Bass drum technique + fatigue

Vareee

Junior Member
Hi there,

I've been playing on a kit for roughly a month now, so I want to make sure I'm doing things right before I build any bad habits. Hence this post.

I think I've been playing my bass drum with heel-up technique (I try to rest on the balls of my feet -> lift up heel -> land on balls of feet -> hit drum), and it's been going well when I have enough time to execute all of these steps. However, when I play some of our faster songs (I'm in an indie-rock band), that go up to ~190bmp, and I have to do two bass-hits in a row (on quarter notes), this technique becomes very difficult and I get sloppy. Right now I'm just bouncing on the balls of my feet to get that double hit in, but I've been practicing with this for a week or two now and it's still proving difficult. I can do it at the beginning of practice, but after a while it starts to get bad. I'l talking about specifically these double hits, here. I feel like my technique is off, because it shouldn't be this hard to do.

Furthermore, I have found that my hands are significantly stronger than my feet in terms of timing. In fact, whenever I get sloppy, it's my feet.


In addition to this, I notice that my right arm (hitting the hat) is fatiguing pretty quickly when I play these fast songs, and I can't keep up the ~190bmp tempo for more than a few minutes on the hat. I don't get a lot of bounce on mine, though things improve slightly if I use more fingers, My ride is angled down and I can play that much easier than the hats.


Are these normal problems I should just accept and work on improving, or am I looking at this the wrong way?

Thanks!
 

SgtThump

Platinum Member
Getting that stuff right involves lots of practice over many months/years. Building up endurance and finding more efficient ways of doing things is a long process IMO.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Are these normal problems I should just accept and work on improving, or am I looking at this the wrong way?
Speed and control will come gradually. If you insert a bass drum oriented section into your practice routine, you'll find that each day is better than the previous.

Re: Heel up/down

Don't get too hung up on technique just yet (one month?!?). When you play, play whatever is comfortable. When you get to the section of your practice routine that focuses on the BD, work on both heel up and heal down. Work on burying the beater and pulling the beater. If you find some whiz bang technique video on youtube, add it to the routine. The stuff you learn practicing will eventually, and intuitively, come out in your playing.

Much like "You are what you eat", musicians are what they practice.
 

Galadrm

Senior Member
Make sure your drum throne is at the right height. Fatigue can become much more prominent if your upper leg is parallel to the ground. Make sure the throne is raised up such that your legs have 20 degree angle or so from your waist to your knees. Other than that continue working on yours legs and focus on them specifically during practice.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
If you want to play 2 quick hits on the bass drum you probably need to use the slide technique. It is a heel up technique.

You basically play the first note further back on the pedal (with the ball of your foot and your toe) and the 2nd note comes when you "slide" your foot forward in time to catch the rebounding foot board, (that note is played moreso with the ball of your foot). It take a while to get it but it's sort of the only way to go about playing fast doubles. There will be a bunch of youtube videos about it I'm sure.
 
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STXBob

Gold Member
I can't add anything earth-shattering to what these folks are advising, so I'll just say, "Patience, young padawan." :-D

You're on a long road. Enjoy the views and don't sweat the traffic.
 

Friedmett

Senior Member
The best way to practise anything is to start slowly and build up!

Now why is that?

Because you have to get the skills into your subconscious mind as a habit that you draw from whenever you desire to do use them.

So starting out at a high tempo is a lot more difficult to get down rather than starting slow and build up.

Best advice is to get a metronome, make sure your setup is setup right so it is not because of wrong seat hight, pedals etc. Find what works for you.

When you practise to a metronome you develop quickly and as you get into it you will not find it hard to do at all. That is because a habit is formed by repeating motions and that happens when you follow a metronome.
 

Vareee

Junior Member
Thanks for the replies, guys. Will check out my seat height on next practice. It's reassuring to know that this is an issue that I should expect to have early on! I like the idea about adding more bass drum work into my practice routine.
 

John Lamb

Senior Member
Fatigue has a lot less to do with physical strength and endurance and a lot more to do with technique. It sounds like your technique is not as efficient as it could be. For example, if the muscles in your shins are getting sore you are doing it wrong - those muscles are only for lifting the toes - but if you are resting your heel on the heel plate as you try to lift your toes, those muscles will have to lift the weight of the entire leg instead of just lifting the toes. This wears them out, but it is also not necessary in the first place. This is the exact reason I chose to use the image I did for the back cover of Anatomy of Drumming.

Heel up techniques alleviate this problem and allow for a much more efficient stroke. The cost is that you have to lift your leg, but since have to lift it anyway, it isn't really a loss. They do make seated balance more important and if you aren't sitting properly that is something that can really tire you out, too
 

Vareee

Junior Member
Make sure your drum throne is at the right height. Fatigue can become much more prominent if your upper leg is parallel to the ground. Make sure the throne is raised up such that your legs have 20 degree angle or so from your waist to your knees. Other than that continue working on yours legs and focus on them specifically during practice.

I tried to adjust this^ (moved my throne up about 3 inches), and it worked way better. I also adjusted it so that the beater head was further back (rotationally) by default. This combination felt much much better, and my band mates said the bass sounded "awesome". Good sign!
 
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