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  #1  
Old 01-11-2019, 03:23 AM
RollTheBones RollTheBones is offline
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Default Is practicing heel-down worth it?

I play mostly rock music. Today, a friend told me that the drummer of his death metal band practices his speedy double kick stuff heel-down. We're talking 180 bpm and up. No heel-toe, just plain heel-down strokes. He said that it helped him with his heel-up, even though he uses thee swivel technique when he gets really fast.

Is there anyone who could corroborate this? I'm looking for all possible avenues to improve my foot control and speed, but I fear I'd just be wasting my time and burning my shins sitting there and playing heel-down when most of my playing is done heel-up.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:33 AM
Michael Covey Michael Covey is offline
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

Practicing Heel Down technique allows for much greater control. Heel Up technique allows for greater power and speed. The answer is really in how fast he practices, how often he practices, and the quality of his practice. If he practices every so often and just trying to keep that speed, then he may blow something or tear a tendon or whatever.
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:53 AM
cornelius cornelius is offline
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

Definitely practice heel down. It will give you another technique to broaden your playing, and strengthening those muscles required to play heel down, will help with heel up, too.

The key is to start slow and let the beater come off the head. It’s one of the best things to get under your belt for bass drum technique....
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:40 AM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

I think the main key for speed, hand or feet, is to play lighter and lighter the faster you go. A lot of people including me tend to play with more intensity when trying to play fast.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:22 PM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

I took a private lesson with Bernard Purdie awhile back, and he said I should play heel down almost exclusively because the majority of tempos didn't require heel-up and to help maintain my balance (I was leaning way to the left to keep my RF up), so why waste the energy?

Just sharing for a different opinion. Since then I mainly practice heel-down, though still on gigs I revert back to heel-up a lot. Now that being said I'm playing rock/funk/jazz, not speed metal. I still think there is benefit in heel-down to help build ankle strength.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:42 PM
Ajthundersticks Ajthundersticks is offline
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

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Originally Posted by Richard.Awesome View Post
I took a private lesson with Bernard Purdie awhile back, and he said I should play heel down almost exclusively because the majority of tempos didn't require heel-up and to help maintain my balance (I was leaning way to the left to keep my RF up), so why waste the energy?

Just sharing for a different opinion. Since then I mainly practice heel-down, though still on gigs I revert back to heel-up a lot. Now that being said I'm playing rock/funk/jazz, not speed metal. I still think there is benefit in heel-down to help build ankle strength.
A lesson with Bernard is the stuff dreams are made of! Is he as happy in person as he is in his videos?
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:41 PM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

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Originally Posted by Richard.Awesome View Post
I took a private lesson with Bernard Purdie awhile back, and he said I should play heel down almost exclusively because the majority of tempos didn't require heel-up
Especially all those Beatles songs :P
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:04 PM
brentcn brentcn is offline
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

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Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?
So. Much. Yes. Think about how football players practice ballet maneuvers in order to develop agility and control. Same idea here. You have no idea the finesse, control, and strength that will come from learning this technique. You will definitely feel and noticeable improvement in your heel-up playing.

For crazy strength building, you can even get some resistance work out bands, wrap them around the bottom of the beater and your ankle, and do "ankle presses" with each foot. This will of course fatigue the anterior tibialis muscle, and that's the point. It's especially helpful for your left foot, which does not have the time spent playing on it, that your right foot already does.
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Old 01-12-2019, 01:47 AM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

I have heard more than one top metal drummer say that you should work on heel down playing also , as it will Aid in heel up playing. I've been doing it a little bit lately myself but not long enough to see a difference. I've also been tapping my feet while the car is on cruise going down the highways. If I look at my Fitbit I can see that it raises my heart rate to the fat burn status so I think I'm doing some good. I think that is help me a little bit here lately
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Old 01-12-2019, 07:58 AM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

If you’re asking about fast double bass then the majority of your practice should be heel up.

