Six month review
Six months are up and I thought it would be a good idea to update this review. Over this period of time, I can honestly say I've had a love-hate relationship with the Trick Dominators. It finally got to the point of selling them cheaply.
The first month with any pedal is always (or should be) a honeymoon period. This is even more so with something like the Dominators, where you've dropped a massive wad of cash and feel the need to justify it. Any issues with the pedal are glossed over. All our worries can be tweaked away with the turn of an allen key.
I've always felt any review by anybody within this honeymoon period should be suspect, since we all feel the need to show off or rationalise the money we spent. At $599 + shipping + customs, I wasn't ready to give anyone a chance to say my pedals sucked. Or say so myself.
With respect to my own review: I moved on to the Trick pedals from a Pearl Eliminator chain/belt drive pedal. Unfortunately, I could never do a proper A/B comparison between the two, because I sold the Pearl before I bought the Dominators. So I could only rely on my residual memories of the Pearl when trying to do a comparison. These were definitely better... Right?
There's always a significant transition in feel when switching between these kinds of pedals, which can be attributed to the "elasticity" of a chain linkage or a woven strap vis-a-vis a chunk of metal as a linkage. I immediately started out playing fast and boy, did it feel faster than the old Pearl. Perhaps this was due to the shine factor of a brand new pedal versus a two-year old piece. And perhaps it was true. At any rate, I honestly believed it was.
In month two, I started to really get into the feel of the pedal. And it was about this time that I started running into resistance in the dream-like state I was in. During running double bass, I would suddenly feel a pedal move in a different way. I would be unable to play speedy single pedal patterns. All the notes would be blurred together and lose definition. I'd grin and tweak and start all over again. New settings, new feel. I'd lock on to something for a while, then switch to something else in the same day.
By month three, I was ready to get rid of the infernal Dominators. This was a rip-off. I had been cheated. The compression spring technology was faulty. Trick CEO Mike Dorfman was evil. I needed to offload these pedals quietly. Stealthily. Pawn them off to some unsuspecting sap. I needed a "real" upgrade, to a Pearl Demon Drive. Or an Axis longboard, George Kollias and Derek Roddy use those.
Of course, with anything as expensive as the Trick Dominators, it's difficult to make a second-hand sale. Even more so if you don't want to stomach a big loss. I started out with a small cut in the price. But eventually, I decided just getting rid of them would be sufficient. A couple of hundred dollars out isn't as bad as around $1000 out.
By month four, I realised this could take time. I kept looking out for potential buyers, but kept playing at home. I wasn't going to let these pedals keep me from my dream of being a good drummer. Stupid pedals, I kept on playing beautifully and then all of a sudden it would shake violently or stutter or choke and the music was gone and I was a loser that had spent mega bucks on defective technology.
In month five, everything changed. I stopped thinking about playing these pedals and started playing them. The constant switching of settings had stopped. My feet (I play barefoot) learnt how to anticipate the bounce of the beater and react in a way that the motion was not interrupted or momentum altered. I synchronised my body rhythms with the flow of the pedals and was no longer forcing my playing but playing naturally.
About a week ago, I started leaning forward a little when playing. A subtle change in posture, but the impact on my double bass playing has me looking at these pedals with a tinge of shame. I even feel sorry for Trick Drums, like my attitude has been a betrayal.
It's kind of funny how we sometimes get a lump in our throats after buying something, Buyer's regret can be almost painful, especially for those of us that can't afford something better.
Does buyer's regret get better with time? I'm not sure, but I have learnt a valuable lesson about pedals, something that is often repeated on these forums, but which I think needs to be repeated once more for emphasis in this review: give your pedals time with any setting. It takes time to acclimatize to something new. Don't blame your tools.
The Trick Dominator double bass pedal is hard to confuse with other products on the market. The compression spring technology isn't unique to the Trick family of products, but it has been updated to fit into the modern drummer's arsenal of tools. What does it bring that's new to the table?
For one, an optimal balance between speed and power: the metal beaters contribute to this somewhat, but the acceleration characteristics of the pedal and what I would describe as a "heavy" feel, but little in way of resistance.
Second on my list of positives would have to be a mix of "pedal bounce" and "playability". The compression spring provides for a very swift and predictable return from the drum head, with little chance of the pedal returning slower. "Feeling" this bounce back and adapting my old style of playing to this mechanism, I am able to react more naturally and send the beater back into the head. This works particularly well for the heel-toe style of playing that I adopted when I bought the Dominators, but would work equally well for a motion in which the beater is swung back and forth using the Moeller technique. I find my off (left) leg seems more attuned to an appropriate Moeller application, whereas my good leg still needs work. Go figure. This has opened up new playing possibilities.
Third but not least, the versatility of having a single/double pedal set up should not be under-estimated. Among the pedals I was eyeing prior to my Dominator purchase, I was interested in a couple of models that could not be split into singles, my rationale being that most venues where I would be playing would not have a second bass drum. In hindsight, I now realise that having a separate pedal can be extremely liberating when playing double bass, while having a double bass configuration with minimal lag between the master and slave doesn't lose me gigs. Having a separate pedal has also worked well with my Alesis DM10 setup, which seems unable to handle double bass speeds in excess of 200 bpm on a single pad, as a result of which I was getting a lot of lost hits. Thanks to the Dominator design, I could split into two singles on two separate pads on separate inputs. Problem solved!
I hope this review is of use to someone looking at the Dominators. I plan to do one last update a year from now, with a holistic look at the pluses and minuses of the Dominator. Thanks for reading. And God Bless Mr Mike Dorfman, about whom I had a great many unhappy thoughts that were ill-deserved. Great product, great company Trick Drums and I am sure as word of mouth spreads around, a lot more people are going to realise that a $599 pedal like the Trick Dominator can actually feel like a $1000. You just have to play them like you mean it and stop pretending they will play themselves. Give them time, they will give you service.
Oh. And my Trick Dominators? They're not for sale.
"... As war machine, crushes their balls, God have mercy..."