By John Coviello Originally published in DRUM! Magazine’s April Issues
Trick Percussion’s “Dominator” pedal is a slick-looking piece of gear. The footboards and frames are anodized black, and have that hi-tech look that comes from being machined as opposed to molded and cast. The fact that the Dominator is indeed machined from aircraft-grade aluminum also makes it surprisingly light in weight. All the structural fasteners are hex-head (Trick includes a combination drum key/hex wrench) and are handsomely counter-sunk into the pedal’s frame.
The beater heads are a seriously shiny, three-spoke affair that would, if they were 20" in diameter, look downright fly on Tiger Woods’ Escalade. There are no unnecessary racing stripes, chrome flames, or flaming skulls, and what you see looks like it wants to get right down to business.
The business at hand is, of course, the transfer of the downward motion of your foot to the forward motion of the beater, in a manner consistent with the inner Sugarfoot Moffett or Gene Hogland that lurks inside us all. The Dominator has a number of features that facilitate that transfer with a minimum amount of energy lost in the transaction.
The pedal tension is provided by an internal compression spring, which is attached to a tension-adjustment knob facing the player. An eccentric ball-bearing cam rides smoothly upon a pivoting arm, which in turn compresses the spring. It’s a simple, well-designed system that circumvents many of the idiosyncrasies of a traditional expansion-spring pedal.
Noticeably absent is the tensionless “dead spot” that you sometimes feel when your beater rests in its natural stop position. On the Dominator, the spring action is felt immediately even after the slightest depression of the footboard. This translates to a very responsive, immediate feel, regardless of how loosely or tightly you’ve set the spring. Also, the spring reacts identically during both the recoil and forward strokes, providing a smooth consistency of motion through the full travel of the beater.
Trick has made setting the spring tension a very simple operation on the Dominator. There is a large knob on the cam tower facing the player. Turn it clockwise and you’ve increased tension, counterclockwise and you’ve loosened it. Because of the design of the compression spring, small adjustments of the tension knob produce appreciable results very quickly. It’s not difficult to hit on the right setting for your playing style, and adjustment can be made on the fly.
The pedal has three main points of adjustment, each independent of one another. There’s the aforementioned spring-tension adjustment, plus an adjustment for footboard angle, and an adjustment for beater angle. The latter two are accomplished with two independently adjustable cams, which are conveniently etched with reference markings.
The Dominator clips to your bass drum hoop with a simple spring-tension toe clamp. There’s no provision to crank down the clamp; it simply relies upon the tension of the spring to hold the pedal onto the hoop, complete with grippy, firm rubber bumpers to protect your hoops. I was doubtful at first of the ability of the spring clip to hold the pedal firmly, but in practice it proved very secure, even under a brutal, heels-up pounding.
Everyone has their own “ideal” bass drum pedal. With a minimum of fiddling and with only a drum key as a tool, you can pretty easily dial in your preferred setting on the Dominator while seated behind the kit.
The Dominator is a remarkably frictionless piece of machinery. At every connective point of motion, Trick has incorporated sealed, maintenance-free bearings, and the result is very nice. The only resistance you feel comes from the compression spring, and the pedal gives you an overall feeling of “glide,” regardless of the tension you’ve chosen. Put the pedal on a table in front of you and give the footboard a tweak. The pedal just goes and goes, waggling back and forth Energizer Bunny–style. And owing to the sealed bearings and the efficient design of the compression spring, the Dominator is virtually silent in operation.
The Dominator Double Pedal is actually two fully functional single pedals. The auxiliary pedal differs only slightly, having an additional short length of shaft to the right of the drive cam, to which the driveshaft is attached. The right-foot, or main pedal, is converted from a single to a double by removing the end cap on the tower and screwing in the hub, which holds the auxiliary beater. This is easily accomplished with a drum key, and while the tower is open, you get a nifty view of the compression-spring mechanism (Trick wisely advises all you tinkerers to look but don’t touch).
Seeing the tension mechanism in action, one really appreciates the simplicity and functionality of it. It’s a nice design. I have friends who own and operate a high-end motorcycle shop with an emphasis on custom fabrication and machine work, and when I dropped by to show them the Dominator they were quite impressed. They were quick to point out that the compression spring in the pedal was very similar to valve springs, which by design are very durable and subject to enormous amounts of reciprocating wear and tear, and that a compression spring seemed ideally suited to the task at hand.
Once the driveshaft is installed between the two pedals, you’re ready to rock. Since the two pedals are identical, it’s easy to synchronize the two. Using the markings on the drive cams, you can maintain identical footboard and beater angles, and the tension settings are easily equalized with the large adjustment knobs. The adjustable driveshaft utilizes two free-floating universal joints, and what Trick calls “Zero Backlash” technology. This proves a very appropriate terminology, as there is no play, chatter, or looseness in the auxiliary drive at all. The feeling of frictionless “glide” is equal in both pedals, and the excellent universal joints used in the Dominator’s driveshaft maintain the integrity of the whole system. Trick includes Velcro strips for the bottoms of the pedals, and the two feet at the front are machined with grooves that grip the carpet. I had no trouble with either side slipping on my drum rug.
The footboards on the Dominator are long board–style, without stationary heel plates. The hinge point is located at the very end of the footboard. I had never played this style of pedal for any length of time, and I was surprised at how easily I became accustomed to it. I play a combination of heel-up, heel-down, and toe-slide, and I had no trouble finding a “sweet spot” on the footboard. There’s really no appreciable feel of a “mechanism” operating under your feet. And after an extended playing session, you come to appreciate the recoil action of the Dominator. The tail end of each stroke seems to ready itself for the next power stroke, and after some getting used to, you begin to “play” the recoil, adapting your technique and playing faster with minimal effort. I’m no Derek Roddy, but I was able to pull off a few flurries that I’d have had much more trouble with on my regular rig.
Made In The U.S.A.; innovative spring-tension mechanism; direct-drive linkage; long board–style, anodized black, aircraft-grade aluminum footboard; auxiliary pedal in double-pedal setup is also a fully functional single pedal.
Dominator Single Pedal $550
Dominator Double Pedal $1,200
Trick Percussion Products Inc.
This is a highly engineered pedal with some outstanding features, the most notable of which are high-end workmanship and extreme flexibility. Not to mention it has an MSRP that places it right in line with other manufacturers’ top offerings. Give this one a try, but take your time in auditioning it. Experiment with different angles and tensions — the Dominator might very well have that perfect sweet spot you’ve been looking for.