A new device designed by drummer Arti Dixson and marketed by Evans caught my eye on Amazon, called the “Evans Dixson Bass Drum Lift” (or EDBL for short). As a “Vine” member, I was able to order it for basically zip in exchange for a review there, so I thought I’d give it a try.
Up front, this is a fairly long post as it’s not only a more detailed review of this product, but also the adventure it took to properly install it. It should interest not only drummers, but anyone who’d like to read about a bit of drum history and/or the mechanics of drums themselves. Plus, as an added bonus, there’s lots of pretty pictures too!
Let’s start out with Evan’s claims:
- Lifts bass drum 2-3” off the ground for improved resonance and beater striking location.
- Designed to work with bass drums ranging from 16”-24” in size.
- Bass drum pedals clamp directly onto the lift rather than the drum hoop, avoiding hoop damage completely.
That all sounds great, a simple way to obtain additional resonance from your bass drum by getting it up off the floor, while also providing better protection for its rear hoop.
It made perfect sense when I first thought about it, since I use DW STM’s (Suspension Tom Mounts), for the same reason.
STM’s suspend toms from the tuning lugs instead of the usual method, where tom mounting hardware is inserted into the top of the bass drum and the toms themselves. That tends to inhibit resonance in both. Unlike that mounting system, STM mounts “float” the toms, thereby allowing them and the bass drum to resonate much more freely.
But, I digress… Back to reviewing this bass drum lift.
For openers, I don’t buy into this “ideal striking position” business mentioned on top of the box, which translates into centering double kick pedal beaters as much as possible in order to obtain the same pitch from both.
Long before double kick pedals were available, drummers starting using double bass drums to obtain two different pitches (one perhaps around 1/2 step higher than the other), mainly in Jazz way back in the 1940’s. This adds great dynamics to the kit’s sound, and separate rhythmic patterns are much more distinguishable. Some notable drummers such Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Ginger Baker (Cream), and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) have used different diameter bass drums, for this very reason.
This practice of tuning double bass drums identically became popular when genres such as Thrash and Death Metal first emerged, beginning in the 1980’s. It helps a drummer to obtain increased kick speed, while still sounding like a single bass drum is in being played. However, it also completely eliminates the sonic improvements that double bass drums provide in the first place, as discussed above.
Think about it in this way: Would you want all toms in your drum kit the same diameter and depth, and/or tune them all to exactly the same pitch? Of course not, because the dynamics of playing rolls across them would be totally lost. It’s no different with double bass drums or double kick pedals.
I always set my double kick pedal with one beater striking the exact center of the batter head, which places the other just a bit to the left in order to obtain that small but significant difference in pitch between the two. It creates a very positive effect on the overall sound of the kit, for all of the reasons I’ve already mentioned.
Here’s the official Evans demo video for the EBDL:
Wow, looks really easy, just drop it in and go, right? However, when you take into account everything else that must also be adjusted after installing it, nothing could be further from the truth.
For the sake of clearing up terminology used in the remainder of this post, here’s a basic diagram of how the lift is constructed, straight out of the box:
Some difficulties I ran into while installing this lift on my bass drum and kick pedal, some of the best gear in the business:
- DW Performance Series 22″ bass drum (8-ply North American Hard Rock Maple)
- Tama Iron Cobra double kick pedal
(Note: In the following photos, please ignore the original DW pedal clamp pad still affixed to the inside of the hoop.)
- It seemed the inside of the lift cradle needed to be placed right up against the batter head ring under the drum, or the pedal clamp area would not protrude enough for the clamp itself to clear the outside of the hoop.
The goal then became getting the lift’s pedal clamp area to extend as far from the hoop as possible, while still providing a small gap from the inside of the cradle to the batter head rim. If that occurred, not only would it place unwanted pressure on that rim along with the hoop itself, but also have a detrimental effect on the drum’s tuning.
Initially, the best I could get was a clearance of less than 1/4″ between the pedal clamp and hoop. Worse yet it was actually sitting a bit underneath it. That’s way too close for comfort as far as I’m concerned:
I was finally able to obtain a bit more pedal clamp clearance from the hoop using small adjustments of the bass drum’s front legs, along with painfully minute positioning changes to the lift itself. Then, I added some adhesive padding to the front of the pedal clamp so no hoop damage would occur if it actually managed to make contact there.
