Good enough to get through a gig

Keefaz

Junior Member
I'm new to drums, but I've played guitar and bass in bands for over 20 years. I volunteered to drum for a friend as they've been unable to find anyone reliable. I'm reliable... but obviously I'm not very good.

We've our first gig in two months. I know the songs, and am keeping everything as simple as possible until I learn the instrument and improve technique. The one thing holding me back, that would be glaringly obvious if you saw us, is my kick drum technique.

I've been playing heel down, like most beginners as far as I can tell. But speed is the problem: the songs are simple but fast and I can't keep up.

My question is this: should I persevere heel down for the time being, or try to make the switch to heel up? I feel like I'm caught between two stools and time is running out...
 

Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
I'm new to drums, but I've played guitar and bass in bands for over 20 years. I volunteered to drum for a friend as they've been unable to find anyone reliable. I'm reliable... but obviously I'm not very good.

We've our first gig in two months. I know the songs, and am keeping everything as simple as possible until I learn the instrument and improve technique. The one thing holding me back, that would be glaringly obvious if you saw us, is my kick drum technique.

I've been playing heel down, like most beginners as far as I can tell. But speed is the problem: the songs are simple but fast and I can't keep up.

My question is this: should I persevere heel down for the time being, or try to make the switch to heel up? I feel like I'm caught between two stools and time is running out...
I'm a heel down guy, but my calves are small tree trunks. I think it's just about practice. START SLOW! Play those bass beats in 1/2 time, then slowly speed it up. Practice practice. I don't think there's any kind of shortcut to getting foot/bass speed.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I play heel-up on louder songs and heel down and quieter songs or parts of songs.

As stated above, try some heel-up but start slow!

Nothing wrong with playing simply! I played a gig a few weeks ago, and one of the security guards said I was the best drummer that he's ever heard there. I don't think I play anything faster than an 8th note for about 95% of the gig. Simple is where it's at!
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
If your options for the night are simple and solid versus flashy and sloppy, that should be an easy decision. Nobody will notice you simplified. More important to be solid and confident that you can pull off what you intend to.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Practice both.

You won't revoltionize your bass drum technique in two months, but you can achieve quite a but.

A routine I've had luck with is warming up with 1 min each heel up and heel down of constant 16ths. Then shake loose.

A simple routine would be to work on the Chaffee fat back exercises, basically all linear possibilites(excluding 2 and 4) over two beats(half a measure.)

Push yourself, but don't go past what you can do cleanly.

Work with just the simplest ostinatos first. Quarters, 8ths, off-beat 8ths and 16ths.

As you play bass and guitar you know it's just as much about coordination of limbs as simple conditioning.
 

Fritz Frigursson

Senior Member
Try heel up for double strokes (if you can already play them then that’s good) and instead of using heel down for single strokes or more simple beats, try slamming your heel onto the footboard. Kind of like heel toe without the toe. So heel.
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
I play heel-up on louder songs and heel down and quieter songs or parts of songs.

As stated above, try some heel-up but start slow!

Nothing wrong with playing simply! I played a gig a few weeks ago, and one of the security guards said I was the best drummer that he's ever heard there. I don't think I play anything faster than an 8th note for about 95% of the gig. Simple is where it's at!
I play both heel up and down depending on the song and what I'm doing. There are plenty of heel up players, plenty of heel down players, and plenty of both players. I'd say just do what is comfortable.

I also agree there's nothing wrong with being simple. A lot of times the best thing to do is just lay down the beat and keep the pocket. I've certainly played enough country gigs where that is all I've done for hours.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm voting for heel up for this gig. I feel it would be faster to get up to speed with heel up. Heel down takes more time and a fair amount of burning shin pain and subsequent muscle strengthening to get it.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
I know the songs, and am keeping everything as simple as possible until I learn the instrument and improve technique
Answered your own question, walk before you can run.

Keep the things you're not so good at off the stage and in the practice room, if it's Simple and tight gets you paid and booked again.

For your foot technique there's tonne's of videos on youtube. Most importantly do whatever feels comfortable, practice and time make a wonderful partnership.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
The Gary Chaffee "Fat-back" exercises are the best drills for developing bass drum speed and control. There are only bass drum and snare notes here; you're expected to supply the hi-hat pattern against the bass/snare patterns.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/470626229781970341/visual-search/?x=16&y=16&w=530&h=671

Learn them well. Start with 8th notes on the hi-hat, as done in this video lesson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R_oJgZQ1Ec

Play heel up, definitely, but let the beater bounce back after every note; don't hold the beater against the head. You might get some additional, quiet dribbles after you play a note, but these will be quieter than the note you intended to play, and you'll soon become able to better control the pedal.

I'm voting for heel up for this gig. I feel it would be faster to get up to speed with heel up. Heel down takes more time and a fair amount of burning shin pain and subsequent muscle strengthening to get it.
+1. It will also be easier to achieve a loud volume that cuts through guitar and bass, if desired. And it's not just about volume, either. In rock music, it's often appropriate to spank the bass drum, to create a punchy sound.
 

SgtThump

Platinum Member
I'm also a longtime guitar player that starting putting ALOT of effort into drumming 6-7 years back, so I can relate.

Is this a 4-hour cover gig? If so, I'd be worried about stamina. It took me a LONG time to get the stamina up to play 4-hours. Heel up, heel down, whatever... My body would give out. LOL

Good luck and enjoy!
 

Matty D

Junior Member
Focus on nailing your essential function in the band. Keep it simple and solid. That will help you confidently get through each song, and it will also make it easier to stay strong for the whole show.


Assuming the other guys are better at their respective instruments, let them have the spotlight.



A lot of drummers could learn to simplify.
 

Super Phil

Senior Member
This hasn't been brought up yet, but do you have a decent pedal? I'm assuming you do, but doesn't hurt to ask.
 

BruceW

Senior Member
Unless you're playing speed metal or something similar, it doesn't really matter how fast you can play, so long as you can keep time and tempo reasonably. Is it cool to put more stuff in there, sure. Is it necessary, no.

Keep the pocket, and your bandmates will be thrilled.
 
Top