BY JOHN NYMAN
A FALCON FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM
The Falcon bass drum pedal from Mapex is sleek and refined. Rather than go for broad strokes of re-invention, Mapex wrought this pedals from intelligent, thoughtful improvements to the status quo. For starters, it looks incredible. The sleek blackness of the Falcon caught my eye right away. The finish is glossy, like a deep-baked enamel, and it invites the eye to linger. And, as you look closely, you will see the numerous subtle features and improvements that make the Falcon noteworthy.
This is a very handsome pedal from the ground up. Even the upright posts are cosmetically appealing, especially the shiny inserts in the uprights. They are made of Inox. According to everyone’s favorite artificial intelligence booster, Wikipedia, Inox is another word for stainless steel, from the French inoxydable (no oxidation). Mapex claims that these burly inserts in the frame maintain strength and rigidity without requiring that the frame be gigantic. This increased strength and rigidity also promises to maintain tighter tolerances of axle shaft and bearing alignment. On the Falcon P1000 (single) pedal, the drive shaft itself is machined from Inox. That’s kind of fancy. But the change you can really see is the reduced bulk of the pedal that this material allows.
If you’ve been shopping pedals these last ten years or so, you may have notice that bass drum pedal frames have been getting bigger and bigger in a search for stronger and stiffer. Mapex refutes that trend. Mapex has also opted for a smaller footprint than “normal” on these pedals. To many drummers, this will help with multipedal positioning. Personally, I’m just happy about less “mass” to carry around in my hardware cases! Either way, the idea is a good one: Better, not just bigger.
But better has to start somewhere – namely with the status quo as a springboard. The Falcons, single and double, are traditional pedals at their cores. Footboard/beater tension is administered by an expansion spring, and power is transferred via chain. But, with the Falcons, both a chain and a nylon strap are included, and the choice is yours. The dynamic feel of the pedal is influenced by a cam. And here again Mapex smartly includes both a round and offset cam hub with each Falcon.
Making a pedal stronger and smaller, and including both chain and strap and a choice of cams, seems a pretty good start to me. But there’s more – plenty more. Details and niceties abound in tidbit morsels of smart design, some revealed in practice.
Before I could get this pedal to a gig I had to configure it to my own “normal” setting. I usually play a Tama Iron Cobra. In previous decades I played a DW 5000, which was preceded by pedals from Gretsch, Pearl, and others, making me a pretty average consumer. I’ve tested many of the newest pedals, of many designs and brands. I usually hate the setup chore. Not this time.
I put the Falcon on a desktop. I put my Iron Cobra into position facing it. With one Allen wrench and one drum key I was able to duplicate footboard height, beater stroke, spring tension, and beater height in about ten minutes. I was thrilled. Mapex makes it all so easy. The footboard height and beater stroke are both under the pressure of one screw. I simply loosened that screw and then moved the beater and footboard to where I wanted them before tightening the screw. This is better than pedals that promote war between the two parameters you are trying to adjust. Fix one, the other moves. Fix the other, and move number one has slipped back a bit … etc., etc.
And as it turns out, that single screw was the hardest part! The rest was even easier. The beater adjustment is very direct and the reversible (felt/hard rubber) Mapex beater has a choice of two weights that go inside the beater head. The footboard toe stop is adjustable and removable (I remove mine). Spring tension looks quite normal and is easy to adjust, but please notice that Mapex has terminated the spring ends in rocker-arm assemblies. The spring does not chafe against a solid anchor. Sweet.
Even the hoop clamp is cleverer than most. Of course the pedal attaches to the bass drum hoop via a clamp, but the under side of the clamp is on a swivel plate. I’ve been waiting many, many years for this one. The Falcon pedal footboard will remain flush to the floor even if your hoop is at a bit of a cant or the floor is a bit uneven. Hallelujah! This used to be the small failure of drum pedals built on a base plate (they came about in the ’80s). And though gaining the advantages of the base plate was worth the price, it’s nice to see this small failure finally corrected. The Falcon has retractable spurs too.
The hoop clamp is tightened via a wing nut that is offset and positioned midway down the base plate. The base plate is bottomed with ridged rubber and has a removable strip of Velcro. Finally, a treaty between drummers who love Velcro and drummers who hate it! And, the Velcro strip is firmly attached to a small strip of metal that fastens with screws. This removable Velcro is sturdy, clean, and very nicely done.
The footboard has a brushed-metal finish and some lightly engraved designs in it next to the Mapex name. Mapex was looking to prevent interference underfoot that could come from elaborate carvings. The heel plate is a bit elongated and the hinge rides on bearings. Frankly, there’s very little Mapex missed in this elegantly finessed pedal.
The Falcon double bass drum pedal (P1000TW) is more good stuff and one more thing. From the box I adjusted the pedal to my “normal” configuration, proving to myself that the first, easy adjustment on the single pedal wasn’t just some fluke. Fitting it onto my bass drum I noticed the other small bonus: The beaters on the P1000TW are set on both sides of the drive chain, making both beaters strike the head equidistant from the center. This is a nice upgrade for drummers who didn’t like the two-tone sound effect produced by pedals with one beater centered and one off-centered.
The rest of the double pedal was like the single: small footplates, gleaming black paint, rugged stainless steel inserts, smart adjustability. The linkage between master and slave pedals has rubber sleeves on the joints, and the sliding linkage bar is tethered at the ends. You can slide the bar wide or close, but when you slide it to maximum wide it doesn’t come apart. Another nice improvement.
WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?
Only a few glitches came to my eye. One is the lovely reduced size, which, ror a drummer with really big feet, could mean space between the uprights gets kind of tight. Also, the beater is secured via a single screw that presses against the beater shaft. This is an old design, and a couple of companies have actually improved on it. Mapex did not, but I will give it credit for making the beater height memory clamp work really well. Still old-school, but at least it’s well-done old-school. And that’s about all I could find wrong with this pedal! Granted, it’s not a revolutionary pedal design, merely a set of refinements in gleaming black. Sounds pretty good to me! Feels good too. On gigs the Falcon (single) was transparently effective. Buttery, quiet, powerful, just as I expected. Oh, and it comes with a nifty, durable carrying case.
Boxed into the reviewer’s corner, I have to admit I haven’t seen a crappy bass drum pedal in many years. Standards are so high that even modest pedals are pretty darn good. But up here in the expensive neighborhood there’s a new top contender: the Mapex Falcon. Of course pedals, like shoes, are a very personal choice. You’ll have to put your foot to it. But be sure to add the Falcon to your shopping list, especially if you like appropriately nitpicky, intelligent tweaks offered in a cohesive design that are the result of refinement rather than adventure.
MODEL LIST PRICE
P1000 Single Pedal $329
P1000TW Double Pedal $649
FEATURES Smaller frame and footplate; reinforced with stainless steel; includes two cams and two drive modes (chain/strap); removable Velcro on bottom; elongated heel plate; self-leveling hoop clamp; cool glossy black enamel finish.
Mapex USA, Inc.