Instead of actually providing enhanced protection for the hoop as claimed, here’s a more extreme example of this clearance issue, which would actually cause hoop damage due to this clearance problem:
Go back and watch the Evans product video, pause at about 19 seconds into it, then inch your way forward, slowly. You can see the bottom of the bass drum hoop contact the pedal clamp, bounce off, then actually settle on top of it. Now, no worries about marring the inside of the hoop, but you can bet the outside of it is going to take a big-time beating rubbing against that pedal clamp.
A screen capture of that moment:
- Why use Velcro hook material in the pedal clamp area, when some sort of padded surface would have provided a better grip? That just makes zero sense to me, it may as well not even be present.
- While the Velcro hook surface on the bottom of the lift is a great thing to keep it from sliding forward on carpet, it makes precise placement adjustments very difficult. I guess it’s a necessary evil, but getting the lift in just the right spot is a real hassle, and a game of far less than inches to begin with.
- The Velcro loop surface on the top of the cradle is in my opinion much too thin. Since it’s the main area supporting the drum, I have to think it will wear down rather quickly possibly leading to yet more bass drum damage, this time to the shell surface itself.
Get Ready for Adjustments Galore
- Extension of the front bass drum legs to match the height of the lift, which is absolutely required to “re-level” the bass drum shell.
- Tom heights will need to be changed, likely to positions you probably won’t feel is quite as optimal, due to the lift raising the bass drum 3” off the floor.
If your kit is equipped with suspension tom mounts, the bottom tom hoops will now likely be sitting directly on top of your bass drum.
If it has conventional tom mounts, adjustments will still be necessary since your toms have now also been raised 3″ higher by the increased lift of the bass drum.
In both cases, your snare and floor tom heights will also need an identical adjustment, in order to match the changes you’ve just made to the toms on your bass drum.
Remember, the primary aim of this device is to provide increased bass drum resonance. The same thing could have been accomplished with half or less as much lift, which in all likelihood would have made these changes unnecessary, depending on the set-up of your drum kit.
- On to yet more adjustments, this time to the pedal itself. I had to raise the beater heights to nearly maximum, in order for them to make contact at the same position on the batter head as they were prior to installing the lift.
- After that, the beaters were able to swing back during rebound enough to strike the front of my calf bone, which needless to say is quite the painful experience if using anything but full felt beaters. So, yet more pedal adjustments, this time to move the starting beater shaft angles forward about 45 degrees while at rest. Naturally, this can potentially have a huge impact on how you’re able to play your pedals.
- Of course, once you’ve dealt with all of that and more, there’s the pleasure of having to reposition most if not all of your drum microphone mounts.
Adding confusion, there’s not a shred of documentation supplied, not that much is needed.
The one thing that baffled me for a few minutes was what the extra adhesive padding strip included was intended for. There’s not a word about it in or on the box, nor the Evans or Amazon web sites. No other choice, it’s Google time.
After searching for a while, I ran into a video on the Sam Ash web site explaining that this strip must be used when installing the lift under a 16, 18, or 20” bass drum as a replacement for the top of the cradle’s existing Velcro loop surface.
That set off a light bulb over my head. Why not try it on my 22″ bass drum anyway? It certainly should assist in taking care of those concerns I was discussing earlier…
Concern #1: Possible shell damage due to very thin Velcro loop cradle padding:
Another look at the lift with the Velcro loop material replaced by the included extra padding strip, which is about three times as thick and made of much more rugged material:
Concern #1 solved.
Concern #2: Very little clearance between the pedal clamp and hoop.
This was also solved by the cradle pad replacement above. Previously only 1/4″, the clearance is now over double that amount. What a difference, as you can clearly see in the photo below.
Concern #2 solved.
Finally, I got to play my kit to hear what (if anything) all of this struggle had accomplished. As far as enhanced resonance, it’s not a huge amount, although admittedly there is a noticeable improvement.
At this point, if you’re considering installing this lift on your kit, here’s the question you have to ask yourself: Is that bit of resonance improvement worth going through all of the hassle I just described?
Admittedly, depending on the set-up of your bass drum, kick pedal, and the rest of your kit, the installation process might work out more easily for you than it did for me. As with many things of this nature, your mileage may vary.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention: This product, which amounts to a hunk of plastic, has a street price of $40.
I wish I was smoking the same shit as those guys over at Evans, and I’d bet the farm that Arti Dixson is laughing all the way to the bank.
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