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Bass drum beaters can be made from a variety of materials such as plastic, rubber, fiberglass, felt, and wood. Beaters can be single to quadruple sided and come in several different shapes like round, square, or triangular. Bass drum beaters are mounted on rods, which are usually made of metal for durability. The rods can be straight and solid or hinged to allow the beater angle to be adjusted.
As a component of bass drum pedals, bass drum beaters are the part of the pedal that strikes the bass drum head. They are mounted on rods which connect to a mechanism that propels them forward when the drum pedal's foot-board is depressed. The propulsion mechanism is either chain drive, strap or belt drive, or direct drive. Many bass drum pedals allow the angle of the beater rod to be adjusted. If the beater rod is hinged, the angle of the beater itself can be altered.
The shape, size, and material of the beater effect the sound of the bass drum when it's struck. The weight of bass drum beaters is variable and subject to individual preference, but a heavier beater can usually produce more volume. Generally, the harder the material the greater the amount of attack. Many drummers who play harder musical genres like rock and metal favor hard bass drum beaters to give their instrument a greater presence in a band setting.
Softer materials like felt or rubber have a softer impact, but produce a more delicate resonance. Some felt beaters can be very dense and produce a similar attack as a harder material like plastic or wood. Since felt bass drum beaters show wear more quickly than other harder materials, they can often be softened over time to produce a lighter attack.
The flatter the surface of the bass drum beater the greater the amount of attack when it strikes the drum head. The more curved the beater the lighter the attack because less of the surface of the beater is contacting the bass drum head. Larger beaters produce more overall volume but can sometimes be too large for smaller bass drums or too loud for quieter performances. A smaller beater can be more desirable for quieter performances and are often more appropriate for small bass drums.
Many other factors effect the overall bass drum sound. A drummer's playing style, musical style, and bass drum size and tuning all effect the tone and volume of a bass drum. Individual preference is the greatest factor in choosing which type of bass drum beater to use. Many drummers settle on a single beater, while others use several beaters or a single multi-sided beater.