Billdidit Accessories Round Up
After 100-plus years designing instruments that have remained largely unchanged, the top minds at companies around the globe have begun to zero in on improving some of the most basic components of the drum set.
This is great news. Any time a company tries to find new ways to reduce the amount of time I spend pulling drums out of the bags and increase my playing time then I’m on board. And that brings us to the subject of this review: a group of new accessories from the clever folks at Billdidit.
All the devices we received focus on streamlining flow and efficiency during set-ups, tear-downs, and even playing situations – which, again, is awesome. But before tearing open the shipping box, I wanted to learn a little more about the brains behind Billdidit.
In 2009, Canadian drummer/inventor Bill Coady put together a savvy little gadget that made a big splash among players around the globe. Using a simple yet very effective design, the Coady Clutch improved upon the standard drop clutch by smoothing the cymbal drop and reengage mechanisms. The device was an immediate hit, and was eventually licensed to Dixon Drums & Percussion a few years later.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Coady has been hard at work developing new tools and accessories designed to overcome other obstacles encountered by today’s working drummers. The second generation of Billdidit add-ons continues along the path of streamlining setups and switches, but also offers a few new opportunities for sound control.
I was lucky enough to receive a trio of samples from the Billdidit lab for review. After a substantial trial period, it’s clear that these are some exceedingly well-engineered machines. Let’s take look at each.
Easily the most exciting accessory Billdidit shipped over was the Coady xChanger, a deceptively simple auxiliary hi-hat device that allows the player to control the spacing of the cymbals without the use of a pedal. It’s an ingenious little unit that could really help a lot of players who like to incorporate a second hat or even a cymbal stack.
Instead of a foot-operated mechanism, the xChanger uses a tilting pressure toggle mounted above the top cymbal (see the video on drummagazine.com for a demonstration). The top cymbal can be either lifted or depressed during play by simply striking either side of a rubber-padded crossbar. This pivots a portion of the unit to adjust the pressure applied from the top. Players can even adjust the resistance offered by the toggle bar using a simple drum key adjustment on the front.
This allows players to not only navigate between completely open and completely closed, but to really dial in their exact desired spacing with just a few quick stick strikes. That feature was a lot of fun with a pair of hats, but it really made sense with a trashy cymbal stack. Using the xChanger, I was able to fine-tune the wash, making a China/splash combination much more versatile than it had ever been on a static mount.
The xChanger mounts with a 12mm center post – the same size as most cymbal boom arms – so the unit can be dropped into the top of an unused cymbal stand or clamp. This is a really well-designed, effective accessory that could easily help drummers in a variety of ways.
And at less than $50 retail, the xChanger offers a totally functional auxiliary hi-hat for significantly less than pedal-driven alternatives.
Top With A Pop
The simplest of the devices in the big box from Billdidit was the Coady Cymbal Topper, designed by Matthew Swan. Using a simple pull-and-slide mechanism, the Coady Topper eliminates the need for threaded wing nuts and annoying finger twisting. There are a number of products on the market that offer this kind of upgrade, but the Coady sets itself apart with a couple key design elements.
First, because it’s a simple spring-loaded knob mounted to a centered post, the mechanism looks much more durable than similar products on the market. Plus, all the parts are made of the same sturdy yet lightweight aluminum to resist breakage without adding weight. That’s a very nice perk.
Second, the Coady Cymbal Topper is big. I know we’ve seen a recent trend toward smaller components, but in those all-too-frequent instances when I accidentally drop my cymbal topper on the ground on a darkened stage, I want to be able to find it easily, and Billdidit’s fit the bill. That said, it’s not so big that it looks ugly or out of place. In fact, the design is quite sleek.
Another interesting aspect of the Coady Cymbal Topper is the way it mounts to cymbal stands. Because the mechanism requires a specifically designed post, it actually includes its own center post that simply screws onto any standard 8mm cymbal stand top. This makes the center post a little thicker than the norm, but it wasn’t too wide to accommodate any of my cymbals.
We also received the Coady Compressor, a device that replaces the conventional hi-hat clutch with a heavy-duty spring and a rubber depressor. That might sound a little medieval, but the design is actually fairly simple – a height-adjustable spring slides over the hi-hat pull-rod, and rests on top of the lower cymbal. The top hat simply sits on the spring, creating a fixed gap between the pair. Finally, a rubber replacement clutch is placed above
the top cymbal, and held in place on the pull-rod with a drum key-tensioned bolt (again, check out the video for a demonstration).
With all the parts in place, the Compressor essentially operates as a normal hi-hat, since the upper rubber unit closes the cymbals when the pedal is depressed. The difference is that the internal spring keeps the cymbals separated at a predetermined distance when you remove your foot from the pedal, which eliminates the need to dial-in in the perfect amount of hi-hat wash every time you set up. According to Billdidit’s website, using the device is like “having an x-hat that you can choke off at any time by stepping on the pedal.”
Clearly, the Coady Compressor targets drummers who like to ride hats that are slightly open, and there are probably a number of DRUM! readers who’ve been waiting for a solution like this. I’m just not one of them. Whenever I’ve needed more or less wash from my hats, I’ve never found it difficult to reset the clutch to the right spot.
Nonetheless, I did see value in the fact that the Compressor added some buoyancy to the movement of the top cymbal, which definitely helped maintain a tight sizzle. And like the other Billdidit offerings, it is a very well-made accessory – simple and easy to use.
Bill Coady had already shown his ability to create extremely helpful and innovative drum set accessories, and I think he hit it out of the ballpark with two of our review accessories. In particular, the Coady xChanger is a very handy upgrade, offering an awesome combination of excellent function and great pricing. Even though I wouldn’t personally add the Coady Compressor to my setup, it remains an expertly engineered example of Coady’s eagerness to think outside the box in order to make drumming easier. That’s something we can all get behind.
Fine-tunes spacing between cymbals, tilted pressure toggle above top cymbal alters position, drum key adjustable, mounts on 12mm center post.
Coady Cymbal Topper
Pull-and-slide holder replaces need for wing nuts, aluminum construction, holder mounts on 8mm cymbal stand top.
Replaces hi-hat clutch with spring and a rubber depressor.
Product List Price
1. Coady Cymbal Topper $21.95
2. Coady xChanger $44.95
3. Coady Compressor $29.95