Yeah, I know it’s not politically correct to say it but ask yourself how many modern fast double bass players actually play heel down? Is the answer none?

Bernard Purdie is one of the greatest drummers in the world but he’s not exactly a double bass beast. I wouldn’t ask George Kollias how to play a half time shuffle.

In working with Mike Mangini he stressed the ability to play isolated from the ankle in the heel up position Your nervous system has to be able to keep your heels off the floor while moving from the ankle. This requires ab and hip strength and a far greater level of coordination than heel up.
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Old 01-12-2019, 06:32 PM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

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Originally Posted by Jeff Almeyda View Post
If you’re asking about fast double bass then the majority of your practice should be heel up.

Yeah, I know it’s not politically correct to say it but ask yourself how many modern fast double bass players actually play heel down? Is the answer none?

Bernard Purdie is one of the greatest drummers in the world but he’s not exactly a double bass beast. I wouldn’t ask George Kollias how to play a half time shuffle.

In working with Mike Mangini he stressed the ability to play isolated from the ankle in the heel up position Your nervous system has to be able to keep your heels off the floor while moving from the ankle. This requires ab and hip strength and a far greater level of coordination than heel up.
Jeff- Did you mean heel down? Also, did you mean Bernard P plays heel up or down? I can't tell watching him on some videos, it seems he does both.
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Old 01-12-2019, 08:30 PM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

Heel up for power heel down for control...

I'd rather be excellent at 1, than just OK at both. that being said practice is practice... If you have a ton of time it isn't going to hurt anything.. I tend to switch depending on what I am playing, but i'd say no to it being a must.
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  #13  
Old 01-13-2019, 03:00 AM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

I have no use whatsoever for heel down playing, however heel down practice is beneficial. You want your footwork to feel as natural and second nature as possible, and practicing heel down contributes to pedal control whether or not you ever actually play heel down.

Last edited by bud7h4; 01-14-2019 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 01-14-2019, 07:18 AM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

Considering how many quieter gigs I play these days (musical theater and the like), I really should practice heel-down more, because its much more useful in certain contexts than others.
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Old 01-16-2019, 12:56 AM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ajthundersticks View Post
A lesson with Bernard is the stuff dreams are made of! Is he as happy in person as he is in his videos?
Yes definitely happy, but he was focused on listening and critiquing which was what I needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Almeyda View Post

Bernard Purdie is one of the greatest drummers in the world but he’s not exactly a double bass beast. I wouldn’t ask George Kollias how to play a half time shuffle.
I know, I was just putting it out there for the in general technique, not specific to metal.

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Originally Posted by newoldie View Post
Jeff- Did you mean heel down? Also, did you mean Bernard P plays heel up or down? I can't tell watching him on some videos, it seems he does both.
That was referencing what I said, which is basically Bernard plays heel down mostly, unless at higher tempos when he'll switch to heel up. I think it's valuable to learn both for that reason, but I focus on the heel down personally because I don't play much "fast" music.
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Old 01-16-2019, 03:59 AM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

I am unabashedly a leg lifting, stomping, beater burying heel up player. So with this thread in mind I tried to focus on playing heel down at practice this past weekend... and I couldn't even make it through a verse without my foot sliding up the footboard and into the chain, and having to slide it back. What's up with that?
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Old 01-16-2019, 06:06 AM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

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Originally Posted by Mustion View Post
I am unabashedly a leg lifting, stomping, beater burying heel up player. So with this thread in mind I tried to focus on playing heel down at practice this past weekend... and I couldn't even make it through a verse without my foot sliding up the footboard and into the chain, and having to slide it back. What's up with that?
IME you have to first start practicing heel down for a while at a slow tempo, on your own, before trying it on a gig.
It takes a while to get used to, especially, not burying the beater - but it will really give you strength and control...
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Old 01-16-2019, 11:26 AM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

I play both, with no problems, although heel-up mostly. If we're doing a 12/8 soul ballad, where the bass drum should not overpower the song, it'll be heel-down. If it's a funk tune, it'll be heel-up. So I'd say, if you need to play heel-down, for quieter gigs or songs, then it's a good technique to learn. I personally wouldn't used it for faster, louder applications. But I am comfortable with both.
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  #19  
Old 01-16-2019, 11:30 AM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

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Originally Posted by Richard.Awesome View Post
I took a private lesson with Bernard Purdie awhile back, and he said I should play heel down almost exclusively because the majority of tempos didn't require heel-up and to help maintain my balance (I was leaning way to the left to keep my RF up), so why waste the energy?

