Bass drum foot technique

JDA

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ball of foot
heel on ground gives you the (unshakable) stability

this is just my way; cost you $1.43 every time if you choose to use

don't make me play (for the 500th time) the :30 video me outdoors thumping the 18" for all it's worth..
Remo Belli earned his money that day And usually always does with me and the 18:.

alright


I'm hitting every bd note w/all my might)
put it on repeat-loop?) it's so short)
to hear me pushing that powerstroke coated Amby) that I love.
it was at 'max' -the way I like it)
(it was early in the day the crowd was just starting filtering in..wine tasting festvale..lol) outdoor
 
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Houndog

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Freaking awesome Joe ..
Yup , that was Swingtown bass pattern .

You got a great foot
 
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JDA

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at this point nothing--it's grey & dreary out was frost or something last night- you know April being a bugger...
but anyway try the angle and your heel on ground/off/the footboard/ ball of foot/right under the big toe/ that part
 
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I think I can also hear what you were saying about the mental aspect. I feel like I can hear you clarifying the subdivision with your hands, then the K chimes in right along with
 

Squirrel Man

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So Swingtown, somewhat familiar with it but never played so for the sake of science I tried it out, just now and recorded it. Slightly slower tempo but I hit it cold, just coming home from work. After working it for a half hour I probably could tighten it up but for the sake of science.

The harder part for me is the hat doubles, I don't do them and haven't worked that pattern much so that doesn't come naturally for me but I'll work on it, been meaning to anyway but I did it at first with just 8th notes then 16th notes but no snare. (is that the right notation @JDA ? :p )

But that kick patter in basically what I'm trying to work on but faster and more complex.

 

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I highly recommend Jojo Mayer's Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer, part 2, which deals exclusively with the feet. What I've found in my own practice, is that there's no substitute for starting slow & getting the notes locked in. Never increase your speed until you can play without tensing up. Personally, I have found that means my heel has to rest on the floor whenever possible. Specifically for a double stroke, my heel starts down & I initiate the stroke with the ball of my foot, while raising my heel. When I bring my foot down for the second beat of the double, my heel rests on the floor & my toe ends in the up position, still touching the pedal, which keeps the beater from wobbling. Coming down from the second beat is just gravity. Ideally, I never lift my foot completely off the pedal. My goal is for both notes of the double to sound equal, before I move on to accenting one or the other. And always, both notes must be rhythmically accurate (which is another reason for starting slow.)

After watching countless Youtube videos on this topic, I have observed that most people are ignoring the mechanics of the fundamental stroke, in favor of esoteric techniques (slides & pivots) that only come into play at extremely fast tempos. Unfortunately, most people can't get to the speed when those esoteric techniques become necessary, because their fundamental stroke is causing them problems.
 

Squirrel Man

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I highly recommend Jojo Mayer's Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer, part 2, which deals exclusively with the feet. What I've found in my own practice, is that there's no substitute for starting slow & getting the notes locked in. Never increase your speed until you can play without tensing up. Personally, I have found that means my heel has to rest on the floor whenever possible. Specifically for a double stroke, my heel starts down & I initiate the stroke with the ball of my foot, while raising my heel. When I bring my foot down for the second beat of the double, my heel rests on the floor & my toe ends in the up position, still touching the pedal, which keeps the beater from wobbling. Coming down from the second beat is just gravity. Ideally, I never lift my foot completely off the pedal. My goal is for both notes of the double to sound equal, before I move on to accenting one or the other. And always, both notes must be rhythmically accurate (which is another reason for starting slow.)

After watching countless Youtube videos on this topic, I have observed that most people are ignoring the mechanics of the fundamental stroke, in favor of esoteric techniques (slides & pivots) that only come into play at extremely fast tempos. Unfortunately, most people can't get to the speed when those esoteric techniques become necessary, because their fundamental stroke is causing them problems.
@JDA suggested the heel-on-floor technique earlier in the thread with pics and I've been trying that for a while and I do notice a difference in control. Unlike the rocking motion in one of the videos which I think will work once I condition my foot/ankle a little but the heel-floor method had a good feel to it.
 

