Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ludwig "Speed Master" Bass Drum Pedal

The Speed Master!
The Ludwig Speed Master
Last night on a gig I got the pleasure of playing a vintage Ludwig bass drum pedal, the "Speed Master".  My drum teacher Randy Gelispie used to rave about his old pedal, a "Speed King", which was a slightly earlier model of Ludwig pedal than the Speed Master I got to play on. 

In any case, now that I have played on one of these things I can see what all the fuss is about!  

Things that I love about this pedal
Try to feel happier than this
  1. This is hands down the most responsive pedal I have ever played on.  Every subtle foot motion translated into a reaction from the pedal that made intuitive sense.  On my current pedal (a Tama "Iron Cobra) I always feel like I am fighting extraneous motion, whereas with the Speed Master there was no fighting.  The mechanism is incredibly simple, but so well balanced and designed that there is no need for bells and whistles. 
  2. This is also probably the lightest bass drum pedal I have ever run into.  This makes it really nice for packing up and taking to gigs.  More on this later.  
  3. The fact that the base of the pedal is bright red made me feel like I was playing on a Radio Flyer. 
  4. Those of you who know me would be able to anticipate how much I would love something just for being called a "Speed Master".  I am a big time sucker for classic modern gee-whizzery of any sort.  If your product sounds like an exhibit at the Chicago Worlds Fair, I am in. 

Why is modern hardware so heavy?
Every gigging drummer I have ever talked to has asked these same questions.  Since when is heavier hardware better than light?  Why is modern hardware so much heavier than vintage hardware?  Who wants to carry this stuff to a gig?  

I have an unfounded suspicion that all this heavy, double-braced madness is a hangover from when everyone wanted to be like this:  

The simple problem is, these guys didn't have to carry their own drum sets.  Making hardware heavier does make it more stable I suppose, but speaking for myself I have never had any problem with any piece of hardware falling over or moving around too much on the gig (unless it was missing a piece or was badly designed).  Certainly if I have a choice between allegedly greater stability and easier portability I would go with the later every time. 

Speed King VS Iron Cobra
Pitting my Tama "Iron Cobra" against the "Speed Master" is a replay of the opening scene of "The Empire Strikes Back".  All those light, maneuverable, fun looking snow speeders dominating the seemingly unstoppable AT-ATs.  


  1. I have never liked the Iron Cobra, is a good pedal but I feel that weights way too much. I tried AXIS and was amazed with its great response and light weight. Right now I'm on speed cobra and I'm pretty happy with it, have you tried it?

    1. No, but I would to try one! Maybe I will write up another article when I get a chance. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. I must say there is something amazing about the Speed Master. I wonder why Ludwig has never re-released this pedal for modern times. The original long board pedal!

    1. I agree, seems like a missed opportunity to me.