Just sharing for a different opinion. Since then I mainly practice heel-down, though still on gigs I revert back to heel-up a lot. Now that being said I'm playing rock/funk/jazz, not speed metal. I still think there is benefit in heel-down to help build ankle strength.
I know a guy via twitter who had lessons with Purdie and was told his bass-drum playing was too loud, and he's not a loud player. In fact, he worries that he plays too quietly.
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Old 01-16-2019, 02:30 PM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

Why not practice both-as practicing different grips, etc.? Seems anything you add to your tool box could come in handy. Then too how can you find what works for you personally if you don't try it-like traditional vs matched, heel down or up, etc. Personally I think heel up or down is a personal choice (since I've seen pros in every genre use both) and I don't see the limitations that heel up "power and loud" as advocated (except for you personally). I'm pretty sure heel up or down I can still generate enough force to plow through the batter head pretty easily (which I use to do quite often while younger dealing with a sensory feedback issue I had-I was crushing everything).
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Old 01-16-2019, 03:27 PM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mustion View Post
I am unabashedly a leg lifting, stomping, beater burying heel up player. So with this thread in mind I tried to focus on playing heel down at practice this past weekend... and I couldn't even make it through a verse without my foot sliding up the footboard and into the chain, and having to slide it back. What's up with that?
Heel down functions better if your ankles are more in front of your knees than under. It allows your ankle to act like a hinge. Just for fun, move your seat back a bit and try it again. Once it becomes comfortable its pretty easy.
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Old 01-16-2019, 04:30 PM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

This thread motivated me to try playing heels-down, but I found myself in the same boat as Mustion - my feet kept slipping up the footboard into the chain. I'm guessing it's about developing the muscles to keep the foot in place, much like playing heels-up on double bass requires developing the muscles to keep your balance.

But I'm curious as to the actual technique. When playing heels-down, do the balls of the feet/toes come off the pedal towards the top of the upstroke and the beginning of the down stroke? Or do the balls of the feet/toes stay on the pedals throughout the entire stroke?

Wouldn't mind knowing the proper technique before I develop any bad habits.
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Old 01-16-2019, 05:14 PM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

Colin Bailey makes heel down look so easy. Great exercises. Near the end he does an exercise both heel up then down with the same ease.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69olcGVx9SM
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Old 01-16-2019, 06:15 PM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

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Originally Posted by beatdat View Post
This thread motivated me to try playing heels-down, but I found myself in the same boat as Mustion - my feet kept slipping up the footboard into the chain. I'm guessing it's about developing the muscles to keep the foot in place, much like playing heels-up on double bass requires developing the muscles to keep your balance.

But I'm curious as to the actual technique. When playing heels-down, do the balls of the feet/toes come off the pedal towards the top of the upstroke and the beginning of the down stroke? Or do the balls of the feet/toes stay on the pedals throughout the entire stroke?

Wouldn't mind knowing the proper technique before I develop any bad habits.
Others might vary in how they do it. For me, and I play mostly heel up, when playing heel down my foot remains on the pedal. I do slide it forward slightly to allow my ankles a more comfortable movement. It's almost like a rocking motion with my heel being the fulcrum. When I switch back to heel up, my toes are in the middle of the footboard and my heels off the pedal. This puts my ankles back under my knees and my toes on the sweet spot for the most useful rebound. My seating position never changes.

