Hihat Foot Position

CCdrummer

Senior Member
My hihat foot technique is terrible. What is the best foot position to use? I thought a post here would be better than a search on youtube.

Also any exercises you could suggest would be appreciated.

Thanks.
 
For some reason, I can't seem to adjust my foot properly either. It may sound like bad advice, but don't limit yourself with one technique. If you like to use your hats while playing ride patterns, I reccomend playing heel up and playing the notes with leg strokes as appose to ankles. And when you want an open hi-hat sizzle, play heel down and simply raise the ball of your foot. In some songs it'll be neccesary to switch back and fourth, but it works for me. Hope it helps you man.

And also, when you're holding your hi-hats closed with your foot, try to keep pressure at the top of the pedal using the ball of your foot to hold the pedal down. This takes a bit more energy, but I've found it's a much more efficient way of getting solid notes from closed hats.
 

Fuo

Platinum Member
Practice all of the normal 4/4 rock beats but with the hihat chicks used in diff ways, like:

- on 2 & 4
- on each beat
- on each &
- disco style (close w/ foot on the beat, hit open with stick on the &'s)

Do the same as above, but do it with more rudimental things like singles, doubles, paradiddles, etc.

Play any accent patterns that you normally would (like in syncopation, or any other beginner book), but instead of playing on the snare, play on the hats and open them instead of accenting. Combine this with different bass drum patterns.
 

alvanko

Senior Member
I think it's OK to play how ever your comfortable playing.
I play heel down normally but I have found myself playing with my whole leg just accenting timing. I don't think there is a right or wrong way to play the highhat.
Stick technique may be a different story but then again, it is what it is. I play with the edge of the stick on the edge of the highhat and there are a lot of wood chips flying, and I also play with the tip of the stick in the center of the high hat. It all depends on the sound or feel your trying to get.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
Your foot should be in-line with the pedal, not sideways. When I am on ride, I play heel-down, unless I am playing 8th notes with my left foot, in which case I play heel-up.

I also play heel-up when I am playing the hats, but I do not remove my left foot from the pedal when I play the hats with my hands. Varying the pressure between the hats, but keeping them closed, adds texture to what I play on the hats.
 

CCdrummer

Senior Member
Thanks guys!

I was learning Red Barchetta and there is that one bar of tricky open hi hat close to the end of the song and I just couldn't do it heel up.
 

CCdrummer

Senior Member
The thing is, what I am discovering is that using the left foot to keep time (once you get it down) makes everything else so much better. Your time really improves, especially when doing more complex fills.

I remember taking lessons back in the seventies, my teacher had me doing open hi hat stuff while playing on it, but we never used the left foot while playing on the ride or doing other patterns, probably because he couldn't do it.l
 

AtomicFlapjack

Senior Member
I noticed when teaching my girlfriend how to play open hat notes the other day that I play heel up, and move the ball of my foot only very slightly, and the toes. I tend to use my hole leg whilst keeping a quarter pulse, which is probably bad. And that sentence cue's a ramble...
I've been learning for over a year and realised I wanted to have better left foot limb independence. Whenever I watch pros and they constantly keep a quarter or eight note count whilst playing ridiculous stuff, I'm just like 'how?!'. So back to basics for me, playing eighths on the ride, quarter pulse on the hats, simple kick drum patterns (no e's or a's). Just alternating between different beats, but importantly, I've realised, making sure I know which beat I am changing to the next bar, rather than just playing whatever feels natural.
 

CCdrummer

Senior Member
I Whenever I watch pros and they constantly keep a quarter or eight note count whilst playing ridiculous stuff, I'm just like 'how?!'. So back to basics for me, playing eighths on the ride, quarter pulse on the hats, simple kick drum patterns (no e's or a's). Just alternating between different beats, but importantly, I've realised, making sure I know which beat I am changing to the next bar, rather than just playing whatever feels natural.

Yes, I noticed this for a long time but never did it as I didn't have the discipline to start over at the basics, but I realize now how important it is so like you, I am back to the basics.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
The thing is, what I am discovering is that using the left foot to keep time (once you get it down) makes everything else so much better. Your time really improves, especially when doing more complex fills.

I remember taking lessons back in the seventies, my teacher had me doing open hi hat stuff while playing on it, but we never used the left foot while playing on the ride or doing other patterns, probably because he couldn't do it.l

Yes, keeping that quarter or eighth note pulse going is a great rhythmic anchor. I never, ever stop doing it and I vary it now with a foot clave or foot tambourine. The left foot has so many possibilities.
 

N.I.B.

Senior Member
For some reason, I can't seem to adjust my foot properly either. It may sound like bad advice, but don't limit yourself with one technique. If you like to use your hats while playing ride patterns, I reccomend playing heel up and playing the notes with leg strokes as appose to ankles. And when you want an open hi-hat sizzle, play heel down and simply raise the ball of your foot. In some songs it'll be neccesary to switch back and fourth, but it works for me. Hope it helps you man.

And also, when you're holding your hi-hats closed with your foot, try to keep pressure at the top of the pedal using the ball of your foot to hold the pedal down. This takes a bit more energy, but I've found it's a much more efficient way of getting solid notes from closed hats.

Agree 120% with this. Keep your foot aligned with the pedal, but feel free to change your positioning within that position if you want different hi-hat sounds.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Maybe it's not a technique issue, but an ergonomic issue. Check out Billy Ward's DVD, "Big Time". In the beginning he talks about his set-up, and says if you were just sitting in a chair getting ready to eat, where you're legs are comfortably are where they should be when you play. His point is that some people have the hi-hat too far in, or out in left field somewhere. If you treat both pedals as equidistant apart, then you're striking a balance between the legs and things should be easier to execute. It also opens up your chest so you can relax the upper body more as well. It was interesting, and when I tried putting my hi-hat out a little more (it was too much in towards me), my groove really opened up too.

It would be good if you posted a video of your hi-hat playing so we could see what your issues are in order to make a good recommendation.
 

KirbyM

Senior Member
In the past 5 years, I have gone back to a single bass drum and single pedal. I found that I needed to concentrate on technique vs. a huge amount of equipment. When I played with double bass drums, my hi-hat was so far away that it seemed like a distant, small, island nation. I really enjoy the hi-hat being closer to me with the single bass drum set-up. Not too close, not too far away, juuust right !!
 
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