Rock Band – Drum Peripheral Roundup

After snapping my sixth(!) Rock Band bass pedal, I went on a seek and destroy mission to find an indestructible replacement.

Along the way, I ran across other Third Party solutions for my drum kit, some of them good, some of them bad.

Here are the results.

*NOTE: All links to products are not intended to endorse particular retailers, but rather to illustrate where the author purchased the item being described. You may find a better deal elsewhere. Do a search, compare prices, maybe save some cash.

First Act GX050 Video Gaming Drum Seat

I have to admit, I love this drum throne. It’s solid, easily adjustable, and comfortable. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do: support your butt while you’re thrashing away at the drums. While it’s not the Dom Perignon of drum seats, for the price, it’s more than serviceable, and it folds up for easy storage.

Interestingly enough, First Act has been making low-end musical instruments and accessories for years. Stroll into any Target or Wal-Mart and you fill find their products on the shelf. Which brings me to one hilarious point about this particular product: it’s the same drum seat they have been selling for over a decade.

The only difference between their ‘real’ drum throne and the ‘video gaming’ drum throne is a minor packaging change… and a funny one at that:

“Compatible with Rock Band Controllers”

And the ever helpful:

“Works with video gaming drum set controllers”

Really? I’m glad I didn’t accidentally purchase a seat that DOESN’T work with Rock Band!

A word of warning, like any tripod-style drum seat, make sure you have one support leg DIRECTLY behind you, or you’ll easily fall backwards ‘Spinal Tap’ style. You’re asking for a concussion in that situation.

Blockhead – Rock Band Hit Kit

The ‘Hit Kit’ is a bundle of useful Rock Band drum accessories (bass pedal, drumsticks, sound dampeners) at an affordable price, but much of the package is unusable.

Bass Pedal

The Block Head pedal is shorter than the stock RB pedal, and is slightly thicker. This gives it a little more structural integrity, but reports around the internet suggest it is still prone to snapping. The switching mechanism is very precise, and the pedal offers adjustable height (two settings) for those who want more or less ‘throw’ in the action. The attached cable is VERY curly, and just a little too short. This causes the pedal to lift off the floor on occasion, and sometimes it gets in the way.

My biggest problem with the pedal was the budget-rate slave labor they used to solder the electronics together. After only 5 hours of use it stopped working. I opened the unit up and found one of the TWO solder points had worked free. After another 15 minutes of use I was forced to repeat the process with the OTHER solder point.

I don’t really want to play electrician on a product the same day I purchased it.

Drumsticks

When I was younger (a very long time ago) I played drums in several bands. I was notorious for using the largest sticks I could find, veritable baseball bats. The sticks in the Hit Kit remind me of those sticks… only much thicker… and heavier… and made of flexible plastic.

Because of the material used, and their flexibility, I couldn’t play with them for more than 15 minutes. The vibrations traveling up the sticks into my wrists made my hands numb and my wrists sore. Epic fail.

Sound Dampeners

Essentially, the sound dampeners are circles of foam rubber that reduce the ‘clacking’ sound of your sticks hitting the drum pads. The dampeners included in the Hit Kit are held in place by rubber rings that slide around the RB pads (not shown in the photo above).

THAT is the best part: the rubber rings.

The dampeners themselves do a good enough job of muffling sound, but they do not stay in place, even with properly installed ‘retainer rings’.

So why do I like the rings? Because I tend to hit the side of the pads a lot. You know, the hard plastic part? It takes chunks out of my wooden sticks, dents the plastic, and the sound frightens my cats. With or without sound dampeners on the pads themselves, I like the rubber rings for my errant rim shots.

Even though I like the ‘anti-rim damage’ rings, it’s hard to justify purchasing the entire kit for that one accessory.

Rock Band Drum Silencers

Much like the previously mentioned ‘sound dampeners’, these are essentially foam disks that attach to your existing pads, dramatically reducing sound and increasing stick rebound.

I haven’t notice any drop-off in drum sensitivity, and the added rebound gives better tactile feedback.

I like this particular set because they are self-adhesive, and never move. Although I’m a little concerned that if I ever TRIED to remove them, it could get messy.

Currently, I’m using a combination of these silencers with the rubber rings from the Hit Kit. It makes all four pads completely black except for the RB logo, but if you’re trying to figure out what color a pad is supposed to be, you probably don’t need to be upgrading your drums just yet.

Roadie Bass Pedal for Rock Band 1 Drumset

This entire feature started with my search for a suitable bass pedal replacement, and I found one. One hundred percent metal, a nice long cable, insanely accurate switching, a good ‘throw’ and feel… it simply doesn’t get any better than this.

I’ve had problems with my drum kit sliding, or the pedal moving on me. Not anymore. The Roadie has two velcro strips on the bottom face that stick to your carpet, as well as two adjustable claws that can be completely retracted if you’re on a hard surface; this pedal will NOT move on you. I’ve come to realize my drums were moving because I was moving the kick. With the Roadie as an anchor, I don’t budge an inch.

The most amazing thing I’ve found is that it still works after nearly two weeks of use, without any sign of wear and tear. It just might be indestructible.

On a whim, I tested it with my ‘real’ midi kit (used for composing music for our podcasts) and it works flawlessly. I’ll be ordering another pedal soon for use as a hi-hat trigger.

CONCLUSION

When you sell as many copies of a peripheral set/game as Electronic Arts has with Rock Band, it’s inevitable that everyone will try to ride your success to the bank. We’ve seen a lot of Third Party equipment, and we’ll see a lot more before it’s over.

Be careful what you’re buying; some of it just plain sucks.

Matt Bastard is a founding member of Bag Of Mad Bastards and an avid Rock Band Drummer, Singer, and Guitarist. Want to compare your scores on the Rock Band PS3 Leaderboards? His PSN ID is SolarShockMatt, and he’s currently accepting friends.

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1 Comment

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