Double-bass technique - leading with the right?

Xero Talent

Silver Member
I learned to play drums with only a single kick, and usually whenever I'm on my ride cymbal, I keep time with my hihat foot, often on the 1 and 3 with a mounted tambourine to get a fuller sound. Normal, right?

But when I picked up the double-kick, because I'm used to keeping time on the 1 and 3 with the left foot, I naturally gravitate to the same technique on the bass.

For example, with double-bass 8th notes in 4/4:

"Normal" technique (downbeat is played with the right foot):
1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4
RLRLRLRLRLRLRLR

My technique (downbeat played with the left foot)
1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4
LRLRLRLRLRLRLRL

.. and often if I'm going from single-bass to double-bass beats, I'll double up on the first two bass drum notes with the right to fall into the left-downbeat rhythm:
1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4
RRLRLRLRLRLRLRL

I was hanging with a fellow drummer who teaches and we were messing about, and when he saw how I was playing, he was telling me how terrible the technique is, and how it limits what you can do (although after pressing him, he couldn't give me examples).

Anyone else have a "backwards" double-bass technique? How's it working for you? Have you tried to "fix" it?
 

Arky

Platinum Member
I remember some forum members have the same situation as you. Sometimes our stronger limbs (e.g. right foot) aren't stronger in every respect but have more power and/or speed but less control in some contexts. If it works for you leading with your left foot - just stick to it. No real need ro unlearn this. Better learn to lead with both feet but that might be a waste of time if you don't really need that.

Your 3rd footing example is a bit unusual though. But again, if it works for you... it makes perfect sense.

My right foot is the stronger foot but in slower speed ranges my left foot has more steadiness and I feel I have more control over it. My right foot tends to run away, but it's getting better (1.5 years into drumming). I do try to keep up right foot lead as my primary way of playing footwork but I'm practicing every combination, thus, a lot of left side lead (hands included).

If you want to improve your right foot control I'd recommend doing slow but punchy strokes with your right foot. Or play the '1' of every beat as a right foot accent and the other notes unaccented. Try overexaggerating the motion, with quite some full leg motion involved (hip flexor). That has helped me but it's a long process and I'm just halfway through it.
 
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MasterCylinder

Senior Member
I learned to play drums with only a single kick, and usually whenever I'm on my ride cymbal, I keep time with my hihat foot, often on the 1 and 3 with a mounted tambourine to get a fuller sound. Normal, right?

But when I picked up the double-kick, because I'm used to keeping time on the 1 and 3 with the left foot, I naturally gravitate to the same technique on the bass.

For example, with double-bass 8th notes in 4/4:

"Normal" technique (downbeat is played with the right foot):
1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4
RLRLRLRLRLRLRLR

My technique (downbeat played with the left foot)
1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4
LRLRLRLRLRLRLRL

.. and often if I'm going from single-bass to double-bass beats, I'll double up on the first two bass drum notes with the right to fall into the left-downbeat rhythm:
1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4
RRLRLRLRLRLRLRL

I was hanging with a fellow drummer who teaches and we were messing about, and when he saw how I was playing, he was telling me how terrible the technique is, and how it limits what you can do (although after pressing him, he couldn't give me examples).

Anyone else have a "backwards" double-bass technique? How's it working for you? Have you tried to "fix" it?
Xero :
I play DB exactly like you do; it works fine...........and it is a natural feel for any drummer that started with a single bass set-up (which most do).
A practice drill that will give you a start on getting the downbeat feel with both feet is to do the following :
Play your regular 4/4 beat with your cymbal & snare while playing triplets with the basses.
Eack strike of the right hand will be on time with a LRLRLR of your feet and each strike with the left hand will be every sixth bass note (which will be with your left foot as well).
Doing this drill for a while will provide you with a "downbeat feel" for either foot.
Then you can reverse the pattern and cause the snare strikes to land with the right foot.

After that feel gets in your mind, bigger and better things will happen.
 

Xero Talent

Silver Member
Xero :
I play DB exactly like you do; it works fine...........and it is a natural feel for any drummer that started with a single bass set-up (which most do).
A practice drill that will give you a start on getting the downbeat feel with both feet is to do the following :
Play your regular 4/4 beat with your cymbal & snare while playing triplets with the basses.
Eack strike of the right hand will be on time with a LRLRLR of your feet and each strike with the left hand will be every sixth bass note (which will be with your left foot as well).
Doing this drill for a while will provide you with a "downbeat feel" for either foot.
Then you can reverse the pattern and cause the snare strikes to land with the right foot.

After that feel gets in your mind, bigger and better things will happen.
The triplets suggestion is a great idea. I've been practising those anyway, but I find my downbeat accents to be lacking on both feet.

