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Bass Drum Technique

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  • Bass Drum Technique

    Hi everyone -

    I've been working on my bass drum technique and control lately because I find I'm not too satisfied with my bass drum foot. Things just seem a little sloppier than I'd care them to be. Anyway, I've been watching some videos on youtube and have found a couple good ones that are designed to help with control. Most mainly involve long stretches of 16th notes like the video below. Now, I play heel up so that means that I'm holding my leg up while playing these 16th notes with my ankle. After time, my hip flexor muscle gets pretty fatigued and hurts. Does anyone else have this problem? Is it my technique and here is some better way to do this? Also, what are some other good methods you guys have used to get better bass drum control? Thanks!

    TD-9 with Master 50 VEX pack. Three PD-85 dual triggered toms plus one 10" Hart Acupad. 10" Jobeky Drums snare. 8" Hart Acupad kick. CY-5 as hats, CY-8 and CY-14 as crashes, and CY-12R/C as ride.

  • #2
    I play the same way as you for the most part and it does cause some issues. In studio, I try to use heel toe technique and play smoother and with less fatigue. Live, I gladly sacrifice technique for show, the more I move, the more the crowd seems to be impressed. So I lift my legs higher, basically move as much as possible so it's more entertaining. That leads to slightly sloppier and definitely slower play. We all have to decide what's most important to us, show, technique or maybe something in the middle.

    Here's a few video's that might or might not help you try a new technique. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMM1YyDYafc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCCJyYIBK9s
    TD50 Digital Pack, TD30 and TD9 Modules, custom made pads, Gen16 crashes, and hats plus a few other things that I'm not sure what to do with or why they're still in my kit. Bands: Espada http://www.musicaespada.com/ and JamCo https://www.facebook.com/JamcoEntertainment, https://www.jamcoband.com/


    • #3
      Thanks for the info. I think I've actually seen that video but it was a long time ago. I like Jared Falk and have bought a couple training packs from him throughout the years. I'm going to have to take these practice methods to the kit. I play heel-toe as well when I need to do quick hits and it's made me think of something. There are songs where I can easily play certain hits using heel-toe, but when I'm nice and warm (and probably have a good amount of caffeine in me) I can also do the hits using just regular technique. Take the song 'Whatever' by Godsmack. If I'm cold, my foot has no chance of playing the main beat of the song clearly. But using heel-toe it becomes no problem. Is that a problem to rely on heel-toe rather than getting better technique and hitting the beats using just regular technique? I suppose in the end, if you make the hits, entertain the crowd, and have fun while you're at it, it doesn't really matter right? Maybe I'm just splitting hairs here.
      TD-9 with Master 50 VEX pack. Three PD-85 dual triggered toms plus one 10" Hart Acupad. 10" Jobeky Drums snare. 8" Hart Acupad kick. CY-5 as hats, CY-8 and CY-14 as crashes, and CY-12R/C as ride.


      • #4
        Well, I think lots of people will have different opinions on this. For me, it's all about entertaining the crowd while playing live though. I certainly play differently when recording then I do playing live. You need to be solid, but I find people appreciate stick twirls more than amazing fills live.If you can pull off an amazing fill while doing a stick twirl, even better, lol.
        TD50 Digital Pack, TD30 and TD9 Modules, custom made pads, Gen16 crashes, and hats plus a few other things that I'm not sure what to do with or why they're still in my kit. Bands: Espada http://www.musicaespada.com/ and JamCo https://www.facebook.com/JamcoEntertainment, https://www.jamcoband.com/


        • #5
          I always play heel up. Never learned heel-toe. Hard to explain but I'm not using my ankle other than to absorb the shock and provide bounce, more than anything. For faster playing my foot is sliding up and down the pedal surface in between the bounces and my ankle is just slightly moving to control the bounce of the pedal. Tons of power and tons of speed.


          • #6
            here are some more exercises for 'doubles' control with one bassdrum..
            works nice at faster tempo's.. http://www.danielluttick.com/pdf/BDC.pdf
            Audio | Video | Roland/Yamaha e-kit | Sonor/Gretsch a-kit | Zildjian/Sabian/Ufip/Meinl cymbals


            • #7
              I feel as though I've had some success in this area, so I'll try my best to articulate my approach here. I hope it's helpful.

              I think there is more specificity necessary when we refer to "heels up" technique.

              I struggled for a long time with one particular "heels up" technique where I was moving my legs (thighs) a lot up and down, as well as trying to "hold them up". With that approach I reached a limit to my speed, did not have a tremendous level of control, and would feel pain (a lot) in my hip flexors after playing for longer double kick runs.

