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I’m trying to practice drums, and the bass pedal either sticks or squeaks. Although it may seem easy enough to lubricate a bass drum pedal with any old oil, there is more science to lubricants than one might know.
We will take a close look at 7 lubricants for bass drum pedals commonly found on the market. The lubricants mentioned are the best options for lubricating, protecting, and removing squeaks of moving parts within the bass drum pedal and the pedal used for the hi-hat.
7 Best Lubricants for Bass Drum Pedals
Bass drum pedals are complicated and often expensive pieces of hardware. The pedal requires a proper response time and smooth action. Any friction within the components could cause an annoying squeak.
Even worse, a lack of lubrication can cause damage and premature wear on the components that make your drum pedal. A lack of lubrication can also cause the pedal to stick, making playing all the more difficult.
Many drummers recommend many different types of lubricant. According to drummers on Drumforum.org, Lithium grease is often used, PTFE lube is recommended, and 3-in-1 is not recommended due to runniness.
On the VDrums.com forum, many drummers are also backing up the use of Lithium Grease.
Several drummers on the forum say that air tool oil is excellent for drum pedals.
Others point to lithium-based bicycle chain lubricant, which is a commonly found product that works very well with bass drum pedals.
Due to so much speculation amongst drummers online, we felt that maybe we should go right outside of the music community to look for answers. So, we ended up at Machinery Lubrication website by Noria (machinerlubrication.com) to find out what the pros use for lubricating machinery.
It was no surprise that lithium grease is one of the best multi-purpose lubricants for moving available metal parts. However, there is a grease type that allegedly out-performs lithium grease, which is calcium-sulfonate grease.
Before we dive into the preferred brands, let’s make sure we are all on the same page about what we are talking about.
What is Lithium Grease?
Lithium grease is a type of lubricant that is used in heavy-duty applications. The grease is a mixture of oils and lithium, a salt that acts as a thickener according to WD-40’s article on white lithium grease.
Lithium grease acts as a ‘slow-release’ for the suspended oil that helps to ‘re-lubricate’ the metal over time. Lithium grease also works to coat the metal to prevent rusting. However, additives must be included in the mixture to have decent results when it comes to rust prevention.
h3WD-40 Specialist White Lithium Grease
A recommended version of the long-lasting white lithium grease is the WD-40 Specialist White Lithium Grease. This product, made by WD-40 and available on Amazon, is a superior form of white lithium grease.
The spray cans may be purchased individually or in a six-pack. The six-pack offers a reduced price per can. Suppose one has any bicycles around or other mechanical devices that require lubrication. In that case, this product can often be used as a multi-purpose grease, so having the six-pack winds up being a reasonable decision.
DuPont Teflon White Lithium Grease
DuPont makes another highly recommended brand of white lithium grease. This product includes Teflon for enhanced performance. One of the best things about this product is that it is suitable for outdoor use and won’t wash off.
The DuPont Teflon white lithium grease can be easily obtained from Amazon.
Any lubricant suitable for outdoor use means that it may resist dripping when in the heat of the sun. This is an essential aspect if you have a studio or practice space that gets warm inside after some time practicing. If one ever plays a show outside such as a summer festival, then having a grease that won’t drip away in the sun can be advantageous.
What is PTFE Lubricant?
PTFE is a short form for polytetrafluoroethylene, a synthetic fluoropolymer. This type of lubricant often comes in a ‘dry lube’ format that does not drip or run, making it a preferred type of lubricant. It is one of the main reasons why many drummers recommend this type of lubricant.
This type of lubricant often comes in a compressed spray form.
WD-40 Specialist Dry Lube with PTFE
Again, WD-40 makes a product that fits in line with the needs of drummers. The Specialist Dry Lube with PTFE is the product that is being described here.
The unique PTFE spray lubricant is again readily available at Amazon.
The spray also again comes in singles or a convenient, money-saving six-pack.
The Specialist Dry Lube is formulated for extreme penetration and is industrial in strength. The product is safe to expose most woods, metals, and even most plastics. A reaction to any drum components is not likely unless the pedal has clear polycarbonate or polystyrene, but that is highly unlikely.
CRC Dry PTFE Lube
One of the brands mentioned by drummers is CRC. Although one of the oily lubricants made by the company was speculated as being a tad runny, the company also makes a superior dry PTFE lubricant spray.
Again found over Amazon, this spray works well at resisting dust and dirt build-up. The product is also registered for use in meat and poultry production facilities. This means it is relatively safe (although one should never attempt ingestion or any other means of actual physical exposure) for human contact.