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So I was on the kit this afternoon, gave this a try. Nope - not now lol, can't even begin to work those mechanics and that's ok, I'm not frustrated or anything, not surprised either.

I think the recipe for me at least is what I expected and what many say, repetition. Worked on my general routine and I see results though it tires me out. Hour and a half today and I'm beat.

Keeping this tabbed, I think my foot needs more independence from my leg, right now my leg is doing too much of the work. That has to happen before I tackle this and I think it will happen but I can't rush it.
So with the heel-toe technique is it hard to get your timing right since the heel coming down doesn’t strike the head but the heel coming up is what does the first tap?
 

Squirrel Man

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So with the heel-toe technique is it hard to get your timing right since the heel coming down doesn’t strike the head but the heel coming up is what does the first tap?
Sort of, I just don't think I have the right conditioning yet for that. So my strategy is for now to keep doing the routine I do, working my foot more and leg less and getting my ankle in better condition then try that when I have more muscle confidence. Could take months too, I'm prepared for that but I think I need to focus on one step at a time and I really am seeing and feeling results.
 

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I play heel up and heel down and a combination. But that's with nearly 40 years experience. You do a kind of Moeller Technique with your foot by dancing it side to side md also putting down strokes in there. There are also hand feet/ hand foot rhythms that "goose" the foot or feet along. Lots of them in jazz, Max roach, Steve Gadd, Tony Williams, Art Taylor.
Playing too hard can often be a big block to good technique. Bring the whole thing down 10-20 dB and suddenly it allows you fine motor skills to come into play instead of... well "bashing". I found playing everything across the full range of dynamics with focus on ppp- about as softly and quietly as you can play to be a great builder of technique and more importantly accuracy and control.
 

Squirrel Man

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So thanks everyone for all the input, greatly appreciated. This thread has helped in a lot of ways.

Swingtown has been a great exercise to work on and I'm feeling pretty good with it. Even the hats part is coming along.

Joe's suggestions helped a lot. The heel/floor thing got my foot working around a bit but I've been keeping my heel pretty much in place though. Repetition mostly is helping but two other.. three other things I've found helpful.

Ball of my foot - playing it sort of a third down from the top of the pedal and sliding it up a little for the less quick parts but genuinely playing with the ball of my foot. I mentioned in another thread with not a lot of reaction that I tense up and curl my toes. Focusing on playing open toed with the ball of my foot is giving results.

Playing with my feet/ankle, getting used to that muscle memory and not pushing with the rest of the leg is another one. I'm finding more control that way and less muscle stress and tiring out fast. That part is coming along.

Third - playing less tense. I can be tense but relaxing more and just playing, slow at first then speeding up is showing a lot of results.

Been a super helpful thread, thanks!
 

cruddola

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Switched to heel-up last year and it feels comfortable, I don't have a problem with general kick play but I'm trying to up that game for me, speed and control. So the kick routine I've been doing for the last few weeks is a lot of repetition. I know this isn't exactly an accurate notation but stuff like BBS, BBBS, BBBBS in 4/4, slow to faster and rolling around the kit SSBB, TTBB, TTBB. FTFTBB trying to get my foot in shape.

I know most of it is muscle memory and conditioning and I have to keep doing this over and over again and I'm patient but I think about technique - am I making this harder by not considering it? I know there are tons of videos out there and I've studied many of them but a lot of them talk more about the pattern and repetition rather than technique moreso.

So I try the initial strike with my upper leg and do the rest wtih my ankle/foot, ball of my foot somewhere between the middle and top of the pedal. Really focusing on doing this with my foot more but I find my upper leg tiring very quickly, cramping in the muscle from my knee up. I also have fairly long legs (size 34) and I tried various positioning. I tend to sit back a little from the kit and sit high on the stool otherwise I look like a frog ready to leap.

Pedal spring is at medium+ tension, beater is on a 30 degree or so angle and the batter head, I didn't measure it but it's not down too low or up too high, probably at the length most people keep it at.

