…How to adjust Ludwig Timp pedal.

(Every Percussionist Should Know…)
…How to correctly adjust the balancing action on a Ludwig timp so the pedal doesn’t creep.  The video below explains how to do it properly.

Below is a cross sectional drawing of the ludwig mechanism:


So as the pedal (1) pushes down it pulls the central tuning rod down (5), which stretches the head to get a higher pitch.  The spring adjustment screw (2) winds the spring towards itself making it tighter, so the spring is pulling in the same direction as the pedal movement, ie. pulling in the opposite direction (in the mechanism) as the drum head.

The problem in the design is that the elastic properties of the drum head change with the diametre of the drum, but the same spring is used throughout.   The further a spring is stretched, the harder and harder it becomes to stretch it; these properties of a spring were used to good effect in exercise products:


What this means in the real world is that on the larger drums the spring is too powerful, and on smaller drums not powerful enough.  It is however way more complicated than that, but you just don’t need to worry about it, let’s face it, the manufacturers don’t even understand it, otherwise they would use the correct springs!

Obviously this problem quickly became apparent as Ludwig increased the range of drums they made, so the solution was to put a bicycle brake caliper in the only place they could put it, between the pedal and the balancing mechanism.  And there it has stayed ever since, through many “completely new designs” that the company have launched over the years.

3 comments on “…How to adjust Ludwig Timp pedal.

    • pauljefferies

      Hi Kent,

      There is a limited range of movement on the guide plunger of a Ludwig gauge, plenty enough for the vertical motion of the counter hoop but the mounting holes are drilled too low in the suspension hoop – durr. This means that the whole gauge really needs to be raised higher on the drum. Thankfully the mounting wings are slotted to allow for this; I position them as high as possible to guarantee that they will work, but you can check this by looking to see by how much it needs to move before you start stripping the drum down.

      Yes that is right, the drum needs to be stripped down; head off, bowl out and you will probably need a big flat head screw driver so that you can slip and stab yourself whilst fighting to loosen the nuts that will have dug themselves into the soft aluminium of the gauge. As a side note, Phillips screws were invented in the 1930’s designed to avoid this sort of accident, and they were then improved in 1962 with the invention of the Pozidriv screw designed to give a, er positive driving action. So yes my last choice of fixings a slotted head screws, they are useless in all but a very few applications. Therefore Ludwig were almost a century behind the development curve in their choice of fixings alone! So yes, I change them.

      You will probably be tempted to put nuts on these screws to firmly fix them to the suspension hoop. Don’t, this fixes the screws at the angle of the hoop, so their ends will be wider apart than their heads. The gauge is mounted straight on, so the screws need to be straight and they, er, bend to shape when tightened – pure quality.

      Once the gauge is mounted, bowl in, head on, tune up. With the pitch at its lowest setting undo the thumbscrew on the underside of the pointer and allow it to go all the way back to the low position and then push it forward a few millimetres to give it some clearance from the housing and to prevent clicks and rattles. The high end should take care of itself. If someone has messed about to extend the range of the drum, the pointer will hit both sides of the housing, so little bits of felt will be required on the housing to stop the click when pedalling.

      Good luck


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