What is Calcium-Sulfonate Grease?
Calcium-sulfonate grease is a superior grease that is used for specialty applications.
Some types of lubricating anti-seize compounds are calcium-sulfonate based. As well, some high-end marine grade lubricants are also of the same base.
The calcium-sulfonate group of lubricants is often thicker than standard lubricants.
Therefore, this lubricant is often found in a grease tube format.
The application of this grease may be slightly impractical for the average drummer; however, the grease is a superior lubricant. It is capable of providing much greater corrosion resistance for metals than that of lithium-based lubricants. This could be a reason why it is often used both for marine as well as anti-seizing applications.
Despite the excellent benefits of calcium-sulfonate greases, as they are difficult for some to apply, they are not often the first choice for drummers.
Perhaps these lubricants should be the top choice, though.
Renewables Lubricants MaxxLife Food Grade High-Temperature Grease
The Renewables MaxxLife product is an outstanding product that delivers superior performance.
The grease is thick, waterproof, and has excellent corrosion resistance properties.
Not that one would be eating off their drum pedal, but it is reassuring that this calcium sulfonate lubricant is classified as food safe (for incidental small amounts contaminating food, not safe to go and just put it on your salad – don’t do that!).
The lubricants come in a grease tube format, so application to parts is best achieved using a cotton swab/stick or similar applicator. Even an old small paintbrush can work to apply the grease.
This type of grease will outlast other lubricants on a reasonably consistent basis.
However, the application process makes it more meticulous than a fast spray lubricant. This product can be found on Amazon.
Specialty Drum Lubricants
There are several lubricants marketed specifically for drum sets. There are mixed reviews for some of these products from drummers regarding the cost of the product versus the benefits they provide.
Many drummers are of the impression that cheaper lubricants work best and that specialty lubricants are a waste of money. However, there is a flip side to this opinion held by the opposing camp, who believes that specialty lubricants are better options.
No matter which side of the fence one’s opinion happens to fall, it is good to, at the very least, educate oneself to the possible options. Let’s take a quick look.
Liquid Bearings Synthetic Drum Lube
As mentioned, specialty lubricants are often sold at a much higher cost due to their specialized nature. The Liquid Bearings Synthetic Lubricant found on Amazon is no exception. The tiny 1oz bottle is significantly more expensive than several other types of lubricant of much higher volumes.
Gibraltar SC-GLO Lubricant For Pedals
Naturally, Gibraltar makes their version of lubricant for use specifically with drum pedals. Again, this product is found on Amazon, although its specifications are a bit ambiguous.
How To Fix A Squeaky Bass Drum Pedal in 7 steps
Learn – One of the smartest things to do before attempting to disassemble a pedal for the first time is to inspect the manufacturer’s instruction manual and any online video or documentation from the manufacturer about maintenance.
Learning what the manufacturer recommends may save a lot of time and grief. The manufacturer may also point out specific points of interest for the upcoming inspection.
Disassembly – Disassemble the drum pedal taking care to note the order in which the pedal parts were removed. This way, re-assembly won’t be confusing.
First Timers – Try taking several pictures of the pedal before you disassemble it. Take these pictures close-up and from various angles. This way a simple picture review can help if you get confused about re-assembly.
Clean – Carefully clean off all components. Do not use any abrasive cleaners to clean the pedal component.
Instead, use a small amount of the lubricant you will be using on the cleaned pedal and a clean and dry cloth. Ensure that any old lubricant is removed. Do not attempt to disassemble a bearing assembly. If sealed, there is no need to lubricate.
If open bearings are visible, they will require lubrication.
Inspect – Take care to carefully and diligently inspect all components for wear and damage. If any of the moving parts have severe wear, the manufacturer or dealer may need to be contacted for replacement components.
Re-Lubricate – Any components which require lubrication before re-assembly should now be lubricated.
Note – Wearing gloves, and safety glasses is advised. If using a lubricant that is under pressure, there is a danger of possible eye injury.
Even a pair of sunglasses is better than nothing if proper clear safety glasses are not available.
Re-Assemble – Carefully re-assemble the pedal. Take care not to cross-thread any threaded components.
Also, ensure that no dirt or dust gets into components while re-assembling.
Now that the lubrication and re-assembly are complete, the pedal should have a final cleaning. It is not more than wiping the lever down with a paper towel to remove any excess lubricant that may drip down and onto your drum carpet.
Play – The pedal has been maintained, and any squeak in the mechanics should now be eliminated. Give the pedal an excellent playing to ensure everything is tuned the way that is preferred.
