Mapex Janus Ergo Double Pedal
One particular section of the drumming society of the world are really going to like this pedal. These people have been ignored and shunned by generations of gear manufacturers who are obviously jealous or embarrassed by people who are well endowed in this particular area. Yes, that’s right… we are talking people with big feet. Well, that’s all going to change now as Mapex are on our side…
Okay, so that’s a bit over the top, but I must admit that until I put my feet on the foot plates on this pedal, I had taken for granted the fact that I was never going to get my whole foot flat on one again. This is the first pedal I have ever been able to get my whole (size 13) foot onto. It’s something I haven’t experienced since I was about twelve and I had forgotten quite how nice it was. Lets get this straight at the off though, this is not just for people with big feet, but it’s the only one I can think of that does cater for the larger footed drummer. But I am waffling, so lets get on with it.
Mapex have used the Janus name before on their combined hi hat/double bass drum pedal, but this time Janus refers to a whole range of pedals and associated hardware which will be appearing on these shores in the very near future. Janus was the two faced god of (strangely) windows and doors – something to do with looking in different directions at the same time or achieving to opposing thing at the same time, hence the combined hi hat/ pedal thing. However, depending on which web site you do your research on, he also appears to be the god of all things that swing both ways, not just doors, interesting but true, and not at all connected with this review.
The pedal itself doesn’t look, to my mind, drastically different. It has a plate at the bottom that rests on the floor, a footplate and a frame and two beaters. It looks like perfectly respectable ‘normal’ pedal, and indeed you can take it out of the box and use it as such and this could be the pedal for you, but if you want to customise a pedal so it’s exactly to your own specification, then this could probably be the pedal for you too. I guess that this is the Janus influence, to be as simple and/or as complicated as you want it to be, both at the same time.
The pedal turns up in it’s own carrying case, pretty much set up. All you have to do is connect the pedals with the cross bar, connect it to the bass drum using its sexy side clamp, and away you go. Incidentally, the case deserves a mention as it not only holds the pedal but also has it’s own removable stick bag in the lid. It’s an excellent, practical idea that only leaves you wondering why someone else hadn’t thought about it before. In the UK, the pedal also comes with a CD video (playable in most computers) to help if you need it and provide a bit of inspiration.
Okay, so where do we start? What goes into the 256 variations? Well, probably the most obvious are the bulges in the footplates. These are removable cast aluminium ramp sections about a centimetre high, that have the effect of moving the sweet spot of the pedal back by a couple of inches. It’s difficult to explain how this affects the feel, but it helps to lighten it, and gives you a nice firm position to park your foot (please look at the photos as they are quite difficult to describe). You can completely remove this section and replace it with a ‘normal’ flat section if you so require, and you can do this on either of the pedals depending on what you want. If you chose to leave this on, you will probably be making use of the (unofficially called) ‘Dave Plate’. This is another aluminium section that screws to the back of the heal plate, so lengthening the whole footplate by a couple of inches. Again it’s removable and it’s this lovely plate that allows me to get my whole foot on the pedal. Well, that’s the footplates, what about the rest?
The frame is nicely industrial looking and chunky. The bearings for the axle are contained in sections of tubing that are clamped into the frame and because of this, it’s also possible to reverse the mechanics to change it from a right-footed pedal to a left-footed pedal. It takes about ten minutes, isn’t very hard to do and all the tools are supplied with the exception of a crosshead screwdriver. It also means that Mapex don’t have to use different castings for both pedal so there are less parts, which explains how they can make the pedal for this sort of money.
The (two headed – Janus?) beaters are centred on the axle and are very close together. This is good as it means that you get a similar sound from both of them. One doesn’t hit centre and the other off to the side like many pedals, they both hit an equal distance from the centre, so you get a good consistent sound. There are two different cams supplied to give different amounts of ‘pull’ and of course you can change the chains to straps or have different ones on each pedal. Either drive works with either cam. Sorry if it sounds like I am getting a bit blasé about this pedal, but it feels like the choices are so many, that I could spend the next two days writing about them. The tension springs even have their own bearings on them where they meet the axle, so as to minimise friction, whereas at the other end, the spring tension knobs have their own rubber ratchet affair to stop them slipping through vibration. The beaters have memory locks on them that lock into the beater holder block when you tighten them, so that even if the bolts loosen up, the beaters wont come flying out immediately and should last to the end of the track. Clever. Ok, so that’s the frame, onto the plate.
This is the only base plate I know with ‘go-faster holes’ in it. Hmm… yes, that’s right. Different and serving absolutely no purpose at all, but I guess it’s a first. The plate has both Velcro and rubber on the bottom so should be good for all floors and there is even an extra set of spikes that can be attached to the plate to give that little extra bit of grip in that nice polished wooden floor at the local pub.
Well, I guess the buzzword for this pedal is ‘options’. There are loads of things to change. All the necessary tools are supplied and nothing takes an A level in physics and a spare day and a half to change. Once set, your settings remain fixed, and you don’t have to change anything to get them into their case. Ok, so there are options, and options, but how does it feel?
I had been warned that it might take a bit of time to change my technique to work with the pedal, but I didn’t change anything and it felt comfortable from the start. Slightly different from other pedals, but very comfortable. My preferred setting left both the ‘bulges’ on, and I used the pointed front edges of each ‘bulge’ as an anchor for my foot. Like this I found the pedals to be smooth and fast and very light. I was able to get the pedal to my liking in no time at all, and they felt so comfortable, that I forgot I was playing them and started concentrating on what I was playing, rather than what I was playing it with. I should point out that when I was trying the various options, not one of them made me go ‘yuck’, they all felt fine.
I have been trying to think of an analogy to sum up this pedal. It’s almost like being given a dictionary and being told to write a letter. Every single word you could use is there, but you don’t have to use them, or indeed need to use them. This pedal is like that. It has so many options that you might need or never knew you needed, but they’re there if you do.
Full marks to Mapex for this pedal. Whether it is the last pedal you will ever need is totally up to you, but if you do go for one, chances are you will be very happy with it. The engineering is faultless, and there is a lot of clever thought behind it. If you have had trouble finding a pedal that suits you, this may well give you an answer, along with a couple you never knew about.
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