You can feel the effects of moving the foot forward slightly by sitting in a chair and trying both techniques. It's harder to pick the heel up if it is out too far, and it is harder to lift the toes if the foot is too close.
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Old 01-16-2019, 07:01 PM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

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Originally Posted by MrInsanePolack View Post
When I switch back to heel up, my toes are in the middle of the footboard
Not to go too OT, but in all my drumming years I never knew this was the optimal spot to play for power until I played alongside a drummer with a very loud foot and observed this in him. Now I have to un-do many years of habitually playing all the way up on the footboard (so far up, that I couldn't ever play a pedal with a toe stop installed)...
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Old 01-16-2019, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by MrInsanePolack View Post
For me, and I play mostly heel up, when playing heel down my foot remains on the pedal. I do slide it forward slightly to allow my ankles a more comfortable movement. It's almost like a rocking motion with my heel being the fulcrum.
Thanks for that, I'll try it next time I give it a go.

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Originally Posted by Mustion View Post
Not to go too OT, but in all my drumming years I never knew this was the optimal spot to play for power until I played alongside a drummer with a very loud foot and observed this in him. Now I have to un-do many years of habitually playing all the way up on the footboard (so far up, that I couldn't ever play a pedal with a toe stop installed)...
I don't think that should be too difficult to do. When playing heels-up, playing lower on the footboard is where the sweet spot is for power, speed and rebound, so I think you should be able to adapt fairly quickly as the pedal will be doing more of the work for you.

Another question, does spring tension matter? My springs are somewhat loose, which is fine for heels-up playing, but I'm noticing some unwanted dribbling when playing heels-down. Is that due to my undeveloped technique or should I adjust tighten the springs? I don't think it will affect my heels-up playing too much if I have to tighten the spring for heels-down playing.

And how about burying the beater for heels-down? I don't bury it when playing heels-up, but I'm wondering which is the best method for heels-down playing.
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Old 01-16-2019, 07:37 PM
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I don't think that should be too difficult to do. When playing heels-up, playing lower on the footboard is where the sweet spot is for power, speed and rebound, so I think you should be able to adapt fairly quickly as the pedal will be doing more of the work for you.
I think the main thing will be getting used to the reduced range of motion in each pedal stroke. I guess I could raise the angle of the footboard but I wonder if that would defeat the purpose?
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Old 01-16-2019, 08:30 PM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

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Originally Posted by beatdat View Post

Another question, does spring tension matter? My springs are somewhat loose, which is fine for heels-up playing, but I'm noticing some unwanted dribbling when playing heels-down. Is that due to my undeveloped technique or should I adjust tighten the springs? I don't think it will affect my heels-up playing too much if I have to tighten the spring for heels-down playing.

And how about burying the beater for heels-down? I don't bury it when playing heels-up, but I'm wondering which is the best method for heels-down playing.
Yes, the dribbling is due to your undeveloped technique. Do not bury the beater, unless doing so is a musical choice, and not an excuse for crap technique. The dribbling will go away as your muscles gain strength and flexibility.

Try this: remove the spring from the cam, and try to dribble the beater without the aid of the spring. You'll have to lift your foot up very quickly after the beater has struck the head, to allow the beater to bounce back.

I'm surprised at how many here are NOT recommending that you develop the heel-down technique. It's fairly intuitive that developing your ankle this way will have positive benefits for your heel-up playing, and your overall bass drum technique.
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Old 01-16-2019, 08:37 PM
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Yes, the dribbling is due to your undeveloped technique. Do not bury the beater, unless doing so is a musical choice, and not an excuse for crap technique. The dribbling will go away as your muscles gain strength and flexibility.

Try this: remove the spring from the cam, and try to dribble the beater without the aid of the spring. You'll have to lift your foot up very quickly after the beater has struck the head, to allow the beater to bounce back.
Thanks. That's what I thought. I'll work on it and see how it goes.

