Can't play "heel up" on Bass and Hi-Hat

Dignan

Silver Member
For many years I was a heel down bass drum player. I've recently made some adjustments to my posture, throne height and bass drum pedal technique. Now I'm trying to play heel up more. The problem is that when I try to get the bass and hi-hat going at the same time, I have balance issues.

Do most people play the bass and hi-hat pedals heel up at the same time? I feel like I need one heel down to get good balance and to stabilize myself to be able to lay into the other pedal efficiently. Usually this means I keep my right (bass) heel up and my left (hi-hat) heel down. Am I doing something wrong? Do I need to learn how to play both left and right heel up? What does everyone else do?
 

Toolate

Platinum Member
I think you will find that everyone else is doing some odd mix of whatever they feel like oing and what sounds/feels best to them.

I play heel up on my kick and down on hats too for balance with thighs going stilghtly downhill from hip to knee. There is no right or wrong.

It did take me about 6 months to get comfortable with one heel up.
 

Arky

Platinum Member
You need to find a good balance on the throne - this seems the primary issue to me. Your foot technique (provided it's correct/'working') doesn't matter - rather, shouldn't matter (heel up needs better balance than heel down though). With a good sitting position on the throne (having good core muscles can't hurt) you should be able to do anything you want/need. Sometimes you have to use both feet (hihat vs. bass pedal) at the same time - maybe even continuous notes. Continue to experiment with where you're exactly sitting on the throne (more towards the edge, or more full on) until you find a position which is comfy to play both feet at the same time while freezing your upper body. Start extremely slow if necessary. Try playing quarter notes with both feet at the same time. You should find a position which allows to do so. But it might take a while until you get there.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Arky's right, you need to find good balance on the throne when you play heel-up as you don't have the same grounding anchor as with playing heel-down, here's a tip, place both feet on the pedals, heel-up, and lift the legs so slightly to ensure there's no pressure on the pedals, you should be able to stay seated with a straight back (don't use your hands), if you have to lean forward or backward to retain your balance, you're likely to adjust your throne up or down, the distance from the pedals is also crucial, if you sit too near or too far it will affect your balance.

And last but not least, also ensure you have a comfortable setting on the pedals, normally you never "release" the pedals, your feet keeps contact with the pedals at all times, it should be enough to keep your balance, and finally, especially for the bass drum pedal, when you don't play a note, even for half a second, rest your foot/feet in the "neutral" position, ie: heel down, not only it gives you a better balance, but it helps relaxing those important muscles.

I've done a thread on pedal settings, you may have a look, you might find something useful to help you http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=93800

Good luck and happy drumming.
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
for me......I need to have both either heel up or heel down ....I'm about 90% heel up player...

I felt a lot better about this when I was told by Dave Weckl while studying with him that he feels exactly the same way and that it contributes to his overall balance to have his feet matched

that being said ...I dont think your feet have a whole lot to do with your balance at the kit.

to me it has everything to do with weight distribution

your balance should be in your core and lifting your feet ...or doing anything with your feet for that matter should not affect your balance at all

your balance needs to rest in your abdomen and backside

you should be able to lift both feet and run in the air while sitting at your throne and it should have no affect on your balance

set your balance in your core and all these balance issues will desolve
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
A lot of drummers play heel up. I don't understand the issue. You can't be built that much different, can you? If you get off balance, your body involuntarily corrects itself. I mean you don't see drummers wearing backpacks with rocks in them. WADR, if they can do it, why can't you?

I'm not trying to be rude, I'm just trying to understand. I'm sitting in a chair right now and both feet are off the floor with no problems. I don't quite understand what is happening with you.

Do you gravitate forward when lifting your heel up? Please elaborate in detail if you could.

A video would be really helpful. Maybe it's core muscle development?
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
A lot of drummers play heel up. I don't understand the issue. You can't be built that much different, can you? If you get off balance, your body involuntarily corrects itself. I mean you don't see drummers wearing backpacks with rocks in them. WADR, if they can do it, why can't you?

I'm not trying to be rude, I'm just trying to understand. I'm sitting in a chair right now and both feet are off the floor with no problems. I don't quite understand what is happening with you.

Do you gravitate forward when lifting your heel up? Please elaborate in detail if you could.

A video would be really helpful. Maybe it's core muscle development?
these are my thoughts exactly

there is no way I would have been able to express my thoughts without sounding like a dick though......

thanks for channelling my thoughts Lar..