Something crazy to note: with triplets, I lead with my right foot. How's that for messed up?!

Have you found that you run into problems in fills or going from single to double by leading with the left foot? Sometimes I get tangled up in the first few beats until I get my rhythm. I have a feeling that's due to me needing practice rather than chalking it up to bad technique though...

Thanks for the tip!
 

MasterCylinder

Senior Member
The triplets suggestion is a great idea. I've been practising those anyway, but I find my downbeat accents to be lacking on both feet.

Something crazy to note: with triplets, I lead with my right foot. How's that for messed up?!
LOL ! Hey............whatever works for you.

Have you found that you run into problems in fills or going from single to double by leading with the left foot? Sometimes I get tangled up in the first few beats until I get my rhythm. I have a feeling that's due to me needing practice rather than chalking it up to bad technique though...

Thanks for the tip!
After a while your feet will become adapt at quick changes just like your hands........just like sometimes when you are ending a big fill with a right-handed crash and, in order to accomplish this, your left hand plays the final two notes of the fill.
 

Fuo

Platinum Member
From what I've read, Sean Reinert plays the same way... So it can't be bad :)
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
I learned to play drums with only a single kick, and usually whenever I'm on my ride cymbal, I keep time with my hihat foot, often on the 1 and 3 with a mounted tambourine to get a fuller sound. Normal, right?

But when I picked up the double-kick, because I'm used to keeping time on the 1 and 3 with the left foot, I naturally gravitate to the same technique on the bass.

For example, with double-bass 8th notes in 4/4:

"Normal" technique (downbeat is played with the right foot):
1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4
RLRLRLRLRLRLRLR

My technique (downbeat played with the left foot)
1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4
LRLRLRLRLRLRLRL

.. and often if I'm going from single-bass to double-bass beats, I'll double up on the first two bass drum notes with the right to fall into the left-downbeat rhythm:
1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4
RRLRLRLRLRLRLRL

I was hanging with a fellow drummer who teaches and we were messing about, and when he saw how I was playing, he was telling me how terrible the technique is, and how it limits what you can do (although after pressing him, he couldn't give me examples).

Anyone else have a "backwards" double-bass technique? How's it working for you? Have you tried to "fix" it?

I dont think things like this have a wrong or right

you do what feels good to you

for example while watching this guy play a few weeks ago while standing behind him I notice he was leading a lot of his double kick licks with his left foot, but others he would lead with his right , he would even play some of his single kick grooves with his left foot

very interesting

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-sky0Q28Mc&feature=player_embedded
 

Xero Talent

Silver Member
From what I've read, Sean Reinert plays the same way... So it can't be bad :)
Wow, I had never heard of Cynic and I'm listening to Focus album now. Reminds me a lot of Mastadon, whom I really like. Thanks for this! I'm going to start digging around for some of Sean's interviews....

I dont think things like this have a wrong or right

you do what feels good to you

for example while watching this guy play a few weeks ago while standing behind him I notice he was leading a lot of his double kick licks with his left foot, but others he would lead with his right , he would even play some of his single kick grooves with his left foot

very interesting

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-sky0Q28Mc&feature=player_embedded
That's cool, thanks for sharing. Neat stick control, that's for sure.
 

Fuo

Platinum Member
Wow, I had never heard of Cynic and I'm listening to Focus album now. Reminds me a lot of Mastadon, whom I really like. Thanks for this! I'm going to start digging around for some of Sean's interviews....
Cool! Focus is a classic. He also played on the Death album Human which is incredible.
 

Arky

Platinum Member
Spelling: "Mastodon"... I knew that by age 8, being interested in dinosaurs & stuff. -- Sorry.
 

Fuo

Platinum Member
Just found this article by him, first paragraph kinda sounds like the OP:
http://www.sickdrummermagazine.com/index.php/features/lessons-advice/1531-sean-reinert-lesson-the-hi-hat-foot.html

For most hard rock and metal drummers, the heart of the groove is in the kick and snare. In jazz, the hi-hat and ride cymbal are paramount. So if you are like me, and play a big mix of styles in an extreme fashion (and then some), you know the hi-hat foot is a vital organ!

So now the question: why would I keep time with my hi-hat foot? Well, for many reasons: First off, keeping a quarter note or eighth note pulse going on the hat while playing will help you to keep a more grounded feel in your groove, as well as help the other musicians keep their place in the music. This is, after all, the primary function of the drummer (to keep time). The pulse generated by the hi-hat can also give the listener a "feel" for, or "reference point" to, the groove if, for instance, you are playing in an odd meter or if you are playing odd groupings inside of a common time signature. Keeping time with the hi-hat is also useful to fill the rhythm out, for instance, if you do not have a percussionist and need "another weapon" to propel the music.

