What feels like 403 years ago, the world was plunged into distress with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. We don’t need to relive the panic and hardship. However, it’s worth mentioning that musicians and the performance industry were hit extremely hard. Bars, restaurants, and venues closed. Overnight, singing became one of the most transmissible and dangerous pastimes. Gigs and performance opportunities are slowly coming back, but the landscape has been forever changed by Covid-19. Venues that used to regularly hire full bands and groups can now only afford to support solo players and duos.
Act I: The Problem.
Without his trusty band behind him, the hero of our story, Shaun, felt the need to augment his performance. He plays guitar and sings, but there wasn’t enough punch or low end to his show. One night, he saw a fellow musician play guitar and stomp on a suitcase that had an SM58 microphone stuck inside. The sound was unreliable and muddy, and the singer’s constant motion looked exhausting. But the idea was sparked. Shaun knew that he could take this concept and turn it into something incredible.
Intermission: Testing, Testing, Testing.
Shaun developed “The Lab”, a specialty workshop on his property for creating, testing, and prototyping what would one day become Pivot Percussion. I was fortunate enough to gig with him frequently as a duo during this development period, and there was a new model under our feet nearly every week. From the beginning, Shaun had nailed the ergonomic and comfortable nature of the pedals, but there was still work to be done with the perfect tone and sound. With what is now unique patented technology, Shaun created the Pivot Capsules. These are modular cores that can be swapped in and out of the pedals to make different sounds. Whether it’s a punchy bass drum, a sizzly shaker, or a snappy maraca, we were able to completely customize our show.
Act II: The Solution.
Enter, YOU. It’s time for the audience to try out Pivot. These one-of-a-kind instruments are now launched to the world and for sale at pivotpercussion.com. There will also be some at Songbirds very soon! Here’s an honest review of Pivot and what it can do for your performances:
I absolutely love my Pivot pedals. There are other percussion instruments on the market, but Pivot fills a much-needed void. The pedals themselves are beautiful and nearly indestructible, plus there’s peace of mind knowing that the heart of the technology, the capsules, are easily replaceable if something were to go wrong. Here are my specific pros and cons after playing the pedals from their inception to launch:
Passive components. I LOVE the fact that the Pivots don’t require external power or batteries. They’re just like a guitar – plug and play. I’m fortunate enough to know a little about how they’re wired on the inside, and I can say with confidence that the patented technology is extremely robust. Shaun said from the beginning that he wanted to be able to run them over with a van and they could keep playing. I’m confident that would be possible. (No Pivots were harmed in the making of this review.)
Impact reactive. Pivot pedals are all analog, meaning they don’t work like a digital trigger. With competitor percussion devices, the sound is constant no matter how hard you play. Pivots are a real instrument – the sound and attack changes the harder you stomp. You can also get interesting and varied results based on your footwear. This makes the Pivots much more musical and organic.
Incredible sound quality. Shaun nailed each of the capsules and their sound signatures. Pivot pedals sound massive and present through PAs and powered speakers right out of the box. Very little (if any) tweaking is needed on the speaker to make the Pivots sound their best.
Eco-friendly. Each Pivot pedal is made with locally-sourced, reclaimed lumber. This includes trees that were lost during hurricanes and storms. Instead of destroying wood in a landfill, Shaun turns fallen trees into musical works of art.
Locally owned and operated. Pivot Percussion is based out of Longwood, Florida. Each pedal is handmade and inspected.
Great customer support. Shaun stands by each pedal and is quick to offer support and replacements if needed.
Unique builds with customization. Because Pivots are made of real lumber, no two pedals look alike. Shaun makes some incredibly attractive Pivots that showcase natural woodgrain and the beauty of the tree. There are also customization options available. I was given a prototype pedal that has my face on it!
Super comfy. This is the kicker (pun intended): you really can play for hours without getting tired. The design of the Original Pivot works perfectly with the flow of the leg and the knee. Using your heel to stomp prevents any shin pain or muscle fatigue, and the padding of the Pivot plus your footwear prevents any soreness in the heel. You can literally stand on the Original Pivots while playing them if you prefer to stand while performing. The Standard Pivots are great for playing piano or a minimalistic drumset. It’s worth mentioning that the Standards can be played with both the heel and the toe for maximum comfort.
Extra goodies. Shaun offers quality Pivot cables, cases, and straps for the instruments. It’s nice when companies go the extra mile. Everyone knows Sweetwater for the candy that they throw in every order – Pivot’s attention to detail with bonus goodies is even better.
Difficult to master at first. I won’t sugarcoat this – Pivot pedals take a lot of time to get the hang of and master. I’m admittedly not the most coordinated person, but playing guitar, singing, AND stomping your feet on rhythm is challenging. I started incorporating Pivots into my performance gradually. Once you get over the first coordination hurdle, they do start to feel natural and second nature. Most of us tap our feet while playing anyway; the mental obstacle isn’t there, but the physical one takes some time.
Lots of options. This is both a Pro and a Con: there are a lot of customization options with the Pivot sound! There are three standard options with capsules: kick, maraca, and shaker. Combine this with using two pedals at once, and there are A LOT of possible combinations to take your playing to the next level. I use my Pivot pedals with a looper, and it’s easy to get lost in the possibilities and overcomplicating your performance. I started incorporating just the kick capsule with one pedal until I felt confident enough to expand.
Need a good sound system. This likely isn’t an issue, but Pivots sound the best when played through a nice powered speaker or PA. Pivots are targeted towards the professional, working musician who likely has a quality system already, so I don’t expect that this would be a hindrance to anyone purchasing a Pivot pedal.
We are incredibly proud of Shaun and excited about the launch of Pivot Percussion! Come check them out at Songbirds, and ask Justin when you can see them in action at a local gig. Until next time, keep practicing, and check out our other posts on the Knowledge Blog!