As always your input is greatly valued and appreciated, thanks.
First and foremost is taking account of your posture and your seating height. I have a large 18-inch diameter throne. It's actually a Dentist's stool with casters. The seat leads almost to my knees supporting my thighs. I'm 6 foot 1 inch tall with a 32 inch inseam. I'm balanced on the stool where I don't have to rely on either foot to keep me from teetering forward. My ankles do all the work heel up. You'll never see my knees go up and down. No cockroach-stomping for me. Heel-down never worked for me either when I first started on the kit. Ignorant me, ten years into drumming on the kit, I finally looked into how those old masters placed themselves on the kit. If you watch the old-school greats you'll see what I'm getting at. They did all the work and I took from how they positioned themselves behind the drums. I saw it as proof of theory. My snare is at least 4 inches above the highest point of my thighs. All my drums are rim to rim allowing easy transit from drum to drum. Even my floor toms. I made that adjustment to my playing over 35 years ago when I went back to traditional sticking full time. Let gravity do the work when it comes to your footwork. Those exercises you noted are a mighty good foundation. But you must be comfortable first. It will take time to readjust, took me about two years to find my groove. Drumming should not be a workout. 35 years ago my throne made the difference, that's why I bought all three of them. When I toured my throne had it's own road case. It is THAT important to me, especially at my 66 years. On the last two pictures you can see my super-wide throne. It's friggin heavy but it works for me. I'd take more pictures but I've had to take the kit down because I'm in the middle of a Covid-delayed home renovation. Cheers, Squirrel man!
 

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Squirrel Man

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First and foremost is taking account of your posture and your seating height. I have a large 18-inch diameter throne. It's actually a Dentist's stool with casters. The seat leads almost to my knees supporting my thighs. I'm 6 foot 1 inch tall with a 32 inch inseam. I'm balanced on the stool where I don't have to rely on either foot to keep me from teetering forward. My ankles do all the work heel up. You'll never see my knees go up and down. No cockroach-stomping for me. Heel-down never worked for me either when I first started on the kit. Ignorant me, ten years into drumming on the kit, I finally looked into how those old masters placed themselves on the kit. If you watch the old-school greats you'll see what I'm getting at. They did all the work and I took from how they positioned themselves behind the drums. I saw it as proof of theory. My snare is at least 4 inches above the highest point of my thighs. All my drums are rim to rim allowing easy transit from drum to drum. Even my floor toms. I made that adjustment to my playing over 35 years ago when I went back to traditional sticking full time. Let gravity do the work when it comes to your footwork. Those exercises you noted are a mighty good foundation. But you must be comfortable first. It will take time to readjust, took me about two years to find my groove. Drumming should not be a workout. 35 years ago my throne made the difference, that's why I bought all three of them. When I toured my throne had it's own road case. It is THAT important to me, especially at my 66 years. On the last two pictures you can see my super-wide throne. It's friggin heavy but it works for me. I'd take more pictures but I've had to take the kit down because I'm in the middle of a Covid-delayed home renovation. Cheers, Squirrel man!
Thank you for that, really. Great stuff to chew on.

So my throne is the same, old doc's stool I picked up from the hospital I work at. Took the castors off but it's sitting on a thick-ish piece of wood that I dug up somewhere for extra hight. Looks hokey but it serves. I think I could be sitting an inch or two higher but it's working for now.

Snare - 4 inches from your thighs? dang, mine's maybe an inch or something and that's my comfort zone otherwise my hats would be near the ceiling lol.

Going to play with these suggestions though, thanks!
 

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Thank you for that, really. Great stuff to chew on.

So my throne is the same, old doc's stool I picked up from the hospital I work at. Took the castors off but it's sitting on a thick-ish piece of wood that I dug up somewhere for extra hight. Looks hokey but it serves. I think I could be sitting an inch or two higher but it's working for now.

Snare - 4 inches from your thighs? dang, mine's maybe an inch or something and that's my comfort zone otherwise my hats would be near the ceiling lol.

