For anyone who is interested in the Yamaha
Flying Dragon review i did, this was it: Yamaha
is always striving to be innovative. However, time and time again the innovations they come out with always seem really cool at first, but once you actually use them, it seems many of them are actually more trouble then they are worth. The Nouueau lugs were a prime example of this. They look great, the idea is great. But once I tried them on a bunch of kits, they made head changes a NIGHTMARE. Thatís another story though; we are talking about the Flying Dragons.
Ok, all the Dragons are built off the same structure, the only difference is the Drive system. Drive choice is all about feel so I cannot say which drive is "Better" then another. Its personal preference. I will say I thought their direct drive system did offer a little more power then Axis
, but like the Axis
, I hate the feel of direct drives in general. Then Double Chain version was very smooth and quiet.
Now here are the problems. Problem number one is another issue caused by Yamaha
's excessive attempts at being overly innovative. They designed the pedal to able to store TOTALLY FLAT. They accomplish this by having two hex bolts on the bottom that you loosen with a supplied hex key and they you can slide the two bolts off the base and lay the pedal towers down allowing completely flat storage. The double pedal comes with a carry bag that is so small; customers don't believe it at first that the pedal will fit in it. But it does, and it does so well. While compact storage of anything is always a good thing, it shouldnít come at a cost for stability and reliability. But thatís what it does.
Those two hex bolts on the bottom of the pedal work their way loose pretty often. We had a total of about 5 Flying Dragons on the sales floor either on kits or on the pedal demo display boards and in the 7 months I was there I retightened ALL of them numerous times. When these bolts start to loosen, the entire upper portion of the pedal rocks back and forth. I don't think itís hard to imagine what a problem that can cause. When it first starts to loosen it not as noticeable when plying but when you watch someone using it you can see it rocking. Of course, the obvious response I got form people was "Well just tighten it more". Yes, tightening it more will keep it tighter longer, but you have steel screws screwing into aluminum castings. Itís not hard to strip those screws out. Aluminum stretches very easily. Even if you don't strip them, what happens over time is each time you tighten them you stretch the metal more and more so that each time you have to make it tighter to compensate for the threads stretching.
Normally in applications where you have steel bolts going into aluminum casting you would use lock washers to prevent loosening. Either "split" washers or "star" washers will do wonders to keep screws tight. But they add about 0.18 thickness to the bolt and need to be pressing against a flat surface. Longer protruding bolts is not acceptable since it would raise the pedal and you don't have a flat surface either since the bolts it uses are known as "Flathead" and actually recess into the pedals base to make it flat.
So, there really is no practical solution to the tightening issue. You have only two options. Frequent re-tightening at lower levels to prevent stretching but this will still allow you to collapse them for gigging. OR, using a product like Threadlocker Blue which will keep them tight and will eliminate the need to ever tighten them again. But, flattening the pedal for storage will not be possible anymore.
The next issue I have is the hoop attachment clamp. This is yet another example of Yamaha
over innovating. Once again, something they tout as a unique feature only causes more problems. The clamp can be set to your bass drum hoop thickness using the supplied hex wrench and then had a lever you would lift to unlock. The idea was it would make removing and installing your pedal from the bass hoop fast-er then before. Ok then, here is my first issue. Anyone who has even used any DW
, Iron Cobra or Eliminator knows how they use an offset wing nut type screw to tighten and loosen them right? You can tighten or loosen the pedal enough to remove or install it in 2 turns or less. Why Yamaha
felt that it wasnít quick enough I don't know.
The problems begin with the tightness setting bolt. It can only be done with a special supplied hex key. This is the same key used to loosen the tower bolts. If you lose this key, it will be nearly impossible to adjust this clamp without using pliers since itís underneath the pedal board. I have never seen a store that stocks this wrench. We all know how it easy it is to lose small tools. Having a small tool required for critical adjustments that is unique is a BAD idea for a gigging drummer. Their is a clamp that holds the key on the pedal but we all know that only works if we as drummers in our haste remember to out it back. DW
's 9000 series pedal also require a unique tool that is easily lost but unlike the Yamaha
, you can use a normal Hex key in an emergency.
Back to the clamp. Once you tighten it to your bass drum hoops thickness, you lift the locking lever, slide the pedal onto the hoop and then press the lever down. This then clamps to your hoop and holds it in place. Here is where the NEXT set of problems begins. Anybody who has owned a wooden bass drum hooped kit knows that over time bass drum pedals crush the hoop and leave in indentation. You never realize that over time you have to tighten the clamp slightly more since you tighten with a wing nut. With a wing nut, you have total control over the tightness. With this clamp, the lever makes the clamp have only two settings, Clamped or Released. Similar to a pair of Vice Grip pliers. This ends up damaging the hoop faster then a normal bass drum pedal clamp and requires frequent adjustments to compensate for the crushed wood fibers.
Yet another problem with this clamp lies with this annoying tool operated adjustment for the drummer who gigs on different kits. Bass drum hoop thickness varies by brand, series, and how beaten up the hoop is. That means spending 5 minutes on every kit you get behind loosening or tightening the clamp ad test fitting it to get it just right. You HAVE to get it perfect or the pedal will come off while you are playing. In a gig, that means stopping and getting down on all fours and using the tool if you can find it to try and get it where you want it. I also find the pedal will release from the hoop on its own as the latch lifts up. It needs to be very tight.
The clamp issues are so bad that alone it would keep me from recommending this pedal to anyone except a drummer who wants this pedal for one kit only and will not be gigging it.
My last issue with them I have been told by Yamaha
has been fixed so ill give them credit for that but ill mention the issue here so anyone who is looking at buying one used will know. The screw that holds the beater shaft in place will not tighten properly against the shaft due to manufacturing defect in the beater shaft memory lock. This hole was drilled slightly off axis
and prohibits the beater shaft from locking in securely. We had beaters flying off all the pedals in the store. Guitar Center stopped buying them for about 4 months while Yamaha
addressed the problem. It has since been fixed though.
Conclusions and Findings:
The "Unique" adjustment tool is a TERRIBLE invention for anything drum related due to the very nature of us drummers. The gigging drummer travels, sets up and tears down often and in almost all cases, this is happening at night in dark parking lots or on dark and/or poorly lit stages. Making specialized, difficult to access adjustment locations requiring any tool other then a standard drum key is poor planning. DW
should note that as well for its 9000 series or pedals.
The "Fully Collapsible pedal" idea is nice, but not entirely necessary. Its problems FAR outweigh its advantages. Drums are big. No gigging drummer is so tight on space that a standard pedal case would be "Too much" to handle. While the design is very innovative, I feel it needs to be re-evaluated so that some type of locking system can be used to prevent loosening.
The Bass drum quick release clamp is this pedals biggest weakness. An entirely UNNESSECARY feature that makes setup more difficult, requires frequent re-adjustment, makes multi kit gigging time consuming and has the potential to release on its own unless made VERY tight, so tight it will cause hoop damage. If Yamaha
would put a normal pedal clamp on its pedals or make this clamp an option instead of standard, I would re-consider recommending them. Otherwise, this pedal is just too trouble prone.
So, there are my personal opinions of the Flying Dragon series of pedals from Yamaha
. I was able to work with many of them on many kits over a 7 month span. I didnít reach these conclusions based off what people told me or from one pedal. This was a fair and realistic evaluation.