Axis pedals have become hugely popular since their creation in the 1990s. They are known for their speed and quick reaction times underfoot becoming hugely popular for metal drummers. With the rising popularity of direct drive pedals, Axis are still one of the top brands.
Let’s find out what makes Axis pedals so popular and look at the different models available.
The history of Axis Pedals
Before we take you through the current models available, let’s take a look at the history of the pedal and why drummers wanted this pedal.
Darrell Johnston, the creator of Axis Percussion originally started working on the first concept in the late 1980s. At a young age, he was a keen drummer but soon came to the realisation he was never going to be good enough to be his full-time career.
Luckily Johnston had the opportunity to learn to machine and worked for various electrical and aerospace companies. When CNC (computer numeric controlled) machines became more common in the 1980s he jumped at the chance to work on them.
CNC machines made it possible for Johnston to machine his own pieces. He was heavily inspired by the Rogers Swiv-o-Matic and decided to use that as a starting point. The Swiv-o-Matic had a smooth feel by using a ball bearing. This is why Axis Pedals feature so many.
The original concept for the Axis Pedal was shown off by Johnston at NAMM in 1989. This model featured few ways to customise the feel but it did have the unique aesthetic Axis pedals are known for today. Johnston was quick to see the pedals limitations and got to work.
In 1991, Johnston sent out new versions of the Axis pedal to select musicians and drum magazines. After the appearance of the new Axis Pedal at the NAMM show that year they had sold all their stock and had to fulfil backorders for the next year.
How did Axis pedals become so popular?
Unintentionally, Axis became the pedal of metal drummers. The drummer Tim Waterson was on a mission to discover how to play the drums faster. To do this he needed a fast bass drum pedal. Tim proved that Axis Pedals were the fastest pedals available at the time breaking the World Faster Drummer foot speed record at 1,408 beats in 60 seconds.
This lead to Pete Sandoval of the death metal band Morbid Angel wanting a pair. Pete loved the pedals and promoted them starting a chain effect in the drumming community.
The pedals were created well and were fast. They lived up to the promise and delivered.
Axis Pedals have now become more popular across other genres as they are also responsive and highly customisable. It isn’t just about the speed.
What models of Axis Pedals are available?
There are a fair few different models of Axis pedals available today and it can get a bit confusing as to what you are looking at. We are going to break down the different options available to you. If you are ordering from an online music store you can find different pre-made combinations of pedals or you can visit the Axis website for a bespoke order.
There is one thing that remains consistent across all the pedals available. They all feature a direct drive.
Whereas most pedals feature either a chain or a strap, these pedals feature a metal part. This means instant reactions and control over the pedal.
The first choice you will have to make is the footboard. Although most well known for the longboard, there are a range of sizes to suit all drummers.
This features a heel wedge like you would find on most pedals. The distinct shape of the board has been narrowed. If you are looking for a board most similar to that of a standard bass drum pedal, this is the option for you.
This features a pedal of normal length but with a wider top giving you more surface area underfoot.
These are the ones Axis is most known for. These pedals are extra long with the board covering the whole surface available. The pedals don’t have a heel wedge so they will feel unusual if you haven’t tried one before. The extra length makes them perfect for the heel toe bass drum technique.
Axis Carbon Fiber Longboards
Brand new for 2021 is the Axis Carbon Fiber longboards. These are the same dimensions as the standard longboards but are made of carbon fibre. They are approximately 40% lighter than the standard longboards.
The lighter weight increases stamina for longer practice sessions and makes it easier to maintain a consistent level of power. Less weight under your foot also makes it easier for you to develop your chosen technique as there is less resistance.
If you want more resistance and an extremely quick returning of the pedal and beater, crank up the spring tension.
These boards look really cool and are some of the only carbon fiber bass drum pedals available. If you are looking for maximum speed, these are the footboards for you.
These are the latest version of the board available from Axis Percussion. They feature the same length as the longboards but you have a lot more surface area. This is especially the case towards the heel of the board.
