The bass drum pedal comes in a wide variety of flavors. Todays pedals are a far cry from the simple 'spring loaded footboard with a beater attached to the end' type that were invented for early trap-set percussionists to play the bass drum part with their foot while freeing up their hands for other things.
Today's bass drum pedals have both split type footboards, that are hinged forward of the heel and longboards that are one piece and facilitate heel to toe playing. Longboard pedals are also popular with drummers that have bigger feet Some footboards are smooth to allow for sliding.
The drive mechanisms come in single and double chain drives, belt or strap drive, and direct drive. Chain drive pedals are the most common. Strap or belt drives are a little stiffer than the chain drive which means there is more control on the upstroke, when the chain drive is likely to bend. Direct drive pedals are often used by drummers who want a great degree of control and precision throughout the stroke as there is no bend or flex at all during the upstroke.
The spring mechanism can be either external, which is most common, or internal. Most are adjustable in some way.
Bass drum pedal cams, the part the belt or strap is wrapped around and that the beater is attached to, come in two varieties. Linear cams keep the same radius throughout the stroke, keeping the beater traveling toward the bass drum head at the same speed, or offset which increases the beater speed the closer it gets to the head.
Almost all can be adjusted in different ways to fit the player and all come with some kind of clamp mechanism to attach to the bass drum hoop. Most will have adjustable spikes to keep the bass drum from walking away from you as you play.
For most drummers their bass drum pedal preference is personal and usually the result of much trail and error. If you're just a beginning, a good solid middle of the road pedal that is fairly adjustable will suit your needs. You'll find your preferences will develop with your experience level.
There are double pedals that have two footboards with a linkage from one side to the pedal connected to the bass drum, which will have two independent beaters. This allows for playing double bass with only one bass drum, which saves space and is easier to transport.
There are some nifty "trick" pedals out there that often have more than one beater or the ability to play with the heel part of the footboard or the front and so on. Most of these are designed to enable the drummer to play very quickly with one foot, but they will require learning new techniques to get them to work well.
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