How's my Heel-Toe?

iontheable

Senior Member
Alright, I've never had an interest in Heel-Toe until Yesterday..and it shows! Up until recently playing singles and doubles heel up has always been enough for my needs, but now I want more!

While I'm very slow at it, after a few hours of "even-ing" it out..it feels like I got somewhere. I know the strokes are quite uneven as doubles go..but I'm still working this out.

So today is a new day and here's what I have to show for.

http://s1213.photobucket.com/albums/cc472/ofuncommonflight/MS3/?action=view&current=photobucket-3005-1344020691345.mp4

Please critique my technique..so I can avoid practicing the "wrong way"

And since this video(~1 hour) I've actually increased my speed by a good amount by making the beater angle more obtuse and increasing spring tension slightly.
 

Arky

Platinum Member
Welcome to heel-toe land!

Looks good for the moment. From my experience most techniques might feel good/right quite quickly but really getting the hang of it is a medium to longer term endeavour. So expect to have constantly growing feel/control if you're sticking to it.

As you might know, heel-toe and constant release are somehow related/have some resemblance. So you might try to experiment with constant release also. You might land up at one of those techniques in the future or have both of them at your disposal. Personally I have stopped to care which one of those I'm using - the most important thing is (and this is exactly what takes time to develop):
- rhythmic evenness / placement of the strokes
- dynamic evenness of both notes (quite hard to get, I'm still working a lot on that and maybe never get there)

Yes, the spring tension looks a bit on the loose side in your video. I'd recommend to tighten it moderately and see how it's working.

As for heel-toe, your motion looks ok. You do have a rocking motion around the ball of your foot. Now if you keep your heel up all the time (not high up but hovering above the pedalplate) this would be constant release.

I'd recommend to learn/practice heel-toe/constant release with no footwear. I think you'll better grasp/feel the motions and develop more fine control. You could then use footwear again but the muscles will already be 'programmed'.

With both heel-toe and constant release there's 2 basic ways to play (if you're involving both feet):
- "straight" = heel-toe (right foot), heel-toe (left foot), repeat
- "interlaced" = heel (R) - heel (L), toe (R) - toe (L), repeat.

Some do one of those variations, some can do both (with equal or various control/speed). I learned both (but not simultaneousy) - both feel great but the straight version is topping the other one in speed in my case (might be different with you). Another thing you might consider is learning to play with your left foot lead, too.

As for the note value you're playing in your video - you're floating a bit, with the strokes sounding like 2 16th notes or 2 triplet notes. Both ways have their applications of course. But I'd recommend sticking to one of them when you're practicing. Try to _not_ mix them up (until you can do both - or various rhythms - with good confidence). A good way to keep your rhythm clean is adding a simple beat with your hands and/or playing along to a click/metronome. Or bring in your left foot!

I can't stress it enough, but what was and still is helping me with heel-toe/constant release (and I haven't seen this way being used by heel-toe beginners yet!!) is...
playing constant 8th notes. NOT those "2 fast notes - rest - 2 fast notes - rest" patterns but one straight and continuous flow of 8th notes. Do this with one foot at the time, then start combining your feet (to create a 16th note flow) - if you're adding all the offbeat notes with your other foot you'd play the "interlaced" variation. Thus you will feel and hear what you'd have to work on - is it timing/rhythmic evenness? Dynamics? - All of this can be addressed with single-footed constant 8th notes.

Also keep practicing the "straight" way - which basically is 'real' doubles as you're actually playing RRLL RRLL patterns. Learn this one as left foot lead also!

---

You know, I'm doing this for 2 years now (not that long, I know). During this period of time there have often been moments when I thought "I can do it!" but a few weeks/months later I realised there was always so much potential and room for improvement left. It's a gradual process, period. Which might mean that you're not doing any progress in terms of bpm but you DO progress in terms of control, evenness or complexity of patterns. Playing 16th notes is the easiest thing you can do. I noticed that it doesn't take a lot to create challenges. Here are a few examples (don't do this right now, but those are ideas what you could try in the future, with growing control):

- "Straight" doubles:
Your R foot is playing all the 'on the beat' notes, your L foot is playing all the off-beat notes.
Start playing 16th notes but eliminate your R foot after the first double for the rest of the bar. Your L foot continues playing. This should be HARD at first! But will improve your L foot strength/control/rhythmic evenness so much (well it did in my case).
Bring your R foot again, but only for 1 double at the beginning of the next bar. Repeat. This will be a left foot workout but you're working on various things at the same time. This will also improve your hearing and create more rhythmic awareness.

- "Interlaced" doubles:
Keep one foot doing continuous 8th notes. Play a few bars, say, 4. Then bring in your other foot for the same number of bars. Repeat.
Try doing this with 3 bars, then 2, then 1. The less bars the harder it will get. You can get this system to create a ridiculous challenge.

- Mix up "straight" and "interlaced" doubles:
Play one variation for an x number of bars. Then switch to the other variation on the fly. Repeat. Reduce the number of bars to create more challenge.

- Do all this with your L foot leading! This should be enough stuff to keep you busy for a while.
 
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iontheable

Senior Member
Oh man Ark what a response, +25!

I truly appreciate you taking the time to not only watch the video but with the explanation you've provided I now have some solid advise to work with.

Well, time to get back at it then. Hopefully I can add another video in a weeks time to monitor my improvement. Hopefully it will be significant.

Thanks Again
 

Toolate

Platinum Member
Dont take this the wrong way, but why do you want to learn this technique? You looking to develop a fast foot for metal or something? I am really just trying to understand the point. Not being rude or insulting at all. I have seen some impressive feet with all the odd tricks out there so I think its worth it but still curious about why you want to do it.