I don't bury the beater while playing heels-up, so it's good to know that I shouldn't while playing heels-down.

Is that a typo, or should I try to dribble the beater without the aid of a spring? I'm a little confused with this last suggestion.
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Old 01-16-2019, 10:02 PM
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Thanks. That's what I thought. I'll work on it and see how it goes.

I don't bury the beater while playing heels-up, so it's good to know that I shouldn't while playing heels-down.

Is that a typo, or should I try to dribble the beater without the aid of a spring? I'm a little confused with this last suggestion.
Yes. If you remove the spring, you have to allow the rebound to return the pedal. If you don't, it won't come back. This will help you get used to returning your foot for the next stroke.
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Old 01-18-2019, 06:47 PM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

Those who always bury the beater play heel up, many others, too.

For those who generally don't bury the beater I think most do both, but it depends on the tyle.

Starting out it's probably good to do both just to get certain muscles working.

Heel up isn't one technique, though. There are a lot of different techniques that are done heel up. What they do have in common is that training a bit heel down will develop some muscles that will help you play heel up better.

What you do as you go on depends a lot on you, your style, your setup etc...

Vinnie, Jeff and Todd Sucherman all play(ed) heel up and bury the beater. Vinnie learned to bounce when playing softer. He's a more versatile player.

Weckl plays heel up, but it's sort of heel down technique. His placement and tension on the pedal is simply such that he keeps his heel up.

As mentioned Bernard is a heel down player, I think Gadd is mostly, too.

Personally, I play barefoot and thinking about it almost everything I do is based on a sort of heel-toe/constant release type of motion combined with whole leg. I've certainly worked a lot on all sorts of things before ending up there, though. On the practice kit I play more heel down as the pedals I use there lend themselves more to that. To me that's sort of a good thing to keep a bit of variation for my feet and don't be copletely dependent on what I use on my kit.

There are essentially 3 types of motion you should develop and those are the same that people show on videoes everywhere using no pedal. Just like with the hands, there are different gears and after developing everything for a while you naturally make a choice of what works for you. You have a lot of shin burning ahead of you before making those choices.
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Last edited by Odd-Arne Oseberg; 01-18-2019 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 01-18-2019, 10:25 PM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

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I've also been tapping my feet while the car is on cruise going down the highways.
I was about to say something similar: I "play" heel down all day long, just not when I'm behind my drums..!
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Old 01-19-2019, 12:05 AM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

Heel down is for Jazz and Bossa mainly, will allow you to play SOFT (easier) and fast. But if you want to play EVEN middle strong you´ll hurt your foot (for the record I play heel down because I only play those styles profesionaly).

Don´t say I didn´t prevent you!

Last edited by Alex Sanguinetti; 01-31-2019 at 03:38 PM.
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Old 01-19-2019, 10:29 AM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

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Originally Posted by RollTheBones View Post
I play mostly rock music. Today, a friend told me that the drummer of his death metal band practices his speedy double kick stuff heel-down. We're talking 180 bpm and up. No heel-toe, just plain heel-down strokes. He said that it helped him with his heel-up, even though he uses thee swivel technique when he gets really fast.

Is there anyone who could corroborate this? I'm looking for all possible avenues to improve my foot control and speed, but I fear I'd just be wasting my time and burning my shins sitting there and playing heel-down when most of my playing is done heel-up.
I use heel up for double kick, however for dynamics purposes I LOVE to use heel down. There's a different world to that, different control. That's what I lve about it... Especially when the venue is smaller, heel down can make a world of a difference.
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Old 01-21-2019, 01:37 AM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

I've recently started doing kick exercises heel-down, and I have seen improvement.

I do warmups from Stick Control all heel down, then re-do them all heel up.
It's awesome!
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  #36  
Old 01-21-2019, 02:41 AM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

I'm the exact opposite and should post: "Is practicing heel-up worth it?"

I've played heel down on the Bass Drum since learning and over the last few years have made an effort to try and use heel up, which was a real challenge due to the lower back muscle issues I've had.

