Hands-On Review:Hansenfutz Futz Practice Pedal
Get on the good Futz
By Mike Fitch, Music123 Staff Writer
Drummers are unique among musicians
in that they use all four limbs to play their instrument. Historically, the process of learning to play a drum sethas largely focused on what is played with the hands. Today a new emphasis is being placed on the contribution made by a drummer’s feet. Virtuoso players have developed their foot technique to a level that rivals that of the hands, playing single- and double-stroke rolls, paradiddles, and other rudiments on the bass drum. This has given rise to the popularity of double bass pedals and the use of the feet to play percussion instruments like cowbells and jam blocks.
Practice anywhere, anytime
The Hansenfutz pedal is made of a durable nylon composite material with a glassy, metal-flake look to it. Heavy-Duty Velcro strips hold the base firmly to the carpet, the required surface for the Hansenfutz pedal. Drummers vary widely in the way they like their foot pedals set up, so when you first play the Hansenfutz, it may or may not feel like your own pedal of preference. I found that the pedal’s action out of the box was tighter than I’m used to, but both the spring tension and footboard angle are adjustable with a few turns of a screwdriver, so I quickly dialed in a feel closer to that of my single-chain drive Slingerland model.
One of the benefits of the Hansenfutz pedal is that the spring tension provides resistance on the upstroke as well as the downstroke. You can’t rely on the rebound of the beater to do the work like you can with a regular pedal. This, in effect, forces you to play every note correctly and articulate every sound as it develops your ankle and leg muscles.
Right out of the box, the pedal produces near silence. There is also an optional set of three impact discs available for the pedal that provides 3 alternate sounds. Each fits into the bottom of the pedal where the footboard makes contact with the impact tower on the base. The first disc creates a subtle click; the second provides a louder click, sufficient for playing with music or a metronome; and the third is a silent practice disc. Using this last disc, I can even practice with the Hansenfutz at work! As I write these words, I’m using two pedals to improve my right and left foot independence, unbeknownst to my day job cubicle mates and boss.
Get up for the down stroke
A bass drum pedal is played with the heel down, up, or in either position depending on the music. I find heel down better for styles like jazz that require a lighter touch, and prefer heel up for louder rock and R&B and for fast double strokes and ghost notes. The Futz is suitable for players of either style, and it won’t let you cheat—you have to press down fully to make a stroke, and that’s key to one of its principal benefits—the resistance develops strength and control in your ankles. With dedicated practice you will discover more power, articulation, and accuracy in your feet. A regular pedal feels like butter after you’ve been putting in regular sessions with the Futz.
I prefer using 2 Futz pedals to work out with even though I‘m not a double pedal player. That way I can work on bass drum and hi-hat interaction and independence. Drummers who play a double pedal or two bass drums will definitely want to pick up a couple of Hansenfutz pedals.
To check out the pedal’s percussion-playing abilities, I inserted the optional Futz Steel Beater into the pedal and set up the optional Futz Stand. It makes a very workable setup for playing hand percussion with the feet. I used it first with a jam block and then a cowbell, and the pedal worked well with both. I found that I could actually control the dynamics of the percussion better than with a regular foot pedal/percussion bracket setup. The slim, nylon-covered beater of the Futz allowed me to play with a lot of foot finesse.
I also used the pedal to trigger an electronic sound module using a basic Pulse RT-1 trigger. Any standard trigger will work. I adhered the trigger to the base of the pedal and plugged into an Alesis DM5 Drum Module. After dialing in the DM5’s sensitivity, the setup performed flawlessly, triggering sounds from bells to gongs to taiko drums.
Step on it
The Hansenfutz Futz Practice Pedal is a valuable tool for drummers who want to get on the fast track to better foot technique. Its portability and size make it easy to travel with, and the design practically ensures that, with consistent practice, your bass and hi-hat techniques will improve as your ankle and leg strength and stamina grows. The Futz may be used alone, in a pair, or in combination with standard drum pads for a total practice workout.
Drummers the likes of Thomas Lang, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Ndugu Chancler, Carmine Appice, and many more are big fans of the Hansenfutz—isn’t it time you put your best foot forward too?