Review of the Vintage Martin Fleetfoot Pedal > Camco > Gretsch > DW

Vintage Martin Fleetfoot Kick Pedal

The Martin Fleetfoot began the trend to light, smooth pedals long before, say, the Leedy XL and the Rogers Swivo.  I was cleaning my furnace (read “drum”) room and realized I’d stored a number of ancient pedals in a trunk, including a Beverley something-or-other (with single “goal post”), a Slingerland Yellow Jacket, a couple of Camcos, and, ta-dah, this baby. The Martin Fleetfoot spawned the Camco pedal. In fact, originally Camco was a hardware company and appropriated this design with considerable success. Camco made the same pedal for Gretsch, inscribing the footboard Floating Action. I owned one but gave it to Wallace Roney to go a set of drums Tony Williams had bequeathed to him during his tenure as Tony’s trumpet player. To me it seemed the right thing to do.

Drum Workshop, in its infancy, stepped in at the demise of the Camco Drum Company and purchased the tools and dies. Of course, history proves that DW has done all the right things. The DW version (John Good claims the 9000 is closest in feel to the original Camco) is acknowledged second to none, even by those who use other pedals for various reasons.

Then there is the Tama Camco pedal, copied in spirit if not entirely in the flesh. When the Camco company went under, Tama purchased the name but not the designs. Tama did its level best to revive the brand, producing a line of maple drums with a Camco logo badge. The lugs, while curved, were not round like the Oaklawn, Chanute, and LA turret models (I know, I’m digressing). Current DW lugs are almost identical to original Camcos, except the bass drum casings, which, blessedly, no longer require the metal washers Camco used to raise the lugs proud of the shell.

This Martin Fleetfoot, which I purchased from Rockin’ Rita’s, a now defunct outlet in California (correct me, please, if Rita has reopened), sits before you as purchased. I’ve done nothing except occasionally play it; to be honest, I bought it out of curiosity. The strap, of course, has been replaced somewhere along the line, but the rest the parts seem original.  Although I’m not particularly Freudian or drum-nerdy with respect to modifications promoting playability, I feel obliged to mention that the weak point of this pedal, and its ilk, was addressed by some old timer, who bolted a leather strap underneath. The strap replaces the original metal “bridge” between heel plate and footboard. The arrangement works fine, although it enhances the inherent looseness of the pedal…when judged by modern standards.

The modestly accelerating cam, no nonsense architecture, and quality bearings foster smooth action–really smooth.The Martin Fleetfoot is a little “slight” in size, compared to modern DW pedals, and even the Tama/Camco, but if you’re playing at moderate volumes, especially heel down, I figure that an old Martin Fleetfoot in the condition you see here (at most this would rate a “good” in vintage circles) would serve you well for another fifty years, give or take. If it pops out, the bolt securing pedal to bass drum hoop is, for some reason, a tough match but replacements are available if you’re patient. I’m not sure what the Fleetfoot would go for today; it’s a rare bird. I paid $80 US. It’s worth every penny but not much more. As an artifact, however, it’s priceless.