The Beat Goes On

pedal1 My family got Rock Band for Christmas, and it’s something of a hit. We all play it quite a bit, both as a Partridge Family-eque family band and on our own. Evan tends to play guitar; Marin usually sings. Kris switches between guitar and vocals, and I play guitar and drums, though, as is my real-life proclivity, I tend to stick with drums most of the time.

Why, you ask, am I mentioning this now, in mid-February, when Christmas was so long ago that I was still in the early stages of trying to get a working Dell XPS 720?

Well, here’s the thing: as cool as Rock Band is, the kick drum pedal is a horrifically bad example of engineering. Mine broke after just 3 weeks of use, and based on the volume of information about this on the intertubes, it appears to be a reasonably common occurrence. The problem is that the pedal itself is a wafer-thin strip of plastic, and if you tend to put the ball of your foot near the top of the pedal, you end up putting fatal amounts of stress on an un-reinforced section of the assembly. Inevitably, it cracks and then shears right above the spring.

Now I should point out that Harmonix is pretty good about replacing these things under warranty, and I got a new pedal pretty fast. But guess what? About 3 weeks after it arrived, I noticed it was already cracked, meaning it was within days of failing yet again.

At this point, I considered modifying a real kick pedal for Rock Band as documented on Metafluence, but I didn’t want to invest quite that much energy into the problem. Nor did I have a spare pedal to donate to the cause, and I certainly wasn’t going to buy one just for Rock Band — pedals aren’t cheap. pedal2

So I took my own cheapie road to fixing the problem. After all, the real problem here is that if you tend to thump the pedal much higher than where the spring contacts the pedal, every downbeat flexes the footplate. It’s only a matter of time before it cracks. So I cut a new footplate out of spare half-inch plywood and then secured it to the top of the pedal with enough epoxy to fasten an elephant to the roof of my house. 

Marin pointed out that since I tend to play Rock Band while wearing socks (which is odd, because I always wear shoes when playing “real” drums), I should sand it to avoid getting splinters. So, after a few minutes with a belt sander, I ended up with a kick drum pedal that has a smooth footplate with gently rounded edges, and which should be virtually indestructible.

4 Responses to “The Beat Goes On”

  1. Argyle Says:

    Smart, simple, cheap, effective. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Nigel Tuffnel Says:

    So you’ve been using this for about a week now? How’s it working for you? My pedal broke recently and I sent it back, but maybe I should do this to the replacement

  3. Dave Says:

    I am really happy with this mod. The wood is, err, as stiff as a board. And that gives you a really solid, realistic feel. The origital footplate flexes, which gives you a loose, imprecise feel. Now it’s a pedal you can set your watch to.

  4. Scott Paterson Says:

    My pedal finally gave in and cracked last night. I think I’ll be trying this out. Thanks!

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