:)
 

Dignan

Silver Member
Thanks for everyone's advice. I may try moving farther forward or backward on the throne to see how that helps. Or maybe my left foot isn't keeping contact with the hi-hat pedal and that's why I feel like I'm getting off balance. Arky, I'll try your idea of playing matched quarters on both pedals and see what feels off.

To Gvdadrummasum and Larryace,

Not sure how else to describe it. If I try to play heel up on both sides, I feel like I'm correcting a slight forward and to the left lean when playing the bass pedal. Maybe I'm playing too hard on the bass and that's what's causing it. I guess what I am getting at is that I've heard that heel-up is better to develop good habits and I'm trying to do that but having difficulty keeping time with both left and right heel-up. I'll just keep practicing.
 

Duracell

Senior Member
A lot of drummers play heel up. I don't understand the issue. You can't be built that much different, can you? If you get off balance, your body involuntarily corrects itself. I mean you don't see drummers wearing backpacks with rocks in them. WADR, if they can do it, why can't you?

I'm not trying to be rude, I'm just trying to understand. I'm sitting in a chair right now and both feet are off the floor with no problems. I don't quite understand what is happening with you.

Do you gravitate forward when lifting your heel up? Please elaborate in detail if you could.

A video would be really helpful. Maybe it's core muscle development?
Just to answer the why part of your question. If you're used to playing heel down the whole time you tend to ground yourself on your feet (often the heels). When playing double heel up the whole foot leaves the pedal and you start making very short little hops. It's at this point you need to learn how to ground yourself with your core body (balancing on throne) and not your feet or else you just fly back.
 

nfreebs

Junior Member
Arky's right, you need to find good balance on the throne when you play heel-up as you don't have the same grounding anchor as with playing heel-down, here's a tip, place both feet on the pedals, heel-up, and lift the legs so slightly to ensure there's no pressure on the pedals, you should be able to stay seated with a straight back (don't use your hands), if you have to lean forward or backward to retain your balance, you're likely to adjust your throne up or down, the distance from the pedals is also crucial, if you sit too near or too far it will affect your balance.

And last but not least, also ensure you have a comfortable setting on the pedals, normally you never "release" the pedals, your feet keeps contact with the pedals at all times, it should be enough to keep your balance, and finally, especially for the bass drum pedal, when you don't play a note, even for half a second, rest your foot/feet in the "neutral" position, ie: heel down, not only it gives you a better balance, but it helps relaxing those important muscles.

I've done a thread on pedal settings, you may have a look, you might find something useful to help you http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=93800

Good luck and happy drumming.

***********Some awesome advice
 

Alex Sanguinetti

Silver Member
Heel up and Down, have different sound, technique, coordination, etc. In general you are required to do both according to what you need to play at a certain moment. Each technique favors different aspects of the playing, like is not the same just with arms or with fingers alone, with one you can be louder easier, with the other you can be faster easier...

Same with feet...
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
If there is an issue there's a good chance any experienced teacher will see the issue right away.

I personally don't have any issue with either or mixing. It's not something I think about anymore.

Obviously, there's a lot of practicing and conditioning that has to happen when doing something new.

I like to have to options of dynamics and feel available to me, but there are plenty of players who have a very narrow set of techniques, it depends on you needs, what music you play.

Core and balance will factor in when playing heel up, but at the same time, but there's more Do you bury the beater, or not?

You may wanna do some simple things like playng unison quarters on BD and hats and then quarters on one and 8ths on the other. Nothing revolutionary, but it might give you some information for self analysis.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
It takes practice and core strength. Doing core exercises helps alot. Try things like hovering your feet flat above the floor an inch for a few minutes and see how you do. If you sit on the edge or too high you will want to lean forward. Sit a bit further back on the throne, maybe sit a tad lower even. It takes a good amount of time to get the independence down with it.
 

rebonn

Senior Member
I guess some play heel up or down only and I use to play almost exclusively heel up but now it's a combination of both, even on the same song I'll switch back and fourth to what ever feels best at the time. I try to not bury the beater though as I wouldn't do that with sticks on a drum other than faster double pedal stuff. When I do play heel up, it's only slightly up. In other words, I've gone from heel up pretty high to heel down and slightly up.
The hi hat is completely different. Normally my whole leg is jumping up and down with heel up but when I'm doing some funky hi hat work it's heel down.
 
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