...
...
...

There other ways of exploiting the left foot. For instance, I've explored a technique where I play the hi-hat and double pedal at the same time, leading with the left foot. I position my hi hat on the inside of the double pedal (see hyperlink4) to maximize the position of the pedal better. This allows me to play eighth notes with the hi-hat foot while maintaining sixteenth note double bass patterns at the same time. If you do it just right, you can get a swish from the hi-hats by hitting your heel just the right way on the pedal and letting it ring free. The list goes on. The point is, get creative and explore your possibilities. And by all means, have fun! I've included two videos (Cynic - "Adam's Murmur" and Cynic - "Evolutionary Sleeper") of me playing to illustrate how I have integrated the hi-hat foot into my playing. Happy drumming --
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
Wow, that's pretty much exactly how I find I'm playing (albeit not nearly as good!).

I'm going to try what he suggests and move the hi-hat to the inside of my slave pedal. What a neat idea!
seems odd to me to see it on the outside

rarely ever see that

I cant imagine that being comfortable, for me ofcourse
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
How so? The pedals would be in the same place, just reversed. Given, it would take some re-training, but I can't see it being uncomfortable.

Although I'll let you know tonight! You could very well be right :)
I just feel like having to go outside my hat to get to the kick pedal would feel awkward

Im sure that would simply be because I played for nearly 20 years with it on the inside. took it away from the kit a couple years ago just to get away from it for a while, im sure it will return at some point

Ive seen very few guys play with it on the outside though, mostly beginners and hobbyists

not saying there is anything wrong with what you do in any way because im sure lots of people do it, I just haven't seen it much
 

Xero Talent

Silver Member
I just feel like having to go outside my hat to get to the kick pedal would feel awkward

Im sure that would simply be because I played for nearly 20 years with it on the inside. took it away from the kit a couple years ago just to get away from it for a while, im sure it will return at some point

Ive seen very few guys play with it on the outside though, mostly beginners and hobbyists

not saying there is anything wrong with what you do in any way because im sure lots of people do it, I just haven't seen it much
Agreed, that was the first time I've even heard of it being done. It's worth a shot, although like you said, if it's not relatively natural feeling, then I will probably go back to traditional.
 

Fuo

Platinum Member
Yea, I don't even see how it is possible. If I were to put my hihat pedal on the inside it would be under my snare. Maybe speed cobras just don't extend as far as other double pedals... Or I have a weird setup...
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I don't own a double pedal but when I do play one, I have the same tendency.

On a single bass kit, I usually play the hi-hat with left foot on beats 2 and 4, or quarter notes or sometimes 8th notes. I do this playing time with the right hand on the ride cymbal, but also during fills. If you take a fill where you're playing 8th notes between snare and bass drum with the right foot playing the "and" and the left foot is playing quarter notes on 1, 2, 3 and 4, you're basically playing 16th notes with left foot lead like you're describing.

I've thought about starting this same thread to see if I was the only one. I guess not!
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
.. and often if I'm going from single-bass to double-bass beats, I'll double up on the first two bass drum notes with the right to fall into the left-downbeat rhythm:
1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4
RRLRLRLRLRLRLRL

I was hanging with a fellow drummer who teaches and we were messing about, and when he saw how I was playing, he was telling me how terrible the technique is, and how it limits what you can do (although after pressing him, he couldn't give me examples).

Anyone else have a "backwards" double-bass technique? How's it working for you? Have you tried to "fix" it?
There is going to be a small, but perhaps important, sonic quality to how you're approaching these transitions. If you're right-footed double stroke at the outset of the pattern is in any way weaker than your single strokes (and for most of us, it is), then you're going to have a sonic inconsistency, and probably a volume inconsistency as well. At slower tempos, it's probably not an issue.

Consider your hands playing a double stroke roll, paradiddles, and a single stroke roll, on any surface. No matter how much you try to maintain evenness of sound and volume, they will sound increasingly different as you increase the tempo. The single stroke roll will sound the most even, of course, because the hands perform the same task for every note.

From a musical standpoint, it's pretty common to want that initial burst of double bass notes to be "machine-like", right? With this in mind, it makes sense to start with your leading foot at the beginning of the pattern, and not one moment later. If these tiny sonic differences don't matter to you, then that's fine, too.

If we're talking triggered sounds, or sample replacement/enhancement, then all bets are off regarding which pattern to play.

Personally, I like to practice exercises that force you to switch your leading foot. If you're comfortable either way, then your leading foot becomes a musical choice, instead of just a habit. There are some pages in Syncopation that work very well, and there are some goodies in Thomas Lang's first DVD, and Bobby Jarzombek's DVD, too.
 
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