One foot out the door

slhanks04

Member
Cheers all, a few months ago I had my right leg amputated below the knee due to a long and drawn out battle with an infection. Anyway, I'm back on two feet as I now have a prosthetic leg, and I have no intention of giving up drumming. However, without the ability to independently move my foot at the ankle, it has adversely affected my kick drum playing. I can play simpler beats with no problem, but I don't know if I'll ever improve over that. I am curious if anyone else has had to deal with a situation like this and how they might have overcome the inherent problems playing a kick drum?
 
Hi Scott, sorry to hear about your situation. But, I think it awesome that you're not letting it stop you. Outstanding attitude! As far overcoming the problem, there is the obvious, (which I'm sure you may have pondered) try switching to lefty kick, and see how that goes. With your attitude, I'm sure you'll find a way that suits you.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Bravo! Glad you're on a path to figure out how you're going to accomplish this. If you look at all the instructional material on how to develop double strokes on the bass drum, they all rely heavily on the ankle joint and muscles. The hip and knee are part of it, yes, but the ankle usually tilts the foot at some point, during each double stroke.

I taught a young boy who had his ankle joints fused together. So, no ankle movement at all for him. At birth, his feet were pointing backwards, and so his shins were severed in a procedure, and re-attached so that his feet now point forward. For whatever medical reason, his ankles were frozen. As you might expect, he struggled to play two bass drum notes in a row.

Since you have one ankle left, you should maximize its use. Play bass drum with your left, develop the double stroke over many weeks, months (and maybe years), and use the right foot to operate the hi-hat via a remote cable hi-hat stand.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Give it time and practice and see where you get. Failing that go down the lefty side of things. Work on bringing the hit from your hip.

Glad to hear you're back on the throne, not sure anyone can relate to your situation. Definitely on the Def Leppard end of the spectrum!
 

blinky

Senior Member
There is a new podcast about Billy Brimblecom that might interest you, he had to amputate his left leg above the knee, and he is playing still.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
Excellent fortitude! Love it.

Have you considered playing the bass drum with your left foot, and hats with your right?

Another possible solution is to seek out an electromechanical prosthesis with motors at the ankle pivot (transfemoral design here with knee & ankle pivots). If that worked out, your BPM on the pedal could win awards for speed. :cool:
 

slhanks04

Member
I appreciate each of you taking the time to respond. I'm right handed, so I don't know that switching to a left handed setup at my age would be very practical, and I am far from ambidextrous. I do have a double bass pedal on my kit, but I haven't had much success mastering the LH side. Maybe that's something I need to work on. I do like the cable-operated remote hihat idea though - I think I'll look into that. Thanks again, everyone.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
Scott:

I have paraparesis of both legs and ankles/feet from a spinal cord tumor. I have thought about giving up playing live with a band many times, and have searched for ways to augment my right foot challenges. My ankle doesn't move anymore. Several surgeries and the nerve damage. I can keep a simple beat that's about it.

I have adapted by using heel only on kick drum pedal and kinda stomping down heel, keeping my toes on pedal and using heel only. I followed Bo's advice on this forum and applied skateboard tape to kick pedal; it has a sandpaper anti-skid surface that helps hold my foot in place. I can do a 4/4 on kick consistently up to about 120-140bpm. When I get into 160+ my leg starts to get fatigued. That's OK I'm not in Joe Bonamassa's group lol. Our band has 4 basic beats and I can do them all very simply. We call our grooves shuffles, swings (both 4/4), Rhumba/clave/second line, and "Howlin' Wolf". Every song we do I can use one of those 4 for the kick. They're all simple. I also fiddle with kick drum peddle a lot to get spring tension just right and beater angle and height just right. I don't use much tension, so that when I just rest my foot on pedal it's hitting the head - it's buried. I'm letting pedal do most of the work. I always bring my own pedal to any gig.

I'm lucky I'm playing with really excellent musicians who don't want the drummer to be the star and don't need Bonham or Baker or Rich behind the shells lol. I show up on time I know the material and I listen and blend in with them. I also do all bookings and keep/ publish set lists. Finding ways to keep myself relevant in group and keep playing gigs. I'm 63 years young and still enjoy the playing (although the setting up and tearing down and transport is rather taxing of late).

Here is a video of me playing a few weeks ago. I have a cool (cool for me lol) solo at end!


