BY JOHN NYMAN
As everyone knows, the best way to accurately describe reality is through a really good metaphor. That’s why it seemed the moment I put the bite on these British-made Big Dog pedals, the canine-themed jokes and descriptions would fall right into place. You know, like, “Where did that Big Dog go? I’m used to finding him under foot.” Or, “I tested these Big Dogs out in the field, and didn’t even need to bring a poop bag!” Or, “If you don’t have a Clue what to play, investigate these Big Blue dogs.” (Kids, help me out with that last one.) But after conjuring up every single dog joke I could muster, I realized I was barking up the wrong tree (sorry, but it’s gonna get worse). Turns out, the right metaphorical vehicle for the Big Dog E001 single and E002 double bass drum pedals and B002 hi-hat stand, is a pickup truck. Just stay with me.
E001 SINGLE PEDAL
This pedal is a balance between the remarkable and the thoroughly unremarkable. It is priced quite low, retailing at $133.99. That’s a remarkably long leash-length from the retail price of some fancy high-end pedals on the market. So, what’s the difference? What’s the pedigree? And are there fleas on this dog?
Straight out of the box, the blue footboard really caught my attention. Surprisingly complementary, that blue. It put a spark under the whole drum set. And the dog logo? Cute. Ours is a logo-ridden world, and this one keeps pace. But the visual appeal comes from more than just the logo and the nicely baked-on blue enamel paint. The entire pedal has a balanced, thematic beauty to it. The cam hub, spring rocker, axle, and spring tension nuts are plated in a deep, gleaming chrome. The support posts and base plate are a subdued, matte black. Very handsome.
Straight from the box to the gig the pedal went, and it played just fine, thank you. Adjustments? It didn’t seem to need any. Ah, but perhaps you gear heads are thinking, “But I want to make adjustments.” Well, if there is a secret pee stain hiding on the carpet somewhere, this is it. The E001 has modest adjustability. And this is fine. What you see is what you get here, people. Pay small money. Play it. The end. It does everything necessary but nothing high-tech or fancy.
I was able to adjust the hoop clamp (for thicker or thinner bass drum hoops), the spring tension (for pedal tension, via a completely generic spring-on-a-threaded rod mechanism), beater height, and also placement of the included beater counterweight. I tried to adjust the length of the sturdy double chain, but to no avail. It’s a nonadjustable item, that one. I also tried to adjust the pedal height. Yes, it can be adjusted, but only in conjunction with the beater stroke. That is, pedal comes up, beater moves back. Pedal goes lower, beater moves closer to batter head. Hey, we put it back to the factory setting and it played just fine.
E002 DOUBLE PEDAL
First off, this one is a littermate to the single — clearly. It has the same blue footboard and doggie logo, the same excellently chromed bits and pieces, and matte black paint elsewhere, extending even to the linking drive shaft. Listed at a retail price of $345.99, it too is a bargain. But what of adjustability?
It’s pretty much the same story as the single pedal. WYSIWYG, and it’s fine as long as you don’t yearn to make a lot of adjustments. We do know that plenty of drummers set their left and right pedals differently on a double pedal setup. This is done to compensate for the differences between foot agility (for mortals, not for, you know, Jason Bittner or whomever). If you like your double pedal asymmetrical, yes you can do that on the Big Dog via the spring tension, and also by changing the slave footboard’s height, so that your left pedal is different than your right foot, but adjustments are limited to those described for the E001.
So, without much adjusting, how was it? It was just dandy, thank you. The E002 played great straight out of the box, no problems. And it’s twice as good-looking as the E001.
B002 HI-HAT STAND
The B002 hi-hat stand carries forth the themes of the bass drum pedals. Listing at $124.99, it’s also quite inexpensive. It has the same blue footplate and very lustrous chrome plating. An added bit of visual flair comes in thanks to the wing nuts, which are shaped like little dog bones and carry the Big Dog stamp. Trivial? Yes. Super-cool? Oh, yes.
Mechanically, there is no new ground broken with the B002, but that doesn’t stop it from being thoroughly functional. Double-braced legs and jumbo rubber feet keep it set. The footboard is chain-driven and attaches to the main chassis via the old-school arrangement of flexible, chromed wires that fit into holes and are released via a good squeeze. The legs can be rotated to accommodate multiple-pedal setups. Spring tension is adjustable by a large, handy, black plastic ring. Cymbal height is generous via a main tube (in a nylon collar and with a memory lock, of course) that can go to nearly 37″ tall or as low as 30″, enough to handle Denny Carmassi- or Buddy Rich-inspired configurations with ease. The cymbal cup tilter is plastic and decidedly old-school, with a bolt that pushes up on the washer. The clutch is a fairly generic, threaded affair, much the same as I’ve seen on numerous other stands (heck, it could be the same one), except that the Big Dog folks repeated the groovy dog bone wing nut piece at the clutch. Cool detail.
THE ANTICIPATED TRUCK METAPHOR
Remember 1990? No? Go ask your Dad. See, in 1989 Dodge trucks were considered dogs. But in 1990, when Dodge unveiled the new Ram pickup trucks, with the previous soft-and-rounded silhouette reworked into a macho, muscular, molded design, jaws fell to the ground and sales went to the sky. The Chevy and Ford fans protested. They said, “People, listen! It’s just a pickup truck — bed, cab, wheels, engine. Same engine! Same seats! No new technology! No bells and whistles! You put your stuff in the back and drive it around.” Nonetheless, the new look became very popular. The new Dodge was so good looking it put last-place Dodge back into the front running, and they’ve kept most of the design intact to this day. The point is (if you haven’t already gathered), folks like good-looking, good-working stuff, and that’s exactly what Big Dog provides.
These Big Dog pedals and hi-hat stand, with their clean lines, no-nonsense functionality, and sturdy construction, are like good-working, good-looking trucks that come with their own dog. Sniff ’em out when you get the chance and take ’em for a spin. You won’t be disappointed.
MODELS E001 single and E002 double bass drum pedals and B002 hi-hat stand
FEATURES Striking baked-on blue enamel paint and dog logo; proprietary “dog bone” wing nuts on hi-hat stand; included beater counterweight with pedals; asymmetrical adjustments on double pedal; rotating legs on hi-hat stand for multiple-pedal setups.
E001 Single Pedal: $133.99
E002 Double Pedal: $345.99
B002 Hi-Hat Stand: $124.99
CONTACT Bigdog Drum Stuff Limited, Unit 1, Konfedence Works, Arthur Street, Barwell, Leicestershire, LE9 8GZ. 0845 873 9055,firstname.lastname@example.org