants, and grease are not adequate lubricants. It is best to use lubricant made specifically for instruments.
- Wipe Away Excess Lubricant With Lint-Free Cloth
Since there is usually off-spray when lubricating a bass drum pedal, use one of your lint-free cloths to wipe away the excess so you don’t have the problems too much lubricant creates. Make sure to also remove the lubricant from other places as it will make your pedal slippery and polishing your pedal will also become more difficult.
- Reassemble Your Pedal
Lastly, reassemble your pedal using all the parts you put in your small container that have now been thoroughly cleaned. Once your pedal is back together, you can polish your pedal using metal polish to give it a beautiful and clean finish.
Well, that’s it! You have officially cleaned your bass drum pedal and increased its lifespan in doing so. Now, let’s discuss the best bass drum pedal lubricants as this is truly the key to a long-lasting pedal with a smooth response.
What are the Best Bass Drum Pedal Lubricants to use?
Although there is much debate around WD-40, we don’t recommend its constant use as it should only be used to break down old lube more than anything else. If used as a lubrication solution, it can affect bass drum pedal bearings and also evaporates quickly making it less than effective.
As such, the best lubricants to use are instrument-specific lubricants, lithium grease, Penetro90/Penetrene, and lanolin-based oils such as air tool oils. If you are unsure about what instrument lubricant is best, you can also always give your local instrument shop a call and ask for their repairman’s advice as well.
Single VS Double Bass Drum Pedals: Which is Best?
Another question many drummers have when it comes to bass drum pedals is whether or not getting a double pedal is really that much better or not. To put it simply, it all depends on the type of music you are doing, your devotion to your kit, and what your overall goals as a drummer are.
If you are in a metal or rock band, you may want to opt for a double pedal set as this will allow you to do the rolls that other drummers in these bands are known for such as The Rev, Dave Lombardo, and Dave Grohl. However, many argue that at that point, it may be in your best interest to simply get a double drum bass setup entirely as this will create a far more powerful sound and be much crisper on recordings than any other setup would be.
On the other hand, if you are not looking for fast drum beats, a powerful presence on stage and in recordings, or the ability to do rolls, there is no reason to get a double pedal setup unless you simply want it. All in all, they take more time to maintain, cost more, and are mostly effective if you are looking for that metal or rock drum rolling ability.
Although cleaning your bass drum pedal may be a bit involved, by focusing your efforts on cleaning your pedal every few months, you can significantly increase its performance and longevity. The main things to remember are that the lubricant you choose matters, the way you clean your pedal and the chemicals you use matter, and the way you treat your pedal the rest of the year matters most of all. For more information about drum maintenance and beyond, check out our entire instrument cleaning and maintenance blog today!
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