BY JOHN NYMAN
From the wilds of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., comes Charles Fisher with his maverick new invention, the Off-Set double-bass pedal. Unlike your standard double-pedal footwear, the Off-Set does not have a main and a secondary footboard. Instead, the Off-Set’s pedals are placed to the left and the right of the bass drum, thus allowing you to ergonomically configure your kit by planting your throne directly behind the kick. Granted, it looks a lot different from what you are used to playing, but I’ll give you the skinny right here at the start: It’s a pretty cool piece of gear made with some serious quality.
FINDING YOUR CENTER
I unboxed and set up the Off-Set with gleeful assistance from the owner of my local drum-rental company. First, take our advice, and follow the included instructions. We didn’t, so set up became a little bit of a pain. The pedal might have worked straight out of the box, but we started tweaking it right away and got sort of … confused. Just contain yourself, and spend the few extra minutes getting it right.
After attaching the Off-Set’s center frame to the bass drum hoop, we discovered that neither the left nor the right beater can be placed dead center on the drumhead. A support piece on the center frame precludes either beater from sliding into the fully centered position. On the plus side, this still allow for both beaters to hit symmetrical spots on the head — very barely off-center — and produce symmetrical tones.
The pedal itself is fully adjustable for tension, throw, pedal height, and beater height. The very nice double-faced beaters (felt and plastic) come complete with adjustable counterweights. The pedal also boasts a double-chain drive on a round cam, and there is Velcro on the bottom of all three base plates. (I must confess that I loathe Velcro on base plates. Is it just a fashion trend? Am I alone in this?) One of the advantages of the Off-Set system is that it reduces the amount of “push-pressure” on the bass drum. Your leg doesn’t push the drum all around the floor, so as long as the pedal’s base plate is secure, the bass drum nicely stays put.
Once up and thumpin’, the Off-Set got really rave reviews from both me and Mr. Drum Rental. Between us, we’ve played quite a few pedals, and this is a good one. We think that the Off-Set’s overall quality workmanship contributes to the fine feel of the pedal because there is absolutely no mushiness in the action. Both drive shafts are beefy, well-made, stiff, and even covered at the joints with rubber booties, like an automotive axle. Points for that. The pedals stayed put, Velcro and all, and they felt like two single pedals — very responsive and really tight (in the good way). Furthermore, the Off-Set has springs at the center frame and at each pedal. This thing is faster than you (yes, even you, Mr. Fleet-of-Feet) and not likely to fall apart on a gig. My friend did opine, however, that setting up the pedal for the first time (as in new-and-out-of-the- box) on a gig could be a nightmare because it takes some adjusting to get it where you want it.
Please do set the pedal up with a drum buddy around because the Off-Set — besides being fun to play — is a catalyst for long, lively arguments about drum history and ergonomics: Do you think the old jazz guys set up low and close because they liked it? Or was it because they had no other choice? If the remote hi-hat had been invented first, would we all be playing cross-handed? Didn’t the invention of the boom cymbal stand allow you to put the cymbals closer to your center? Why do we continue to put toms on the bass drum when the bass drum is not the true center of our kit? How else can a drum set be more ergonomic? Will I be able to play better? These are just suggested topics for throwing the gauntlet. Don’t forget the Band-Aids.
We were very, very impressed by the Off-Set pedal. It’s bound to spark discussion, derision, and defense, but it’s a quality piece of gear that works great. It’s even priced well at a competitive $292. Current owners of the first-generation Off-Set can upgrade by ordering the newer, better center pedestal (minus the beaters) for $85. Sweet.
Model: Off-Set Double-Bass Drum Pedal
Features: 12.5″ x 3.5″ footboards, fully adjustable double-drive chain, quad drive springs, antiskid spurs, adjustable beater holders, double-sided beaters
Contact: Off-Set Bass Drum Pedal Company, PO Box 402, Coalport, PA 16627. 814-672-5780.www.pointtremolo.com