Bass drum pedal lubrication


Senior Member
Just a cautionary tale here... In a fit of nostalgia I just bought a nice older strap-drive DW5000 double pedal on eBay, and it was listed in excellent condition. It certainly *looked* brand-new, with essentially no visible wear on the footboards or baseplates. But when I set the pedals out on the bench to check them, I found that all the shaft bearings were essentially seized. The larger diameter bearings that support the drive shaft were solidly seized: the shafts were actually turning within the inner race! The smaller bearings (which in this design are typically fastened solidly to the shaft with a jam nut) were sort of movable, ish. But the pedal's action was pretty much mired in concrete.

I stripped the whole pedal down, felt how sticky things were, sniffed carefully, and realized what had happened. For some perverse reason, the previous owner had lubricated the shaft bearings with _vegetable oil_. That's right: cooking oil. Unfortunately, vegetable oil is not stable, and oxidizes into stiff grease and eventually something somewhat akin to *amber* in contact with air. I soaked the bearings in xylene in the ultrasonic cleaner for a couple of days to try to dissolve the oxidized grease, with little success. The roller bearings in the spring rockers and the U-joints in the driveshaft could be salvaged, since they seemed to have avoided the Mazola bath- but the mains are just flat gone.

This pedal probably survived no more than 1 week after that stuff was applied until it started getting stiff. No wonder the spring tensions were maxed out. And then it went into the previous owner's junkbox until it was eBay time, with the oil slowly turning into concrete. Sad. That's why it looked so good- it became unplayable very quickly. Otherwise, it really was a nice pedal, and it will be again.

So fresh bearings are on the way for the rebuild. And my advice, and the reason for this post, would be: when you do your preventive maintenance on your pedals, no matter what manufacturer, please use a stable industrial lubricant. I personally like a light oil like Mobil 1 0W-40 (since I have it around), as I think a very light application of oil makes things run slightly smoother than grease. Other folks like lithium grease, or PTFE grease, or sewing machine oil, or Marvel Mystery Oil, or whatnot- all good products. The important thing is to make sure that whatever you use was designed for persistently and stably lubricating *metal-on-metal* parts, not French fries or babies' butts... (;-)

And, BTW- as other people have observed, that "persistently" requirement leaves WD-40 out. It does evaporate away over a relatively short period of time, leaving you nothing useful behind. It was designed for water displacement (thus, the WD name), and then needed to be replaced by a persistent lubricant. So it is at best a band-aid (and sometimes a session-saver), but it is not a long-term answer.

First time I'd ever seen anything like that: you learn something new every day... Play safe out there!


Pioneer Member
Okay, 2 things.

xylene in the ultrasonic cleaner

1) There’s a great band name in there somewhere.

2) Don’t you get dust/dirt/grime buildup if you use oil on your pedals? I ask because I’ve got a bit of a squeak in my aging 5000s, and graphite lube did diddly squat, but I’m a bit worried about liquid oil making a big mess and then collecting grime.


Senior Member
1) There’s a great band name in there somewhere.

2) Don’t you get dust/dirt/grime buildup if you use oil on your pedals? I ask because I’ve got a bit of a squeak in my aging 5000s, and graphite lube did diddly squat, but I’m a bit worried about liquid oil making a big mess and then collecting grime.

1) True, dat!

2) Yes, and no. The goal of using oil (or anything else) is to use it very sparingly: you don't need a lot to go a long, long way. After a rebuild, I use a hypodermic-type needle injector and just use as little as I can. Similarly, on my chaindrive pedals, I'll oil the chain after cleaning and then wrap it in a paper towel for a couple of days to wick as much excess out as possible. I then thoroughly wipe down any remaining excess before finishing the reassembly. This also keeps them from smearing as much black spooge on you when setting up and tearing down.

I want just enough oil to keep things healthy, and no more. If you really glop on *any* lubricant, it'll attract dust. So getting just the right amount is the key item, and it is usually less than most folks might think.

The shaft bearings on these pedals are shielded, not sealed, and they are factory lubed with a lithium grease. So usually they don't require a lot of attention for the first few years, until the dirt has started getting in. The pin-bearing U joints in the driveshaft, on the other hand, need periodic TLC from day 1 to stay alive. And the old plain pin footboard hinges were a pain in the ass to keep quiet, and gunk up badly when lubed. That's one of the reasons I like the delta hinges so much better- I've replaced all mine with the new hinge.