I am 2 years in, not long I know so please keep that in mind, and my foot is slow relatively but it seems to me that over time just basic single pedal technique will speed up to be usable in most musical contexts (occasional fast double or a few in a row in a fill, odd song where you have quick feet for the whole song). THe more I drum and focus on techniques/gadgets to improve my drumming, the more i realize that its just time that I need to put in. I have seen too many experienced guys sit at any kit with any pedal/spring tension, seat hieght or whatever and just do it the old fashioned way..
 

iontheable

Senior Member
Hey Toolate

Well, I gained an interest in heel-toe for a number of reasons:

The main one being that I've had a terribly difficult time with quick doubles and bass heavy fills/grooves. So, essentially at this point I'm partaking in any training possibly to try to quicken them.

As I understand it, many people, especially those who aren't blasting play a variety of technique is a single series of strokes; a hybrid of heel-toe, toe-heel/slide, constant release..whatever is comfortable for them.

So again, in large I am just adding another tool to my arsenal.
 

Toolate

Platinum Member
How long have you been playing? I am always curious about these things because I recently realized that tricks dont get me there. Shedding does.

That said, I have seen some incredible heel toe that would be usable in any song not just the fast stuff.

I am not down on anyone doing/trying different stuff just trying to understand. I am only a couple years into drumming and dont want to blast at 250 on my kick (ever) so I am on my own path. Just curious. Thanks for taking my question literally.
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
How long have you been playing? I am always curious about these things because I recently realized that tricks dont get me there. Shedding does.

That said, I have seen some incredible heel toe that would be usable in any song not just the fast stuff.

I am not down on anyone doing/trying different stuff just trying to understand. I am only a couple years into drumming and dont want to blast at 250 on my kick (ever) so I am on my own path. Just curious. Thanks for taking my question literally.
not sure "tricks" is the right word

the longer you play you will start to realize.....and it sounds like already may be starting to realize.....that all we really do is end up REALLY developing a few techniques ...... techniques we feel will allow us to express musical communication

no one masters every technique.......thats actually pointless....we master the ones that feel good to us.....or ones we find interesting and work on them until they feel natural and get all of our milage out of those

it should be all about being able to express your vocabulary .....and your vocabulary will expand as you progress.
so as long as your technique does not hinder your vocabulary then you are in good shape

if he finds this heel/toe intriguing and thinks it will enhance the type of vocabulary he wishes to express on the kit ....then go all in and master it .....

I have worked on techniques that ended up being somewhat of a phase and maybe lost some interest in it along the way .....but probably took aspects of the technique and applied it to what I already use

so they are not really "tricks"
just different avenues to get to the same place
 

Brad Allen

Junior Member
The toe heel technique is well worth mastering. I simply don't feel that you will ever have as fast, clean and strong double strokes any other way. I started practicing this technique many years ago because I wanted to be able to play figures like John Bonham does on Led Zeppelin's, "Good Times Bad Times." I also wanted to be able to play a very fast samba.

Make sure that your throne is not too high or too low. Your leg should be at a 90% angle, which means your thigh will be basically flat. You need to be as comfortable and relaxed as possible.

Go with a medium bass drum pedal tension. Make sure the beater isn't too long. It's all about leverage so sometimes it makes a big difference if you just shorten the beater about 1-2 centimeters. Experiment with your beater length.

Many drummers have started using plastic beaters over the years, which I really believe to be a mistake. They're heavier and harder to move, resulting in less speed and finesse. A friend of mine who had an incredibly fast foot pointed this out to me several years ago. Stick with a hard-felt beater. You will still get plenty of punch, and you'll play cleaner and faster than all your friends who tell you you should be using a plastic beater! John Bonham used a hard-felt beater. So did Steve Gadd. The list goes on and on.

Practice playing single and double strokes with your heel down. Then practice them with your heel up. Do this along with practicing double strokes with the heel toe technique. This will give you strength, speed and control at all dynamic levels. All three bass techniques work together. Your ankles will improve by practicing with your heels down. This will help your toe heel technique.

Basically, the way I play now is heels down. But when I play double strokes, I automatically play toe heel. It's kind of a similar feeling to playing double strokes with my hands. I also play with heels up a bit more when I need more volume. The reason for not playing up on your balls of your foot all the time is that it creates tension in your hips and thighs. You want to eliminate tension as much as possible. You also have much better balance with your heels down. You'll find it's still easy to raise your heels when you need to.

Make bass drum practice a regular part of your daily practice routine. But keep working on other aspects of your playing as well too. It takes time you really master this technique no matter how much you practice it. I'm talking months, or maybe 1-2 years. Be persistent, but be patient too. Work at it, but don't get hung up on it. I thought my foot would never work the way I wanted it to. I eventually mastered the technique though and so will you!
 

Toolate

Platinum Member
By "tricks" I really meant all the things you try/think you need when you are in the arly stages of realizing how bad you are.

For me it was a new pedal, a brief trick down heel toe lane, all kinds of pedal adjustments, seat heights etc...

The answer is that you just need to practice. I agree that whatever technique (not trick) a person employs with success is a worthwhile endeavor (ever seen a Jojo video...) and didnt mean to demean heel toe.

Just pointing out that youtube and even this place often allow people to see something other than the standard route and it seems like it might be the answer to improvement for us beginners and in the end, most of the time, we just need to practice. A lot.

I DO think that fast feet are possible without heel toe though. The foot that bonham had that the previous post (sorry poster- dont know how to quote) addressed was one of the fastest.
 
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