Sudden onset of difficulty playing double pedal. Please help, losing my mind!

theholyroller

New member
I've been lurking for a while around here reading other posts from people who seem to have had similar experiences, which is that I've had a sudden onset of trouble playing double bass pedal. I've been rehearsing on my own most days of the week for the last couple of months preparing to play on a long-distance studio recording for a death metal band from another state. Things were going really well and I was in a good place with all of the songs, many of which have extended double pedal parts, nothing crazy, probably the faster end of mid-paced tempo-wise (170 bpm max). My playing was really solid and I was able to pull of all of the double bass parts. And then, suddenly, in the last couple weeks I've begun to struggle with almost all of the quicker double bass parts. I've never experienced this in my years of playing double bass, and playing these sort of parts was never a problem until now. It feels like something changed either in the physics of my body or in the pedal, which are Tama Speed Cobras I've played for 6 or 7 years. I've tinkered with the various settings but nothing has helped. I'm considering getting new springs, mine are the original ones, many years old. It somewhat feels like the right pedal doesn't return as fast as I need it to to match my foot motion, which leads me to believe the spring could be a culprit. I've had them on max tension for all these years, but I also doubt the answer is that simple.

As best I can describe, the feeling is that I now keep having to play my right pedal with my toes and can't get hits to feel right playing on the balls of my feet like I always have. I also can't get double pedal rolls started mid-song which was no problem literally a month ago. Like, the first hit isn't where I think it is when I go to start the roll, and it throws off the groove needed to start the roll. I don't know if I've lost my groove, over-practiced, am psyching myself out, or what, but it literally feels different when I go to play my pedals, and something feels very off which I can't really identify. It's driving me crazy. I've read all the other threads and practicing more isn't doing it, and I'm not sure that's the problem either.

Any input would be appreciated.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
First, you are psyching yourself out. Stop thinking you can't do it now if you can, your brain is getting in the way.

Now that that's been said, your body might be trying to get you to adopt a new technique as you get faster. I went through the same thing years ago as my foot speed increased. I've noticed that at a certain point my legs move less and the ankles start taking over. You might just be at that point.

Take a few days off, stop thinking about it. Give yourself something else to focus on for a bit then go back and revisit it.
 

SYMBOLIC DEATH

Senior Member
Sounds like you are over worked, and over focusing on it. Take some time off away from drums, or just work on/play other things. Then go back to it. Sometimes we're our own worst enemy.
 

benthedrum

Senior Member
It's a funny old thing this phenomenon isn't it?

With practice and patience, we STILL can go backwards with concepts that we once seemed to have a strong command with.

If you were to draw a graph of a musicians growth over the years, it wouldn't be a gradual increasing trend.

Rather it would be up, down, flat, backwards etc etc.

Two examples that I have experienced are Wipeout by the Surfaris and the fills in La Grange by ZZ Top.

At one point I had them nailed. But over time they got worse and worse.

One thing I did.......and it was painfully painful, was to slow everything down to a crawl. I started all concepts at 40bpm and used the tempo trainer on my metronome to increase speed up to whatever my target speed was, then slow it back down to 40bpm......then rinse and repeat.

My target speed was relatively slow up to normal speed that the concept is played at in the original recording.

I find that helped me. It's like a new idea for an old concept.
 

JosephDAqui

Silver Member
Total agree with MrInsanePolack on all points but I'd like to add this:

I play Speed Cobras as well but not maxed out and last month I hit the same wall you did, here's what I did and now I'm faster, I actually start my warm-ups at 165-170 (no heel-toe or anything, just legs):

1) Stopped eating heavy carbs after 6:00 PM - I know it sounds nuts but I compared my performance the next day with one night of fries or pasta and another night of veggies (with meat of course) and it made a difference - I play in the mornings BTW but it also applied at night. Basically I eat anything I want (cookies, cakes and etc) but at dinner, it's just meat and veggies.

2) I increased spring tension by one turn - obviously you can't do that but if you're using the cobra coil, move it up for max rebound and loosen the tension of the spring slightly, it's worth a try.

3) make sure your seat did not slip even slightly in height, or try raising a little.

4) Check the distance between the tripod of your throne to the start of your pedals - try having exactly one of your feet as a measurement as the distance, this should ensure that your leg/calf consistently are pushing your foot on the sweet spot of the pedal. It should be relaxed motion.

5) FINALLY - most important: do not think about what your doing, just let your feet do their thing and stay out of your own way. Let your mind wander to things you have to do during the day and etc. or stay completely focused on your calves - if you feel them lock up try runner stretching exercises.

Hope some of this helps.
 

TMe

Senior Member
...your body might be trying to get you to adopt a new technique as you get faster.
...slow everything down to a crawl... It's like a new idea for an old concept.
If you can identify exactly what the new technique is, then slow it down and gradually bring the tempo back up, that might help.

With anything involving rebound, sometimes it helps to see how slowly someone can play it, using the same technique used when playing quickly. For example, how slowly can someone play a buzz roll or rebounded double stroke roll smoothly? How slowly can they use the slide technique to play doubles on a bass pedal? Playing slowly forces us to pay attention to the mechanics of what we're doing.
 
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beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
Happens to all of us. Slow it down, use a metronome.

I find if I am working on something specific for a long period of time this happens to me. I'll actually start practicing something TOTALLY different for a week or 2 if needed and come back to it. I am often faster and better than before I took the break. Mental fatigue or body needing a break are pretto common too.

also 170-190 is the weird area. Under that it's a lot of leg. Faster is mostly ankle. that is the middle hybrid area.. It could be possible you are just playing 5-10 bpm faster than before and it's tough. practice with a click all the time. ALL THE TIME. that way after jam you can go set the metronome, and confirm you still know how to play.

head tension is a big thing for feel when I am playing fast kick. they do loosen and stretch over time changing the feel but it's gradual usually.

I had something similar happen recently and noticed that one of the lugs snapped on my bassdrum. I thought my playing had gone to crap. Replaced the lug and it didn't help. It was a nice excuse for a few weeks waiting for the part though hahaha.
 

Freewill3

Member
I'll agree with others have mentioned above, there are many factors involved. It's real easy to freak yourself and we've all been there. If your pedal settings haven't changed very much, evaluate your bass drum heads. I was going through something similar recently - one day I'm flying (single bass) no problem, then a couple days later it seemed like I couldn't get any speed or dexterity out of my foot. After tweaking the pedal, I then started to adjust the head tension, both batter and resonant. Sure enough I found the right tension and it's been great. There's also throne height. It's amazing how one or two rotations, up or down can make such a difference. That's the beauty/frustration with drumming, it's constant state of evaluation and adjustment.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
Very true. SMALL adjustments make a huge difference. remember where you started, i write stuff down, or adjust it back if it makes no difference and try something else. Sometimes it's a combination. lucky for me I have been playing a long time and know my gear pretty good so even when it's out of wack I can get it in the realm of where it needs to be.
 

bud7h4

Silver Member
Sounds to me like you have the experience to play what you want to play, but lack the muscle memory to pull it off every time.
This was my experience for several years - playing just fine for a couple weeks and then suddenly losing the "feel". I tried everything, pedal adjustments, several different pedals, seat position. Finally what it took was committing to a structured practice routine for a few weeks. Mostly George Kollias' exercises.

I'm considering getting new springs, mine are the original ones, many years old.
Definitely do this. Those are too old.

I also can't get double pedal rolls started mid-song which was no problem literally a month ago.
I struggled with this more than anything.
My solution (thank you George K.) was alternating between 8th notes, 8th note triplets,, 16th notes, and 16th triplets.

 
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