Do Bass Drum Pedals Need to be Cleaned?
Bass drum pedals need to be maintained.
Maintenance for drum pedals includes both cleaning and lubrication.
Bass drum pedals are an assembly of components that move and work to provide the action of hitting the bass drum. As a moving mechanical system requires maintenance, so does the bass and hi-hat pedals of a drum kit.
Due to the pedal residing close to the floor, the associated dust and dirt will wear down components compared to parts that are elevated.
Furthermore, placing a drum set on top of a drummer’s carpet creates a situation where a higher than average dust and debris count is possible.
It is due to two factors:
- Carpet fibers shed over time. This fact is exaggerated by the movement of a drummer and subsequent drum components on the carpet. This movement causes friction that, in turn, wears the rug prematurely. The wear creates dust, and the dust can stick to lubricants and enter components, causing the failure of existing lubricant.
- Carpets catch debris like a net. Any debris, be it hair or skin that is continually being shed by humans, and any dirt on a drummer’s shoes being tracked into the room, all tend to get trapped in carpets. If one has ever cleaned a rug using a steam cleaner, after heavy use, one will find the brownish-grey water a testament to just how much dust and dirt collect within the carpet.
Bass Drum Pedal Bearings
Bearings on bass drum pedals are often sealed and do not require anything other than an attempt to keep the bearing clean. Typically only cheaper bass drum pedals have open bearings. If this is the case with your drum pedal, don’t panic, there are specialty products like the Liquid Bearings product mentioned earlier.
– Specialized Product – Usually, the specialty products are of better quality than general-purpose products.
– Displaces Contaminants – Some types of lubricants’ lift’ contaminants off surfaces; however, this can also result in lifting oil-based lubricants off. One can use this form of lubricant for cleaning.
– Prevents Friction – The entire point of lubricants, however, some work better than others. For example, the best is a calcium sulfonate lubricant, but lithium-based is much more common.
– Prevents Vibration – An essential factor when considering lubricants.
Thicker lubricants such as calcium sulfonate based greases will act as vibration dampening grease much more effectively than thinner lithium-based lubricants.
Parts vibration is a common problem with drum set components.
Any slightly worn pivoting components of the drum pedal can translate the vibrations from use through from one element to another. This can cause vibration and rattling noise.
If a part is badly worn, it will be able to vibrate more, given more wear on the pivoting components. If a part is really bad, it may need to be replaced, but thicker grease may increase the components’ longevity.
Non-Oily Vs. Oily Vs. Grease Drum Pedal Lubricants
There are several different lubricant products on the market that are effective at lubricating bass drum pedals. Some drummers prefer a non-oily lubricant to an oil-based lubricant. For sure, each type has its benefits and flaws.
To understand which type of lubricant is right for you, it’s essential to know how each work and the benefits and drawbacks to each kind.
Benefits of Non-Oily Drum Pedal Lubricants
– No oil or grease for dust and dirt to stick to
– Often comes in compressed spray form for easy application
Drawbacks of Non-Oily Drum Pedal Lubricants
– Less corrosion resistance for components than oily or greasy lubricants.
– The longevity of non-oil lubricants on parts is often less than greasy lubricants.
– Potential for allergic reaction higher than with food-grade calcium sulfonate grease.
Benefits of Oily Drum Pedal Lubricants
– Prevents oxidation well.
– A most common type of lubricant (easy to obtain).
– The cheapest form of lubricants.
Drawbacks of Oily Drum Pedal Lubricants
– Can ‘run’ in warmer climatic conditions causing a mess.
– Messy to work with.
– Limited lifespan of lubricant on components compared to greasy lubes.
Benefits of Greasy Calcium Sulfonate Drum Pedal Lubricants
– Maximum vibrational dampening.
– Excellent for oxidation/corrosion prevention.
– The maximum lifespan of lubricant on the components compared to other types of lubricants.
Drawbacks of Greasy Calcium Sulfonate Drum Pedal Lubricants
– More expensive (calcium sulfonate based) than other forms of lubricant.
– Dust and dirt tend to stick to greasy lubricants.
– More difficult application (not a pressurized spray).
Other Uses For Bass Drum Lube – Hi-Hat Pedal Lubrication
The hi-hat pedal is very similar to the bass pedal. That is, both are foot pedals comprised of moving, mechanical components.
Both the hi-hat and bass drum pedals may be treated the same when it comes to lubrication.
There are several specialty products for drums that come with manufacturer related suggestions. However, popular opinion among those who work with machinery and moving metal component lubrications states that the best lubricants contain calcium sulfonate.