Hope this helps. Maybe you can incorporate some of what I'm doing and how I'm going about playing with a band (btw we play mostly jazz and blues).
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I'm inspired by the "can do" attitude in this thread. I've had my own challenges, but nothing I can relate directly to offering useful advice here other than using the left. I used to use a double pedal, purely for when my right leg misbehaved, but I could only use it for simple stuff to get me out of a hole in a gig if necessary. Good luck to all overcoming difficulties to keep playing, you really are inspirational!!!
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Cheers all, a few months ago I had my right leg amputated below the knee due to a long and drawn out battle with an infection. Anyway, I'm back on two feet as I now have a prosthetic leg, and I have no intention of giving up drumming.
Can we just talk for a second about what a freakin' BEAST you are!?! Wow! Can't wait to see how you progress. There are some good ideas already presented here that I can't add to.
 

toddmc

Gold Member
I appreciate each of you taking the time to respond. I'm right handed, so I don't know that switching to a left handed setup at my age would be very practical, and I am far from ambidextrous. I do have a double bass pedal on my kit, but I haven't had much success mastering the LH side. Maybe that's something I need to work on. I do like the cable-operated remote hihat idea though - I think I'll look into that. Thanks again, everyone.
Just a thought (if you really don't want to start playing the bass drum with your left foot) but maybe triggers can help?

There's plenty of products out there where you can place the trigger underneath the bass drum pedal (you don't even need a beater) so you don't need to generate much power at all in order to execute a stroke.
 

K Chez

Member
Don't count out developing your left foot. I built up my left foot without realizing it - when I'm in the car and listening to music and playing along, I obviously can't play the bass with my right foot as it's busy with driving duties, so I started tapping along with my left. After doing this for a while I was noticing that I was pretty much keeping up with the left foot, so I took it to the kit and started trying more challenging patterns. I was a little wonky at first, but it quickly got to the point that I could play about 90% of what I could with my right foot. The real test came a a gig - the spring on my right pedal broke in the second song and I had to play the rest of the show on the slave pedal and got through it. Was also cool that a couple of people noticed & questioned me about afterward.
I'd keep the right handed set up and just work on the left foot. And if you're considering a remote cable hi-hat set-up, for a plug, the best price I found was from E-Drum Center for the Pearl RH2050.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I have no personal experience to add, other than I know of several drummers who still gig despite having no legs.

It's possible.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
I'd try and develop the other foot as well. You could use the other one for the hats that doesn't require as much technique and fast doubles. Either way it's motivating that you are still trying and i wish you a fast recovery along with getting back to having excellent drumming skills
 

TK-421

Senior Member
First, congrats on keeping in there! Drums are too fun to give up on.

Now that's out of the way, I'd definitely try the left foot bass / right foot remote HH approach first. But if that doesn't work out, you could also try using a gong bass drum to the left of your HH. In this scenario, you'd use a standard HH stand (not one with a remote pedal), so you're controlling that with your left foot, while playing the bass drum patterns with your left hand. Your right hand would then play both the hi hats and snare backbeats. Since you said you have a double pedal, you could also play double-bass patterns by alternating hits with your left hand and left foot, while using your right hand to play the snare and ride (or your hi hats using a drop clutch).

That's just off the top of my head. I'm sure there are other alternative ideas you could come up with.
 

jornthedrummer

Silver Member
Try to set up your kit leftie, but with the ride on the snare side and see how it goes. Playing open handed gives lots of new options and could help with your foot issue.
Only you can be the judge of which foot masters the bass drum better going forward. So try a few things.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
Developing your left foot on the bass drum will take time... but it can be done. However, instead of reversing your feet on the pedals or investing in a remote hi-hat, why not try adding your left foot on the bass drum for trickier or faster patterns? That is, keep playing the simpler beats with your right foot and add your left foot when needed. For example, doubles may be difficult with one foot now, so play them with both feet. This may suitable workaround, or merely a means to do what you want to do until your left foot is developed enough to play the bass drum on its own. You mentioned you already have a double bass pedal, so this may be worth a try. Either way, kudos for hanging in there and not giving up!
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I am sorry for your troubles but my bet is once use to your prosthetic you'll be able to do about anything anyone else does. My mentor for MS degree lost his arm (old WWII explosive on Hawaii apparently) as a child and had a prosthetic arm. My initial reaction was this fella is "handicapped" so I'd naively offer to help. Heck there wasn't anything he couldn't do with it. I mean even intricate hand-eye coordination stuff I was learning from him about tissue culture and microsurgery on chick embryos harvesting fetal tissues. I think he played guitar to but I never heard him play. Now given he was probably in late 30s early 40s so a lifetime with it. I realized I had the mental handicap-he was fine.
 
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Chunkaway

Silver Member
Good luck on your journey. It sounds like you have a great attitude. Just as a heads up, the drummer for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, The Arcs, session drummer, etc.. Homer Steinweiss, has nerve damage (or something like that) which makes his right foot not function properly. He had to switch over to playing the bass drum with his left foot. The hats stay locked, I believe. Might want to read up on him a bit. Cheers!
 
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