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Bass Drum Beaters

Four multi-tonal options for dialing in the perfect feel and sound.

DW recently released a quartet of bass drum beaters that are designed to provide multiple tones and textures from a single source. The Black Sheep and Control Beater XL models were created in collaboration with top endorsers Rich Redmond and John “JR” Robinson, while the 101AIR and Control Beater are being put to use by chops monsters Virgil Donati and Tony Royster Jr., among others. We were sent samples of each of the beaters to review. Let’s take a closer look.

DWSM104W Black Sheep

This unique beater, designed in conjunction with Jason Aldean drummer Rich Redmond, combines two classic sounds in one. It features a round heavy-duty maple top that’s stained black, as well as an adjustable 15-gram shaft weight. Also included is a removable synthetic wool cover that can be slipped over the top of the beater to transform the loud, dense, and punchy attack of the wood into a rounder and more vintage-like tone.

The Black Sheep is perfectly balanced to produce a strong and punchy sound with minimal effort. The shaft weight allows you to adjust the feel and throw of the beater to being more or less top-heavy. I preferred the extra power the weight provided when positioned at the top of the shaft. Positioning the weight at the bottom of the shaft made the beater feel lighter, which would help when more controlled dynamics are required.

The wool cover is held securely in place via a simple elastic band. We saw no premature wear in the fabric throughout our month-long review period. And the layer of fabric did a great job of eliciting a puffier tone from various types and sizes of bass drums when played at low and medium volumes, while still allowing for adequate attack when played more forcefully. This is a great option for drummers who want to achieve modern and vintage tones from a single beater. List price: $29.99.


This lightweight model is a variation of DW’s classic two-way felt/plastic beater. It features scalloped sides, so there’s less mass in the head, which translates to a faster response without sacrificing durability or power. The 101AIR is the beater of choice for double-kick great Virgil Donati, who requires as much speed from his pedals as possible in order to execute fast, syncopated kick patterns.

The contoured felt side produces a nicely balanced tone with plenty of attack and full low-end response, while the high-impact plastic side emphasizes a stronger attack and denser punch. In comparison with the other beaters in this review, the 101AIR has a noticeably quicker feel, even with the shaft weight positioned at the very top. If speed, power, and clarity are of the utmost importance for you, then this is the beater to try. List price: $19.99.

DWSM110 Control Beater

One of the more sophisticatedly designed beaters we’ve seen in recent years, the Control Beater comes with three swappable playing surfaces (round felt, flat felt, and hard plastic) and four removable brass weights, and it has a self-leveling head that ensures that the beater strikes flat against the drumhead. The playing surfaces screw directly into the beater head and can be removed and locked into place easily by hand.

The brass weights, which weigh 10 grams each, are positioned directly behind the beater head and can be popped out quickly once the head is removed. With all four weights in place, the beater has a very balanced feel and a powerful response. I preferred the feel of the Control Beater this way; it produced a powerful throw and a strong, punchy tone plus plenty of speed. Removing one or more weights gave the beater a lighter feel and a quicker response.

The flat felt head produced a great all-purpose tone with a dense, smacking attack and balanced low-end punch. The round felt head had a slightly softer yet more focused attack, and the plastic head provided the most extreme attack, clarity, and precision. The self-aligning beater head worked perfectly to ensure that it struck the drumhead as flatly as possible each time, and it never drooped or drifted off alignment throughout our review. List price: $29.99.

DWSM110XL Control Beater XL

This beater has the same design and features as the Control Beater, only with a longer shaft (8.15″) and a pair of oversized beater faces (rectangular wood and rectangular felt). It was designed in collaboration with studio great John “JR” Robinson, who’s widely known for having incredibly powerful, accurate bass drum technique. The beater faces measure 1.5″x2″ and can be quickly swapped out by hand. The brass weights add power and acceleration to the throw, and the larger faces increase the volume and punch of each stroke. Both faces produce a huge sound with a punchy attack and maximum tone, with the felt face drawing out a slightly warmer timbre and the wood face providing extra clarity and articulation. This would be an ideal beater to use on larger drums (24″ and up) and in situations where you want to achieve the biggest, fullest tone possible. List price: $29.99.

Michael Dawson