Going to play with these suggestions though, thanks!
Go back and get a couple more stools! Last you the rest of your life! I've settled in with casters on a rug. I won't slide around. The hydraulic lift on mine are to die for. My snare height allows me to lay down gunshot-loud rimshots with my traditional-gripped left hand. No more monkey hammer-sticking matched-grip for me. Float like a Hummingbird and sting like a Murder-Hornet! Some of the old-school drummers even had their snares tilted forward to enable brutal rimshot work. My snare is flat leveled. I have total control on my rimshot's dynamics. From a light click to a gunshot blast rimshot with either hand can be had on any of my toms including the floor toms. No apr-hanging toms either. I also have a two-inch diameter hickory dowel modded to a pedal to give me a brutal rimshot on the bass drum. I've been known to have eight pedals on a single bass kit. Note that I replaced the wooden bass hoops with bullet-proof vintage Tama Imperialstar hoops. I run a cabled hat on both sides. Sometimes a third that have Tambourines and a fourth for Ice-bells instead of cymbals. My left hats are mighty close to my snare and about 2 inches higher than the snare's rim height. Any excess hat stem has been cut off. Nothing worse than a foot of hat stem getting in the way. That snare on the last picture is none other than a 14X10 old re-ringed '70s Tama Imperialstar 30 dollar eBay special modded with a Trick snare kit. It is brutally loud and is unforgiving. It makes a Ludwig Coliseum snare mute! Drum on.
 

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In my opinion, heel up pedal playing should be mostly ankle bounce (ideally all ankle bounce), not muscling the pedal with the leg. It takes some time and focused attention to let go of the leg, so to speak. If you want the beater to come off the head, play with the ball of the foot about 1/3 down from the toe stop. If you want to bury the beater, slide the foot up close to the toe stop.

One convenient thing you can do to work on your foot technique is to tap your feet on the floor when practicing on the pad. I would suggest single strokes, 16ths, 8th note triplets (when playing triplets with the hands), and 8th notes, with the feet depending on the tempo. For example, if you are practicing single strokes with the hands, open/closed/open, you can start playing 16ths with the hands and feet together, reversing the lead hand with a diddle every 2 measures or so, keeping R foot lead with the feet throughout. As you increase speed, at some point your feet won't be able to keep up with the hands and you can switch to 8th notes. As you reduce speed, you can switch back to 16th notes when you are able. This is an excellent foot workout and helps to syncronize your hands and feet. I suggest practicing all hand stickings with both R and L hand lead, but, keeping the feet going with a R foot lead. Does that make sense?

Another thing you can do is to practice the Comping Workout exercises I posted in the Teacher's Lounge. It was intended for single pedal jazz, but, you can modify it any way you like. Example, substitute LF (left hand on snare, right foot on bass), for RL (double bass). Here's a link if you are interested.

I’ve been doing foot to floor exercises in addition to double bass pedal practice. Using a practice pad with them as suggested is a super addition. Here are some of the things I work on.

Some people keep time by bouncing their hi hat foot heel. Surprisingly, this isn’t instantly easy although it seems so. Smoothly bouncing and keeping time over a couple of minutes reveals some defects like hesitations, double strokes, etc. You have to pay attention to recognize the errors but you will find some defects when you first start. After a while, you should be smooth with both feet at 120 BPM. I use that time because I have a clock with a second hand and make two beats per second. This is a simple thing that I think helps the feet. I did this standing up or sitting down.

I practice a variety of heel and toe taps between feet. When I started, I would have involuntary movements which didn’t fit the pattern. I think about eight reps is good enough to know if you have a problem with that pattern or not. If you have no problem, create another pattern.

for example: right heel, right toe, left heel, left toe (then repeat 7 more times)

Tap right toe twice, right heel once, tap left toe twice, left heel once (x8)

left heel, right heel, left toe, right toe (x8)


These sound simple. You will find some that take multiple times to work out but once you do them, they become mostly easy. Repeating the pattern is what seems to make these more difficult. One iteration isn’t correct.

What is most interesting are the involuntary hits that should not be happening.
Making up your own patterns and throwing in multiple taps becomes interesting. This can be done almost anywhere.
 
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