A Different Kind of Beater.
We take for granted how many options there are for hitting implements we use with our hands. Sticks, rods, brushes, mallets, and everything in between are available from a variety of different companies. Changing them is as easy as putting down one pair, and pulling out the next from our stick bag. Drummers use all different types of tools made out of a variety of woods and plastics. We use them to spice up textures, lower or heighten dynamics and bring out different responses from our drums.
Now, for the first time, a new innovation allows us to have the same freedom, only with our kick pedals! Kevin Smith, inventor and percussionist, has teamed up with Ahead to create a tool called the “Switch-Kick”. It’s a quick release bass drum beater system that allows drummers to flip, adjust and switch out their beaters, all without a drum key. The shaft is installed as any regular beater would be, and the Switch Kick beaters themselves are inserted to the shaft. Currently, there are over 10 different beater options to choose from and more in the making. Each Switch Kick beater provides a different sonic quality. There are wire brushes, plastic brushes, hard beaters, soft beaters, plastic and more.
The Switch Kick gives us the freedom and convenience to change our bass drum sound to fit any situation on the fly. Unfortunately, you cannot use existing beaters that you have with this tool, which means you don’t have the option of using your current beater without reinstalling it manually. Thankfully, however, the Switch Kick itself can be installed on any standard kick pedal, and the options available are sure to come close in comparison to whatever beater you’re currently digging.
What’s especially powerful about the Switch Kick are the height options. Setting your SK beater at different heights allow you to achieve different speeds with more ease. When in the lowest height, you can play very fast, yet not as loud. As you extend the height, it will get slower and louder. This emulates a stick shift, and can be thought of as switching gears.
Watch Kevin’s Switch Kick Introduction and Demonstration Video to see the Switch Kick in Action:
Check out our interview with Switch Kick Inventor Kevin Smith below to learn how his background, how he came up with his invention, and more about how the Switch Kick works. Click here for full info on the Switch Kick.
Q: Tell us a little about you and your drumming history.
A: I started playing drums when I was a kid. My first drum lesson was in the late 70’s from a guy in a “van conversion”. He’d drive over to our apartment complex in LA. Although I only took a few lessons from him, I continued playing drums in Junior High and High School. I drummed in Jazz Band and Marching Band. I later went on to march in Drum Corp with the Anaheim Kingsmen.
Q: How did your passion for drums evolve into inventing and innovating
A: I’ve been playing drums professionally for 20 years and kind of got burnt out of traveling and touring. I started to play at church and fell in love with the idea of playing positive music. It’s very rewarding to worship God on the drums! Also being an artsy type of a guy I began to design kitchens and baths. I started my own design firm and became a licensed general contractor and a Certified Kitchen Designer. I love problem solving, designing and space planning, so it was kind of a natural progression to come up with an invention that meet a need. Being a drummer I always thought that the bass drum beater was such a pain to switch out during a gig or just jamming.
Q: Tell us about the Switch Kick. What are its features and how does it work?
A: The Switch Kick is a quick release bass drum beater system. A High Strength Stainless Steel Adapter Shaft is a rod that can be secured to any standard bass drum pedal. Each beater option is attached to an Aircraft Grade Aluminum Shaft with a Spring Steel Quick Release System. The beaters slide into the steel shaft, and you’re ready to go! There are currently over 10 different beaters to choose from. They offer a wide variety of tones to get out of your bass drum.
“The Switch Kick Enables Drummers to ‘Switch Beaters’ F.A.S.T:
· Flip the beater 180 degrees
· Adjust the height to over 9 different levels
· Switch to over 10 different beaters
· Tool-less design”
Q: How did your concept of the Switch Kick come about?
A: As a General Contractor and Kitchen Designer, I was doing my own cabinet installations and had very good tools. One of my favorite tools is a screw gun. I also have a very nice quick release on it to change out drill bits and heads for driving screws. In June 2013, I was sitting at my desk and got a call from my buddy about his new drum product, Cymbolt. He wanted me to play in his promo video. After I hung up the phone I kind of sat there, and said a little prayer, “Lord, I can come of with a drum product”. I didn’t think much of it. As I looked up, my bass drum beater had been sitting on my desk next to the quick release from my drill. I simply picked them up, one in each hand, and connected them together. They fit! Not perfectly, but they did fit together. I was like, hmmm… interesting. Next, I drew up about 8 different beater heads. When I went to my meeting I shared the idea with me buddy. He was blown away! So that’s how it all started. By the way, I never did get to do the promo video for my friend.
Q: How is the Switch Kick useful to drummers both live and in the studio?
A: The major thing is the SOUND differences. From the light texture of the Brush Kick to the LOUD impact of the Sonic Kick it’s all about the S O U N D! So when drummers play Live they can switch the beater like they switch their sticks from brushes or Hot Rods. In the Studio is perfect for capturing the perfect bass drum sound.
Q: Which beater option is your personal go-to choice?
A: It’s hard to pick one! I love the Felt Kick, but when I need a vintage sound, I install the Boom Kick.
Q: What other information would you like TomTom readers to know about the
A: Switch Kick is made in the USA! This was a big challenge and thanks to Bob, Ryan and Cristine Kasha (father, son & daughter) at Ahead Drum Products for investing in the expensive machinery to actually fabricate and build Switch Kick from scratch in America. The quality is amazing and their customer service is wonderful. They care about their artist and customers! We are also working together on NEW beaters! We now have 19 finished, and 3-5 in the works. Ahead let’s me be very involved with planning and strategizing. It’s a blast!
Check out my own demo of the Switch Kick by Ahead:
This article was originally written and published for TomTom Magazine, the only magazine dedicated to Female Drummers.
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