Improve Your Bass Drum Speed And Control
This article outlines some of the concepts I've used over the years, and how they have helped me playing single or double pedals.
Bass Drum Immersion
Many drummers have amazing hand speed and control, but still find it difficult to master basic single strokes on a double pedal. They work at it from time to time, but never quite get it to the functional stage. I believe this is because the development of pedal technique is largely absent in most beginner lessons.
It's a proven fact that kids at a very young age have a significant advantage when it comes to learning a second language - while teenagers that have spoken English for 15+ years find it more difficult. I believe this is because teenagers have gotten past the initial stage of development, and no longer *need* to learn in order to communicate. This would explain why French (or other) immersion classes are so effective. The student is forced to learn if they want to participate on any level.
I suggest you take a bass drum immersion class of your own. This is especially effective for double bass players, but also relates to single pedal drummers. Decide for yourself that virtually every beat or fill you practice for the next three months will incorporate some unique pedal work. Spend a good portion of your daily practice focusing specifically on bass drum development. Most importantly of all, do NOT stop or slow down until you have developed the ability to use your new found skill in a musical context. Work through everything until you are comfortable playing it in virtually any setting. Only then will it become a true ability.
Single Bass Drum Technique
At first, it may seem like you are at a disadvantage when playing a single pedal. However, I don't look at things that way at all. The simplicity of a single pedal setup can, in many ways, allow you to achieve usable results sooner. Better still, it's all the more impressive to play amazing hand to feet combinations using just one foot. This is used all the time in music styles like punk rock, and heavy metal rock!
I've got a special secret method for playing amazing hand to feet combinations that is an excellent alternative for single pedal drummers. More on that later...
Double Bass Drum Technique
Playing double bass, whether it be two bass drums or just double pedals, has a very different learning curve when compared to single pedal drumming. You will find that it takes twice as long to initially develop speed and control, however, things become significantly easier once you have the basics down. A concept or pattern that a single pedal drummer struggles with will often be fairly simple with two pedals. Beyond that, there are some things that just cannot be done without having a double pedal.
Imagine playing drums with a single hand. Yes, you can use methods like the Moeller or finger control technique to play fairly fast, but it just isn't the same. Likewise, playing with a single pedal can be limiting when you want to branch out into more creative drumming concepts (flams, single stroke or double stroke rolls, etc.).
Heels-Up vs. Heels-Down
Playing heels-up can be significantly easier when you are first learning to play, and thus many drummers become completely reliant on it. As I explained earlier with my second-language analogy - they just find it easier to stick with the one method that is already working perfectly. The line "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes to mind.
However, I think drummers that skip out on the heels-down method really sell themselves short. You see, playing heels-up uses many more muscle groups - including the same muscles used to play heels-down. Thus, it takes almost twice the energy to play a beat with that method.
I would encourage you to take up both methods. Playing heels-down will help you develop important muscles that will actually speed up your heels-up playing, and give you added control. It's like comparing finger control technique with using all wrists to play around the snare and toms. Yes, you get more power out of using wrists, but the fingers save energy and give you added speed. Develop both techniques to see best results.
Using Ankle Weights To Develop Speed
Using ankle weights when practicing drums is a relatively well kept secret in the industry. A few drummers, that I consider to be reliable sources, have told me that even Thomas Lang and Virgil Donati make full use of them to develop speed and control. I'm not sure why this isn't covered in instructional videos (that I have seen). You can draw your own conclusions, but I'm guessing they may want to keep a method or two quiet as to not give away all of their secrets.
Essentially, you want to wear the ankle weights as you practice both heels-up and heels-down. When you go to remove them after 20+ minutes of practice - it literally feels like your feet are floating on the pedals! It's truly a unique feeling.
Double Bass Synchronization
The key to achieving single stroke speed on double pedals is to find the sweet spot on both pedals. It's like the balance (or fulcrum) point in a drum stick that allows do the least amount of work. It is vital that both of your feet play at the SAME balance point. Don't get used to playing your left foot slightly different than the right. It will make it significantly more difficult to synchronize your singles at top speed - which adds one more hindrance to achieving your best result.
The Secret To Bass Drum Speed
Ever wonder how the world record speed of 1407 BPM was achieved with double pedals (23.45 strokes per second), or how drummers like Travis Barker play insanely fast hand-to-feet combinations with a single pedal? The secret is a simple method that, while difficult to explain in text, is really quite simple when applied to the pedal.
No, it is NOT some accessory you have to add to your pedals or lug around from gig to gig. This method can be played on any pedal (single or double bass) to produce fast double strokes with your feet. It's called the heel-toe technique.
Think of how you play the snare drum with your hands. Playing a double stroke roll allows you to play significantly faster than singles, and by incorporating doubles you can play many more patterns and rudiments that would be virtually impossible with single strokes alone.
The Heel Toe Technique
The heel-toe technique not only allows you to play doubles with ease, but it also allows you to play them with speed and precision that just cannot be achieved without it. You can use it with two pedals to play double strokes rolls, or on one pedal to connect fast hand-to-feet combinations. I still come up with new ways of implementing it on a regular basis.
If you want to learn this method the right way, I recommend you check out the instructional video on Jared Falk's Bass Drum Secrets web site. It shows the right way to play the technique by breaking it down step-by-step in slow motion video. It'll cost you less than an average drum lesson, and this technique will honestly revolutionize the way you look at playing drums. This bass drum speed technique will enable you to play the drums better than many drummer with your level of experience.
Jared has finally upgrade to have a DVD delivery option - as the downloadable video was lower quality, and people would often accidentally delete the video. It's one of those things that you really only need to watch a few times. Once you get the technique - you have it for life. Its a great product to have in your drumming library.
Related content you may also be interested in...
Learn To Play Drums The Easy Way - Do you want to learn how to play the drums? Think it may be too difficult or require a lot of coordination? I've got great news for you! The truth of the matter is - if you can count to four, you can play the drums!
The Importance Of Rudiments - Drum Rudiments are the most important aspect to drumming. They are the fundamentals to all percussion, and should not be ignored. Learn some of the pros and cons of practicing your drum rudiments.
Single Stroke Roll - One of the most essential rudiments drummers must know, is the single stroke roll. It is what most beats, fills, and solo’s are constructed from. Every drummer must master the Single Stroke Roll.
Double Stroke Roll - Another very essential rudiment. The double stroke roll is a little more tricky to master than the single stroke. This is something every drummer must master, as it wil build key muscles for independence.
Single Paradiddle - A Very popular and essential rudiment. This pattern will teach you stick independence. It is a little more advanced then the Single stroke roll, and the double stroke roll. Try this in different beats and fills!
Other websites that include related content...
Bass Drum Secrets - This website is full of vital information about a secret technique that will double you foot speed.
Bass Drum Techniques - Single and double pedal techniques for playing the bass drum.
Bass Drum Dynamics and Speed - Check out this article on developing bass drum speed and dynamics! It is very useful.
How to Play Drums the Easy Way - This website is another free resource for tons of free lessons, articles and tips!
Drum Lessons -This is a unique free resource for drummer that inclues audio samples of each beat and pattern provided. A great learning tool!