The next thing you will need to select is the cam assembly that is best for you. There are different ones available dependent on the amount of customisation you want.
X – Cam assembly
This is the most basic version cam assembly offered. This cam has no customisation options. With this assembly the only option you have for tweaking your pedal is the spring tension.
A – Cam assembly
This gives you a simple yet power adjustment option on the top of the pedal. Adjusting this changes the ratio of the footboard movement to the arc of the beater. Due to the construction you can can make micro changes to dial in the exact feel you are after.
A21 – Cam assembly
This features the same customisable features as the A cam. The difference is that the angle of the beater on the cam is at 21 degrees. This gives extra power to the stroke and reduces the distance to the head.
You can add even more customisation options to an Axis pedal with the spring assembly you choose.
This is a standard bass drum spring. The tension can be adjusted by either tightening or loosening the spring on the pedal.
Microtune spring tensioner
The microtune spring tensioner gives you the ability to fine tune your spring tension. With a simple key adjustment you can change the feel of a pedal. You have the ability to make smaller changes easily.
Axis pedal beater options
Depending on the model pedal you order, you may get a different beater. Here are the different options available.
This come as standard on the majority of Axis pedals. This is a medium weight beater that is a general good all arounder.
Beater Weight: 3 oz / 85 g
Wrecking ball beater
Similar in design to the Marksman but with extra weight for more power.
Beater Weight: 3.875 oz / 109.85 g
Sonic hammer extension beater
This beater allows you to adjust the distance of the beater from the head without needing to adjust the footboard angle. The beater angle can also be adjusted to ensure a solid strike on the head. Due to the beater being placed forward, this pedal gives you the feel of extra power without adding extra weight to the pedal.
Beater Weight: 4.875 oz / 138.2 g
George Kollias beater
This gives you beater head from the sonic hammer but without the ability to adjust the beater distance from the header. These beaters come as standard on the George Kollias Signature Pedals.
Beyond the multiple options available, there are some special pre-configured pedals available.
Derek Roddy Edition A21
These are the signature pedals of the death metal drummer Derek Roddy.
This pedal features the A21 cam, microtune spring tensioners, marksman beaters and E-Kits. These pedals are available in single or double pedal configurations as well as being available in silver or black finishes.
George Kollias Edition
These are the pedals of the death metal drummer George Kollias.
The pedals feature the A cam, microtune spring tensioners, George Kollias beaters and E-Kits. These pedals also feature bespoke pedalboards. The cam is connected directly to the board rather than via an extra piece at the top of the board.
These pedals are available in single or double pedal configurations as well as being available in silver or black finishes.
Axis pedal electronics
Axis has also pushed the boundaries of electronic drums. To keep up with the intense speed of its players, new triggers had to be developed to keep up. This lead to the start of innovative triggers mounted onto the pedals.
Electronic Kit (E-Kit)
This is the first version of the on pedal trigger offered by Axis. Once installed on your pedals you just need to adjust the angle of the small hammer to ensure it hits the trigger at the same time as the pedal hits the head. Your electronic uses this signal rather than that of your bass drum.
You need one E-Kit for each pedal.
These triggers follow a new trend of on pedal triggers. These sit under the pedalboard and produce a signal when the board pushes down on the trigger. These are simple to install and adjust and can be used on any pedals, not just Axis ones.
You will need one E3 Trigger per pedal.
Where can I buy Axis Pedals?
If you live in the USA there are numerous online music stores that you can purchase from. If you are outside of the USA you can order directly on the Axis Percussion website or via select online music stores.
There is no doubt that Axis Pedals have had a large impact on bass drum pedal technology. They have introduced a number of new features and levels of customisation previously unseen.
There is no doubt that the pedal offered by Axis today are still of great quality and they are premium pedals.
The only thing to mention is that these pedals do feel different to “standard” chain pedals. If you are worried about making the investment try and have a go on a pair before committing to purchase.