One year ago, I posted my very first review on this website (give or take a few days). It was a very brief write up of my trusted Iron Cobra bass drum pedal that I put together for another outlet. I enjoyed writing it so much that I decided to keep doing it. I’m only bringing this up because I’ve been doing some reflecting on my first year in “business”. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with some really incredible gear – and the whole thing was all essentially born out of my love for the Iron Cobra pedal.
With that in mind, I was really pleased when I realized that reviewing Tama’s newest addition to the Cobra clan would line up squarely with Drum Gear Review’s one year anniversary. Pure coincidence, but great nonetheless.
The Speed Cobra
Utilizing many of the same design elements as its predecessor, Tama’s Speed Cobra was created to satisfy the needs of an increasing number of players calling for maximum speed and power. Despite the excellent reputation of Tama’s previous pedals, the company saw plenty of room to invest loads of r&d into a new model that could keep up with the needs of a generation of drummers that continue to eclipse the presumed boundaries of physical limitation.
Knowing that, I was pretty geeked to finally get a look at this new addition to the Cobra family. Writing this blog, I try to avoid favoring one product over another, but I love my Iron Cobra, so I figured any amendments to that design would almost certainly be positive. Well, after spending nearly a month with the Speed Cobra, I can say that just about every update was effective and appreciated. So, let’s get down to it.
I’m going to try my hardest to avoid snake puns.
At first glance, the Speed Cobra looks like an Italian sports car. Sleek, efficient and super shiny, it really makes a strong impression on the eyes. All of that engineering is completely visible, but built in such a way that it doesn’t look clunky. Honestly, with all the polished steel and sleek angling, it’s a little flashy for my taste, but (at least in my mind) aesthetics are the least important aspect of a bass drum pedal, so it surely wouldn’t stop me from owning one.
The Speed Cobra is, quite obviously, designed for speed. While it’s certainly geared toward those seemingly inhuman players that need a machine capable of keeping up with their blazing fast feet, that shouldn’t limit the pedal’s appeal to players of all styles. Simply put, this is a smooth, efficient pedal that could benefit most players.
With its extended footboard, recessed setting and ultra-light cam, the only resistance you’ll find on the Speed Cobra is exactly what you’ve dialed in with the Super Spring. In his video response to the Speed Cobra (see below), Rodney Holmes really elucidates this point by saying “I didn’t have to fight the pedal.” There, he’s reacting to the nearly flawless, fluid motion of the Speed Cobra that not only allows for maximum speed and power, but also caters to a much more dynamic style of play than other pedals.
While other pedals (including some of those from Tama) have utilized engineering elements to increase the power of each stroke (beyond the natural motion of your foot), the Speed Cobra simply allows your foot to create the most efficient stroke possible at any dynamic level. That playability really made the pedal valuable across any genre. I was able to play every figure I’m capable of playing at any dynamic level without much extra effort. For the first time, everything I played with my foot felt as smooth and natural as it would had I used my hands.
I’m not going to spend too much time on each individual engineering accomplishment as Tama’s Speed Cobra website has loads of very detailed information. However, I would like to mention the impact of the pedal’s longer footboard and recessed setting.
By extending the length of the footboard and setting the nose of the board about 3/4s of an inch farther back (away from the bass drum), the pedal really feels like it needs to be moved less to bring the beater up to the head. Minimizing the energy needed to play each stroke really made a difference in my ability to play those speedy figures. While I normally play with the ball of my foot at the widest part of the pedal, the Speed Cobra allowed me to set my foot a little farther back (detailed in the video above). This made it easy to play fast patterns without lifting my heel way up, which was tremendously helpful in overcoming calf fatigue at a few very lengthy rehearsals.
Finally, that smooth footboard was also very useful when using a sliding foot technique. Without the heavy topography of other pedals, my foot was free to quickly move around the pedal, increasing the clarity of triplets in particular.
There are two aspects of the Speed Cobra that I’m not too fond of – but thankfully, they’re both easily remedied. The first is the included Projection Beater. With its angular, convex face and small strip of impact zone, it brought out a few too many of the highs in my bass drum. I know the beater was designed to increase the focus and punch of each note, but in the end, there just wasn’t enough real estate to give me the “whump” I was after (it should be noted that the beater head looks like it can be rotated to make use of the broad felt areas above or below the impact zone, but I didn’t find this very easy). However, with the standard Iron Cobra beater, the pedal gave me everything I needed with no problem. An easy fix.
My other very minor issue with the Speed Cobra is the Cobra Coil – the spring below the footboard which is said to improve the board’s rebound. I like the idea, but for the life of me, I can’t convince myself that it’s actually working. It could be, but I just don’t feel it. That said, something that seems ineffective, but doesn’t restrict play at all shouldn’t bother me, but I’m worried about it rattling down the road (Note: I haven’t heard any complaints about this; it’s only a ‘more moving parts means more problems’ issue I’ve noticed with other gear). Again though, this problem is very easily remedied as the coil can be removed in about thirty seconds. And truthfully, I have no idea if it ever would prove problematic, but it makes me worry a bit.
As I mentioned before, I absolutely adore my Iron Cobra and have had no reason to seek out something different. However, I would very, very happily switch to the Speed Cobra if given the opportunity. It did take a little while to get used to the pedal’s unique feel, but once my foot felt comfortable, it proved to be one of the most natural and efficient machines I’ve ever played.
After reading the marketing literature attached to the Speed Cobra, I’d say that Tama easily met and even exceeded their goals. This is a remarkable piece of engineering, and it really speaks volumes about the company’s dedication to creating the most effective tools possible.
To wrap up: If you’re in the market for something under foot with a few more BPMs, I would thoroughly recommend checking out the Speed Cobra.
Rodney Holmes Reaction Video
Thanks for helping me keep this site going for a full year!