              Frustrated, I took a gamble and tried to completely change my technique, where I'd sort of imagined my ankles as hinges, and attempted to keep my thighs as stationary as possible as my feet engage the pedals. At the time, I sort of thought of it conceptually as if there was a thick book under each of my heels, keeping my legs at a certain height and stationary, and again, my foot acting as if my ankle was a hinge. It's worth noting that when either of my feet is at rest, the pedal is down and my foot is resting on it (I'm not struggling to keep it up).

              Thankfully, this worked out quite well for me, and I'm able to reach speed and duration that I've witnessed by others with non-heel-toe technique (meaning that I haven't heard anyone playing straight singles at a speed or duration that I can't match). Additionally, the technique I mention above provides kick drum control that I had never had prior, allowing for various rolls and 'start-stops' at will. For a short example of what I mean, check out the first minute of the song "Bioactive" by the band Sybreed; it's not all that fast, but contains some rolls and stop-starts that are difficult if you lack control. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUN7ZdsRAGQ

              Certainly there is a limit to just how fast (and for how long) one can play with straight singles, even using the swivel technique, so I've been working on heel-toe more recently with decent results, but it's far from perfect. When you start to get into speeds like Francesco Paoli is playing, doubles using heel-toe technique is the only way to achieve it, in my opinion.
              A good example is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZiA2TrWtpo

              I apologize for the metal-centric references, but for fast and accurate double-kick, I think metal sets the standard.

              Again, I hope this is helpful.



              • fastballer8
                fastballer8 commented
                Editing a comment
                BIN, thanks for the advice.

                When you mention the technique you currently use to get better control using just your ankles as hinges, how are you keeping your legs still in order to achieve this? What seems to be my biggest issue is that, even when I try doing what you mention, I have to use my hip flexors to keep my legs stationary and they inevitably tire after a bit and I have to give them a rest. How do you overcome that? Thanks again.


              • BINARY
                BINARY commented
                Editing a comment
                Hi Lee,

                Sorry for the huge delay.

                After reading your question, I just ran over to my kit and ripped out few rolls and constant 16ths at a decent clip, and I'm honestly not quite sure what the answer to your question is. A few things I noticed just now with your question in mind:

                1. When my feet e stationary, they are resting on the pedals (beater resting on the head). I only lift them to play, like a split second before engagement.
                2. I leaned a bit back and forth and I think my posture has a lot to do with it also. I can lean forward a *little*, but not much. Leaning Back causes me strain.
                3. When I'm playing fast, I don't seem to have to worry about my legs being stationary; the momentum (i guess?) of my feet activating the pedals keeps me balanced and my thighs pretty stationary. I don't feel a strain on my hip flexors.

                I hope this is helpful in some way. I'm happy to provide more detail if you like. Maybe I'll see if I can rig a camera up and record my legs/thighs/hips and try to analyze it from a different angle (other than staring down at my feet).

                What song(s) are you trying to play?

                I'll check back more frequently so no more delays. Promise!


              • fastballer8
                fastballer8 commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks for the info. There isn't a song in general that I'm trying to play, but if there is a song that does give my bass drum foot (single pedal song) a good workout would be My Hero by Foo Fighters. I had just been working on trying to get some better control over my foot when it comes to 3 and 4 16th notes in a row. I don't dabble much in double bass even though I do have a pedal. Your post does make sense and I'll see what goes on when I'm practicing and see if I can't replicate your technique. Thanks again.


            • #8
              Sorry for the multiple posts.

              With all due respect to the author of the video posted above (original post), I disagree with a few of the statements he makes. I don't agree that it's simply hard work; I struggled for a long time with technique that ended up being inefficient and (in my opinion) incorrect. It took me a long time to correct my technique.

              The video shows an interesting string of exercises, but if your technique is flawed, those exercises will only serve to exacerbate the problem.


              • #9
                Originally posted by Shariyal77
                *Flagged as Spam*

                "My best friends' name is J-SON. They used to call him 'Mr. Parse.' He has an 'Error'..!"



                • #10
                  Nice, just to let you know the post isnt showing up properly on my iphone - I think there is a plugin you can grab that takes care of that now.


                  • #11
                    Mike Johnston has a good lesson on how to improve your speed/control on the kick drum. Basically you just play a RLRR pattern on the snare and hi-hat and playing the kick with every right hand stroke.

                    Bump the BPM up as you get it down and it will help for sure.


                    • #12
                      Pick up a copy of Colin Bailey's Bass Drum Control... it makes bass drum accuracy a must...from 1 bass drum beat to a whole measure of 16ths...it teaches you how and where to put them accurately...great for control!
                      Don't even tell me us old farts still don't have something to say and learn! Just give me some ghost notes and I'll Purdie your brains out!:cool:

                      Playin' for over 50 years (21 years 5 & 6 nights a week) and still lovin' every minute of it!!! TD-12 noob and growing!:p