April 15, 2006

Gear Review: Pearl Powershifter Eliminator Double Bass Drum Pedal

It's almost a month since I got my brand new Pearl Powershifter Eliminator double bass drum pedal. Despite the few weeks of use on gigs, rehearsals and recording, I think all that time (and work) is good enough to make a review of these nice top-of-the-line pedals from Pearl.

First of all, I used to be a Tama Iron Cobra double pedal user (I used to have the Rolling Glide model). Second, the reason I got this new pedal is because I'm having the urge to improve my foot technique. And I thought that a great way to inspire myself is to get a better set of pedals. I was thinking about getting the Power Glide (offset cam) version of the Iron Cobra. Then, I read and heard a lot of raves about Pearl's Eliminator pedals. Out of curiosity, I decided to check out these pedals.

A couple of months ago, I got to test the Eliminators (thanks to Mr. JP Buduan of Yupangco Music, the local distributor of Pearl drum products). I tested both the chain-driven and the belt-driven versions. Straight out of the box, both pedals felt great. The chain-driven Elims have a great, direct response. But I fell in love with the smooth, floating feel of the belt-driven Elims. I was so impressed, I had one unit reserved for me. A month later and in time for Yupangco's summer sale, I finally got it.

The packaging and the bag that came with it are nicely made. The box is well-designed and printed, I decided to keep it aside instead of throwing it away for recycling. The double pedal bag is something that our p.a. Art really appreciates. It's a soft case, yet it is well-stitched and its fabric material is built for heavy-duty work.

The bag is compact, has a nice ergonomic handle & it can be used with a shoulder strap, which Art really likes because of its "wear-ability" (compared to the Iron Cobra's hard case, which is bulkier and doesn't have a shoulder strap). It even has outside and inside pockets for accessories and other gig essentials such as pencils, notes, metronome, cables, etc. The pedal's extra cams and accessories are even packaged in these nice "jewel box" plastic cases.

The Elims have plenty of hi-tech features which really give me plenty of custom adjustments, depending on my playing style and preferences. My favorite features are the interchangeable cams and the Traction Control Footboard.

With the interchangeable cams, I can choose from 6 different kinds of color-coded cams (4 cams are stocked; 2 are sold separately). The beauty of this system is it's like having many different kinds of pedals, all in one unit. I simply have the freedom to choose the cam that I prefer. Right now I'm using the more extreme red cam, which gives me the most power and the fastest response. I'm also experimenting with the blue cam, another offset cam which I find slightly more controllable than the red cam. I also tried the concentric black and white cams, where in I really felt its smooth, uniform response and balance (which reminded me of my good old Rolling Glide Cobras). The cams are also so easy to attach and detach, thanks to the aid of a push button.

The Traction Control Footboard is the feature that I truly appreciate. Since I have a sliding-style footwork, I took advantage of the footboard's adjustability. There are two sides - the grip side and the slide side. I mounted the slide side nearest to my foot. For maximum slip, I removed all the rubber Traction Dots. This set-up gives me the ultimate in bass drum sliding footwork. And if the time comes when I want my foot to stick to the pedal, I can easily adjust the Traction Control Footboard and re-mount the rubber Traction Dots. It's that easy; and I can't think of any other pedal which can give a drummer that kind of option.

In regards to its performance... To be honest, I'm still in the process of experimenting with various pedal set-ups. I'll hopefully find my best custom pedal set-up sooner or later. In the meantime, my current red cam, "all-slide" set-up is working really well for me. I find the Elims' overall feel to be somewhere between the lighter DW pedals and the slightly heavier, beefier Iron Cobra pedals. I feel like my footwork style is matched for the Elims. It's not too light, not too heavy; it's just right.

Oh yeah, another thing that I love about the Elims... the Quad Beater. It has 4 different beater surfaces (2 felt & 2 plastic, each with different surface area impacts), which gives me the option of 4 different kinds of bass drum sounds. Most of the time, I'm using the felt surface with the wider line contact.

On gigs and practices, I really feel comfortable and confident with the pedal. As long as the peds are well-maintained, everything's tight and in proper order, I'm not foreseeing any problems for this pedal. Speaking of tight, I always make sure that all of the pedal's screws and adjustments are always tightened up nicely before any performance. After a week of gigging, recording and rehearsals, I took the peds out for maintenance and noticed that a number of screws (in particular, from the belt drive's drumkey-head screw and the Traction Control Footboard's allen screws) loosened just a little bit. So, better keep those in check. I'm glad I'm not so lazy when it comes to maintenance.

I have a few cons on the Elims. First, I wish that the Elims' tension springs are similar to the Iron Cobra's, where in one can just pull out the ball bearings holding the spring tensions, for storage purposes. With that, set-up and tear-down is easier & there's no need to unscrew the beaters. It's an Iron Cobra feature that the Eliminators do not have, and I'm missing it. Another thing is, I hope that the Elims are built tough just like the Iron Cobras. My 3-year old Iron Cobras are so durable, when I sold it to its new owner, he was surprised because its feel was like brand-new. Only time can tell whether the Elims are built to last. I have a few friends who own 3-to-5-year old Elims, so I'm expecting that much life span for my pedals.

Overall, I'm enjoying the Eliminator pedals, I appreciate all its high-tech features, and I'm hoping that these peds can help me improve my footwork and be with me for a good number of years.