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BY AJ DONAHUE

What do you know about Yamaha bass drum pedals? I’ve used several models on backline kits and just about every electronic drum set I’ve ever played. For the most part, I’ve always considered them to be reliable, smooth machines that felt very good but otherwise unremarkable. Perhaps this is because Yamaha’s pedal designs are clean and economic without being flashy. But Yamaha’s new FP9 bass drum pedals might start to shift opinions like these. These new models are thoughtfully built, loaded with helpful features, and pretty damn slick, to boot. Let’s dig in.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

As mentioned above, the FP9 pedals make quite an impression visually. They maintain some of the same structural shapes seen in previous models, but incorporate much more striking elements from top to bottom.

Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle

Per Yamaha, the design was inspired by its YZF-R1 motorcycles. The light-weight, aluminum cast footboards sport chromed exteriors that really pop against brushed black, brushed steel, and polished blue elements. Electric blue bearing housings, while small, create a kind of signature look which I think is something that’s been missing from previous Yamaha pedals. These are pretty pieces.

KEY FEATURES AND FEEL

In addition to the visual upgrades, Yamaha also built in a host of exciting new components to help with customizing feel, improving performance, and adding stability.

Most notably, the new adjustable cams and linkage units allow users to identify and select their preferred pedal action. Both models come equipped with three-position, locking sliders that change where and to what degree tension is activated in the stroke with simple drum key bolt toggles.

FP9C Cam Adjustment

FP9C Cam Adjustment

On the double-chain model, the player can select between a smoother concentric action with even tension throughout the stroke, an eccentric action with a lighter feel at first but a heavier finish for power, or a mix of both. The direct-drive FP9, however, maintains the lighter feel up top and the heavier follow through in all three settings, but varies the degree of resistance at each position.

FP9D Link Adjustment

FP9D Link Adjustment


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After testing the pedals for a few weeks, I found those differences much more noticeable in the double-chain model. The shift in feel from a mostly concentric motion to an eccentric motion is tangible, and having the option to use both was really nice for me. (See this recent piece about cam action for more info.)

On the direct drive pedal, the difference was more a matter of resistance in the stroke. It was like a quick toggle for overall spring tension rather than a significant change to its action. In the video above, I whiffed two strokes on the pedal after the first adjustment because I wasn’t prepared for the increased resistance (not because I have weak ankles).

Both models also come equipped with footboard link bearings, which replace standard linkages with bearings for smooth action. Both pedals have incredibly smooth responses.

Speaking of the drivers, compared to other pedals I’ve played the chain drive unit feels a little closer to a direct link, and the direct drive feels a little closer to a chain drive. That said, I think each still offers the respective benefits players would be most attracted to in each style. The chain drive uses an extra-thick, heavy chain combo that doesn’t seem to flex quite as quickly as other double-chain drivers I’m used to. It still feels chain-y, but just a bit tighter in the return action.

On the other hand, the direct unit features a split design that actually accommodates just a bit of chain-like flexibility. It maintains the immediate return I’ve felt in other DD pedals, but has an enjoyable, slightly softer feel on the downstroke.

Right out of the box, both FP9s were set up to feel low and quick in a way that reminded me of some longboard-style pedals. The action on each is light and fast, and clearly geared toward economy of motion. But thanks to the independent footboard and beater angle adjustments, along with the other features mentioned above, that’s not set in stone. It only took a moment to drastically alter the feel of each pedal, and graduated markings on each toggle made it easy to lock in a preferred setting or quickly return to defaults.

The round, firm, felt FP9 beater features a weight adjustment tool that I’ve never seen before. Its spring loaded nut on the beater shaft can accommodate the included steel or brass horseshoe-shaped washers to add weight. You just slide the nut down, slip on one or both of the washers to dial in your preferred throw weight, and start kicking.

One of my favorite features on the FP9s is the upward-facing spring tension adjustment knob. Rather than integrating the tension knob into the main spring anchor post, Yamaha built the mechanism out so it faces up and away from the base of the pedal. That makes a huge difference for quick tension adjustments without being intrusive.

Finally, those blue bearing housings mentioned above are precision fitted to each axle to prevent slippage, rocking, and looseness. I experienced no wiggle or instability in my testing for this review. It’s hard to say exactly how effective those housing pieces are, but both of the FP9 units feel incredibly sturdy.

One gripe I have with both models is that the cams extend so far forward that they can rub the batter heads of any bass drum with a 2” deep hoop. That’s true in any position, and it gets even worse when those adjustable cams are the forward-most position which pushes the drum-facing section of the cam out ever further. To compensate for that, I had to anchor the clamp at only about half depth on the hoop. That felt a little less secure, and it kind of turned into a guessing game each time, but it didn’t lead to any other problems.

(Start the video below at 1:24 to check out the pedal’s debut at NAMM 2019)

VERDICT

I really enjoyed these pedals. Out of the box, both FP9 models share a low, slick playability that’s easy on the legs, but the immense opportunities for customizing every aspect make it easy to find the right feel for any foot. They’re stylish, easy to operate, and beautifully smooth in action. I’m not thrilled about where the cams sit in relation to bass drum batter heads, but that’s a fairly easy problem to remedy.

FEATURES

FP9D Direct Drive Pedal

  • Quick-adjusting direct-drive link
  • Axle-stabilizing bearing chamber
  • Low-profile stabilizing hinge
  • Easy-access, auto-lock spring adjustment
  • Weight-adjustable felt beater
  • Independent beater/footboard angle adjustment
  • Ball bearing drive connection
  • Anti-skid heel spikes
  • Carrying case

FP9C Chain Drive Pedal

  • Quick adjusting cam
  • Heavy duty double chain drive
  • Axle-stabilizing bearing chamber
  • Low-profile stabilizing hinge
  • Easy access, auto lock spring adjustment
  • Adjustable weight beater
  • Independent beater/footboard angle adjustment
  • Ball bearing drive connection
  • Anti-skid heel spikes
  • Carrying case
STREET PRICES

FP9D Direct Drive Pedal: $329.99

FP9C Chain Drive Pedal: $329.99

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