Bass drum foot technique

Matched Gripper

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I honestly don't see a debate on whether the beater is buried or rests against the head, or whether someone uses hybrid techniques such as the slide or swivel, or even where someone places their foot on the pedal board (which is nonsense, quite frankly) as germane to the topic other than to be critical of someone trying to help a couple of guys out with a block on doubles and successive strokes at faster tempos. I would suggest if you're wanting to be helpful, that you make a video playing Swing Town or Good Times, Bad Times, and post that in order to help and also to stay in context.

There's no single right way to play a foot pedal. No one technique is the de facto method for pedal speed. Perhaps you'd be better served to write JoJo Mayer, he likely will reply - he did to me - and explain to him why his quite involved expose on several foot techniques, including the slide, swivel, etc, are not valid methods to gain and enhance one's control, power, dynamics, and speed with foot pedal play rather than take me to task for posting topically and trying to be helpful. Thanks for watching!!
Totally agree about technique. People are not machines. The best technique for any particular player is something each player has to discover for him/her self.

But, I think there is a significant difference in sound between burying the beater and allowing it to rebound off the head, the former choking the sustain and tone of the drum which works well to define the attack when playing fast double bounces or double pedals, the latter allowing for a longer more open tone, especially playing live. JMO!
 

Old PIT Guy

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Agree totally. But there's burying the beater and then there's resting the beater on, or just off the head. When you bury the beater you cause the head to deflect and rest the beater in that pushed-in position for a split second or longer. When you catch the beater just off the surface as you would notes played low on a snare drum, there's no penalty involved unless this prevents you from a stroke requiring power immediately afterwards. And you can't very well play quick singles or fast doubles and bury a beater. It's physically impossible.

At :42 you can see I'm allowing full release of the beater. I go back and forth between full release, partial release and no release. It just depends on the context of what I'm playing, and in this case the mesh head, as I've tried to explain 2-3 times, with a closed 18" BD is a bear. The BD is as loud as it is with a mesh head because there's a full reso head, no internal muffling and a Remo hard patch with duct tape over it. If I removed all of that the strokes would be nearly inaudible. With them, the potential for flutter that you can hear is very, very high, especially on patterns like swing town or GTBT. That's the nature of a mesh head - it's like a trampoline.

So actually, the control of that flutter is a bigger issue than the patterns themselves. Now, you might think that would hurt your technique, but it actually helps, because when I play a regularly outfitted BD, I can catch the beater pretty close to the head because it's rebounding off the head with much less energy.

I'm exhausted from going over this, honestly. I never see this much questioning of technique in media center videos, so it's a little weird.
 

Matched Gripper

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Agree totally. But there's burying the beater and then there's resting the beater on, or just off the head. When you bury the beater you cause the head to deflect and rest the beater in that pushed-in position for a split second or longer. When you catch the beater just off the surface as you would notes played low on a snare drum, there's no penalty involved unless this prevents you from a stroke requiring power immediately afterwards. And you can't very well play quick singles or fast doubles and bury a beater. It's physically impossible.

At :42 you can see I'm allowing full release of the beater. I go back and forth between full release, partial release and no release. It just depends on the context of what I'm playing, and in this case the mesh head, as I've tried to explain 2-3 times, with a closed 18" BD is a bear. The BD is as loud as it is with a mesh head because there's a full reso head, no internal muffling and a Remo hard patch with duct tape over it. If I removed all of that the strokes would be nearly inaudible. With them, the potential for flutter that you can hear is very, very high, especially on patterns like swing town or GTBT. That's the nature of a mesh head - it's like a trampoline.

So actually, the control of that flutter is a bigger issue than the patterns themselves. Now, you might think that would hurt your technique, but it actually helps, because when I play a regularly outfitted BD, I can catch the beater pretty close to the head because it's rebounding off the head with much less energy.

I'm exhausted from going over this, honestly. I never see this much questioning of technique in media center videos, so it's a little weird.
For me, unless I’m feathering 4 on the floor, bass drum notes are generally all accented notes, bury or bounce off.
 

fusseltier

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Totally agree about technique. People are not machines. The best technique for any particular player is something each player has to discover for him/her self.

But, I think there is a significant difference in sound between burying the beater and allowing it to rebound off the head, the former choking the sustain and tone of the drum which works well to define the attack when playing fast double bounces or double pedals, the latter allowing for a longer more open tone, especially playing live. JMO!
i play faster not burying the beater, using the rebound, rather than the short taps of a buried beater no matter how fast it is.
 

fusseltier

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like I said before, I play as I was told to by an old jazz great. but everyone is different and has their own way of doing things.
so do what makes you feel comfortable and play the way you want to play.
I only said you waste time having to lift your foot if you bury the beater rather than letting it rebound and be ready for the next stroke.
do you hit the snare and leave the stick on the head or let it bounce back up? same principle, using the rebound.
 

