Bass drum pedal(s) setting : The “effortless” method.
There’s so many threads asking about this topic, with questions like “how to set my bass drum pedal”, or “I can’t play such or such pattern” and “how can I play fast 16th notes”. It can also be helpful for those of you who are adjusting the pedal every other day because it's never right, lol.
It gave me the incentive for this thread, it’s not a secret recipe and it won’t make your pedal technique suddenly explose magically, going through the practice and developing good feet technique is still the key to success, but having a “setting” which allows you to bring out the best of your pedal(s) certainly plays a major role.
In the beginning, I didn’t care that much about pedal settings, I just played the dang thing, gluin’ it deeply into the batter head, but after a few years I wanted much more from my pedal(s) and I developed this “effortless” method over the years, and to this day, it never failed me. It is applicable with whatever feet technique you're using, for the record, I play heel-up and exclusively using the rebound, I stopped burying the beater into the head years ago.
There’s many factors which influence the perception of a perfect setting of a pedal, it’s not just your body, feet and the pedal, size of the BD, type of heads, tuning, ported or non ported reso heads, muffling devices inside the BD, no muffling, etc, all add to the sensation of a given “setting” and feel, it should be taken into consideration when you adjust your pedal(s).
To carry out the “effortless” setting of your pedal, you’ll need the following:
- a metronome or click track.
- a CD to play along a few songs you know inside out, preferably with some various bass drum patterns and dynamic levels.
Most of today’s pedals come with an array of adjusting features, so the first step is to check the pedal’s feel straight out the box, without making any adjustments. Play it alone a few minutes, then play it with the metronome, at various tempo, playing different patterns and dynamics, the key is to be on time “effortlessly” with the metronome, whatever the pattern and dynamic level you play, it has to feel “naturally” on time, if you have to adjust your playing, even so slightly, to be on time, then the setting need adjusting, it is that simple.
What’s not simple is to find the “perfect” adjustments:
- footboard angle, check
- beater angle, check
- beater height, check
- beater weight, check
- beater type, check
- spring tension, check
- batter head tuning, check (this delicate phase shouldn't be at the expense of a good BD sound, and vice-versa)
- seating height, check
- distance from the pedal, check
- fulcrum point (sweet spot) of the pedal, check (important for a new pedal, for exemple)
Then, once you adjusted everything, you check again with the metronome, it has to be naturally and effortlessly with the click (set your metronome for 16th notes pulse), if you hear the click, you’re not in time, define if you’re rushing or dragging, and correct your adjustement accordingly. Once you’re fine with the metronome, play the songs from your CD’s, it should be an easy experience.
This simple method enable you to set the pedal “perfectly” and forget about it, you can then concentrate on the playing, and if you feel the need for a change some months later, or when you use a new pedal and/or a new bass drum, you just apply this “effortless” method, and you’re up and running in no time.
NB, this can be applied equally to the hi-hat pedal.
Hope this helps.
If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask…
Keep On Drumming