Carroll Smith said it best in his series of books about race car prep work: "There is no such thing as a part that can be safely bolted onto a race car and then forgotten about". Everything mechanical will fail sooner or later, if it is ignored. These things ought to be pretty much immortal if taken care of- but it takes investing an hour or two every few hundred playing hours to control the inevitable buildup of spooge and grime. I still have the original single chains and bearings on my primary 80's vintage 5000s, and they are still smooth as silk...


I've used WD-40 on my old DW5000 and it was great. Done the job brilliantly. I then decided I wanted a change and moved to get a Pearl Eliminator - Just for a different feel.

I just recently bought a DW4000 double pedal (newbie to double bass - Not sure If I'll stick to it because I'm terrible).
The pedals where second hand but practically unused. When I was using them they seemed a little stiff & were squeaking a bit on the link shaft. So I used WD-40 on all the pedals bearings and on the moving arm parts (not sure of the name) on the link shaft. Moved them about and wiped up any excess kack that came out of them.

Working really well now and not squeaking anymore.
I found that the wd-40 cleans out any dirt as well.

I also wipe some down on my hardware to shine it up and keep it rust free!

I couldn't use grease, I think it would be far too messy and would just get everywhere.
Personal preference I think.


Junior Member
Most common parts to annoy with squeaks i find are the ends of the springs, take the spring and the tensioner off as one unit if you can, figure out where its binding and drop some 3-in-1 oil in there, move it about until it no longer binds, wipe off the excess and your pedal should be fairly squeak free unless you have other parts that need the attention.


Senior Member
WD-40 does a great job of cleaning stuff out, and a reasonable short-term job of keeping things moving quietly. As a cleaning solvent and penetrating agent, it does great work. It is apparently mostly kerosene, although its formula has never been revealed. Whatever it is, it is volatile, and will have evaporated away entirely in just a few tens of hours. This volatility is why it has such a poor reputation as a persistent lubricant. It's a great cleaner and it is arguably the best water dispersant out there, but it can't do everything... I do keep a small can in my gig bag in case I ever get rained on at an outdoor gig, and it has seen some use from that!

This volatility means that you have to keep reapplying it, basically, and I'm too lazy. (;-). Other products do better at offering the persistance I require. I'd rather do major maintenance once or twice a year and have it last, than having to continually chase squeaks when the lubricant dries out after a few weeks. However, your mileage may vary. I know that, compared to your average drummer, I'm a complete freak for preventive maintenance. By and large, most people never even think to look at their bearings until things have gotten sticky. So if you are doing _any_ PM, you are two or three legs up on the game.

Whatever you use, use it in good health: especially if it isn't Mazola!


Platinum Member
Whuh!? Man, I just rub a stick of butter all over my pedal and it works great. I like that hot popcorn smell while I'm sheddin', too.

Crazy story. Cooking oil...really? Resourceful...but goofy.


I regularly go through my gear and make sure everything is working properly. Make sure there's no loose parts, lubricate up the moving parts and clean and polish everything - just something I do when I'm bored. I'd say I'd do maintenance/ clean up on my gear every 3-4 months :)


Senior Member
Oh, and just for followup and completeness. The older pedals like mine have smaller bearings with a reduced OD (.6850", or 11/16"), and DW no longer stocks those bearings. They now carry only the 3/4"OD and 7/8"OD bearings for their current run of pedals, and they want more money for them than I was willing to pay.

Luckily, there is *zero* magic about these bearings- they are just standard industrial miniature shielded ball bearings. Mine were old enough that they didn't even have the edge numbers stamped on them. But a few minutes with the NMB Bearing catalog solved that problem, as well as crossreferencing back to the DW site for completeness.

So, here are the industrial equivalents for all of those bearings, including the old 11/16" bearing for anyone else who might run into this issue. Dimensions are IDXODxTHK.

DWSP213 = 3/8"x7/8"x9/32" = R6ZZ : this is the large bearing for both old and new.
DWSP010 = 6mmx19mmx6mm = 626ZZ : this is the new small (3/4") bearing.
Discontinued 1/4"x11/16"x1/4" = 1602ZZ : this is the old-style small bearing.

None of these should cost more than $1-2 each in small quantities, and you can get them much, much cheaper by doing some searching legwork. A quick search just now found them all at for under $2 each at , for example.

Your mileage may vary, and this information is just provided for the interested student- there's no warranty on this advice. But I hope this helps someone out on a search someday...


Silver Member
I use axle grease designed for wheel bearings on my DW 9000. It's pretty hardcore stuff. And it's not a liquid, but not a solid (feels like greasy hair wax!) once every 6 months or so it get stripped and packed. Seems to keep it squeak free and running like a charm. I have a small tub that I actually got from a friend who is a mechanic. You need so little of it that what I have has lasted about 3 years and I've barely touched the surface!