Hypercaffium

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Just a quick question. When you play heel up, what position you use to rest your right leg? Burying the beater lets you keep the heel up position while resting your leg, while letting the beater rebound makes your leg "float" unless you put your heel down every time between strokes.
 
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Markkuliini

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Here a close up to my technique, the video is linked in the end.

Couple of pointers that might help.
-Sitting in balance! If you can sit on top of the throne, back straight (also lower back) in a way that all your weight waist up is supported by the seat, that helps A LOT. This way you are not leaning to the pedals, and you don't have to battle against your bodyweight that's constantly putting your feet down when your balance changes back and forth. Same thing applies to side to side moment. Don't lean on your hihat pedal to get help to lift your bass drum foot.
Get the support from your back and your seat.

-When playing heel up, don't rise the heel to much! Only inch or two. That's all you need to generate power, and it takes much more energy to lift the foot higher, plus you lose power if you have to straighten the ankle too much when lighting high.

-The Colin Bailey's bass drum is not that helpful if my memory servers me right. It has note material (what to play), but if I recall correctly, it doesn't really teach you how to play it. It's just notes without too explanation of how to execute those notes.
When practicing good bass drum technique (what ever the selected technique is), your need to learn individual hits first, and then doubles. And you need to practice them slowly. Colin is demonstrating everything quite fast and with heel down technique, which didn't help me at all, when I went through the book and checked his videos.

-When doing heel/technique, it's important to scale down the size of the movement to really get benefit from it. See how small my movement is, you can barely see that it's heel/toe at some points on the video. Clear and big movements in the beginning, but make them smaller later on.

-Gadd is great example of heel/toe technique, I think it comes from his step dance background. BUT when he plays doubles, he often starts with the heel stroke and ends with toe stroke, which is relatively uncommon. It has this cool sound, the first stroke is little louder than the last. Almost a trademark thing for him.

-Jojo Mayer's Bass drum DVD is a great source for information! I highly recommend it.

Hope this helped a little!

 

pjmariner

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Agree totally. But there's burying the beater and then there's resting the beater on, or just off the head. When you bury the beater you cause the head to deflect and rest the beater in that pushed-in position for a split second or longer. When you catch the beater just off the surface as you would notes played low on a snare drum, there's no penalty involved unless this prevents you from a stroke requiring power immediately afterwards. And you can't very well play quick singles or fast doubles and bury a beater. It's physically impossible.

At :42 you can see I'm allowing full release of the beater. I go back and forth between full release, partial release and no release. It just depends on the context of what I'm playing, and in this case the mesh head, as I've tried to explain 2-3 times, with a closed 18" BD is a bear. The BD is as loud as it is with a mesh head because there's a full reso head, no internal muffling and a Remo hard patch with duct tape over it. If I removed all of that the strokes would be nearly inaudible. With them, the potential for flutter that you can hear is very, very high, especially on patterns like swing town or GTBT. That's the nature of a mesh head - it's like a trampoline.

So actually, the control of that flutter is a bigger issue than the patterns themselves. Now, you might think that would hurt your technique, but it actually helps, because when I play a regularly outfitted BD, I can catch the beater pretty close to the head because it's rebounding off the head with much less energy.

I'm exhausted from going over this, honestly. I never see this much questioning of technique in media center videos, so it's a little weird.
I am with you on the technique, and use much the same as you do, and it varies based on application.

If I am playing quieter, i will play heel up, (although I keep my heel barley off the pedal) toward the back half of footboard. This works for jazz, lighter R&b, and its also where I start my foot if I want to ghost the first note of a double. If I do a ghosted double I start at bottom half of footboard and slide up for the accent second note.

If I am playing triples, or more, I play just toes and rebound, mid foot board.

If I am playing rock funk, I tend to play a lot of heel toe, louder with more power, and depending on the sequence, I may bury the better in preparation for next note. I can play doubles much faster heel toe then just playing heel up with my toes and rebound. A common pattern I use is essentially a bass drum flam to snare triplet, so using heel toe I flam a bassdrum double, ending with the beater buried with a snare hit to finish the triplet, and then playing the next 1/8 note on the bass drum.... The bury the beater in this sequence make the timing of the 1/8 note perfect, and lets you play it loud and with authority.

If I can figure a way to record an audible visual with my phone I will post it.
 

fusseltier

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Here a close up to my technique, the video is linked in the end.

Couple of pointers that might help.
-Sitting in balance! If you can sit on top of the throne, back straight (also lower back) in a way that all your weight waist up is supported by the seat, that helps A LOT. This way you are not leaning to the pedals, and you don't have to battle against your bodyweight that's constantly putting your feet down when your balance changes back and forth. Same thing applies to side to side moment. Don't lean on your hihat pedal to get help to lift your bass drum foot.
Get the support from your back and your seat.