I don't wear out using heel down, having used it over the years- and prefer it as the technique for my music played- blues, surf instrumentals, some rock and funk.

I've learned to incorporate heel up for louder strokes, but use heel down 85% of the time for control and dynamics finesse reasons. Hi hat is almost 90% heel down.
While I would like to learn heel up better, and I continue to try with practice, it's a bit of a learning curve that is difficult for me and I probably would need an excellent teacher, 1 on 1 to watch my technique and guide through the steps of progression. Those YouTube videos don't help at all, even JoJo's video was marginally helpful. Financially 1 on 1 instruction isn't happening for now, so I continue on, still using Collin Bailey's Bass Drum control book to keep the coordination improving. If you watch CB's video from this book, his speed is incredible using heel down.

Anyone else ready to start the reverse post: "Is practicing heel-up worth it?" :)
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Old 01-21-2019, 03:11 AM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

Practicing?

.
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Old 01-21-2019, 10:47 PM
LikeToPlay LikeToPlay is offline
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

Musicians are akin to athletes. Drummers, singers, and wind players are more so than others. Time and repeated abuse take their toll on our bodies. Playing heal down is not the epitome of technique and power that we strive for, but in the end it may be what we are left with. So is learning that a waste of time? Probably more of an eventuality. Play with all of the power and control that you can for as long as you can. I can get a good bass drum and snare sound using merely the touch of a finger with some of the electronic toys available today. It takes almost no effort at all, yet i keep breaking a sweat playing with sticks and stomping on pedals. Our mind is the instrument. Our bodies are just a means of conveyance. If you need to play with less effort just to be able to do it then i say yes. If effort is the thing you're avoiding, well they have machines for that now.
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  #39  
Old 01-30-2019, 04:46 PM
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

I've been practicing playing heels-down since I last posted, and I'm still having some trouble with my feet sliding up the footboard; it's not as bad as it was, but it's still noticeable.

So, I have two questions:

First, where exactly should my heels be when I play heels-down? Should my heels be firmly planted on the heel-plates (I have a TAMA Speed Cobra double pedal)? Or should my feet be entirely on the footboards with my heels just above the hinge that separates the footboard from the heel-plate?

(I notice that, if I play with my feet entirely on the footboards, I have less of an issue with them sliding up the footboards, but they still slide up a bit, sometimes close to the chain.)

Second, because of my feet sliding up the footboards, I'm thinking of getting some toe-stoppers for the pedal. But, I'm wondering, will doing so detract from any of the benefits of playing heels-down (eg. less muscle development, less control, less speed, etc.)? Any thoughts?
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Old 01-31-2019, 01:32 AM
cornelius cornelius is offline
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Default Re: Is practicing heel-down worth it?

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Originally Posted by beatdat View Post
I've been practicing playing heels-down since I last posted, and I'm still having some trouble with my feet sliding up the footboard; it's not as bad as it was, but it's still noticeable.

So, I have two questions:

First, where exactly should my heels be when I play heels-down? Should my heels be firmly planted on the heel-plates (I have a TAMA Speed Cobra double pedal)? Or should my feet be entirely on the footboards with my heels just above the hinge that separates the footboard from the heel-plate?

(I notice that, if I play with my feet entirely on the footboards, I have less of an issue with them sliding up the footboards, but they still slide up a bit, sometimes close to the chain.)

Second, because of my feet sliding up the footboards, I'm thinking of getting some toe-stoppers for the pedal. But, I'm wondering, will doing so detract from any of the benefits of playing heels-down (eg. less muscle development, less control, less speed, etc.)? Any thoughts?
Are you letting the beater come off of the head? That should really help. An exercise that you can do anywhere sitting down, is play some different rhythms with your feet on the floor. Pretend you’re playing heel down on a double pedal and let your feet come off of the ground each time, while still keeping your heels on the ground. Try the first page of Stick Control...
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