Gear Review – Tama Iron Cobra
The Tama Iron Cobra is one of the staple pedals of the rock and metal scene. The money Tama has been putting into that marketing has been working; they are one of the most popular pedals because they are fast, smooth, and will survive a nuclear firestorm. Tama has built that fan base and is pretty well happy to stick with the thing they have going on. They haven’t had a major change in design for a while. Ironic, considering the words ” The Legend in Innovation” are etched in the foot board and they’ve been using the same basic model for years.
There are 3 basic models that are not designed to be interchangeable though I’ve heard it’s possible if you have enough mechanical knowhow.
The most popular of the three is the power glide pedal, which is the power model… duh. It’s designed for optimum speed and power. Does that mean you can’t play soft on this pedal? Not even close. Does it mean that it will take no effort on your part to get a really powerful earth-shattering stroke? Not that either. If you have a drum hero that’s a Tama endorser then there is a high chance that they will playing one of these babies.
The next variation is the flexi-glide pedal which is my personal favorite and used for several years. It’s designed to give that old fashioned strap drive feel which I would describe as a fast light floating feel. It kinda whips the beater into the head rather then the powerful driving feel that the power glide has. This is the other end of the spectrum from the power glide and would probably suit a jazz player exceptionally well though you can use it for any type of music.
The last variation is the rolling glide pedal which strikes a medium between the two extremes. So basically if Buddha were a Tama endorser then this would be the pedal for him. It’s designed to give a consistent stroke feel all the way through the entire motion.
All the pedals share most of their basic design so from here I can pretty much talk about them as if they were all the same pedal. The current models feature something of interest called the cobra coil which is one of the biggest additions they have made to the line up in a while. The Cobra Coil is an upward facing spring that is housed underneath the footboard and is bolted to the base plate. They aren’t the first to think of this kind of concept. Lots of electronic hi-hat pedals are designed pretty much the same way with the spring pressure under the foot board. Trick’s super pedal, the Pro V-1 is powered with a compression spring like the cobra coil. So this isn’t uncharted territory. Tama might have been the first to ever use a compression spring AND a expansion spring at the same time on one pedal. The other thing is that you can adjust the position of the spring under the foot board to get different feels.
So how does it feel? I’d describe it as giving the pedal a bouncy kind of quality. You kinda need to learn to play catch with the bottom spring and allow it to help carry your foot back up. Once you acclimate your foot to the two spring system it actually feels pretty darn good. The funny thing is that I think this piece of technology would be best combined with a pedal that has a direct drive system and that is the one kind of pedal Tama doesn’t make. With a direct drive pedal there is an unchanging ratio of energy and motion between the foot board and the beater. With straps and chains there can be a snag with can mess with the synchronization. Still I think that I like the pedal with then with out the Cobra Coil. Does it completely change the pedal? no. But it does make it better. Hopefully Tama will take my advice and we will see a direct drive Iron Cobra soon. If they can keep the price of the direct drive model the same as the other models it will probably be the best value for a direct drive pedal on the market.
By the way, the price value ratio of the Iron Cobra series is one of the reasons it’s so freaking popular. People can actually afford to buy one. Single variations of all the models are around 150 – 170 dollar range. The double pedal comes in at a cool 370 dollars. The Iron Cobra is a pretty straight ahead pedal without many bells and whistles which keeps the prices down. There have been updates in the design as time has gone on but still it’s the same dang thing as it’s ever been. If you’ve seen one you’ve seen em all kinda situation. I’m gonna go through some of the other features of the pedal but the exciting part of the review is over.
Aside from the Cobra Coil one of the talking points of the Iron Cobra is the beater. I’ve always liked the idea of this kind of beater; it’s designed to be able to be adjusted so it gets maximum head contact. The beaters are interchangeable with several of the models being made from different materials. The materials include: felt, wood, and hardened rubber. Each of them has unique sonic and rebounding properties.
My favorite is the felt model but you’ll have to figure out which one you like best for yourself. The felt one has a soft striking sound and has less rebound. The wood one has a sharp high sound and a stick like rebound properties. It has the highest propensity of the three to make little beater fart noises so you gotta pay attention to that. The rubber is a sharp low sound and has a bouncy feel; it’s more prone to beater farts then the felt one but less so than the wood one.
Actually that was actually about it for the note worthy feature of the pedal. This is a very basic pedal and not in need of a detailed break down of ever little part like the Pearl Demon Drive.
As a double pedal it kinda has a last generation feel compared to a Demon Drive or a DW 9000. It’s definitely something you can cope with and lots of double bass players swear by it, just look at Tama’s artist roster. All and all it’s the work horse of pedals along with the DW 5000. Though the Cobra Coil might give it an edge over the 5000 because it does help the feel and has been noted by myself and others to help reduce fatigue in the foot and legs.
All in all its one of the best values in the professional range of pedals out there.
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