-When playing heel up, don't rise the heel to much! Only inch or two. That's all you need to generate power, and it takes much more energy to lift the foot higher, plus you lose power if you have to straighten the ankle too much when lighting high.

-The Colin Bailey's bass drum is not that helpful if my memory servers me right. It has note material (what to play), but if I recall correctly, it doesn't really teach you how to play it. It's just notes without too explanation of how to execute those notes.
When practicing good bass drum technique (what ever the selected technique is), your need to learn individual hits first, and then doubles. And you need to practice them slowly. Colin is demonstrating everything quite fast and with heel down technique, which didn't help me at all, when I went through the book and checked his videos.

-When doing heel/technique, it's important to scale down the size of the movement to really get benefit from it. See how small my movement is, you can barely see that it's heel/toe at some points on the video. Clear and big movements in the beginning, but make them smaller later on.

-Gadd is great example of heel/toe technique, I think it comes from his step dance background. BUT when he plays doubles, he often starts with the heel stroke and ends with toe stroke, which is relatively uncommon. It has this cool sound, the first stroke is little louder than the last. Almost a trademark thing for him.

-Jojo Mayer's Bass drum DVD is a great source for information! I highly recommend it.

Hope this helped a little!

you put a lot more effort on the pedal and foot than I do. I don't actually think i could play with my toes at the toe stop, my toes are just after the fulcrum. less effort and less movement.
 

Markkuliini

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you put a lot more effort on the pedal and foot than I do. I don't actually think i could play with my toes at the toe stop, my toes are just after the fulcrum. less effort and less movement.
When I was playing with DW 9000's, I used to play lot more back. This Tama pedal has the sweet spot more up front, at least with my adjustments.
Actually it takes very little energy to play those patterns like that on that pedal. With other pedals it feels that it's more finicky finding a sweet spot.

I'm happy to watch someone play those patterns with smaller movement, but it ain't easy with so many hits in a row. I'm too aiming to play with even smaller movements, but also I like to play my bass drum relatively loud, to have bottom heavy dynamics, so it takes some movement to get the notes loud.
 
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Old PIT Guy

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I am with you on the technique, and use much the same as you do, and it varies based on application.

If I am playing quieter, i will play heel up, (although I keep my heel barley off the pedal) toward the back half of footboard. This works for jazz, lighter R&b, and its also where I start my foot if I want to ghost the first note of a double. If I do a ghosted double I start at bottom half of footboard and slide up for the accent second note.

If I am playing triples, or more, I play just toes and rebound, mid foot board.

If I am playing rock funk, I tend to play a lot of heel toe, louder with more power, and depending on the sequence, I may bury the better in preparation for next note. I can play doubles much faster heel toe then just playing heel up with my toes and rebound. A common pattern I use is essentially a bass drum flam to snare triplet, so using heel toe I flam a bassdrum double, ending with the beater buried with a snare hit to finish the triplet, and then playing the next 1/8 note on the bass drum.... The bury the beater in this sequence make the timing of the 1/8 note perfect, and lets you play it loud and with authority.

If I can figure a way to record an audible visual with my phone I will post it.
Good points. Also, with consecutive doubles at tempo -- as with a samba or even GTBT, you may decide to dig into the second note to make them more even, as you would with an open roll, and that's going to require more force for the 2nd note, causing the beater to be in contact with the head a split second longer. And a little more than that if you release tension just after contact; there isn't time to allow the beater to recoil backwards at that instant.

Just as with hand technique, there's a a lot of dogma with how you're supposed to play a pedal, when there are variables rarely accounted for in the arguments. Foot and shoe size is one. I wear an 11.5 2EE shoe, and that creates a length of 13" - longer and wider than my Yamaha footboard. And so the variable here is I don't like my heel to touch the floor when it's back off the footboard playing heel-up since I play with my heel more parallel to the floor. That nudges me to to move my foot closer to the top of the board.

If I were to place my fulcrum midway or more down the board my heel would smack the floor unless I arch my ankle, and I'm definitely not going to do that because I lose power and control in the process, along with causing quicker fatigue. I haven't been 30 for 30. And we're talking about a simple lever here. The farther down the board your fulcrum, the more swing. The more swing the more power but the less fine control. There's a reason the players in the videos I posted play more level and farther up the board. And it's not to win an argument about playing a pedal.
 
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pjmariner

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So here is my suspect video, but since the technique is a bit different from what’s been posted maybe someone will find it useful.
First part is how I play heel/toe to squeeze out fast doubles, I can play them in this manner continuously, but for me anyway the technique is limited to a “double”.
****Be warned there is a fair amount of beater burying in this part so hide the children. *** Towards end it playing lighter doubles, heel up mostly toes.
 


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